Did you know that over 77 million people visit Indiana each year?
Indiana is perfect proof that the Midwest is home to much more than farms and tornadoes. The lifestyle here is often slow paced, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in adventure!
Indiana is a fantastic opportunity to discover the heart and soul of America’s Midwest; nature lovers can spend full days paddling down winding rivers, foodies can enjoy homegrown produce, and wine connoisseur’s can stumble between award winning vineyards.
Bustling cities have world class museums, and the whole state revs up for high-energy sporting events like the Indy 500. And then there’s Amish country for a completely different experience.
Indiana is an incredible State, with a wealth of things to do and places to visit. If you’re wondering why so many tourists visit each year, the following are 5 pretty incredible reasons.
The 5 Best Places to Visit in Indiana
1. The State Capital: Indianapolis
If you’re planning a trip to Indiana, you won’t want to miss out on the state capital, affectionately shortened by locals to Indy. This is a beautiful, clean cut city, with art museums, a great food scene, and plenty of stunning walking and biking trails to connect with nature.
Indy has a very sports heavy reputation, and many people visit for the Indy 500 – every May the whole city is taken over by motor sports, and the atmosphere is electric. But even if you miss the event, there are off track experiences and you can re-live the excitement at the 500 Museum, or Speedway Indoor Karting.
Indy is a very family friendly destination, and you can try testing your smarts with Breakout Games. Families with young children will have a blast at the Children’s Museum or zoo, or, if your family are soccer fans, take in an Indy Eleven soccer game.
For culture buffs, Indy has a huge range of entertainment, and if you’re in the mood for a classy evening, you can dress up for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The White Rabbit puts on a world famous cabaret if you’re after something a bit more risque.
Nature wise, there are plenty of scenic nature trails to enjoy, and you’ll find some of the best in Holliday Park. When it comes to food, there are plenty of restaurants, cocktail bars, and cafes, but don’t miss a visit to Garfield Park on a Saturday morning for the farmer’s market.
With so many different types of activities, there’s something in Indianapolis for any age or lifestyle. It’s a really fabulous all round destination.
2. For Nature Lovers: Washington Township
Washington Township is part of Owen County, which is home to the famous Cataract Falls. This is a series of two waterfalls on Mill Creek, with picnic areas, and foot access down to the falls (get your feet wet!)
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, there are tons of relaxing and thrilling adventures you can have beyond the falls. There are many lakes, including Spurgeon Hollow Lake, Lake John Hay and Lake Salinda, which are popular fishing spots, and a great option for a day canoeing.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is one of the many outdoor settings where you can fish, hike, horseback ride, camp, and much more. There are 10 + miles of hiking trails, but if you’re more keen on horse-back riding, you can take guided trail rides at the Saddle Barn.
We recommend the Knobstone Trail for keen hikers – this is the longest hiking trail in Indiana, a difficult hike which many people use in training for the Appalachian Trail. It runs for 58 miles (93 km) through the Clark State Forest and is a rugged trail that includes steep, back country climbs.
3. Scenic Indiana Attractions: Chesterson
Chesterson is where you’ll find the picturesque Indiana Dunes National Park. Visitors flock here to trek across the dunes and try their hand at sandboarding; there are over 15,000 acres of dunes, as well as oak savannas, swamps, bogs, marshes, prairies, rivers, and forests.
The park also contains 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, so if you’re not interested in an adrenaline rush, you can always lounge by the lake, or take a relaxing boat ride. West Beach is the most popular place in the park for picnicking and swimming (manned by lifeguards during summer).
For wildlife enthusiasts, Lake Michigan attracts hundreds of different animal species, and for bird nerds, there are over 350 different species you can observe. Hiking, biking and golf are other popular outdoor passtimes.
Another bonus of Chesterson is that Chicago is less than an hour away by car. Once you’re done soaking up some sunshine, you can explore the Windy City for the rest of the day!
4. Places to Visit for History Seekers: Fort Wayne
Like Indianapolis, Fort Wayne is a big city with a fascinating history. And, if you want to get away from the 77 million tourists but still have a wide range of things to do, you can’t go wrong with Indiana’s second-largest city.
Fort Wayne is an incredible choice for history lovers – a city that is over 200 years old, you’ll find history here that dates back to the 1800’s. Early settlers and Native Americans treated Fort Wayne as somewhat of a crossroads due to its strategic positioning on the convergence of the St. Mary’s, the St. Joseph, and the Maumee Rivers.
Allen County was established in 1824, and industry here flourished throughout the 1800’s. When the Great Depression hit in the early 1900’s, Fort Wayne was one of the rare places that continued with its economic boom.
There are many historic buildings throughout the city today, and they’ve done an incredible job of preserving their cultural heritage and architectural integrity. Don’t miss visiting the Embassy Theatre, the Scottish Rite Auditorium, and the Lincoln Tower, all of which were built during these boom years.
There are of course many zoos, museums, gardens, theatres, and eclectic restaurants too, but history is what makes Fort Wayne truly special.
Image credit: Boston Public Library / CC BY 2.0 / via Flickr
5. Cities that Have It All: Bloomington
If you’re searching for inspiration and enrichment, Bloomington is the perfect destination. This city is well-known for its artistic culture and museums, though even if you’re not an avid art lover, you’ll still fall in love with the bustling downtown scene and enjoy the easy access to nature.
Bloomington truly is a city that has it all; this is primarily a University town, so there’s a very young and energetic vibe around, with students who travel from all across the country to study at Indiana University populating the city.
Walking around downtown you’ll bump into artists and scientists, farmers and philosophers, athletes and musicians. It’s a very diverse and eclectic mix of people; though people make up the heart and soul of this city.
People and the land, that is. Bloomington prides itself on having fantastic access to nature, and there are many hiking and biking trails that lead you through hills, forests and lakes in the region.
It also has the best pizza in the Midwest! (Head to Mother Bear’s Pizza).