Indiana is a state rich in natural wonders, historic sites, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures. Whether you're a nature lover, history enthusiast, art aficionado, or simply looking for family-friendly activities, Indiana has something for everyone. In this article, we will explore the 23 best things to do in Indiana, ensuring you have a memorable and fulfilling visit to this diverse state.
Exploring Natural Wonders in Indiana
Visit Indiana Dunes National Park
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Park offers stunning landscapes, miles of sandy beaches, and diverse ecosystems to explore. Hike through the dunes, swim in the lake, or enjoy a picnic with a breathtaking view. The park also provides opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, and camping, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Hike through Brown County State Park
Known as the “Little Smokies,” Brown County State Park is a haven for hikers, nature lovers, and photographers. With over 15,000 acres of scenic forests, rugged hills, and picturesque vistas, the park offers an immersive experience in Indiana's natural beauty. Choose from various trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes, and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of the changing seasons.
Experience the beauty of Clifty Falls State Park
Clifty Falls State Park is home to stunning waterfalls, deep canyons, and scenic trails. Explore the park's four waterfalls, including the iconic Clifty Falls, and witness the power of nature. The park also offers camping facilities, picnic areas, and a nature center where you can learn about the park's geology, flora, and fauna.
Discovering Historic Sites and Museums
Explore the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
For motorsports enthusiasts, a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is a must. Discover the rich history of the iconic Indianapolis 500 race, explore a collection of vintage cars, and even take a lap around the famous track. Immerse yourself in the thrilling world of racing and learn about the legends who have left their mark on this renowned venue.
Step back in time at Conner Prairie
Conner Prairie is a living history museum that takes you on a journey through Indiana's past. Interact with costumed interpreters, explore recreated historic buildings, and engage in hands-on activities that bring history to life. From the early days of pioneers to the Civil War era, Conner Prairie offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages.
Learn at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children's museum in the world, providing educational and interactive exhibits that cater to children's curiosity and imagination. From exploring dinosaur fossils to learning about space exploration, the museum offers a wide range of exhibits and activities that make learning fun for the whole family.
Enjoying Cultural and Artistic Experiences
Visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Indianapolis Museum of Art, now known as Newfields, houses an impressive collection of art from around the world. Explore the galleries featuring ancient artifacts, European masterpieces, contemporary works, and immersive installations. The museum also boasts beautiful gardens where you can relax and appreciate the harmonious blend of art and nature.
Experience the Indiana Repertory Theatre
For theater enthusiasts, the Indiana Repertory Theatre in downtown Indianapolis is a cultural gem. Enjoy a wide variety of performances, from classic plays to contemporary productions, showcasing the talent of local and international artists. The theater's intimate setting ensures an immersive experience that will captivate and inspire.
Explore the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
The Eiteljorg Museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the art, history, and cultures of Native Americans and the American West. Admire the museum's extensive collection of Native American art, artifacts, and contemporary works. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that provide insight into the rich and diverse heritage of the indigenous peoples.
Family-Friendly Attractions in Indiana
Have a fun-filled day at the Indianapolis Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo offers a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with a wide range of animals from around the world. Explore the zoo's different habitats, watch animal feedings, and enjoy interactive experiences that allow you to learn about conservation efforts. With exhibits like the Dolphin Pavilion and the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, the zoo guarantees a memorable day for the whole family.
Visit the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari is a thrilling amusement park that combines exciting rides with a refreshing water park experience. From adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to lazy rivers and wave pools, there's something for everyone. Plus, the park has a family-friendly atmosphere, making it a perfect destination for a day of fun and adventure.
Enjoy a day of thrills at Indiana Beach
Situated on the shores of Lake Shafer, Indiana Beach is a nostalgic amusement park that has been delighting visitors for decades. Experience classic rides like the Hoosier Hurricane and the Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain, and enjoy the park's beachside location. With a variety of attractions, live entertainment, and a water park, Indiana Beach guarantees a day of excitement for the whole family.
Savoring Culinary Delights in Indiana
Try delicious dishes at St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis
St. Elmo Steak House is a legendary dining establishment known for its mouthwatering steaks and timeless ambiance. Indulge in their signature shrimp cocktail, famous for its fiery horseradish sauce, and savor the flavors of expertly cooked prime cuts of beef. With its rich history and exceptional cuisine, St. Elmo Steak House is a must-visit for food lovers.
Indulge in local flavors at Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor in Columbus
Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor is a charming and nostalgic eatery that takes you back in time. Enjoy homemade ice cream, classic sundaes, and other delectable treats in an authentic parlor setting. The vintage ambiance and friendly service create a delightful experience that will satisfy your sweet tooth and transport you to a bygone era.
Explore the food scene in Bloomington, home of Indiana University
Bloomington is known for its vibrant culinary scene, thanks to its diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and food markets. Explore the downtown area and discover a wide array of cuisines, from farm-to-table creations to international flavors. With its lively atmosphere and emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, Bloomington offers a gastronomic adventure for food enthusiasts.
Unwind and Relax in Indiana
Take a scenic boat ride on Patoka Lake
Patoka Lake is a tranquil retreat where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Rent a boat and cruise along the picturesque lake, surrounded by wooded hills and abundant wildlife. Fishing, swimming, and hiking opportunities are also available, allowing you to reconnect with nature and find serenity.
Enjoy a peaceful retreat at French Lick Resort
French Lick Resort is a historic luxury hotel nestled in the picturesque hills of southern Indiana. Indulge in spa treatments, play a round of golf on championship courses, or try your luck at the casino. With its elegant charm, stunning surroundings, and first-class amenities, French Lick Resort provides a perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Relax in the beautiful gardens of Newfields
Newfields, formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art, not only houses impressive artworks but also features stunning gardens. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, admire the carefully landscaped grounds, and revel in the beauty of nature. The gardens offer a peaceful sanctuary where you can unwind and appreciate the harmony between art and the natural world.
Experiencing Outdoor Adventures
Go horseback riding at Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run State Park is renowned for its scenic canyons, sandstone cliffs, and rugged trails. Embark on a horseback riding adventure and explore the park's natural wonders from a unique perspective. Traverse through wooded trails, cross babbling streams, and witness the park's stunning geological formations. Horseback riding at Turkey Run State Park promises an unforgettable outdoor experience.
Try kayaking on the Tippecanoe River
The Tippecanoe River provides a picturesque setting for kayaking enthusiasts. Paddle along the meandering river, surrounded by lush forests and serene landscapes. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced kayaker, the calm waters and beautiful scenery make the Tippecanoe River an ideal destination for a day of paddling and relaxation.
Go camping at Pokagon State Park
Pokagon State Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including camping in the midst of scenic beauty. Set up your tent or rent a cozy cabin and immerse yourself in the park's natural splendor. Explore hiking trails, swim in the lake, or try your hand at fishing. Camping at Pokagon State Park allows you to disconnect from the bustling world and reconnect with nature.
Sports and Entertainment in Indiana
Catch a game at Lucas Oil Stadium
Lucas Oil Stadium is the home of the Indianapolis Colts and a hub for sports enthusiasts. Experience the excitement of live football games, cheer for your favorite team, and immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere. The state-of-the-art stadium offers excellent views, comfortable seating, and a memorable sporting experience.
Attend a concert at the Ruoff Music Center
The Ruoff Music Center, located in Noblesville, is a premier outdoor concert venue that attracts top artists from various genres. From rock and pop to country and classical, the center hosts an array of performances throughout the year. Enjoy live music under the stars, feel the energy of the crowd, and create lasting memories at this iconic venue.
Cheer on the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Basketball fans won't want to miss the chance to watch the Indiana Pacers in action at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Join the roaring crowd, witness the fast-paced gameplay, and cheer on the home team. The state-of-the-art arena provides an incredible atmosphere that will leave you thrilled and engaged.
Festivals and Events in Indiana
Experience the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis 500 is a legendary car race that draws thousands of spectators from around the world. Experience the thrill of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and witness the speed, skill, and excitement of the drivers as they compete on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Indy 500 is more than a race; it's a celebration of automotive culture and a true Indiana tradition.
Attend the Indiana State Fair
The Indiana State Fair is an annual event that showcases the best of Indiana's agriculture, entertainment, and culture. From livestock shows to mouthwatering food, live performances, and thrilling rides, the fair offers something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, explore the exhibits, and indulge in the flavors of Indiana.
Celebrate the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County
Parke County is known as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World,” and the Covered Bridge Festival celebrates this unique heritage. Explore the scenic countryside, visit historic covered bridges, and enjoy arts and crafts, food vendors, live music, and various activities. The festival showcases the charm and character of the region, providing a memorable experience for visitors.
Shopping and Entertainment Districts in Indiana
Explore the vibrant Broad Ripple Village in Indianapolis
Broad Ripple Village is a trendy neighborhood known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Stroll along the streets lined with unique boutiques, browse art galleries, and savor delicious cuisine at local eateries. The vibrant atmosphere and lively entertainment options make Broad Ripple Village a must-visit destination for shopping and leisure.
Shop and dine at the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis
Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, the Circle Centre Mall offers a premier shopping experience. Explore a wide range of stores, from well-known brands to local boutiques, and discover the latest fashion trends, accessories, and more. After shopping, indulge in delectable cuisine at the mall's diverse selection of restaurants, catering to various tastes.
Discover unique boutiques in Carmel Arts & Design District
The Carmel Arts & Design District is a charming neighborhood brimming with art galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops. Explore the district's streets and discover unique pieces of artwork, handmade jewelry, stylish clothing, and one-of-a-kind items. The district's artistic ambiance and welcoming community create a delightful shopping experience.
Indiana offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors of all interests. Whether you're seeking natural beauty, historic sites, cultural experiences, family-friendly fun, culinary delights, outdoor adventures, sports and entertainment, or shopping districts, Indiana has something to offer. From exploring state parks and historic landmarks to attending festivals and indulging in delicious cuisine, you'll find a wide array of options to make your visit to Indiana memorable. So, pack your bags, get ready to embark on an incredible journey, and discover the 23 best things to do in Indiana.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. What is the best time to visit Indiana? The best time to visit Indiana is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) seasons when the weather is pleasant, and nature is at its most vibrant. However, each season offers its own unique charm and attractions.
2. Are there any outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts in Indiana? Absolutely! Indiana boasts a variety of outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts, such as hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, and more. State parks like Turkey Run and Pokagon offer excellent opportunities for outdoor adventures.
3. Can you recommend any family-friendly attractions in Indiana? Certainly! The Indianapolis Zoo, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, and Conner Prairie are among the top family-friendly attractions in Indiana. These places provide a range of activities and experiences that cater to visitors of all ages.
4. What are some must-try dishes in Indiana? When in Indiana, be sure to try some iconic dishes like breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, sugar cream pie, Indiana-style fried chicken, and persimmon pudding. These local favorites will give you a taste of Indiana's culinary heritage.
5. Where can I find unique shopping experiences in Indiana? If you're looking for unique shopping experiences, head to places like Broad Ripple Village in Indianapolis, Carmel Arts & Design District, and the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis. These destinations offer diverse shopping options and a vibrant atmosphere.