Home / U.S. State Travel Guides / U.S. Vacations / U.S. National Parks / U.S. State Highpoints / U.S. Road Trip Planning

INDIANA TRAVEL GUIDE

Indianapolis Children's Museum Giant Great Dane in Brazil, Indiana RV Hall of Fame & Museum in Elkhart, Indiana

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Indiana! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Indiana.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons

OVERVIEW



There was a point where I considered Indiana a "pass-through state", meaning somewhere you drove through as quickly as possible to find something more interesting in another state. I've since learned a lot more about Indiana, and I can now confidently say that there are many fantastic attractions and experiences to be had in this state. To start, Indiana is one of the very best U.S. states for museums. There are dozens of top-rated museums in the state, including the #1 children's museums in the country (the Indianapolis Children's Museum). Indiana also has one of the U.S.'s newest national parks (Indiana Dunes National Park) and the top-rated Holiday World & Splashin' Safari amusement park. Southern Indiana offers much natural beauty and features several excellent show caves where guided tours are offered.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN INDIANA



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Indiana? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Indiana, in no particular order:

See the sand dunes and enjoy the beaches of Indiana Dunes National Park
Peek into dozens of classic motor-homes at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart
Take the kids to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, widely considered the best children's museum in the country
Catch a NASCAR event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Ride the rollercoasters at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus
Cycle one of Indiana's great rail trails (e.g. Monon Trail, Cardinal Greenway, etc.)
Watch a college football game at Notre Dame
See the beautiful waterfalls within Clifty Falls State Park
Explore one of Southern Indiana's underground show caves (e.g. Marengo Cave, Indiana Caverns, etc.)
Mail a letter from the Santa Claus Post Office in Santa Claus

If I could select only one place to visit in Indiana, I would choose either Indianapolis for its museums and other attractions, or southern Indiana for its natural beauty.

For a list of 10 great attractions in each U.S. state, click here.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN INDIANA



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Indiana. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Indiana bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn - auto museum with over 100 classic and antique vehicles
Basilica of the Sacred Heart, South Bend - considered the mother church of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the U.S.
Blue Gate Theatre, Shipshewanna - small but charming performance venue with musicals and concerts
Casinos in northwestern Indiana - there is a cluster of casinos near Chicago (e.g. Ameristar, Caesars, Hard Rock, and Horseshoe)
Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park, Shipshewanna - petting zoo and drive-thru animal park
Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne - one of the top 25 zoos in the U.S.
Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum, Elkhart - the #1 comic book / superhero museum in the country
Indiana Dunes National Park - 15-miles of beautiful beaches and sand dunes on Lake Michigan; excellent hiking trails
Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton - three miles of beautiful beaches & tall sand dunes
Menno-Hof Mennonite, Shipshewanna - learn about Amish and Mennonite cultures
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend - one of the premier football stadiums in the U.S.
Parkview Field, Fort Wayne - one of the best minor league baseball parks in the U.S.
Pokagon State Park, Angola - beautiful state park that is perhaps most famous for its winter toboggan run and CCC architecture
RV/MH Hall of Fame, Elkhart - see dozens of historic and modern motor-homes (you can enter many of them)
Shipshewanna Flea Market, Shipshewanna - the largest flea-market in the Midwest; open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May through Sept
Studebaker National Museum, South Bend - museum with lots of autos, wagons, carriages, & military vehicles
University of Notre Dame, South Bend - one of the most attractive universities in the U.S.
Washington Park, Michigan City - Lake Michigan shoreline park with 2 miles of beach, a lighthouse, zoo, and more
Wellfield Botanic Gardens, Elkhart - 20 themed botanical gardens on 36 acres

Central Indiana (including Bloomington and Nashville; see below for Indianapolis)
Bridgeton Covered Bridge, Rockville - 267-foot long red-painted covered bridge
Brown County State Park, Nashville - scenic vistas from rugged hills and ridges; great hiking, mtn biking & horseback trails; rustic lodge
Cardinal Greenway - this fully paved 62-mile trail has two distinct sections; this trail is often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, Jennings Township - two of Indiana's best waterfalls (Lower and Upper Falls)
Conner Prairie, Fishers - recreates Indiana-life in the 19th century
Exit 76 Antique Mall, Edinburgh - one of the largest antique malls in the Midwest
eXplore Brown County at Valley Branch Retreat, Nashville - nature center with zip-lining, paint-ball, and ATV/ORV tours
Grannie's Cookie Jars & Ice Cream Parlor, Metamora - famous ice cream shop surrounded by the largest collection of cookie jars in the world
Indiana Zipline Tours, Crawfordsville - excellent zip-lining tours
Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, Madison - the best of Madison's historic homes; Greek Revival architecture
Model T Ford Museum, Richmond - roughly a dozen Ford Model T vehicles plus other historic vehicles and exhibits
Monon Trail - continuous, fully paved rail that travels for 27 miles from Indianapolis to Sheridan; one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Turkey Run State Park, Marshall - widely considered one of Indiana's best state parks; interesting geology, great hiking trails, and more
WonderLab Science Museum, Bloomington - two floor hands-on science center

Indianapolis
Central Canal - attractive urban walking trails along a water canal; swan boat rides
Children's Museum of Indianapolis - arguably the #1 children's museum in the U.S.
Col. E. Lilly Civil War Museum / Monument Circle - impressive 284-foot tall monument that offers good views
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art - great Native American museum full of art and other exhibits
Go Ape Zipline & Adventure Park - excellent zip-lining and aerial adventure park
Indiana Medical History Museum - one of the best psychiatric medical research museums in the country
Indiana State Museum - exhibits focused on the science, art, culture, and history of Indiana
Indianapolis 500 (event) - famous NASCAR event that is typically held in late May
Indianapolis Motor Speedway - one of the most famous NASCAR tracks in the U.S.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum - car racing museum on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Museum of Art @ Newfields - one of the top 25 art museums in the U.S.
Indianapolis Zoo - the second best zoo in Indiana
Lucas Oil Stadium - home of the Indianapolis Colts NFL football team
Tibbs Drive-in Theatre - surviving drive-in movie theater
Victory Field - one of the best minor league baseball parks in the U.S.
Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park @ Newfields - sculpture park and green space with hiking and biking trails
White River State Park - urban green space in downtown Indianapolis with walking trails, zoo, theater, and other attractions

Southern Indiana (including Evansville and Santa Claus)
Bluespring Caverns, Bedford - underground boat tours through the longest known subterranean river in the U.S.
Boat tours in Madison - e.g. jet boat tours and riverboat tours on the Ohio River
Clifty Falls State Park, Madison - features several waterfalls, rugged canyons, and sheer cliffs
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus - Indiana's best amusement park; many great rollercoasters and a large water park
Indiana Caverns, Corydon - excellent underground cave tours, including a kayaking option; zip-lining is also offered above the cave
Lark Valley Ziplines, Shoals - excellent zip-lining tours
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Lincoln City - preserved farm site where Abraham Lincoln lived for 14 years
Marengo Cave, Marengo - excellent guided cave tours through a privately owned cave
Santa Claus - a small Xmas-loving town that includes several Santa-themed attractions plus the Holiday World Theme Park & Splashin' Safari
Santa Claus Post Office, Santa Claus - mail a letter and get it stamped with a Santa Claus postmark; a large Santa statue is out front
Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell - take a guided boat tour through a cave; the state park also has a historic pioneer village and hiking trails
U.S.S. LST Ship Memorial, Evansville - visit a decommissioned World War II U.S. Navy landing ship tank
West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden Springs - a massive historic hotel with a spa, championship golf course, fine dining, and more

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Indiana? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

For a list of 5-star attractions in neighboring states, click on any of these links:  IL  |  KY  |  MI  |  OH

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN INDIANA



These towns and cities in Indiana are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Angola - a small city featuring Civil War history and many historic buildings; close to Pokagon State Park
French Lick/West Baden Springs - a small town famous for its mineral springs and hotels (e.g. French Lick Springs); close to Spring Mill SP
Indianapolis - the largest city in Indiana is famous for its many excellent museums and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Madison - a small city with a large historic district filled with many shops and local restaurants
Nashville - a small town with an attractive historic district that includes many boutique shops and art galleries; close to Brown County SP
Santa Claus - a small Xmas-loving town that includes several Santa-themed attractions plus the Holiday World Theme Park & Splashin' Safari
Shipshewanna - a small town with Dutch/Amish cultural attractions; includes the Midwest's Largest Flea Market and the Blue Gate Theatre

My favorite city in Indiana is Indianapolis - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 2 nights here

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS INDIANA FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Indiana is famous or well-known for:

agricultural industries (e.g. corn)
automotive industry
covered bridges
farms
museums
NASCAR events
nature preserves (there are nearly 300 of them in the state)
sand dunes
show caves

Click here if you'd like to explore what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN INDIANA



There is currently one national park in Indiana, plus a few other federally-managed parks and properties, including:

National Parks
Indiana Dunes National Park - 15-miles of beautiful beaches and sand dunes on Lake Michigan; excellent hiking trails

National Forests
Hoosier National Forest

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks & Properties
George Rogers Clark National Historical Park
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

For more information on Indiana's national parks, visit the Indiana page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN INDIANA



Indiana has more than 20 state parks. Many would agree that these represent Indiana's finest state parks:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton - three miles of beautiful beaches & tall sand dunes
Pokagon State Park, Angola - beautiful state park that is perhaps most famous for its winter toboggan run and CCC architecture

Central Indiana (including Bloomington and Nashville; see below for Indianapolis)
Brown County State Park, Nashville - scenic vistas from rugged hills and ridges; great hiking, mtn biking & horseback trails; rustic lodge
Turkey Run State Park, Marshall - widely considered one of Indiana's best state parks; interesting geology, great hiking trails, and more

Southern Indiana (including Evansville and Santa Claus)
Clifty Falls State Park, Madison - features several waterfalls, rugged canyons, and sheer cliffs
Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell - take a guided boat tour through a cave; the state park also has a historic pioneer village and hiking trails

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN INDIANA

Indiana has more than 100 natural waterfalls, although most of them are considered seasonal. Here are some of the best waterfalls in Indiana:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
France Park Falls

Central Indiana (including Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Nashville)
Thistlethwaite Falls
Upper & Lower Cataract Falls
Williamsport Falls

Southern Indiana (including Evansville and Santa Claus)
Clifty Falls State Park waterfalls (e.g. Clifty Falls, Fremont Falls, Hoffman Falls, Little Clifty Falls, Tunnel Falls)

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Indiana, visit the World Waterfall Database.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN INDIANA



Here is a list of the best scenic drives in Indiana:

Brown County State Park roads

Other than the roads of Brown County State Park, I'm not personally aware of any scenic roads in Indiana that are notable on a national scale. The Ohio River Scenic Byway may offer some scenic sections, but I haven't driven it yet.

For a list of great scenic drives in each U.S. state, click here.

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN INDIANA



Indiana has several great rail trails in the northern and central portions of the state. Here is a list of many of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in the state:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
Erie Lackawanna Trail
Oak Savannah Trail
Panhandle Pathway
Prairie Duneland Trail
Pumpkinvine Nature Trail
Rivergreenway

Central Indiana (including Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Nashville)
Cardinal Greenway - this fully paved 62-mile trail has two distinct sections; this trail is often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Monon Trail - this 100% continuous and fully paved trail travels for 27 miles from Indianapolis to Sheridan; this trail is often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.
Nickel Plate Trail
Vandalia Trail

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Indiana, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN INDIANA



There are a few notable amusement parks in Indiana:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
Deep River Waterpark, Crown Point
Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort, Monticello

Southern Indiana (including Evansville and Santa Claus)
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari is considered one of the very best amusement parks in the country. It includes many excellent rollercoasters and a large water park.

BEST MUSEUMS IN INDIANA



Indiana has a staggering number of excellent museums, including some quirky ones. I would consider Indiana among the top 10 states for museums in the U.S. The best museums in Indiana include:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn
Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne
Griss Air Museum, Peru
Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum, Elkhart
Mascot Hall of Fame, Whiting
Menno-Hof Mennonite, Shipshewanna
Mid-America Windmill Museum, Kendallville
RV/MH Hall of Fame, Elkhart
Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame
Studebaker National Museum, South Bend
World of Motorcycles Museum, Winamac

Central Indiana (including Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Nashville)
Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis
Conner Prairie, Fishers
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis
Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis
Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis
Indiana War Memorial & Museum, Indianapolis
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, Indianapolis
Indianapolis Museum of Art @ Newfields, Indianapolis
Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, Madison
Miller House and Garden, Columbus
Model T Ford Museum, Richmond
NCAA Hall of Champions, Indianapolis
Rotary Jail Museum, Crawfordsville
WonderLab Science Museum, Bloomington

Southern Indiana (including Evansville and Santa Claus)
U.S.S. LST Ship Memorial, Evansville
Indiana Military Museum, Vincennes

Indianapolis is one of the very best U.S. cities for museums. For example, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is widely considered the best children's museum in the country. I took my daughter there when she was five and she absolutely loved it.

BEST DAY HIKES IN INDIANA



Indiana offers several great hiking trails/areas, including:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
Cowles Bog Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park
Dune Succession Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes State Park trails
Paul H. Douglas Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park

Central Indiana (including Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Nashville)
McCormick's Creek State Park trails - e.g. Falls Canyon Trail
Ogle Lake Loop, Brown County State Park
Turkey Run State Park trails - including the suspension bridge and the Ladders Trail (aka Trail #3)

Southern Indiana (including Evansville and Santa Claus)
Cave River Valley Natural Area trails
Charlestown State Park trails
Clifty Falls State Park trails, Madison (e.g. Trail 2)
Hemlock Cliffs National Scenic Trail, Hoosier National Forest
Spring Mill State Park trails (e.g. Trail 4)
Two Lakes Loop, Hoosier National Forest

The highpoint of Indiana is Hoosier Hill (1,257), located in central-east Indiana only a few miles from the Ohio border. A short hike is required to reach the top.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN INDIANA



Indiana offers several good backpacking opportunities. Some of premier backpacking routes/areas in Indiana include:

Northern Indiana (including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Shipshewanna, and South Bend)
Bloodroot Trail, Salamonie Lake State Park

Central Indiana (including Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Nashville)
Adena Trace Loop, Brookville Lake
Low Gap Trail, Morgan-Monroe State Forest
Tecumseh Trail, Morgan-Monroe State Forest
Three Lakes Trail, Morgan-Monroe State Forest

Southern Indiana (including Evansville and Santa Claus)
Adventure Hiking Trail, Harrison-Crawford State Forest & O'Bannon Woods State Park
Charles C. Deam Wilderness, Hoosier National Forest
Hoosier National Forest - several backpacking options exist in this national forest
Knobstone Trail, Jackson-Washington and Clark State Forests

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN INDIANA



Indiana offers many outdoor adventures, including these classics:

Backpacking the Knobstone Trail
Canoeing/kayaking the Blue River
Canoeing/kayaking the Flatrock River
Canoeing/kayaking on Sugar Creek
Canoeing/kayaking the Tippecanoe River
Canoeing/kayaking the West Fork of the White River
Canoeing/kayaking on Wildcat Creek
Canoeing/kayaking the Whitewater River
Cycling the Cardinal Greenway
Cycling the Monon Trail
Kayaking the East Race Waterway
Mountain biking in Brown County State Park
Mountain biking in Griffin Bike Park
Mountain biking in Town Run Trail Park
Rock climbing in Muscatatuck Park, North Vernon
Skydiving in Michigan City
Tobogganing in Pokagon State Park
Tubing on Sugar Creek
Tubing the Tippecanoe River
Tubing the West Fork of the White River
Tubing the Whitewater River

SKI RESORTS IN INDIANA



There are currently two ski areas in Indiana (Paoli Peaks and Perfect North Slopes). Both of these ski areas are very small in comparison to major ski areas found in other states.

INDIANA TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Indiana attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN INDIANA



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Indiana:

perch
persimmon pudding
popcorn
pork tenderloin sandwich
sugar cream pie

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Indiana (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Indiana (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY INDIANA INFORMATION



State Capital:
Indianapolis

Major Airports:
Indianapolis International Airport (IND)

Largest Cities:
Indianapolis (901,082), Fort Wayne (265,926), Evansville (117,272), South Bend (103,909), Carmel (103,871), Bloomington (78,920)

Primary U.S. Interstates:
I-64, I-65, I-69, I-70, I-74, I-80, I-90, I-94

State Highpoint:
Hoosier Hill (1,257); a short hike is required to reach the top

Professional Sports Teams:
NBA: Indiana Pacers
NFL: Indianapolis Colts
WNBA: Indiana Fever

Funny or Unique Town/City Names:
Bacon, Floyds Knobs, French Lick, Gnaw Bone, Popcorn, Santa Claus, and Toad Hop

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.



RV Hall of Fame & Museum in Elkhart, Indiana
the RV Hall of Fame & Museum in Elkhart, Indiana

Indianapolis Children's Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis Children's Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana

Giant Great Dane in Brazil, Indiana
Giant Great Dane statue in Brazil, Indiana


ROAD TRIP GUIDEBOOKS



In addition to the information found on my website, I personally recommend purchasing these road trip/travel-related guidebooks. Click on any book cover to read reviews and/or purchase these books on Amazon.com.

        


MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this state travel guide? If so, here are links to more of my comprehensive U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama Maryland Oregon
Arizona Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Arkansas Michigan Rhode Island
California Minnesota South Carolina
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico Washington DC
Iowa New York West Virginia
Kansas North Carolina Wisconsin
Kentucky North Dakota Wyoming
Louisiana Ohio  
Maine Oklahoma  

  Home / U.S. State Travel Guides / U.S. Vacations / U.S. National Parks / U.S. State Highpoints / U.S. Road Trip Planning
Travel & outdoor activities can be extremely dangerous. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! We strongly believe in personal responsibility when it comes to staying safe. We will not be held liable for any injuries and/or death that occur.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
© www.bigroads.com / email: gparsons66@hotmail.com