With an endless array of adventures and activities, the Hoosier State is a spectacular destination for all ages
If you’ve never visited Indiana, you may be amazed at how much there is to do here. Every region of the Hoosier state boasts endless attractions and activities. Outdoor adventures, culinary escapes, eyeopening museums, breathtaking art, and unparalleled excitement. No matter your travel group’s interest, there is something to satisfy every palate and personality.
In the northwest corner of the state, tucked along three miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline is Indiana Dunes State Park. There’s over 2,000 acres of towering sand dunes and primitive habitats that house a variety of plant and wildlife. Take a hike up the dunes to get a stunning view of the lake and surrounding areas or enjoy a day swimming in the lapping waves and relaxing on the beach.
Potato Creek State Park, located 20 minutes from South Bend, is the perfect spot to take in Indiana’s natural beauty. The nearly 4,000-acre park features miles of hiking and biking trails snaking through wetlands, woods, and old farm fields. Visitors can also take in the views from a kayak or canoe on Worster Lake.
Head toward central Indiana to discover Prophetstown State Park, the newest to join the ranks. Located at the junction of Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers, the park boasts dramatic prairie and restored wet slopes known as fens. As they stroll through the prairie, visitors can get a glimpse of 1920s farm life and Native American culture.
Down near Bloomington, groups will find the largest land-bound body of water in Indiana, Monroe Lake. The 10,750-surface acre lake provides plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. Enjoy a day out on the water kayaking or canoeing, or spend some time fishing in a secluded cove, or get the blood pumping with some moderate hiking trails.
If your group loves the water, be sure to check out Lake Wawasee in Syracuse. It’s the largest natural lake in Indiana, offering ample space for lots of activities. For something a little special, reserve a spot on the SS Lillypad, a two-story, 110-passenger dinner boat serving brunch, lunch, or dinner on a two-hour cruise of the lake. JOURNEY BACK IN TIME If your crew is full of history buffs, Indiana has no shortage of significant landmarks and memorials spread across the state.
JOURNEY BACK IN TIME
If your crew is full of history buffs, Indiana has no shortage of significant landmarks and memorials spread across the state.
The Culbertson Mansion, located in New Albany, is admired for its history and architecture. The Second- Empire mansion is stunning both inside and outside, with hand-painted ceilings, walls, and floors, as well as elaborate marble fireplaces and carved staircases. Built in 1867, it was the home of William Culbertson, once said to be the wealthiest man in Indiana.
To get a dose of living history, visit Conner Prairie in Carmel. This 1,000-acre park features 11 distinct areas that focus on different time periods and experiences of 19th century life. Journey from an 1836 Prairie town to the Civil War era to Indiana’s first brick home, all in one day.
Over in Jasper, groups will find Lincoln State Park, established in 1932 as a memorial to Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks. The 1,747-acre park sits on the land where Abraham Lincoln lived as a child. Visitors can tour Colonel Jones’ home, the house of the merchant who employed young Lincoln. Also in the park is the Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church and cemetery, where Lincoln’s sister Sarah is buried. Guests can also check out the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Plaza, which honors the 16th President and his time spent in Indiana.
Those looking to enjoy the National Pastime can pay a visit to historic Bosse Field, which opened in 1915 and was the first municipally owned sports facility in the United States. Only Boston’s Fenway Park (opened in 1912) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field (1914) are older. Bosse Field is the site for the filming of “A League of Their Own” in 1992 and is home to the Evansville Otters, who play independent baseball in the Frontier League.
TAKE AN ARTISTIC STROLL
For creative types, Indiana’s art scene is something to be appreciated. Groups can admire blown glass masterpieces as the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory, the oldest glass company in America. Tours through the facility get you up close to the action, as skilled artisans carefully hand-ladle, roll out, and hand-blow incredible creations.
Columbus is a city of over 47,000 yet The American Institute of Architects ranked it 6th in the nation for architectural innovation and design – right behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The Columbus visitor’s guide lists over 90 buildings and pieces of public art by internationally-noted architects and artists. The Columbus story is regularly featured in national and international publications. Even if you are not an architecture buff, learning how this small town strives for excellence is both unique and inspiring. For those looking for bucket-list experiences, head straight to the Miller House and Garden Tour to experience the acclaimed masterpiece from the dream team of Eero Sarrinen, Dan Kiley, and Alexander Girard. The Visitors Center guided tours have been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor.
Art and nature effortlessly mix at the Quilt Gardens in Elkhart. Between May and September, visitors can wander through 16 stunningly curated gardens, each a different pattern and style.
Add a “happy little accident” to the itinerary with a visit to the Bob Ross Experience at Minnetrista. The famously soft-spoken host of The Joy of Painting filmed most episodes in Muncie, Indiana. The former studio has been refurbished and decorated with memorabilia from Bob’s life and career. Groups can experience all of it right in the historic home where the show was filmed.
ADVENTURE FOR ALL AGES
Groups with multi-generational attendees will find plenty to keep the crew occupied in Indiana. Holiday World in southern Indiana celebrates Christmas, Halloween, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving all at the same time. There are themed roller coasters, games, live entertainment, and rides the whole family will love. Splashin’ Safari, the neighboring water park, is considered one of the best in the country, and boasts the world’s longest water coaster, Mammoth.
If there are race fans in the group, don’t miss a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the famed Indianapolis 500 race. The museum, located within the speedway oval, showcases the rich history of the venue and the sport of auto racing.
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo opened in 1965 and is a 1,000-animal zoo located on 40 acres in Fort Wayne’s Franke Park. The zoo is northeast Indiana’s largest tourist attraction and ranks as one of the Top 10 zoos in the nation. Fort Wayne is also home to Promenade Park, a one-of-a-kind park that joins the city’s natural rivers to its thriving urban center. The park features a variety of family fun attractions including the tree-top canopy trail and kids’ canal.
Get your heart pounding with a journey through the trees. Go Ape Treetop Adventure in Eagle Creek Park is not your ordinary zipline tour. It includes 40 unique obstacles to tackle, as well as Tarzan swings and five ziplines. This list doesn’t begin the scratch the surface of all the activities and attractions Indiana has to offer. The only way to know what you’ve been missing is to experience it yourself.
By Vanessa Day