The Best Indiana Attractions – Things To Do
Indiana, home to the Hoosiers, has a deep history in culture and entertainment. Be it the fun things to do in Indianapolis or family-friendly tourist attractions in Lafayette or Bloomington, there’s no shortage of exciting places you can visit in Indiana.
Several museums throughout the state blend different experiences that offer education and fun under one roof. These educational experiences are the Studebaker Museum, the Snite Museum, and the WonderLab museum. Even though the popular Indianapolis 500 happens only once a year (in May), there is also an on-site museum that celebrates the history of the track throughout the year as a recurring event.
Best Indiana Attractions and Activities
Things To Do in Indiana by City
The state is big on going outside, too. For an adventurous explorer looking to get outdoors, areas like National Lakeshore, Prophetstown, and several others have ample campsites, aesthetic scenery, and beautiful hiking trails. Deciding what to do and where to go while visiting the state can be a challenge. Read on as we take you through some of the best attractions in Indiana.
The Indianapolis Zoo is one of the most family-friendly places in Indiana. The zoo has more than 3,500 animals that belong to 320 subspecies and species. The park opened its gates to the public in 1964, and since then, it has grown to become the state’s go-to place to encounter and discover animals from different ecosystems.
You can embark on several adventures while visiting the zoo, and they aren’t limited by age either. You can spend your day wandering through the different exhibits, opt for a new experience, or even swim with the dolphins. This is the only spot in the Midwest where you can meet dolphins while stepping inside the water.
If that doesn’t seem enticing enough, you can also move towards Rivers Gardens. This way, you’ll get to learn what you can do to help conserve habitat for animals and plants that are present at their conservatory show.
However, the most prominent attraction of the zoo is the five biomes. Each biome consists of animals and plants that belong to a similar habitat. The different biomes are Flights of Fancy, Oceans, Forests, Plains, and Deserts. We can easily say that one visit to the zoo will be an experience that you remember your whole life since you’ll have the chance to explore an aquarium, a botanical garden, and a zoo all under one roof.
Fort Wayne Zoo
Fort Wayne Zoo recently celebrated 50 years of operation. It’s a unique experience that offers tourists the opportunity to visit massively popular exhibits. These are spread throughout the different ecosystems in the zoo that span from the Indonesian Rainforest to the African Serengeti. Inside the zoo, some animals you can find include red pandas, Komodo dragons, Amur Leopards, and Tasmanian Devils.
There are other attractions in the zoo, too, like an Endangered Animals Carousel and several other family-friendly rides. The zoo also has several animal experiences that let visitors interact with ponies, giraffes, and goats. Some recent large-scale renovations in the children’s zoo have become extremely popular since they’ve added to the high level of recognition the museum receives today.
Snite Museum, Notre Dame
As you make your way towards the University of Notre Dame, you will come across the Snite Museum. It has free admission, and once you’re in, you will see art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Their collection contains different cultures’ monumental periods of history. It also has several sculptures, paintings, ceramics from Native Americans, and ample contemporary works that make the museum a popular tourist attraction.
The museum also has a frequently rotating collection of new exhibits, which are also the thesis projects of the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) students at the university. The museum is operational for the public from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Just a couple of blocks away, you’ll find the newly built Sculpture Garden, which lets visitors enjoy the aesthetic art and natural beauty whenever they want. This is one of the most impressive attractions in South Bend.
The university also offers several more opportunities to explore the campus. It’s not too hard to find inspiration since you can step into the Basilica or the shrine of Grotto. You’re also going to find the family ice arena, which is a great way to catch up on a hockey game or participate yourself. For several people visiting the campus, enjoying the Irish football games often on campus is a great way to enjoy the season.
Indiana University has over 200 years of Heritage, and it is without a doubt one of the top attractions in Bloomington. As you step onto the campus, you’ll catch a whiff of the air which has defined historic lecture halls. You’ll also have the chance to walk on historic pathways. One of these will lead you towards the Kirkwood Observatory. The sports that are popular in the university are intertwined in the fabric of the state as well. That is also why Skjodt Hall and the Memorial Stadium are the right gathering spots for the institute’s students.
Other cultural institutes like the IU Arboretum and the Eskenazi Museum are also popular with community members and students. If you’re looking for dining and local shops, you should consider checking out Kirkwood Avenue, a popular spot for students for evening entertainment.
The Children’s Museum
This is a large place where each family member can have a splendid time. It spans 29 acres in the United Northwest region of Indianapolis. It is the biggest children’s museum globally, and you will find several exhibits and science displays. These span from the times of dinosaurs to the astronauts living on the International Space Station. The museum is a definite favorite for children and is an incredibly fulfilling learning experience for adults.
The museum has a collection of several artifacts, interactive experiences, and photo opportunities as well. Some of the exhibits that you find also have planetariums, outdoor exhibits, a children’s theater, and playgrounds for children.
Some other interesting areas for visitors include a full-sized dinosaur skeleton, a 43-feet tall glass sculpture of Dale Chihuly, some mummified dinosaurs, and a landscape designed specifically for preschoolers. The museum hosts many programs and daily events, among several family outings.
There are also some costume-building workshops and astronaut training courses. If you’re looking for more fun things to do, you can also experience a 1917 carousel which can be found on the fourth level. All in all, this is easily one of the best attractions in Indianapolis.
Splashin’ Safari and Holiday World
Splashin Safari has become one of the most popular attractions in Indiana. It has several diverse attractions that offer something for every family member. Aptly called Holiday world, this theme part is bifurcated into four themed sections that celebrate Halloween, Christmas, the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving. Each area has its own attractions, rides, games, and other entertainment options. Some of the most popular attractions inside Holiday World are the three wooden rollercoasters called the Voyage, the Legend, and The Raven.
There are several other rollercoasters that you can enjoy as well. The park has advertised itself as one of the best value-providing attractions throughout Indiana. You can enjoy free access to WiFi, sunscreen, soft drinks, and parking when you’re in the park. At the Splashin’ Safari, a themed waterpark, guests can enjoy two of the longest rollercoasters in the world. You’re also going to find wave pools, raft rides, water slides, and several more attractions that make those hot summer days more fun.
Lincoln’s Boyhood Memorial
Tucked away in a rural and remote corner of the state, you will find the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial, which preserves and protects the site on which the former American president spent most of his childhood. Between 1816 to 1830, the influential Abraham Lincoln and his family lived here. If you’re visiting the memorial, you can learn all about the formative and fascinating history of the marvelous museum. Apart from the several exhibits and various artifacts related to the president, you can also watch a 16-minute film on his life in Indiana.
Apart from this, the memorial also has a pioneer farm. Over here, you’re going to find the archeological remains of the Lincoln cabin. There’s also a wooden replica farmhouse with its own rangers who work on the field’s crops and teach curious visitors about life on the farm. It’s a truly historical experience that is unlike any other.
Set in the southwestern region of the state, the sophisticated yet small town of New Harmony is on the banks of the Wabash River, which borders Illinois. People started settling here in 1814 after a German sect officially founded it. Later on, it was bought by Robert Owen, an English social reformer. Most of the town’s history is still on display today.
While you’re walking around, you’re also coming across some historical landmarks and beautiful architectural marvels. Even though the Owenite and the Harmonist communities erected many churches and houses, others, such as the Harmonist Labyrinth, are more recent creations. Even though neither of the communities lasted for a long time, the residents of this town did have a major role in influencing both education and science. Visitors can also learn about their accomplishments and the history of this town at the Atheneum. This is an angular building that is the town’s own visitor center.
After Ohio and Pennsylvania, Indiana has one of the largest Amish populations in America. Several communities and families still reside on farms, and on these farms, there are many different communities. Most of these people can be found in Middlebury and Shipshewana. Even though the nearby interstate is always buzzing with lorries and cars, you will hear buggies and horses passing by a few minutes away from the main roads.
You can visit this picturesque and unique part of the state to take a trip back. You’re going to find members of the distinctive and devout religious communities as they go about their lives. These people wear simpler clothes and try to maintain their distance from modern (or any) technology. The Amish work in their fields with their hands and then build their houses, churches, and barns without any machinery.
Since these people value their rural lives, manual labor, and humility heavily, they also produce most of their necessities and food. As you travel across the region, you’re also going to find several families that sell their homemade or household items, or they may also be selling fresh produce. Stopping by these attractions will be worth your time before you continue your way toward other attractions in Indiana.
Since it is the home of the main campus of Indiana University, Bloomington has a youthful vibe. Much of the life in the city revolves around the university and its large student body. It lies approximately 80 kilometers southwest of Indianapolis, and it has a picturesque campus. It has a thriving culture of art for which it is famous. Even though the university’s venues and art centers are regularly on display through theater productions, art exhibitions, and music shows, you can also view pictures of them in several museums across the state.
Courthouse Square is the center of activity. You’re going to find university bookshops besides relaxed cafes and bars, and you’re also going to find affordable restaurants serving up cuisines from all around the world. You’re also going to find a large Tibetan region that may interest you if you’re planning on going on a visit to view the several temples and monasteries in the region.
Even though the attractions in Bloomington are enough to keep you and your family members entertained for a few days, you should also remember that the city is famous for being the “Gateway for Southern Indiana.” This is because of the several natural resources within and around the state, such as the Hoosier Forest, Lake Lemon, and Lake Monroe. All of these combine to offer several amazing outdoor recreational activities.
On the southernmost curve of the St. Joseph’s river, you will find South Bend. It lies in the north of the state, and it isn’t too far from the border of Michigan. It is home to some of the largest corporations in the world and is an immensely important cultural and economic hub. This city is most popular for the University of Notre Dame and its renowned Irish football team.
When it’s game day, the adoring fans fill the 77,000 seat stadium, which has a large 40-meter statue known as Touchdown Jesus. As you watch the match and take in the festive atmosphere, you won’t be able to ignore the enormous campus of the university. It has several beautiful art galleries and many other museums that visitors can easily check out.
Even though Notre Dame has a wealth of attractions, in more recent years, the downtown region of South Bend has started gaining attention, too. Several refurbishments and renovations have taken place because of which it has become the go-to spot for many tourists. Most of the city’s previously decapitated buildings have been transformed into cultural centers and entertainment venues tourists adore.
Found precisely in the center of the state, Indianapolis is on the banks of the White River. It is the largest city and is also the capital of the state. While it is also affectionately called the Racing Capital (it hosts the Brickyard 400 and the Indy 500), there’s much more to the city than fumes and cars. This city is a beautiful mix of a modern city with a mid-west community. Indianapolis has a structure unlike any other city in the country and has several larger-than-life monuments.
Hidden amongst the city’s high skyscrapers, you’ll find several artsy and decorative regions with some of the world’s most famous museums. You’re also going to find several diverse cafes and restaurants that serve food worldwide. Even though the exquisite art collection you’ll find at Newfields and the state park are truly a sight to explore, Indianapolis’s standout symbol and sight are the Motor Speedway. Whether you enjoy racing or not, it’s an exhilarating event that lets you see exactly what the city of Indianapolis is all about.
While there are several breath-taking attractions in Indiana, picking the ones for your itinerary is a hard task since there’s a long list of options. We’d advise you first to understand the kind of traveler if we had a say. Do you enjoy visiting museums? Do you like spending time in the wild? Are you more of a downtown person? Once you’ve got the basics down, go through this itinerary again and select locations that suit your requirements. That is only to make your expeditions a lot more fun.