For many, Indiana constitutes what many folks here would call a flyover or drive-through state. If all you do is stick to I-90 and blaze through on your way to Chicago, you might be tempted to agree with them.
However, those that endeavor to venture off the six lane tollways and get out into the great plains of Indiana to discover what makes this state what it is will be duly rewarded. One of the biggest rewards of actively traveling here are the people you’ll meet, from the no-nonsense folks that occupy this folksy portion of the Midwest, to members of a Christian sect known as the Amish who have largely eschewed the technological trappings of our modern society.
One of America’s most vibrant cluster of colleges can be found within this state, while one of the biggest events in the motorsports world goes down once per year at the city that seemingly all roads lead to in this territory – Indianapolis.
So take a little time out of your westward/eastward journey and experience everything that the Crossroads of America has to offer you.
What To Do – Culture & History
Those seeking out the cultural underpinnings of Indiana should start in Indianapolis, which is where the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art can be found. This learning place and art gallery contains one of the largest collections of paintings and sculptures based on Native Americans and life in the American West in the world. If you are hungry after examining their collection, the Sky City Cafe offer US Southwestern cuisine your your noshing pleasure.
Next, proceed to Monument Circle, a circular street that roughly marks the center of Indianapolis. Within the center of this spherical street is the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument, which is an obelisk that honors military personnel from Indiana that dies in five wars, from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish American War. If you want an incredible vantage point to take an amazing photo of Indianapolis, climb the stairs/take the elevator to the top of the monument for only $2.
While sects of this Luddite-like group can be found across the Midwest, the Amish can be found in greater concentrations seemingly than anywhere else. Get to the heart of this yesteryear culture living in a modern world at Amish Acres, found in far north near the border with Michigan in Nappanee.
Purchased from the estate of an Amish clan that had abandoned their homestead in the 1960’s, this place contains a variety of buildings that made this farming community work back in the day, with maple sugar camps, mint distilleries, and apple cider mills included as part of the buildings on site. Crafts, a restaurant and a musical theatre are also found here, granting you a way to experience the life of an Amish, if only for one day.
A more quirky cultural anomaly to check out in Indiana is the RV/MH Hall of Fame, which is a complex that runs down the history of recreational vehicles and mobile homes in America. The exhibits contain RV’s dating back to their inception almost 100 years ago, taking you through the innovations in the industry (such as the first indoor toilet) dating to the present day.
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
The one natural highlight that you should not miss during your time in this state is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Lining the southern shores of Lake Michigan, this 25 mile long series of beaches and dunes isn’t just a great place to go to the beach in the summer time, but an excellent place to learn about the flora and fauna that flourishes in the dune ecology that is so well-preserved here.
Traveling through Indiana in the fall? If so, be sure to make time to visit Brown County State Park, as this place fosters an environment where deciduous trees thrive. As such, the colors that break out in the hills here (yes, Indiana has hills, many of which are found here!) are truly stunning, as the red, oranges and yellows draw native Indianans from the city in droves.
While there are many racetracks sprinkled across the whole of the USA, the hallowed ground of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is treasured by most that love motor sports. It is here that the Indianapolis 500, the world’s most famous race, occurs every Memorial Day weekend, as more than a quarter million spectators watch as the world’s best Indycar racers duke it out for the hotly contested milk jug.
Finally, be sure to check out Notre Dame when you pass through South Bend, as it is one of America’s most famous universities. Traditionally a Catholic university, its churches, libraries, academic buildings, and the stadium where one of the USA’s most watched college football teams are all sights that will make for a well spent day on campus.