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25 Best Things to Do in Southern Indiana

Last Edited on March 15, 2024

23 Best Things to Do in Southern Indiana

French Lick Resort

French Lick Resort

8670 West State Road 56, French Lick, IN 47432, Phone: 812-936-9300

Marengo Cave, Southern Indiana

Marengo Cave, Southern Indiana

400 East State Road 64, Marengo, IN 47140

Patoka Lake State Park

Patoka Lake State Park

3084 N. Dillard Road, Birdseye, IN 47513, Phone: 812-685-2464

Culbertson Mansion

Culbertson Mansion

914 E Main Street, New Albany, IN 47150

Angel Mounds State Historic Site

Angel Mounds State Historic Site

8215 Pollack Avenue, Evansville , IN 47715

Squire Boone Caverns, Southern Indiana

Squire Boone Caverns, Southern Indiana

100 Squire Boone Road SW, Mauckport, IN 47142, Phone: 812-732-4381

Spring Mill State Park

Spring Mill State Park

3333 State Road 60 E, Mitchell, IN 47446, Phone: 812-849-3534

George Rogers Clark Memorial

George Rogers Clark Memorial

401 S. 2nd Street, Vincennes, IN 47591, Phone: 812-882-1776

Evansville Museum

Evansville Museum

411 SE Riverside Drive, Evansville, IN 47713

The Henager “Memories and Nostalgia” Museum

The Henager “Memories and Nostalgia” Museum

8837 S. State Road 57, Buckskin, IN 47613, Phone: 812-795-2230

Dubois County Museum

Dubois County Museum

2704 N Newton Street, Jasper, IN 47546, Phone: 812-634-7733

The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception

The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception

802 E 10th Street, Ferdinand, IN 47532, Phone: 812-367-1411

Bluespring Caverns, Southern Indiana

Bluespring Caverns, Southern Indiana

1459 Blue Springs Cavern Road, Bedford, IN 47421, Phone: 812-279-9471

French Lick West Baden Museum

French Lick West Baden Museum

469 S Maple Street #103, French Lick, IN 47432, Phone: 812-936-3592

French Lick Scenic Railway

French Lick Scenic Railway

8594 W. State Road 56, Box 150, French Lick, IN 47432, Phone: 800-748-7246

Sycamore Springs Park

Sycamore Springs Park

717 West Tunnel Hill Road, English, IN 47118, Phone: 812-338-3846

Gasthof Amish Village

Gasthof Amish Village

6747 E Gasthof Village Road, Montgomery, IN 47558, Phone: 812-486-2600

G.A. Schimpff’s Confectionery

G.A. Schimpff’s Confectionery

347 Spring Street, Jeffersonville, IN 47130, Phone: 812-283-8367

Indiana Caverns

Indiana Caverns

1267 Green Acres Drive SW, Corydon, IN 47112, Phone: 812-734-1200

O'Bannon Woods Pioneer Farmstead

O'Bannon Woods Pioneer Farmstead

More ideas: Lakes in Indiana

Dubois County Bombers

Dubois County Bombers

203 South Cherry Street, Huntingburg, IN 47542, Phone: 812-683-3700

Caesars Southern Indiana Casino

Caesars Southern Indiana Casino

More ideas: Things to do in Richmond, IN

French Lick Winery & Vintage Cafe

French Lick Winery & Vintage Cafe

8145 W Sinclair Street, West Baden Springs, IN 47469, Phone: 812-936-2293

Clifty Falls State Park

Clifty Falls State Park

1501 Green Rd, Madison, IN 47250, 812-273-8885

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

452 E Christmas Blvd, Santa Claus, IN 47579, 800-467-2682

  • 1. French Lick Resort
  • 2. Marengo Cave, Southern Indiana
  • 3. Patoka Lake State Park
  • 4. Culbertson Mansion
  • 5. Angel Mounds State Historic Site
  • 6. Squire Boone Caverns, Southern Indiana
  • 7. Spring Mill State Park
  • 8. George Rogers Clark Memorial
  • 9. Evansville Museum
  • 10. The Henager “Memories and Nostalgia” Museum
  • 11. Dubois County Museum
  • 12. The Monastery of the Immaculate Conception
  • 13. Bluespring Caverns, Southern Indiana
  • 14. French Lick West Baden Museum
  • 15. French Lick Scenic Railway
  • 16. Sycamore Springs Park
  • 17. Gasthof Amish Village
  • 18. G.A. Schimpff’s Confectionery
  • 19. Indiana Caverns
  • 20. O'Bannon Woods Pioneer Farmstead
  • 21. Dubois County Bombers
  • 22. Caesars Southern Indiana Casino
  • 23. French Lick Winery & Vintage Cafe
  • 24. Clifty Falls State Park
  • 25. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

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southern indiana tourist attractions

18 Best Things to Do in Southern Indiana

  • Posted By Katy Mann

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southern indiana tourist attractions

One of our favorite family road trips was to Southern Indiana for a weekend called Thunder Over Louisville . While we were visiting, the Indiana side of the Ohio River, we found so many things to do with our kids.

When I found out there was a summer fun trail in Southern Indiana, that’s when I knew we needed to make a return trip to go on new adventures.

Things to Do in Southern Indiana

This summer, everyone should make a quick road trip to southern Indiana and participate in the SoIN Fun Trail ! This free digital passport allows you to earn points for visiting restaurants, attractions, stores, and more. Check-in on your phone and earn points. Trade in those points for cool swag!

These are some of our favorite things to do in Southern Indiana. Additionally, you’ll find most of these on the SoIN Fun Trail. The Southern Indiana Fun Trail includes cities in Clark County, Indiana, and Floyd County, Indiana.

The Woods ATV Adventures

9699 Saint John’s Road, Borden, IN

If you crave adventure in the outdoors, The Woods ATV Adventures is the perfect centerpiece for your weekend in Southern Indiana. This full-service ATV company provides the vehicle, a guide, safety equipment, training and orientation, and even casual photography services. With tours starting at $48 per person, guests ages eight years and older can enjoy a fun family ride or a trip with a trail boss.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Everyone in our family loved this excursion — we ran through giant mud puddles, crossed small creeks, climbed hills, saw an airplane wreck, heard tales about the woods, and took in breathtaking landscapes from the most scenic points in the entire state. 10/10 would recommend this adventure to everyone!

Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards

19816 Huber Rd, Borden, IN

This fall hot spot is popular year-round because of its offerings at the Winery, distillery, and u-pick produce fields. In addition to being known as Indiana’s #1 pumpkin patch, at Huber’s, you can pick apples, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and more.

southern indiana tourist attractions

While you visit, you can shop in the farm market for fresh foods, eat in the cafe, enjoy music and wine in the courtyard, or let the kids run free at the family farm park. There’s a lot to do at Huber’s Orchard and Winery, if we had time, we could have easily stayed the whole day.

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River Run Family Water Park

224 W Daisy Ln, New Albany, IN

River Run Family Water Park is the coolest place to be during the hot months in Southern Indiana. Operated by the New Albany Parks and Recreation Department, River Run has a great selection of water-based attractions for all age groups. Children of most ages and adults will all love spending hot summer days at the waterpark.

southern indiana tourist attractions

You’ll find a lazy river with tubes for floating throughout the park, four different water slides, including a bowl slide, a zero-depth entry pool with a steamboat-themed activity area, and a shallow toddler play area and splash pad. There’s a concession area and lots of seating and deck chairs. River Run provides a refreshing escape from the summer heat and hours of fun.

NoCo Arts & Cultural District

628 Michigan Ave, Jeffersonville, IN

southern indiana tourist attractions

The Depot is the newest addition to the NoCo District, it’s a unique family-friendly space that uses shipping containers for food service, entertainment areas, and retail. A train car is home to food and beverage establishments and so many local events take place in this space — an ice skating rink in the winter, concerts, markets, and other events.

Howard Steamboat Museum

1101 E Market St, Jeffersonville, IN

The Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville is right along the river. This gorgeous mansion was once the residence of the Howard family, one of the most notable steamboat builders and a prominent family in Jeffersonville. While at the museum, we learned about the Howard family and their importance in the steamboat industry.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Guests can “poke around” and check out the Victorian architecture of the home and learn about the ornate details and how they reflect and were influenced by steamboats. There are items from World’s Fairs and expositions, stained glass windows, and elaborately detailed woodwork. Kids will love the miniature replicas or models of steamboats and learning about how the family lived in this community. My kids were most impressed by the deafening sound of the steamboat bell in the yard. Be sure to give it a ring during your visit.

Falls of the Ohio State Park

201 W. Riverside Dr. Clarksville, IN

The Falls of the Ohio State Park in Indiana is one of our family’s favorite Indiana State Parks. My children love it because every time we visit, it feels new and there are different treasures to see. I love visiting because it’s a beautiful place to watch the river and imagine what life was like decades ago, centuries ago, and even millions of years ago.

southern indiana tourist attractions

If you like fossils or hiking, this state park is a great stop for your family. You’ll have access to a seemingly endless expanse of fossil beds, fossil-rich limestone that preserved creatures over time. You’ll see the fossils of corals, brachiopods, trilobites, snails, clams, and others. Often, there are programs at the park that allow guests to dig through collecting piles that are brought in from the area. In these piles, you’ll be able to find fossils and take them with you.

The Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center is a great place to visit with kids, before AND after your visit to the fossil beds. It’s currently closed for renovations, but we’ve walked through during previous visits and learned so much about the Falls of the Ohio.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Other nearby Indiana State Parks and DNR properties include Charlestown State Park, Clifty Falls State Park, O’Bannon Woods State Park, Clark State Forest, Deam Lake State Recreation Area, Indian, and Celina Lakes Recreation Area, Tipsaw Lake Recreational Area, Taylorsville Lake State Park, Hoosier National Forest.

Southern Indiana Visitor Center

305 Southern Indiana Avenue, Jeffersonville, IN

Every perfectly planned vacation starts at the local visitor center. You can find brochures, maps, discount offers, and guidebooks at most visitor centers and the Southern Indiana Visitor Center is no exception. Plus, during regular hours, there’s a helpful expert there to answer any questions and share recommendations.

southern indiana tourist attractions

We stopped into the Visitor Center partway through our trip and cashed in our points from participating in the free SoIN Fun Trail. We took home some fantastic souvenirs and prizes to commemorate our family vacation…for FREE!

SoIN Fun Trail

The SoIN Fun Trail is like the summer reading program of travel and adventure. You sign up for the free digital passport that connects you to Southern Indiana attractions, restaurants, and shops. You’ll use the passport from May 17 – July 31, 2023, and check in to participating places you visit in Southern Indiana. You’ll earn prizes as you explore SoIN and the best part? There are discounts and special offers at participating locations within the digital passport!

southern indiana tourist attractions

With each check-in, you’ll earn points, which you can use to shop for prizes. The digital passport keeps track of your points and shows you which prizes you are eligible for. Be sure to use your points before they expire on August 15, 2023. All prizes must be picked up from the Southern Indiana Visitor Center in Jeffersonville.

Big 4 Bridge

A decommissioned railroad bridge that’s been repurposed for cyclists and pedestrians is an impressive structure in this area of Jeffersonville, Indiana. The bridge spans across the Ohio River, connecting Louisville, Kentucky, with Jeffersonville, Indiana. It’s a safe and spectacular way to cross without a motorized vehicle. Along the way, there are places to learn about the river and the bridge and enjoy the breathtaking river views.

At the entrance to the bridge on the Indiana side, you’ll find a vibrant area full of delicious places to eat and visit, plus a park and community gathering space. My kids love the climbing structures at the Big 4 Station Park.

Rosie the Riveter Statue

430 Ohio River Scenic Byway, Clarksville, IN

Rose Will Monroe, one of four “official” Rosie the Riveters during World War II, settled in Clarksville, Indiana after the war. A tribute is located in Ashland Park, where kids can play after you pose with the Rosie the Riveter statue.

New Albany National Cemetery

1943 Ekin Ave, New Albany, IN

The New Albany National Cemetery is one of the original 14 national cemeteries established during the Civil War. Visitors to the New Albany National Cemetery have the opportunity to honor and pay their respects to those who have served in the armed forces.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Whether you come to reflect on the sacrifices of the brave, learn about the rich history of the cemetery, or simply find a moment of tranquility, this sacred place offers a meaningful experience.

Veterans of the Indian Wars, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam are buried in this cemetery as well.

Union Restaurant & Gameyard 115 W Chestnut St, Jeffersonville, IN

If you’re looking for a place to eat AND a place to play, the Gameyard at the Union Restaurant is the perfect landing place. Union Restaurant has an outdoor game yard area where everyone can enjoy outdoor games, activities, and even entertainment.

All ages can play cornhole, giant Jenga, giant beer pong, Connect Four, bocce ball, and more. There’s outdoor seating or you can just meander around while you enjoy a refreshing beverage. Free arcade games are located inside the restaurant.

336 Pearl St, New Albany, IN

RecBar 812 is an epic hangout for all ages. There are retro arcade games, pinball machines, food, and drinks. The nostalgia is strong at RecBar, from the collection of signs to the murals on the wall, to the collection of arcade games, you’ll step right into a real-life throwback.

southern indiana tourist attractions

The food at RecBar is really good too! Order from an eclectic menu with unique dishes, like the boomshakalaka shrimp tacos, Frosted Flake tenders (chicken tenders breaded in Frosted Flake cereal), and cowabunga totchos.

Legacy Pizza & Bakery

1001 Vincennes St Suite 100, New Albany, IN

The front window of Legacy Pizza & Bakery brings to mind scenes from the movies where a quaint family restaurant is a focal point. You’ll love the food and bakery items. If you’re looking for gluten-free food options, Legacy Pizza has a few choices.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Fresh salads, yummy sandwiches, savory pizzas, and scrumptious cannolis are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the delicious choices at Legacy Pizza. Be sure to grab some freshly baked bread to take home!

Joe Huber’s Family Farm & Restaurant

2421 Engle Rd, Starlight, IN

Joe Huber’s Family Farm & Restaurant is a popular destination for locals and visitors looking for a high-value, delicious dining experience, and escape to the farm. There’s a wide assortment of activities — from visiting and feeding animals to picking produce to the play area to shopping in the farm market.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Joe Huber’s is known for its delicious home-cooked meals including some classic comfort food; fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, cornbread, fried biscuits with apple butter, and homemade pies. It’s a great place for families of all sizes.

Uncommon Cups & Cones

518 Vincennes St, New Albany, IN

This adorable ice cream shop has a shabby chic vintage feel. You’ll want to eat your ice cream in the shop because there are so many things to look at and fun table games to play. The ice cream flavors are plentiful, including lots of gluten-free options and even dairy free.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Sundaes, ice cream floats, banana splits, an ice cream flight, and ice cream nachos are all on the menu. We tried the ice cream flight which is eight mini scoops of ice cream in a dish. This was a wonderful way to try eight different flavors.

Geraldine’s Kitchen

402 Wall St, Jeffersonville, IN

Geraldine’s Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch daily. There are affordable menu selections for kids and a robust menu offering for everyone. We loved the omelets, biscuits, and gravy, loaded hashbrowns, and French toast. There really is something for everyone on this menu.

Belle of Louisville

401 W River Rd, Louisville, KY

The Belle of Louisville is a steamboat, one of the oldest operating steamboats in the United States. The Belle has regular sightseeing cruises on the Ohio River, just across the bridge on the Kentucky side. This steamboat was built in 1914 and the interior has been restored to look like it did when it operated a century ago.

southern indiana tourist attractions

There are entertainment cruises with live music, dining cruises with food, and other special events. You can take a nostalgic journey on the steamboat and hear the whistle and watch the paddle wheel. While on your cruise, you can visit the Engine Room and the Boiler Room where you are welcome to ask questions of the engineers and firemen. The steam-powered organ, the calliope on board the Belle of Louisville will play before the cruise. It can be heard up to five miles away!

There’s a lot to see aboard this National Historic Landmark.

Southern Indiana Road Trip

As you can see, Southern Indiana offers a pleathora of attractions and activities that cater to a wide range of interests. From the natural beauty of Falls of the Ohio State Park and Deam Lake to the cultural experiences found in the NoCo Arts & Cultural District, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Adventure seekers can embark on thrilling ATV rides, while history enthusiasts can delve into the past at the Howard Steamboat Museum. Whether it’s savoring local flavors at Huber’s Orchard & Winery or enjoying family-friendly fun at River Run Family Water Park, Southern Indiana offers a diverse array of experiences to create lasting memories. With its charming towns, scenic landscapes, and welcoming communities, Southern Indiana is a destination that should not be overlooked.

So, pack your bags and embark on an unforgettable journey on the SoIN Fun Trail!

Katy Mann

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Corydon, Indiana

21 Fun Things To Do in Indiana with Kids this Weekend

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Plan a Trip

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Plan Your Southern Indiana Getaway

Southern Indiana Attractions

Small town, Big fun.

History is just one chapter in our story. Take a deeper look, and you’ll discover hidden gems that make Harrison County a unique and exciting retreat for adults and kids alike.

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Harrison County Caves

Underground Adventure for all seasons.

When you're spending time underground, the weather really doesn't matter! It's always 54 degrees in our caves. Visit Indiana Caverns or Squire Boone Caverns for year-round fun.

Trip Ideas and More

Plan Your Trip

Plan the best adventure for your crew with trip itineraries to fit everyone!

southern indiana tourist attractions

Family Fun Itinerary

southern indiana tourist attractions

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southern indiana tourist attractions

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southern indiana tourist attractions

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EXPLORE ATTRACTIONS

Southern Indiana Attractions and Things to Do

Time required.

southern indiana tourist attractions

1816 Modern Kitchen & Drinks

A contemporary approach to comfort food classics and craft cocktails.

southern indiana tourist attractions

A Walking Tour of Corydon

Home of Indiana’s First State Capitol, Corydon’s historic buildings and sites.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Along Blue River Cabin Rentals

Two cabins on the Blue River.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Arby’s

Arby’s sandwich shops are known for slow roasted roast beef, turkey, and more.

southern indiana tourist attractions

B3Q Barbecue

Try B3Q’s unforgettable Southern-style barbecue!

southern indiana tourist attractions

Backroads Market

One-of-a-kind creations from local artists

southern indiana tourist attractions

Bagel Girls

Fresh Bagels, sandwiches, sweets & much more – made from scratch daily….

southern indiana tourist attractions

Bat Chaser at Indiana Caverns

Indiana Cavern’s Bat Chaser combines ziplining and free falling in a family-friendly experience

southern indiana tourist attractions

Battle of Corydon Historic Site

Site of the only Civil War battle fought on Indiana soil.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Baymont Inn & Suites

Make yourself at home at the Baymont Inn & Suites Corydon.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Beaver Street Tap Room

Full food and drink menu with craft beers and house brews.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s

The perfect place to watch the game with 30 TVs.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Best Vineyards Winery & Distillery

Family owned and operated, producing wine and spirits.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Bicentennial Park

Convenient picnic spot in Historic Downtown Corydon.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Bill’s on the Hill

Barbeque at Old Capital Golf Club with Bill’s homemade rubs sauces.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Blaine H. Wiseman Visitor Center

Visitor information, souvenirs, and discount cave tickets.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Bryant’s Blueberries

Bryant’s Blueberry Farm is a pick-your-own blueberry farm.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Buffalo Trace Park

Buffalo Trace Park includes a 30-acre lake with a beach, fishing, camping, and more.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

More Than Just History

Sure, we’ll be forever celebrated in Indiana history as the state’s first capital, but history is just one chapter in our story. Take a deeper look, and you’ll discover hidden gems that make Harrison County a unique and exciting retreat for adults and kids alike.

Nestled in the hills of Southern Indiana just 30 miles west of Louisville, we offer unexpected adventures and charming Hoosier hospitality where memory-making lasts a lifetime. Here you can enjoy an authentic slice of Americana while also experiencing thrilling natural wonders, lively art and music, wineries, and breathtaking landscape.

Nature is at the heart of what makes this a destination like no other. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping outdoor fun or peaceful scenery, we offer the best of both worlds. Adventure enthusiasts can hike or bike park trails, discover the mystery of Southern Indiana’s natural caverns and caves, and zipline through the treetops—just to name a few.

While you can count on plenty of adventure in Corydon, a quiet escape awaits where you can rest, relax, and recharge. Tucked inside the Harrison Crawford State Forest, O’Bannon Woods State Park offers camping, fishing, boating, swimming, and so much more. Afterward you can sip Chardonnay at a local winery, tour historic buildings, pick up some fresh fruit at a farmer’s market, play a round of golf, picnic at the park, and stroll through quaint local shops.

Corydon goes big on the arts, too. Annual festivals throughout the year showcase local artisans selling stunning handmade items. Why not let your own creativity shine by trying your hand at painting, drawing, and more at one of the do-it-yourself art studios? And if you like music, you’ve come to the right place. Corydon hosts Bluegrass on the Square, country music performances, free weekly concerts downtown throughout the summer, and musical guests at local wineries.

Who says you need to spend a lot to have a good time? Whether you come for the weekend or stay the whole week, a trip to Corydon is easy on the wallet but heavy on fun. With so much to do, there’s truly something for all ages and stages. We can’t wait to see you!

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FOOTLOOSE at Derby Dinner Playhouse

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Annual festival in down town Orleans to commemorate the blooming of the Dogwoods. April 20 – 27, 2024. Enjoy ca...

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Thunder Over Louisville

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Things to do IN French Lick Indiana

About this road trip, outdoor adventures of all kinds.

Get ready for a personal encounter with an elephant or giraffe at Wilstem Wildlife Park, also home to grizzlies, kangaroos and other friendly furry creatures. New in 2020 — drive your car through their safari. While you’re at Wilstem, you can go horseback riding, do side-by-side ATV tours and soar through the trees on their zipline tour. Bring your own boat or rent one for days of fun at Patoka Lake, where you can stay overnight in a floating cabin. You can even take a sunset wine cruise on Patoka Lake.

Historic Destinations for Today

French Lick Resort is made up of two grand hotels — French Lick and West Baden. Both are more than 100 years old, completely restored to their original grandeur with the modern amenities you want. The hotels have amazing spas, indoor and outdoor pools, beautiful grounds and interesting histories — take one of the guided tours to learn about the original rivalry between the two locations. There’s also horseback riding, bowling, a kids center, shopping, bicycles, casual to fine dining, carriage rides, a  casino  and comfortable rockers gracing enormous porches. Check out more history at the  French Lick West Baden Museum , where you will see a room-sized miniature Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.

A Taste of French Lick

You’ll get views of the area you can’t get anywhere else when you do an excursion on  French Lick Scenic Railway . Choose a bourbon or chocolate tasting excursion or opt for a dinner train. You can even go on a Wild West Shootout adventure or take a day-long trip to Jasper and back. There are also several options for tastings at local wineries and distillery. The family-owned French Lick Wine & Spirits includes a wine tasting bar, The Vintage Cafe and gift shop. Their newest venture, Spirits of French Lick, is the largest pot-still distillery in Indiana, creating pre-prohibition style products. The nearby Patoka Lake Winery is located in a homey lodge-like setting with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Amazing Views & Courses for all Levels

French Lick Resort is a golfer’s dream destination, as it’s home to three courses. They told Pete Dye it couldn’t be done, but he showed them he could do it. The challenging Pete Dye Course at French Lick is one of America’s top-ranked courses and includes miles-long views from its high elevations. The  Donald Ross Course  was originally constructed in 1917 and underwent a major restoration in 2007. The  Valley Links Course  is great for families. It’s a nine-hole course that was converted from the 18-hole Tom Bendelow design that was original to French Lick Springs Hotel. Valley Links Course also offers FootGolf, a fun family game that combines elements of soccer and golf.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING IN FRENCH LICK

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10 Adorable Small Towns In Southern Indiana

southern indiana tourist attractions

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  • Destinations
  • United States

Southern Indiana is filled with several small towns of under 15,000 people. Each adorable small town offers experiences unlike any other. If you are looking for a small-town experience, you can have an enjoyable time in Indiana. These small towns will lure you in with their love of Indiana products and an opportunity to welcome you into their community. Antique fans will love this area of Indiana, as the majority of these adorable small towns have several antique shops waiting for you. The two-lane highways are a great place to begin your journey in visiting smaller towns all across the country. Small towns play big when it comes to offering things for you and me to see and do. Here are several adorable small towns in Indiana that you need to have on your radar.

1. French Lick

French Lick, Indiana, is home to rolling hills and a resort that you will fall in love with. The West Baden Springs Hotel is an award-winning property with an atrium that spans more than 200 feet. It’s vast, beautiful, and an experience you will never forget. The French Lick Springs Hotel is an American Classic with memories of a lifetime. Golfing, hiking, spas, gardens, and historic tours are amenities offered at these properties. The well-known restaurant, 33 Brick Street , is where you can dine and see legendary basketball player Larry Bird’s trophies and jersey. You can also troll the streets and shop in the stores that carry unique products to the area. I would recommend that you stay as busy or relaxed as you choose when you visit French Lick.

Historic buildings, downtown Corydon, Indiana.

Melinda Fawver / Shutterstock

Corydon is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and biking are all very popular in this area in Indiana. History comes to life in all corners of this town. Indiana’s first state capital was in Corydon. You can tour the Federal-style limestone capitol building that was built in the early 1800s. The signage around town will help you identify all of the historical sites and understand more about the history of Corydon. Explore The Battle of Corydon Battlefield and learn stories that run deep with local history. Before you leave town, enjoy a winery, shopping with local artisans, and enjoy a good meal or two.

3. Rising Sun

There’s something to be said about a river and the charm of a small town. Rising Sun, Indiana, is no exception. Enjoy the views of the Ohio River as you stroll the riverwalk. Rising Sun Riverwalk park offers an incredible picnic area as well as playground equipment. This park is the area where several events and festivals are held throughout the year. Antique lovers will enjoy the shopping opportunities in this river town as well as an opportunity to meet fellow antique enthusiasts. A fun fact about Rising Sun is that the state’s oldest courthouse in continuous use is located in this river town.

Broadway Fountain, Madison, Indiana.

brianasiracuse / Shutterstock

Madison, Indiana, is where rolling hills and bluffs meet the Ohio River. If a road trip is part of your visit, be sure to travel the Ohio River Scenic Route . Many people visit Madison to see Broadway Fountain, one of only four remaining of this style in the world. Originally exhibited in Philadelphia in 1876, it was presented to the city in 1886 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In 1976, this fountain was recast in bronze to celebrate America’s bicentennial. Shopping in the area offers Indiana-made products, and antique shops are abundant. If you are on the hunt for a specific treasure, there’s a good chance that you will find it in Madison. Kick back and enjoy the slower pace that Madison has to offer.

Outdoor fans will appreciate Salem, Indiana, and the history that goes along with it. Beck’s Mill showcases a slice of a quieter time and an opportunity to go back in time. This old mill sat still for years and was recently brought back to life through the work of volunteers. The majority of the mill is wheelchair accessible, and cash and check are the forms of payment accepted on-site. Hunter’s Ridge Winery is a popular spot for locals and visitors to hang out. Railroad lovers will enjoy the depot railroad museum in the town of Salem. There’s a little something for everyone in this small town, including the Salem Speedway.

Hillside in Paoli, Indiana.

Jim Bethel / Shutterstock

This small town in Southern Indiana offers an experience that you can’t find in many other places. It’s located near French Lick and can easily be incorporated with a visit there. Willstem is a 1,100-acre outdoor attraction . You can bathe an elephant, take a zipline tour, participate in an ATV tour, and take a trail ride by horseback. I have not visited Wilstem, but several of my friends have and they have bathed elephants. This type of animal encounter puts this town high on my list of places to visit in Southern Indiana. Several specialty shops make this a favorite place to shop for souvenirs and gifts.

Linton, Indiana, knows how to celebrate Independence Day. They have the largest 4th of July parade in the state of Indiana. The town swells to more than 40,000 people over the week-long celebration known as Freedom Festival. Small-town charm with a patriotic theme makes for the perfect time to visit Linton. Several other events and festivals are held in this small community throughout the year. Sunset Park is nearby and offers camping and outdoor activities, including fishing.

Inside Marengo Cave, Marengo, Indiana.

Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock

Caving is popular in Southern Indiana and Marengo, Indiana, is no exception. The Marengo Cave is a U.S. National Landmark and visited by thousands every year. If you are looking for a different type of outdoor adventure in a small town, this national landmark is perfect for you. The rural setting and opportunity to explore something new make Marengo a small Indiana town to have your eyes on.

9. New Harmony

New Harmony, Indiana, offers antiques, art galleries, history, and numerous outdoor experiences. A highlight of New Harmony is 12 buildings from the early 19th century and 20 properties from other mid-19th century timeframes. Are you curious about whiskey and how it tastes? Rod Clark’s Whiskey Experience is a popular thing to try when you visit. The New Harmony Dulcimer Company brings music to the town. Listen and you may hear a dulcimer playing while you stroll the streets of New Harmony. If a nighttime thrill is something you desire, book a ghost tour and experience New Harmony in the dark. No matter what time you visit, you will enjoy yourself in this small Southern Indiana town.

Rock Rest Falls, Cali Nature Preserve.

Kenneth Keifer / Shutterstock

10. North Vernon

Situated North of Madison, this town could be incorporated into your visit to Madison. The Classic Stained Glass and Gift Gallery is a favorite shop of mine. I have never taken a class, but you can learn how to make stained glass in this gallery in North Vernon, Indiana. Muscatatuck County Park is nearby and includes camping; also nearby is Cali Nature Preserve, where you can find Rock Rest Falls, pictured above.

Pro Tips For Visiting Southern Indiana

Southern Indiana does experience all four seasons, making it a destination to visit different times of the year for different experiences. Many nature areas offer hiking trails in the warmer months and cross-country skiing in the cooler months. Shoulder seasons, from April to May and September to October, are ideal times to visit. Some of the attractions are closed for the season, but many things are open and the crowds are gone.

Southern Indiana has several distilleries and wineries for you to experience. Some of them offer indoor and outdoor music as well as a fun shopping experience.

Southern Indiana offers a beautiful landscape that includes cliffs, valleys, and overviews of the rivers that border Indiana in many different spots. Take the two-lane highways and you will come upon some of the most adorable small towns in the country. Bakeries and pie shops are located in some of America’s smallest towns, Indiana included. There’s something special about having a baker serve up a hot slice of pie that they made with their hands and served to you with love. When you visit these small towns, you will experience the heart of the people in these smaller communities.

The shopping is often unique and the hours sometimes vary. Many shop owners are sole business owners and run the business themselves and have to step away for short periods of time. Be flexible and realize that the sign on the door that says, “Opens noonish and closes at 3:30ish” is a real note. There is a real person behind those words. It’s often someone who is working hard 7 days a week for more than 10 hours a day.

Allow yourself to become acquainted with the folks in these small towns. The chances are fairly good that you will find yourself staying connected with the people you meet up with. I have met many people in small towns all across America, and it’s not uncommon to meet up with them in a restaurant and enjoy some local cooking.

Related Reading:

  • How To Spend A Perfect Day In Quaint New Harmony, Indiana
  • 9 Best Outdoor Activities In Lively Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • 11 Best Things To Do Outdoors In Beautiful Bloomington, Indiana
  • 7 Best Golf Courses For The Money In Indiana

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Spring Things To Do

Rose Island Abandoned Amusement Park

Parks & Trails From serene settings to adventurous trails, you'll find the perfect park outdoors! Visit Origin Park ,  Charlestown State Park , Clark State Forest , and Deam Lake State Recreation Area if you like to camp, hike, boat, and get refreshed in a lake. If you’re more of a biker or if you have kids that like playgrounds, visit Big Four Station Park or Ashland Park , which are both along the riverside and offer access to the Ohio River Greenway , a paved path for pedestrians and cyclists.

Fuzzy Zoeller's Champions Point Golf

Golf SoIN is home to six  public golf courses , two designed by Masters champion and southern Indiana native, Fuzzy Zoeller,  Champions Pointe , and Covered Bridge . All courses are beautifully designed! Take a spring getaway with your friends and play as many holes as you can!

Family Berry Picking at Huber's Orchard & Winery

Huber's Orchard, Winery & Vineyards Indiana's largest estate-bottled winery is also the site of the newly expanded Starlight Distillery . Enjoy wine tastings, take a tour, and explore the market. Don't forget the kids, they'll have a blast running around the farm and on the playground. 

Louisville City FC

Louisville City FC & Racing Louisville FC Check out a Louisville City FC  or Racing Louisville FC  soccer match at Lynn Family Stadium. SoIN Tourism has partnered with both teams for home game ticket giveaways!

  • Louisville City FC home game schedule & ticket giveaway .
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Aerial view of Louisville Slugger Field

Louisville Bats Catch the start of the  Louisville Bats  season. There's nothing like watching baseball with a hot dog and a cold beverage in this stadium just across the street from Waterfront Park. 

The Woods ATV

The Woods ATV Adventures Explore over 500 acres of classified forest in Starlight Indiana with The Woods ATV Adventures . U-Drive ATVs allow you to take hold of your adventurous side on our guided sightseeing experience! Make lifelong memories! View their website here for the most up-to-date info.    

Downtown New Albany Shopping

Downtown Shopping Springtime is for shopping for new clothes, jewelry, and other knick-knacks. Downtown Jeffersonville and New Albany have everything you need from boutiques like Sapphire or Dress and Dwell  to the decor at  Madhouse to unique gifts at Sugar Maples and so much more. 

RecBar 812

Recbar 812 The perfect place for your family or friends to hang out and have fun. Recbar 812 features 200+ retro and modern games, ping pong, shuffleboard, and 20 beers on tap. You must order their famous "totchos", which are loaded nachos made with tater tots. 

Park Ranger and family at the Falls of the Ohio State Park

Falls of the Ohio State Park Hike on 390-million-year-old fossil beds, the largest exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world. The renovated interpretive center features hands-on exhibits in four-themed time tunnels: An Ancient Sea, A Changing Land, Converging Cultures, and The Falls Today. 

Girl and Hippo at Louisville Zoo

Louisville Zoo The Louisville Zoo is home to 6 different exhibits which include Africa, Australia, Glacier Run, HerpAquarium, Islands, and South America. Be sure to check out the Wild Lights Around The World Festival going on throughout March, April, and May.  

The Culbertson Mansion

Museums Southern Indiana is home to a few of historical and cultural museums like the Floyd County Library Cultural Arts Center , Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site , Vintage Fire Museum , and Howard Steamboat Museum . If those don't sound like they tickle your fancy, then head over to Louisville, which is just 1-mile from Southern Indiana. Explore museums like the Frazier History Museum , Kentucky Derby Museum , Kentucky Science Center , Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory , Muhammad Ali Center and Speed Art Museum .

Man Making candy at Schimpff's in Southern Indiana

Schimpff's Confectionery Taste the sweet history at one of the oldest and continuously run candy shops in the U.S. Live candy-making demonstrations are a must-see at this attraction, family-owned and operated since 1891. 

NoCo Arts & Cultural District Murals

NoCo Arts & Cultural District This vibrant and growing public art district in downtown Jeffersonville is sensational this time of year. Perfect for friends and families to explore local, outdoor art. Keep an eye out for events at The Depot, which hosts musical acts, markets and more in the warmer months. 

Derby Dinner Playhouse Footloose

Derby Dinner Playhouse There is nothing better than having a delicious meal while being entertained by one of your favorite musicals, the magical component of Derby Dinner Playhouse . This is one of the oldest and largest continually operating dinner theatres in the country, and its shows do not disappoint. This spring they'll be showing Footloose , a musical that celebrates the exhilaration of youth, the wisdom of listening to one another, and the power of forgiveness, happening from April 3 to May 19. 

Sporting Club at the Farm Archery

The Sporting Club at the Farm A newer attraction that offers pure outdoor fun. The Sporting Club at the Farm offers archery, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, and more. 

Big Four Bridge and Belle of Louisville At Dusk

Belle of Louisville Riverboats Ride aboard the Belle of Louisville , the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the U.S., or the Mary M. Miller riverboat, named after the first woman steamboat captain in the U.S., who was from Louisville, KY. You'll get fantastic views of Louisville and southern Indiana.

People in hard hats ziplining in Louisville Mega-Cavern

Louisville Mega Cavern Enjoy an incredible attraction for the ultimate adrenaline junkie in an underground cave. Louisville Mega Cavern offers ziplining, a rope challenge course, and all sorts of tours. 

Kids eating ice cream at Joe Huber's Soda Shoppe Ice Cream

Joe Huber's Family Farm & Restaurant Country cookin' is on the menu at  Joe Huber's . Kids can feed the ducks, catch fish, explore the farm, and play on the playground. 

New Albany Farmers Market

Farmers Markets Can't wait to taste the first local spring vegetables? Visit Southern Indiana's farmer's markets. The Charlestown Farmers Market , Jeffersonville Farmers Market  and  New Albany Farmers Market  are can't miss. 

Obstacle course at xtremenasium in Clarksville Indiana

Xtremenasium Trampoline & Ninja Park Have you or your kids ever wanted to be a ninja? You can now practice your skills at this indoor trampoline park that boasts multiple obstacle courses that can be fun for all ages! 

Signature Spring Events

Thunder Over Louisville Bridge Fireworks

Thunder Over Louisville The nation's largest annual airshow and firework display, Thunder Over Louisville is also the opening ceremony for the Kentucky Derby Festival which lasts two weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby. You can watch the show along the riverside on the Kentucky or Indiana side on April 20. 

The Great Steamboat Race

Great Steamboat Race The Great Steamboat Race occurs annually on the Wednesday (May 1) before the Kentucky Derby. Visitors can ride on the racing Belle of Louisville or the Belle of Cincinnati and enjoy food, drinks, and live entertainment.

Kentucky Derby Chuchill

Kentucky Derby "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports", the Kentucky Derby, is the largest horse race in the United States happening May 4. 2024 marks the 150th anniversary of the run for the roses! Head to our region, stay in Indiana, experience what we have to offer, and go five minutes down the road to Louisville to the Kentucky Derby for an unforgettable spring weekend. 

Southern Indiana Renaissance Faire

Southern Indiana Renaissance Faire Have fun exploring Old World demonstrations by chain mail makers, spinners, potters, and blacksmiths every weekend from April 27 - May 26 in nearby Seymour, Indiana. Southern Indiana Renaissance Faire donates funds for local arts and entertainment scholarships. 

Crowds enjoy an outdoor concert at Abbey Road on the River in Jeffersonville, IN

Abbey Road on the River The largest Beatles-inspired music festival in the United States, Abbey Road on the River is happening at Big Four Station Park in Jeffersonville, Ind. over Memorial Day weekend from May 23-27.

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Digital Passports   Take your Southern Indiana experience to the next level with our FREE digital passports . You can earn prizes and exclusive discounts from participating local businesses. These passes are perfect for out-of-towners wanting to explore what SoIN is all about or locals wanting to discover all their hometowns have to offer. 

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5 Great Places to Visit in Southern Indiana

Activities , Magazine Features

Indiana

The landscapes get hilly in southern Indiana and the pace slows down a bit. Here are five ideas for your next trip to the lower half of Indiana

Brown County State Park

Set in rolling hills covered with hardwood forests, Indiana’s largest state park is one of the premier fall color meccas in the Midwest. Friends of the Park provides step-on guide service with stops at the Nature Center, Ramp Creek Covered Bridge, Abe Martin Lodge and scenic overviews. The lodge offers 84 guest rooms, an indoor waterpark and full-service restaurant, plus cabin accommodations.

Brown County State Park - Southern Indiana

The state park lies just south of Nashville, an art colony with more than 300 art galleries, studios and specialty shops, many of them in converted houses. Groups can spend hours shopping for crafts, antiques and fine art in downtown Nashville. Candy, ice cream and gourmet food shops also entice. The Brown County Playhouse presents music and comedy productions. Tours and tastings are available at Brown County Winery’s two locations and Bear Wallow Distillery. Nearby, the charming Story Inn, a hidden gem comprising what’s left of the tucked-away 19th century village of Story, offers fine dining in the old general store and 18 lodging rooms in several buildings.

At the center of this southern Indiana town stands the Old Capitol, which served as the first seat of government in Indiana from 1816-25. Not far away is the 1817 Governor Hendricks Headquarters, the two-story brick home of Indiana’s second governor. Also see the trunk of the Constitution Elm, under which the state’s constitution was drafted. Downtown Corydon shops offer crafts, collectibles and antiques.

Corydon Capitol Credit: Visit Indiana

Corydon Capitol Credit: Visit Indiana

Other group-friendly attractions include the Zimmerman Art Glass factory and Leora Brown School, where lessons in African-American history and the Underground Railroad come alive at one of the oldest former “colored” schools in the state. Several wineries offer tastings and tours, while Scout Mountain Winery has cooking classes for groups.

Cave Country

Southern Indiana is famous for its caves. Four of them, all within an easy drive from Corydon, offer tours. Guided walking tours of Marengo Cave, for example, include the 40-minute Crystal Palace tour and hour-long Dripstone Trail tour. Bluespring Caverns and Indiana Caverns can be visited by boat. At Squire Boone Caverns & Village in Mauckport, groups can combine a cave walk with demonstrations of pioneer skills like lye soap and candle making.

In Lincoln’s Footsteps

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial , 40 miles east of Evansville, is a 200-acre site that preserves the farm where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1816-30. The farm includes restored fields, a garden area and log buildings. The visitor center has exhibits and a 15-minute film on Lincoln’s 14 years in the state. Also on-site is the grave of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died when young Abe was 9 years old.

Lincoln Historical Farm - Southern Indiana

Lincoln Historical Farm. Credit

Nearby, in the town of Santa Claus, is Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin’ Safari Water Park. Holiday World, one of the country’s top-rated amusement parks, features wooden roller coasters, a whitewater raft ride, games, shows, and visits with Santa. Areas of the park are themed around Christmas, the Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving. In town, the huge Santa Claus Christmas Store, on Kringle Place, offers thousands of ornaments and other holiday items.

Ohio River Towns

Scenic vistas and historic towns draw visitors to southeastern Indiana. Madison, with Indiana’s largest historic district, is a well-preserved 19th century treasure and a favorite with antique hounds and shoppers of all stripes. Clifty Falls State Park, not far away, is known for its four waterfalls. Quaint downtown Aurora is brought to life by the “windows of Aurora”—64 murals that peek into what life was like in the 1800s.

From Hillforest Mansion, a Victorian house-museum, take in panoramic views of the Ohio River and the steeple-dotted “City of Spires.” Sister city Lawrenceburg, just a half hour west of Cincinnati, is home to the Hollywood Casino and Hotel.

by Randy Mink

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15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Indiana

Written by Brad Lane Updated May 10, 2023

Author Brad Lane enjoyed traveling throughout Indiana while on assignment for PlanetWare.

Indiana is home to the Hoosiers and a history that runs deep. Entertainment and tourist attractions embed themselves across all corners of the state. From fun things to do in the state capital, Indianapolis, to family-friendly tourist attractions in Fort Wayne, Bloomington, and Lafayette, Indiana has no shortage of exciting places to visit.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Several museums across the state blend fun experiences with educational value. A few of these educational escapes dive into science, Studebakers, and fine art at places like the Snite Museum of Art on the Notre Dame campus. And while the world-famous Indianapolis 500 only takes place once a year in May, the on-site museum celebrates the track's history throughout the year.

And Indiana is big on getting outside. Areas like Prophetstown State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, among many others, provide campsites, hiking trails, and stunning scenery for those adventurous explorers looking to get outdoors.

Plan your visit with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Indiana.

1. Spend the Day at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

2. kiss the bricks at the indianapolis motor speedway museum, 3. eiteljorg museum of american indian and western art, indianapolis, 4. holiday world & splashin' safari, 5. turkey run state park, 6. appreciate the art at snite museum of art, notre dame, 7. discover wildlife at the fort wayne children's zoo, fort wayne, 8. explore the campus of indiana university bloomington, 9. prophetstown state park, west lafayette, 10. experience american manufacturing at the studebaker national museum, south bend, 11. conduct a family-friendly experiment at wonderlab museum of science, bloomington, 12. take in the waves at indiana dunes national lakeshore, porter, 13. tour the lanier mansion state historic site, madison, 14. rv/mh hall of fame museum, 15. first christian church, map of tourist attractions & things to do in indiana.

Dinosphere exhibit at The Children's Museum

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a large and wondrous place the whole family can enjoy. It encompasses 29 acres in the United Northwest neighborhood of the city. And as the largest children's museum in the world, the many different exhibits and hands-on science displays span from the time of the dinosaurs to astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.

The museum is a sure-fire favorite for children of all ages and an incredible learning experience for adults as well. The collection includes thousands of artifacts, photo opportunities, and interactive experiences. A few exhibits at this world-renowned museum include a planetarium, children's theater, and numerous outdoor exhibits, including an eye-catching "Tree of Sports" playground.

Other areas of eye-catching interest include a 43-foot-tall Dale Chihuly glass sculpture; full-size dinosaur skeletons, including one of the world's few mummified dinosaurs; and an interactive playscape designed specifically for preschoolers.

Alongside several full-day family outings, the museum also provides daily events and programs. A sample of scheduled events includes costume-building workshops, a "Secrets of the Lab" series, and Astronaut Training aboard the International Space Station. For even more fun things to do, the children's museum also features a restored 1917 carousel on the fourth level of this nearly 475,000-square-foot facility.

Address: 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum , or the Indy Racing Museum , is located within the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also known as "The Track." This world-renowned raceway is home to the Indianapolis 500-miler every May. And this year-round museum commemorates this fastest day in motorsports with a premier collection of automobiles and artifacts.

The museum is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its collection includes over 55,000 artifacts, including over 300 cars. And at least 25 past winners of the Indianapolis 500 are on permanent display. Other artifacts include racing memorabilia, photography, and archived video.

southern indiana tourist attractions

Several guided tours are also available through the museum. The two-hour golf cart tour is a popular outing, including an in-depth trip around the track. However, the most popular tour is the Kiss the Bricks Tour , which features a narrated bus ride and an opportunity to get personal with the famous racetrack.

Address: 4750 W 16th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art is situated at the White River State Park entrance in downtown Indiana. It holds a remarkable collection assembled by Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg. On display are paintings and sculptures of the West, from the early 19th century onwards.

A few art pieces on display include works by the landscapists Albert Bierstadt and Georgia O'Keefe, and pictures and sculptures by the leading Western artists Frederick S. Remington and Charles M. Russell. The museum's most recent installation, Attitudes: The West in American Art , features a diverse collection of artists and cultures of the American West.

Indiana State Museum and the White River State Park

The encompassing White River State Park contains many other gems of the city . Adjacent to the Eiteljorg Museum, the Indiana State Museum features three floors relating stories of Indiana art, science, and culture through interactive exhibits.

Another great add-on experience to the Eiteljorg within White River State Park is the Indiana Zoo , across the banks of the White River. Resident animals include sea lions, cheetahs, and brown bears. White River State Park also features the NCAA Hall of Champions and Victory Field, home to the Indiana Indians minor league baseball team.

Address: 500 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari is a premier amusement park located in Santa Claus, Indiana. This immersive theme park has a massive collection of rides and slides enticing all sorts of family vacations. It's recommended to spend at least two days exploring the different themed worlds of this Indiana amusement park, from vertigo-inducing roller coasters to kid-friendly attractions.

Holiday World is split between the Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving worlds, each offering unique details and rides. Splashin Safari encompasses its own massive section of the park, offering one of the largest water parks in the state .

Turkey Run State Park

Turkey Run is one of the most popular state parks in Indiana and is located just over an hour's drive west of Indianapolis. Several outdoor activities entice visitors to this natural space, including miles of hiking trails , a popular swimming pool, and other adventures like kayaking and fishing . Much of the landscape comprises woodlands and sandstone ravines along Sugar Creek.

Turkey Run is also a popular spot for overnight adventures. The state park has both indoor and outdoor places to stay, including lodge rooms and campsites. The 60-plus rooms at the Turkey Run Inn are available to book up to a year in advance, and many of the summer reservations go fast. Approximately 23 cabins are also available. Campsites are abundant, with more than 60 sites accommodating tent campers and RVs.

Snite Museum of Art

The Snite Museum of Art offers free admission and a dense collection of 19 th- and 20 th- century artworks on the University of Notre Dame campus . The collection spans different cultures and significant periods of world art history.

The galleries include European paintings and sculptures, Mesoamerican effigies, Native American ceramics, and contemporary works. The museum also hosts a constantly rotating selection of new exhibits, including thesis projects by current MFA students at the university.

The museum is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays, with more limited hours on Saturdays. The newly instated Charles B. Hayes Sculpture Garden is also operated by the museum a couple of blocks away, allowing visitors to enjoy aesthetic art and nature throughout the year.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame offers plenty more to explore for students and community members alike. It's not hard to find inspiration when stepping foot into the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus, as well as the adjacent Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes spiritual shrine.

The nearby Compton Family Ice Arena is a great place to catch a hockey game or get on the ice yourself. For many, attending Fighting Irish football games at Notre Dame Stadium is a way of life and much-anticipated activity every season.

Address: 100 Moose Krause Circle, Notre Dame

  • Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in South Bend, Indiana

Ostrich at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Celebrating over 50 years as one of the top attractions of Fort Wayne , the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo encourages tourists and residents to experience award-winning animal exhibits.

Spread throughout distinct ecosystems spanning the African Serengeti to an Indonesian rainforest, a few of the hundreds of animals at the zoo include Amur leopards, Tasmanian devils, red pandas, and Komodo dragons.

Other attractions at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo include family-friendly rides like the Endangered Species Carousel . The zoo also facilitates animal experiences that allow visitors to interact with giraffes, goats, and ponies. Recent large-scale renovations to the Children's Zoo have been extremely popular and have given it the national recognition it receives today.

Address: 3411 Sherman Boulevard, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Showalter Plaza at Indiana University Bloomington

Home to the Hoosiers and nearly 200 years of education history, Bloomington hosts the flagship campus of Indiana University . An air of academia defines the historic lecture halls and pedestrian pathways found on campus, including the iconic Sample Gates , leading to other campus attractions like the Kirkwood Observatory .

Hoosier sports intertwine with the identity of the entire state, and both football at Memorial Stadium and basketball at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall provide true community gathering spots and reasons to cheer.

Cultural institutes like the Eskenazi Museum of Art and the IU Arboretum are popular for students and community members alike and help define the community. For dining and local shops near the university, the neighboring Kirkwood Avenue is a popular spot for afternoon storefront perusing and evening entertainment.

Address: 107 South Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Bloomington, Indiana

The Farm at Prophetstown

Steeped in natural and cultural history, Prophetstown is a new addition to the Indiana State Park system and features many ways to interact with the environment. Within the state park, the 125-acre Farm at Prophetstown embodies a 1920s motif, including hands-on experiences with homesteading, gardening, and livestock feeding.

The state park is at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers and features a variety of hiking trails that cater to all abilities of hikers. An extensive Aquatic Center at the park also draws a lot of warm-weather attention with a zero-depth entry pool, lazy river, and 30-foot waterslide. Nearby, interested visitors can learn more about the area at the Tippecanoe Battlefield Park.

Address: 5545 Swisher Road, West Lafayette, Indiana

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Lafayette, Indiana

Studebaker National Museum

The American car manufacturer Studebaker was a defining industry of South Bend and has long roots tied to the city. It once was the headquarters for manufacturing, and today, the Studebaker National Museum displays a wide range of these made-in-Indiana automobiles. Among their exhibits are classic models, military vehicles, and the largest collection of Presidential carriages found anywhere in the country.

The Super Service Center at the museum is an interactive area at the museum designed for children. It enables young visitors to step inside an auto shop to work on kid-size cars. The museum's collection also consists of numerous manufacturing drawings and history relating to the Studebaker Corporation.

Address: 201 Chapin Street, South Bend, Indiana

WonderLab WonderGarden

WonderLab is a children's fun center in Bloomington with a focus on science, health, and technology. It features hands-on and immersive learning experiences alongside popular permanent exhibits.

A few of the favorite exhibits include a Bubble-Airium; the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science; and an outdoor WonderGarden, which connects with the nearby pedestrian corridor, the B-Line Trail. Other areas of interest at the museum include a coral reef aquarium, a children's Discovery Garden, and facilities for birthday parties or events.

The museum also runs an active events calendar targeted at both adults and children, including science talks, STEM Sundays, and a "WonderLab After Dark" series.

Address: 308 West Fourth Street, Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore overlooks the shores of Lake Michigan near the Illinois border, presenting a unique landscape found in no other place in the state. The lapping shores and lakeside landscape enable a wide variety of outdoor activities. The adjacent state park of the same name is one of the most popular spots for hiking, biking, and beach-going.

Fishing and boating are also available at the lakeshore, and camping at the seasonal Dunewood Campground is a great way to make a multi-day trip. During the winter, activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing tend to reign supreme. Sunsets at Lake Michigan are a recommended experience for any visit, which often resonate with brightly changing colors and tones.

Address: 1215 IN-49, Porter, Indiana

Lanier Mansion State Historic Site

The Lanier Mansion was built for James Franklin Doughty Lanier, a prominent businessman in the state of Indiana around the mid-1800s. The Greek Revival-style house was completed in 1844 and is one of the finest buildings in Madison's National Historic Landmark District.

The home was designed by architect Francis Costigan. Inside are some of the original furnishings and an impressive three-story spiral staircase. On the grounds are formal gardens showcasing plants and landscape styles of the late 19th century.

Visitors are welcome to tour the historic mansion during daily operating hours, Tuesday through Sunday. Guided tours begin at the top of every hour. The historic mansion is also home to several events and programs throughout the year, including holiday candlelight tours, early childhood programs, and adults-only 1940s Dance Hall celebrations.

Address: 601 W First Street, Madison, Indiana

RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum

The RV/MV Hall of Fame in Elkhart showcases all kinds of recreational vehicles in all shapes and sizes from various decades. It's a must-see for people interested in RVs or anyone who wants to see the classic vehicles that Americans have been driving along the roads and vacationing in for the past 90 years.

Popular vehicles and exhibits on display include Mae West's 1931 Chevrolet Housecar, a "Road Back in Time" walking tour, and a Tennessee Traveler Motorhome. Visitors can also see how the interiors and appliances of recreational vehicles have changed over the years. The museum displays trailers, motorhomes, photos, and memorabilia dating back to the 1920s, all within a huge showroom.

Address: 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart, Indiana

First Christian Church

The First Christian Church in Columbus was designed by Eliel Saarinen and completed in 1942. It has a non-traditional look, with rectangular shapes and a rectangular tower standing 160 feet high. It is noted to be one of the first churches in the United States built in such a contemporary style. The materials, exterior and interior, are mostly buff brick and limestone.

All members of the public are encouraged to check out the regular services hosted by the church. The Sanctuary can seat about 900 people. And this religious establishment provides numerous ways to connect with the surrounding community.

Address: 531 Fifth Street, Columbus, Indiana

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Best Driving Vacations 2024: Columbus, Indiana, has worldly architecture, small-town charm

This southern indiana city boasts buildings from i.m. pei and eero saarinen, as well as public art and seven national historic landmarks..

Columbus First Christian and Library Plaza in Columbus, Indiana

Today, we present the final installment in the best driving destinations from central Ohio. We hope you have enjoyed the series.

An architectural pilgrimage to Columbus, Indiana

Finnish architect Eero Saarinen said, “The purpose of architecture is to shelter and enhance man's life on earth and to fulfill his belief in the nobility of his existence."

Indeed, in his most celebrated works — the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or the sleek, futuristic TWA Flight Center at New York’s Kennedy Airport — Saarinen created structures with the intent that they would be gazed upon for generations, masterpieces that would become destinations, much like the Pyramids of Giza or the Colosseum in Rome.  

One need not travel far from Ohio to make an architectural pilgrimage the focal point of a road trip. There’s Chicago, New York or Washington, D.C., a day’s drive away, of course. But just three hours west, in the small, southern Indiana prairie town of Columbus , sits an oasis of modern architecture. A place where the most elite architects in the world have made their playground.  

Part 1: Best Driving Vacations 2024: Explore the Northern Shore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

This other Columbus (population 50,000) earned this distinction thanks to the vision of J. Irwin Miller . In a post-WWII landscape, he wanted to attract the country’s brightest engineers to work for his Cummins engine corporation. As an incentive, he created the Cummins Foundation, which supports ambitious architectural projects throughout the town.

The first contract, Lillian Schmitt Elementary, went to architect Harry Weese in 1954. From there, the foundation snowballed — everything from the fire stations to the hospitals, the park restrooms, City Hall and even the Bartholomew County Jail is a photo opportunity for architecture enthusiasts. Roaming the town is a moveable feast of brutalism, midcentury modernism and beyond.  

The best way to see Columbus is through its celebrated two-hour architecture tour (make reservations well in advance). The knowledgeable guides start at I.M. Pei’s fortress-like Cleo Rogers Memorial Library and end with an up-close visit inside of Saarinen’s breathtaking North Christian Church, which resembles a spaceship that has landed in the bucolic environs.

Part 2: Best Driving Vacations 2024: Take a Battlefield Tour of Pennsylvania and Maryland

Columbus boasts seven national historic landmarks, most of which can be seen on the tour. A personal favorite is the minimal and spartan former home of The Republic newspaper, designed by Myron Goldsmith in 1971.  

In the afternoon, a tour of the Miller House is a must. Opened in 2011, it was purchased by Newfields, Indianapolis’ modern art institution. Since 1957, it has sat far from the road, obscured by a landscape by Dan Kiley. Exposing it was akin to opening the doors of Willy Wonka’s factory.

Alexander Girard’s bright and colorful interiors tie the whole place together. Seeing the retro-futuristic, step-in sitting room is much like visiting that Colosseum. It might just be Saarinen’s masterpiece.  

Columbus is entirely walkable, replete with public art from the likes of Robert Indiana and Dale Chihuly . Exploring further can allow you to sit for a drink in Lucabe Coffee Co., which has repurposed Weese’s award-winning Irwin Bank and Trust, or walk the methodically designed Mill Race City Park along the banks of the Flatrock River.  

Downtown offers a stark contrast to the city’s famous modern architecture, featuring faithfully restored, late-19th century, Victorian-style storefronts. The centerpiece is Zaharakos Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor. Still using the same methods since opening in 1900, it features a real soda fountain and a calliope. Order a Green River and the Gom Cheese Brr-Grr, a variation on the sloppy Joe filled with American cheese on toast.  

Part 3: Best Driving Vacations 2024: Go on the ultimate full-circle adventure around Lake Erie

Elsewhere, the three-story kidscommons is an exceptional children’s museum for a town this size. Need a libation? The Indiana-famous Upland Brewing has a taproom close by. And the surrounding prairie, through which the statelong People Trail passes, has myriad options for outdoor adventures.  

Columbus, Indiana, is not an artifact. Even if the goal is midcentury nostalgia, it’s constantly evolving. In fact, it’s a living laboratory, as Indiana University currently has a graduate architecture program there. The Cummins Foundation, too, is still thriving.

Currently on the docket is a new air-traffic control tower for the regional airport, with a short list of architecture firms vying to design it. At every turn, that “nobility of man’s existence” is in the structures and design of daily life of Columbus. It’s got both small-town charm and worldly ambitions.  

Where to Stay in Columbus, Indiana

Prominently featured in Kogonada’s heralded 2017 debut film “Columbus , ” the Inn at Irwin Gardens is a Victorian mansion that is best visited during late spring when the grounds are in full bloom.

It’s an interesting alternative to the modern architecture that draws visitors to Columbus. Those on a budget can opt for the Hotel Indigo , which was built for the purpose of receiving architecture tourism. irwingardens.com , ihg.com/hotelindigo/hotels/us/en/columbus/clubs/hoteldetail  

Take a Side Trip to Richmond, Indiana

If you triangulate your trip down I-71 to Columbus, spending a night in Indianapolis and heading home east on I-70, it’s certainly worth a stop in Richmond, Indiana, to see the Gennett Records Walk of Fame .

From 1872 to the turn of the century, Starr Piano in Richmond was one of the country’s largest manufacturers. In 1915, the company started making phonographs and records. In the shadow of the former factory, one can see the spot of their hand-powered recording studio and a line of plaques on the path that celebrate Charlie Patton, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and other luminaries who recorded there. visitrichmond.org/listing/gennett-records-walk-fame  

This story is from the Best Driving Vacations package in the February 2024 issue of Columbus Monthly. 

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