City life is pretty alluring for a lot of people. After all, what’s not to love about always being a few minutes away from a coffee shop, fine dining, and entertainment whenever you want it? Even so, there are times you may just want to head away from the urban areas and explore small-town life for a while.
Well, in Indiana, you certainly have options. Here’s our take on the best small towns to visit on a day trip in the state:
If you love a treasure hunt and a bargain, you’ll love Shipshewana. The historic area plays host to the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market from May through September each year, which has a whopping 26 aisles of independent vendors! If you enjoy the thrill of bidding on an item, the Antique & Miscellaneous Auction every Wednesday is rolling in non-stop action.
While you’re in Shipshewana, make sure that you take a horse and buggy ride around the area and dine on some of the area’s best Amish-style food around at The Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery — just don’t forget to pick up dessert to take home.
If you like waterfalls and wineries, hiking trails and pony rides, Spencer, Indiana, is a great place to visit. Home to McCormick Creek State Park, the trails take you through spectacular sites like Wolf Cave or the Falls on McCormick Creek — or you can get a guided trail ride on a pony.
When you’re done, sit back and enjoy a glass or two of the latest vintage at the Owen Valley Winery while you watch the day fade over the winery’s grounds. Or, you can participate in one of the many events hosted by the winery featuring traditional storytelling or live Celtic music.
Peek into the past when you head over to Farmland. The Farmland General Store recreates the look of an old-timey candy store, complete with barrels of sugary goodies. (Just make sure that you pick up enough chocolate treats and penny candy to delight everyone in your family.)
When you’re done, head over to The Chocolate Moose — Farmland’s diner with a 1950s motif where you can dine on traditional Midwestern American fares like patty melts and homemade coleslaw. The atmosphere is always fun, friendly and welcoming to families.
Bedford, Indiana, has a major claim to fame: It’s home to the Bluespring Caverns. The longest underground river in the nation flows through Bluespring Caverns, providing a home for a huge variety of indigenous aquatic species and underground animals. The limestone caverns stretch for miles — and the underground temperature stays cool and consistent all year round.
One thing that fascinates people the most when they visit the Bluespring Caverns is the sheer number of albino or translucent creatures they can see, including blind cavefish that have adapted to life without light.
When you’re done with your underground adventure, don’t forget to check out the beer available at the local Salt Creek Brewery and their Creek Cafe. We’d recommend trying their Blood Orange APA or maybe their Rowdy Red Ale
If you prefer artsy little shops and restaurants and are on the hunt for something truly unique, Little Nashville can be the perfect place to visit. Located on the north fork of Salt Creek, the village is home to many local artisans and people come from miles around to shop while enjoying the charming scenery.
Visitors also frequently end their visits at Bear Wallow Distillery, one of Brown County’s premier craft breweries using only locally grown grains. Not fond of beer? Maybe you’ll enjoy the Brown County Winery, instead. Be sure to check out their special events, like the upcoming “Chocolate Lover’s Weekend.”
New Harmony was designed to be a home for educators, scientists, scholars and other “free-thinkers” way back in the early 1800s. While it never quite lived up to its lofty goals of creating an egalitarian community that would wipe out social inequality, the town is still a wonderful place to visit. Many people find spiritual solace and comfort exploring either the Chartres labyrinth or the hedge labyrinth they can walk.
While you’re in New Harmony, make sure that you stop to visit the open-air cathedral known as The Roofless Church. It espouses the idea that only the sky can hold all the faithful of the world. The modernist masterpiece was completed in 1960, building on what was already a deeply spiritual legacy in the area.
Vincennes is Indiana’s oldest town — and the buildings in the area reflect its varied past as a French trading post, military center and the sight of many of Indiana’s other “firsts,” like the first Masonic lodge and first newspaper. This place is a must-see if you happen to love history or are passionate about architecture.
Vincennes is also home to the Indiana Military Museum, which holds one of the largest collections of military artifacts, including aircraft, uniforms, equipment and other memorabilia that honors our soldiers.
No matter what your interests, there’s always something to explore in small-town Indiana — from the natural wonders present in the national parks to the creative, interesting finds you’ll encounter in restaurants and stores. If you’ve been looking for someplace to explore outside of Indy proper, why not bundle up the family and head out to one of these places for some fun.
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