12 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Indiana
There's plenty of corn and gravy in Indiana, but for those of you who want a little something different, you'll find hiking trails, scenic drives, wineries, and more in the Midwestern state of Indiana. Its capital is Indianapolis, a lively city with a great cultural scene, restaurants and bars that mix with world-class museums. There's also quaint, antique shopping in downtown along Washington Street, as well as plenty of historic homes and museums.
Other than Indianapolis, Hoosier State residents can enjoy their own village called Spring Mill, situated at the center of the lush woods. Not far away is Nature's Valley, a visitor's attraction where you can ride a train through a replica of a 1930s rural village, then stroll through it like it was an actual town in that era. The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections in the world.
With a surprising variety of things to see and do, Indiana is a great state to visit for a truly unique vacation. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Indiana.
Indianapolis Museum of Art
At the time of the site's opening in November 1993, the Indianapolis Museum of Art was the largest art museum in the Midwest. Designed by David Adler and Robert Venturi, the museum is built on an artificial hill known as Old Soldiers' Knoll, which overlooks the Circle City, giving it an imposing perspective. Also a site of great pride for Indianapolis is the library, a unique, curved building which, with its exterior being entirely made of glass, looks almost like a snowdrift. Highlights inside include the Pritzker Pavilion, a large, avant-garde work by celebrated American architect Richard Meier, and the Barnes, one of the world's largest collections of post-1945 American art. The museum is divided into four main sections: European Art, Decorative Arts and Design, Art of the Americas, and Contemporary Art. A building in the center of the museum houses the museum's extensive modern art collection. Works by Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Tom Armstrong are located there. In the 2002 renovation, the outdoor sculpture gardens were redesigned, and more than thirty new pieces were added. The outdoor sculpture garden is dotted with sculptures from Michael Heizer, Yayoi Kusama, Minai Miyazaki, and Bas Jan Ader.
Indiana Dunes National Park
The dunes of the Indiana Dunes National Park have remained a mystery to many for years. Often named one of the ten wonders of the world, the sand hills seem to stretch endlessly as they encircle Lake Michigan. In reality, the dunes are actually visible only from a handful of high vantage points, making it impossible for visitors to fully appreciate their true scale. One of the few known spots from which to get a good view of these sand hills is at Spoonbill Point State Park, which can be reached via O'Brien's Bend or Clinton Roadways. About 1.5 hours before sunset, you can look down over the dunes for more than an hour as the sky changes from blue to pink and then orange as sunset begins. The dunes are made of sand blown by the wind, which continues to the park boundary, where it is held in place by a prairie grass called marlgrass, leading to the area being colloquially known as "Marlboro Country." In addition, these hills are cut by more than 150 miles of trails that afford hikers a close-up view of the dunes. In November, the sand hills come to life when the National Park Service opens the dunes for the annual Sand Dunes Light Festival, a celebration of sand, sound and light. Live music, poetry readings and a sand sculpture exhibition are featured at the dunes throughout the season.
The state capital of Indiana is a true and lovely American city. The Indianapolis Zoo is one of the oldest in the world and is part of the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation department, making the site also popular with young families. It houses over 6,000 animals, including such species as the American bison, brown bear, chimpanzees, and lions. The property is also a nature park with lakes, wetlands, and meadows, and has a hiker's trail leading to the Clifty Falls.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Home of the Indianapolis 500 and one of America's most famous race tracks, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (officially the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum) was the first speedway in the world. Although cars were used in the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911, the sport took off in 1914 when the Brickyard 400 (a.k.a. the Brickyard Grand Prix) was established. Since then, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the center of automobile racing around the world. With the Indy 500 now considered the single most important event in the racing calendar, the Brickyard 400 has taken on added significance as well, drawing tens of thousands of racing enthusiasts from around the world. Although there is a facility that holds up to 1.5 million fans, about 70,000 people attend the race itself. Check out the Speedway Museum and hall of fame before taking a tour of the track. If you want a closer look at the track, the Speedway Safety and Racing Experience Tour is designed to give you the best possible view of the grandstand and speedway from the third level. Besides attending the race and touring the grounds, there are also a number of places to eat at the Speedway, including the Opie's Steak House, The Honey Pit, Bubba Gump's, The Coca-Cola Store, and the Vito's Taverna.
White River State Park
Enjoyed by visitors to Bloomington, Indiana, this attractive state park with its five small lakes, full of waterfowl and marshy areas, makes for an enjoyable weekend escape. The park's main visitor center has a café, a gift shop, and a visitors' center with exhibits on the park's history and wildlife. The lakeside walk is a particularly good place for birdwatching.
The Wrigley Building, the most famous and one of the best-preserved Art Deco buildings in the world, is the headquarters of the Wrigley Company in Chicago. Construction of the building began in 1930 and was completed in 1933. It was designed by architect Dwight H. Perkins, whose other works include New York's Hearst Building, the Woolworth Building in New York, the May Department Stores Building in Chicago and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii. The 28-story Wrigley Building, at 1,135 feet tall, is one of the United States' tallest buildings of the 1930s and has been designated as a national landmark by the National Park Service.
Lincoln Park is one of the smallest parks in the U.S. Founded in 1875, Lincoln Park is in a suburb of Chicago, just south of the city's downtown. The park is bordered by Burnham Avenue on the north, Stockton Boulevard on the east, Lawrence Avenue on the south, and Fullerton Avenue on the west. The park covers 60 acres and is full of native plant life including grass, roses, and some of the earliest birches in the U.S. Originally called "Lincoln Park," the name was changed after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and is famous for its "Dewey," the last cedar elm tree. Lincoln Park was laid out as a public park by the city government in 1875, and a 21-year struggle for water rights has kept it from turning into a golf course. The park is filled with joggers, cyclists, and parents taking their toddlers to play on the playground.
Herron Art Museum
At first glance, the Herron Art Museum at DePauw University is just a typical small art museum in the small Indiana town of Greencastle. The original gallery, built in 1898, is rich in decorative elements typical of the Gilded Age. It was the result of the efforts of three American painters and became one of the country's best collections of American art. But the Herron Art Museum did not remain a curiosity only. After more than a century it has been transformed into an art museum that offers a broader vision of America through its collections. In 1966, the large-scale, elaborate white tower was added to house a gallery, and in 1972 a second gallery was built. Today the Herron Art Museum contains more than 3,000 objects in about a thousand individual cases, and its curators offer the usual kind of educational programs for local children. The first and second floors are devoted to exhibitions of American art, while a small chapel presents other religious artifacts.
Built in 1888 as the official White House garden, Grant Park was then the largest park in the United States. Created as a public space for the purposes of exercise, fishing, and strolling, it's still a major feature of Chicago's landscape and home to the beautiful artesian fountain at the east end, Farragut Square. The fountain was designed by a young L'Enfant and features animals carved by an apprentice of Michelangelo, Giovanni Antonio Canale, who also did the capitals on the US Capitol building. Grant Park is also famous for the comfort provided by the famous Art Deco-style bandstand, a replica of the famed bandstand built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. When the White House moved in 1901, the bandstand was dismantled, shipped over to Washington, then rebuilt and put on display here.
With four NBA championships, The United Center in the United Center, is one of the most important venues in the entire country for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Its name pays homage to the city it stands in, which was once the most populous suburb of Chicago and is now a bustling downtown area. It is the home to the Bulls, the city's NBA team. The building is larger than the NBA's headquarters and is one of the largest venues in the United States. Attached to The United Center are two museums that can be seen on your visit to the stadium. The first is the Chicago History Museum, which has rotating exhibits on many of the city's themes, including the integration of black people into the city, youth gangs and illegal immigration. The second museum is the United Center Sports and Entertainment Museum, which has replicas of many pieces of sports equipment used in different professional sports around the world, including many of Chicago's sports teams. Outside the building is a shopping mall, though, the United Center is a bit off-the-beaten track from most Chicago tourist attractions.
Crown Hill Cemetery
Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis is the final resting place of 11 U.S. Presidents. Mark Twain, Robert Browning, and Beethoven are among the notable names entombed here. The cemetery, which is the largest in the world, is on a sprawling 100-acre site overlooking the city and is home to 2,500 graves and mausoleums. There are several things to see at the cemetery. The original vault of the Grant family, the first U.S. President to be interred at the site, is a Grade II-listed structure. The sanctuary of Woodlawn, one of the city's best-known examples of neo-Gothic architecture, features a towering marble and limestone façade and a huge interior marble interior. There are a number of themed paths around the cemetery.
Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau
Established in 1853, Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau is one of the oldest and most comprehensive archives in the state. Its collections include more than 2.5 million pages of archival material, including minutes of the U.S. Congress and thousands of hand-illustrated, 19th-century maps of towns and cities throughout Indiana. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the building on a self-guided tour and explore the intricately carved woodwork of the former post office, storerooms, and dozens of other impressive features.