Indiana, USA: Awe-Inspiring Attractions in The Hoosier State

Updated On: September 15, 2023


Located in the American Midwest, Indiana is a state that often surprises visitors with its wealth of attractions and diverse range of activities. Far from the conventional notions of “flyover country,” Indiana boasts a remarkable collection of natural wonders, cultural landmarks, and recreational opportunities that amaze tourists.

Indiana is often overlooked by tourists.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, historical and cultural immersion, artistic encounters, or lively festivals, Indiana is an enticing destination that invites exploration and promises unforgettable memories.

With endless areas to discover in The Hoosier State, it can be overwhelming to decide how to spend your holiday. To help you plan the best itinerary, we’ve delved into the best tourist attractions and things to do in Indiana, uncovering the vibrant and multifaceted character of this remarkable state.

The dunes are located on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Natural Wonders and Outdoor Activities

Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana is a great destination for nature enthusiasts, offering a variety of breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities. One of the crown jewels of the state’s natural wonders is the Indiana Dunes National Park.

Spanning over 15,000 acres along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, this park boasts a diverse range of ecosystems that include dunes, forests, wetlands, and prairies. Its stunning combination of picturesque landscapes sets the Indiana Dunes apart, making it perfect for relaxation and adventure.

At the heart of the Indiana Dunes National Park are its towering sand dunes, which are among the most impressive in the United States. These dunes have been sculpted by centuries of wind and water, resulting in a mesmerising blend of shapes and textures.

Indiana Dunes National Park spans over 15,000 acres.

Visitors can ascend to their summits, where panoramic vistas of Lake Michigan and the surrounding landscapes unfold. On clear days, the iconic Chicago skyline in Illinois can be seen across the lake.

Hiking Trails

The extensive network of hiking trails at the Indiana Dunes National Park offers diverse options for all skill levels. From leisurely strolls through serene forests to more challenging treks over the dune ridges, hikers are treated to ever-changing scenery and breathtaking views.


One of the most alluring features of the Indiana Dunes National Park is its pristine coastline, marked by a series of sandy beaches along Lake Michigan’s shores. These beaches beckon visitors to unwind, soak up the sun, and take a refreshing dip in the clear waters of the lake.

Beachgoers can also indulge in various water activities such as swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking. The calming sound of the waves, coupled with the expansive lake views, creates a serene atmosphere that encourages visitors to relax, play, and enjoy nature.

Brown County State Park is nicknamed “Little Smokies”.

Brown County State Park

In the heart of Indiana, Brown County State Park’s natural beauty draws outdoor enthusiasts year-round. While this park boasts scenic wonders throughout the year, it is particularly renowned for its vibrant autumn foliage, earning it the moniker “Little Smokies” due to its resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Brown County State Park’s allure goes beyond its fall colours, as it offers a variety of outdoor activities that cater to various interests and skill levels. The park is crisscrossed by an extensive network of hiking trails, ranging from leisurely walks to challenging treks that lead to panoramic viewpoints.

As visitors traverse these trails, they are immersed in the park’s natural splendour, surrounded by towering trees, babbling streams, and vibrant wildflowers. In the fall, the trails take on an enchanting aura as they wind through the colourful canopy, making each step mesmerising and beautiful.

Horseback Riding and Mountain Biking

In addition to hiking trails, Brown County State Park also provides opportunities for horseback riding and mountain biking.

Horseback riders can explore the park’s picturesque landscapes while enjoying a leisurely ride through wooded trails and open meadows. Mountain biking enthusiasts can tackle exhilarating trails that wind through challenging terrain, providing an adrenaline-pumping adventure amidst the beauty of nature.

Brown County State Park is beautiful during Autumn.

Native Wildlife

Brown County State Park is also known for its wildlife. The park hosts numerous bird species as well as other native animals. The diverse wildlife makes the park a perfect place to birdwatch or take wildlife photos.

The park’s diverse habitats, including forests, wetlands, and meadows, attract a wide array of bird species throughout the year. From the cheerful melodies of songbirds to the majestic flights of raptors, the park’s birdlife is a delight for birdwatchers.

In addition to birds, the park is also home to various mammals, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and raccoons, offering glimpses into the natural rhythms of the forest. As visitors explore the park, there are many opportunities for wildlife photography and capturing the perfect shot.

Turkey Run State Park

Located along the banks of Sugar Creek, Turkey Run State Park is a testament to the remarkable geological formations and outdoor opportunities that Indiana has to offer. Its iconic sandstone gorges and rugged terrain create a captivating and exhilarating landscape for visitors to explore.

Canoeing and kayaking are popular at the park.

As one of Indiana’s oldest state parks, Turkey Run has carved a place in the hearts of nature enthusiasts and adventurers seeking an escape into the wild beauty of the Hoosier state.

The park’s most striking feature is undoubtedly its intricate system of sandstone gorges, sculpted over millennia by the erosive forces of water. Towering sandstone cliffs, chiselled by the creek’s flow, create a dramatic backdrop of seemingly untouched lands.

The narrow passages and rugged rock formations lead to secluded canyons and hidden waterfalls, offering adventures in exploration and discovery. These gorges, which provide shade and cool respite during hot summer days, are great spots for tourists exploring Indiana’s landscapes.

Turkey Run State Park is a fantastic place to visit for anyone who enjoys a blend of adventure and relaxation. The gentle Sugar Creek invites tourists to participate in water activities such as canoeing and kayaking. Its current guides paddlers through the park, surrounded by towering cliffs and lush vegetation.

For those with a penchant for vertical challenges, the sandstone walls provide opportunities for rock climbing, allowing tourists to test their skills against the area’s rugged terrain.

Turkey Run is one of the oldest parks in the state.

Educational Programs

Beyond its recreational activities, Turkey Run State Park also serves as an educational hub where visitors can deepen their understanding of Indiana’s natural history. The park’s interpretive programs and guided hikes offer insights into the geological processes that have shaped the landscape, as well as the local flora and fauna.

Knowledgeable park rangers lead visitors through trails and canyons, weaving stories of the area’s geological past and the connections between humans and the environment. These educational experiences foster a deeper connection to the park’s natural wonders and promote commitment to its preservation.

Ohio River Adventures

Riverboat Cruises

Indiana’s outdoor beauty extends to its waterways, and the Ohio River offers a unique opportunity for tourists to explore the area from a new perspective. The Ohio River, winding its way along Indiana’s southern border, hosts a range of riverboat cruises and water activities.

Riverboat cruises along the Ohio River are a leisurely and picturesque way to experience the state’s natural beauty. Passengers can enjoy a tranquil voyage while taking in the scenic landscapes that grace the riverbanks.

Cruises on the Ohio River are great for couples and families.

Lush forests, rolling hills, and charming river towns provide a serene and ever-changing backdrop for these cruises. Whether you opt for a romantic dinner cruise or a family sightseeing adventure, the Ohio River’s gentle currents create a perfect setting for relaxation and reflection.

Exploring Indiana’s waterways

For those seeking a more active experience, the Ohio River beckons adventurers to explore Indiana’s waterways on their own. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are popular activities that allow outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the river’s natural beauty.

Paddlers can navigate tranquil waters, observe wildlife, and discover hidden coves along the shoreline. These activities provide an intimate connection to nature and offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Historical and Cultural Sites

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

One of Indiana’s most iconic cultural landmarks is the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Founded in 1909, this racing venue is often referred to as the “Racing Capital of the World” and is deeply connected to American motorsport culture.

The history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a tale of ambition and innovation. Originally conceived as a testing ground for the emerging automobile industry, the track quickly evolved into a hub for competitive racing.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts many different events.

Its inaugural race, the Indianapolis 500, took place in 1911 and has since become one of the most prestigious and enduring events in motorsport history. The sheer speed and endurance required to complete 500 miles on the famed oval track have made the Indy 500 a true test of skill and determination.

Indy 500 and Other Events

The Indianapolis 500, often simply referred to as the “Indy 500,” is the crown jewel of American motorsport and an iconic event hosted at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Every Memorial Day weekend, the eyes of the racing world turn to Indianapolis as 33 of the world’s best drivers and their high-performance cars compete in a heart-pounding spectacle.

The Indy 500 is a cultural phenomenon that draws fans from all corners of the globe. The event’s rich history is marked by legendary drivers, unforgettable moments, and innovations in racing technology.

Apart from the iconic Indy 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts a variety of other racing events that cater to different disciplines and fan interests. These include NASCAR races, Formula One events, and the MotoGP, attracting a diverse spectrum of racing enthusiasts from around the world.

Museum and Hall of Fame

A visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be incomplete without exploring its rich heritage at the Museum and Hall of Fame. This institution enhances any holiday spent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR is a popular sport in the USA.

The museum houses a remarkable collection of historic race cars, memorabilia, and artefacts that tell the captivating story of American racing. Visitors can marvel at legendary vehicles that have graced the track and learn about the evolution of racing technology.

The Hall of Fame honours the achievements and contributions of racing luminaries, including drivers, team owners, and industry figures who have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

For a captivating adventure into Indiana’s past, the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is one of the best places to visit. Situated on over 1,000 acres of pristine land, Conner Prairie allows visitors to step back in time and engage with the past in a truly fascinating way.

Living History Museum

At the heart of Conner Prairie’s appeal is its commitment to bringing history to life through engaging narratives and immersive experiences. Visitors have the opportunity to explore Indiana’s past through a variety of interactive exhibits that span different time periods, from the Native American settlement era to the Civil War and beyond.

These exhibits allow for a deeper understanding of the cultural, social, and technological transformations that have shaped the state. Visitors can participate in historical reenactments, assuming the roles of settlers, pioneers, and historical figures.

Indianapolis is an exciting city to explore.

Additionally, Conner Prairie hosts a wide range of activities that cater to visitors of all ages. From crafting period-appropriate tools to tending to farm animals, these activities provide an opportunity for tactile learning and a deeper appreciation of the skills and craftsmanship of the past.

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is a network of cultural hidden gems that spans the state, collectively offering visitors a comprehensive glimpse into Indiana’s rich heritage.

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites comprise multiple locations, each with its unique historical context and charm. From the Lanier Mansion on the Ohio River to the Levi and Catharine Coffin House associated with the Underground Railroad, these sites are a tapestry of Indiana’s past.

Indiana’s Cultural Heritage

The mission of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites extends beyond showcasing historical artefacts. It seeks to interpret Indiana’s cultural heritage, offering visitors insights into the lives, struggles, and achievements of its residents throughout history.

Through exhibitions, interactive displays, and educational programs, the museum conveys the stories of Indiana’s indigenous people, pioneers, and influential figures, creating a deeper understanding of the state’s cultural tapestry.

Much of the state’s rural areas are farmland.

To tell these stories, the museums house extensive collections of historical artefacts, artworks, documents, and personal stories, all meticulously preserved. This commitment to preservation ensures that Indiana’s history remains accessible and that visitors can appreciate the contributions of those who have shaped the state.

Amish Country Exploration

Indiana’s cultural experiences extend to its Amish communities, providing a unique and fascinating experience for tourists. Found in the northern part of the state, Indiana’s Amish Country offers a captivating journey into a traditional way of life that emphasises simplicity, self-sufficiency, and a deep sense of community.

Exploring Indiana’s Amish communities offers an introduction to a unique cultural group that has thrived in the state for generations. The Amish are known for their distinctive way of life, which includes horse-drawn buggies, plain clothes, and a strong commitment to faith and family.

Guided Tours

Guided tours and cultural experiences are a highlight of any visit to Indiana’s Amish Country. Knowledgeable guides provide in-depth explanations of Amish history, customs, and beliefs, offering a deeper understanding of this close-knit community.

Visitors can explore Amish farms, witness traditional practices, and even participate in activities such as quilting or bread baking. These immersive experiences allow guests to forge connections and gain a firsthand appreciation of the Amish way of life.

Amish communities are common throughout the Midwest USA.

Handcrafted Goods

One of the standout aspects of Indiana’s Amish Country is the opportunity to purchase handcrafted goods made by Amish artisans. From beautifully crafted furniture and handmade quilts to baked goods and fresh produce, the Amish take pride in producing high-quality items that reflect their dedication to craftsmanship.

These goods are available in local shops and at farmers’ markets, providing visitors with a chance to acquire unique, one-of-a-kind souvenirs and keepsakes.

Art and Entertainment

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

In the city of Indianapolis, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is an extraordinary institution dedicated to nurturing young minds through interactive learning. As the world’s largest children’s museum, it is a beacon of education and entertainment for families.

At the core of its mission is a focus on interactive learning, where children are not passive spectators but active participants in their educational journey. The museum’s exhibits are carefully designed to engage children’s natural curiosity, allowing them to explore and discover the world around them in a hands-on, playful manner.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis inspires guests through interactive exhibits.

Exhibits and Programs

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is known for its incredible diversity of exhibits and programs. From palaeontology and space exploration to arts and culture, the museum offers a wide array of themed areas that cater to a broad spectrum of interests.

Educational programs, workshops, and live demonstrations further enrich the learning experience. The museum is a dynamic space where knowledge is transformed into a thrilling adventure and imagination.

It is a place where children can dream, create, and explore without limits, nurturing their creativity and igniting their passions. As a result, it has earned a well-deserved reputation as a beloved destination that not only entertains but also inspires, leaving a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of young visitors.

Indiana Repertory Theatre

The Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) in downtown Indianapolis is dedicated to the promotion of performing arts and theatre. Since its founding in 1972, the IRT has been a dynamic force in Indiana’s arts scene, offering an exceptional platform for the theatrical arts to flourish.

The theatre provides a stage for actors, playwrights, directors, and designers to collaborate and bring compelling stories to life. Its commitment to high-quality productions is evident in the calibre of its performances, which span a wide range of genres and styles.

Indianapolis is the capital city of Indiana.

Contribution to the Local Arts Scene

The Indiana Repertory Theatre not only showcases outstanding performances but also actively contributes to the local arts scene. It serves as a hub for creativity and artistic innovation, attracting both established and emerging talents to its stage.

Through educational programs, outreach initiatives, and collaborations with local artists and organisations, the IRT nurtures artistic expression and engages with the community, enriching the cultural fabric of Indiana.

It’s a place where the magic of live theatre is celebrated, and the performing arts are elevated to new heights, ensuring that Indiana remains a vibrant hub for artistic excellence.

Festivals and Events

Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair, with its deep historical significance and vibrant modern attractions, is a beloved annual event that captures the essence of Indiana’s culture and heritage. First held in 1852, the fair has become a cherished tradition that draws crowds from all over the state and beyond.

The Indiana State Fair is a unique blend of history and contemporary entertainment. It offers a nostalgic glimpse into the past with its traditional elements like agricultural exhibitions, livestock shows, and arts and crafts competitions.

State fairs are large events in the USA.

These time-honoured traditions highlight Indiana’s farming heritage and showcase the hard work and dedication of the state’s agricultural community.

Livestock Shows, Concerts, and Fair Food

Although it is rooted in the past, the fair also embraces modernity by featuring an array of attractions that cater to all ages and interests. From thrilling rides and games to live musical performances by nationally renowned artists, the fair offers a diverse range of entertainment options.

The vibrant atmosphere, illuminated by colourful lights and the sounds of laughter and excitement, makes it a gathering place for families and friends to create cherished memories.

One of the culinary highlights of the Indiana State Fair is its diverse culinary offerings, which cater to both traditional and adventurous palates. From classic fair favourites like corn dogs and funnel cakes to innovative creations like deep-fried delicacies and gourmet dishes, the fair offers a mouthwatering variety of options.

Covered Bridge Festival

The Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana is a unique and cherished event that shines a spotlight on the state’s historic covered bridges. Located in picturesque Parke County, known as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World,” this festival draws visitors from far and wide.

Covered bridges date back to the 19th century.

The main draw of the Covered Bridge Festival is its celebration of Indiana’s rich architectural heritage, with a focus on the charming and iconic covered bridges that dot the landscape. These covered bridges, many of which date back to the 19th century, provide a glimpse into Indiana’s past.

During the festival, visitors have the opportunity to explore these beautifully preserved structures, each with its own unique charm and history. It’s a journey through time that invites participants to appreciate the craftsmanship and engineering of a bygone era.

Craft Vendors, Food Stalls, and Entertainment

Beyond the bridges themselves, the Covered Bridge Festival offers a vibrant atmosphere filled with craft shows, food vendors, and live entertainment. The streets come alive with the hustle and bustle of artisans showcasing their handmade crafts, from jewellery to quilts and everything in between.

Food lovers can savour a variety of culinary delights, including local favourites and festival classics like elephant ears and popcorn. Meanwhile, live music, street performers, and cultural demonstrations provide a lively backdrop of entertainment that adds to the festive atmosphere.

The Covered Bridge Festival seamlessly blends history, culture, and celebration into a unique and unforgettable experience. It is a testament to the enduring appreciation of Indiana’s architectural heritage, offering a delightful fusion of tradition and modern enjoyment.

The Midwest USA is full of unique areas to explore.

Indiana is a Fantastic Midwest State to Visit

Indiana, USA, offers a diverse and captivating variety of tourist attractions and activities that cater to a wide range of interests and preferences. From the natural wonders and outdoor adventures to the state’s amazing historical and cultural sites, Indiana is a destination that beckons tourists to explore its unique treasures.

Indiana’s diverse tourist attractions and activities paint a vivid portrait of a state that treasures its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and traditions. Whether one is drawn to the great outdoors, historical exploration, artistic experiences, or community celebrations, Indiana welcomes all with open arms.

Indiana is a hidden gem in the heart of the Midwest, inviting visitors to relax, explore, and create lasting memories. It is a place where the past and present intersect and where every corner offers a new adventure waiting to be discovered.

If you’re interested in exploring the best of the Midwest USA, check out the State Parks in Illinois: 6 Beautiful Parks to Visit.

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