If you’ve ever visited any quaint towns in Indiana, I’m sure you will concur with the slogan of our popular theme park. Indiana Beach says, “There’s more than corn in Indiana!” And having grown up in Speedway (just outside of Indianapolis), I will confess, there wasn’t a cornfield in sight. Race cars, on the other hand, have been a popular draw to my hometown since the first running of the Indy 500 over 100 years ago.
To illustrate my point and showcase the diversity of travel destinations in the Hoosier state, allow me to highlight some of my favorite attractions in five quaint towns in Indiana. They definitely have more to offer than just corn!
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Starting in the north, let’s explore Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.
If the hectic pace of life has you stressed out, a little time in Amish country may be just what the doctor ordered. Located in LaGrange County, Shipshewana is deeply rooted in Amish culture. With the frequent clip-clop of horses pulling buggies throughout this quaint town in Indiana, residents and visitors alike experience a simpler way of life.
Blue Gate Restaurant and Theater
When in Shipshewana, a visit to the Blue Gate Restaurant is a must. Browse the extensive gift shop and drool over the array of delicious baked goods. There are no calories in looking, but I dare you not to take home some fresh baked cinnamon rolls, pies, or other mouthwatering treats! The restaurant offers dining with both a menu and buffet option. Feast on fried chicken, ham, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, Amish bread with apple butter, and so much more. It’s like enjoying a fabulous home cooked Thanksgiving feast, without all the dishes!
Beware, this is not a good spot if you are seriously trying to watch your calories! I don’t know how anyone could resist the assorted pies, cakes, and other calorie-laden goodies Blue Gate Restaurant serves up for dessert.
The Blue Gate also boasts a theater. You can enjoy a variety of live performances, including plays and musicals that often feature an Amish storyline. They put on a variety of concerts as well, with artists ranging from country music and gospel to various tribute bands. Concerts generally attract a bigger audience than the Blue Gate Theater can hold so many concerts are held at their event center just down the road. During a recent visit to Shipshewana, I was able to catch a Charley Pride performance. We had the best time tapping our feet and singing along with this legendary country artist.
As you interact with the Amish people working in the stores and restaurants you may have questions about their culture. Why do they choose not to drive cars or wear modern clothing? What is the difference between Amish and Mennonites? What are their beliefs about religion, war, schooling, marriage, and families?
Get all these questions answered and more by visiting the Menno-Hof museum. You can see and hear the Amish-Mennonite story for yourself. You will immerse yourself in everything Amish as you make your way through 24 sequential stops on the Menno-Hof tour. Multi-media presentations and interactive displays reveal the story of the Anabaptist movement that started in 16th-century Europe and evolved to current day practices of the Amish, Mennonite, and Hutterite people.
Visitors get to explore a traditional Amish kitchen and even experience a simulated tornado. You will gain a deeper appreciation for the seemingly strange practices of the Amish community as you learn the “why” behind their lifestyle. You’ll leave with a broader perspective on the diversity in our world. Plus, you’ll improve your trivia skills with all the newfound knowledge.
Buggy Rides Through Quaint Towns in Indiana
Horse and buggies are a common sight in Shipshewana. So when in Amish country, do as the Amish do and enjoy a buggy ride! You can opt for a short jaunt through this quaint town in Indiana as a way to see the main sights. And it gives you the chance to rest your feet for a bit. Or you can take a longer ride through the countryside and really take in the beauty of Shipshewana.
There are three companies offering buggy rides for tourists with a variety of packages to choose from. Some even include a trip to an Amish family farm for a home cooked meal. Whichever option you choose, don’t leave Shipshewana without saddling up and appreciating Amish transportation at its finest.
More Than a Days Worth
Shipshewana’s slogan is “More than a days worth,” and I found this to be true. With several bed and breakfasts in the area, Shipshewana is the perfect destination for an overnight getaway. I highly recommend the Morton Street Inn. Plan your trip on a Tuesday or Wednesday from May through October to experience the gigantic Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market. When you visit Shipshewana you’ll also want to take in the numerous quaint shops where you’ll find high-quality Amish furniture, home decor, and plenty baked goods, meats, and cheeses. Do keep in mind that most stores are closed on Sunday, so plan your trip accordingly.
In the heart of Hendricks County is the quaint town in Indiana, Danville. Given that I live in Hendricks County I find myself in Danville quite often. Yet somehow, I continue to find new hot spots in this quaint small town that I just have to tell people about.
The most well-known establishment in Danville is the Mayberry Cafe. It’s full of memorabilia from The Andy Griffith Show and home cooking just like Aunt Bee’s. People travel from all over the country to dine here. Of course, The Andy Griffith Show is playing on a continuous loop so diners can once again enjoy their favorite episodes of this American TV classic.
Along with mouthwatering food, there is a tiny gift shop in the front of the restaurant. They sell nostalgic items, reminiscent of the days when Opie and Barney were household names. A classic Mayberry squad car out front has been the centerpiece of many travelers’ photos for years. Sadly, this iconic car was recently hit by another vehicle and remains in the shop for repairs.
True fans of the show should plan to visit Danville in May when the town hosts its annual three day celebration, Mayberry in the Midwest.
Another highlight on the town square is the Royal Theater. This historic 1920s theater shows both old and new flicks, but it has all the charm of theaters from days gone by. Including their ticket prices; just $6 or $4 for matinees. Unlike today’s popular multiplex theaters, the Royal Theater has just one auditorium, but plenty of nostalgia for movie buffs. They also have all your favorite movie theater concessions.
Just walking into this theater will have you recalling the good old days with its vintage decor and old-school feel. Whether you’re taking in the latest action-packed movie or viewing a cult classic, a trip to the Royal Theater will feel like a blast from the past.
Christmas Time in Quaint Towns in Indiana
While Danville offers fun activities all year round, there is no better time to visit then at Christmas. People of all ages venture to Danville every year to kick off the holiday season with the lighting of the tree on the town square. With brilliant white lights strung from the courthouse to the shops and restaurants lining the square, even the grinchiest of grinches can’t help but feel the love in Danville. With every store window decked out in colorful Christmas trimmings, the shops just beg you to come inside.
Less than a mile down the road from the town square is Ellis Park. Here you will find the Winterland Holiday Light Show, a spectacular drive-through display of animated Christmas lights. Your whole family can take in the lights from the warmth of your vehicle as you slowly drive through the park in this quaint town in Indiana. Young and old alike will appreciate this annual holiday attraction.
Too Many Restaurants for One Trip
Multiple trips to Danville are necessary to take in all the wonderful dining options. Enjoy a delightful breakfast at The Bread Basket. Enjoy a hot beverage or sweet treat at The Beehive and dine on fine Italian cuisine at Frank’s Place. Be sure to wander the square and check out the numerous shops. Danville is a great town for window shopping or picking up just the right gift or souvenir.
I’m not talking about the famed Nashville two states south of Indiana, although I am rather fond of the Country Music Capital of the World. Nashville, Indiana is located about an hour south of Indianapolis in Brown County. While this Nashville may not have the same claim to fame as its Tennessee namesake, there are tons of good reasons to visit one of my favorite quaint towns in Indiana.
Brown County State Park
Indiana offers many amazing state parks, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Brown County State Park. With tons of trails for all skill levels, this is a hiker’s paradise. While the park is open year-round, I find the fall colors to be especially beautiful and Instagram worthy.
The Abe Martin Lodge is nestled among the woods in Brown County State Park, providing travelers a chance to spend lots of time in nature with an overnight or even a week long stay. The lodge offers a woodland themed gift shop, dining room, and several community areas where you can relax by the fire, work on a puzzle, or enjoy a good book.
What really sets Brown County State Park and the Abe Martin Lodge apart from other destinations is the indoor water park. It’s the perfect for destination for families and children of all ages. We have taken our own daughters here to celebrate two monumental birthdays. The water park includes a lazy river, zero entry pool with water dumping buckets, water volleyball court, and a huge twisty water slide. Plus, there is an adults only hot tub to give parents a bit of relaxation. Book a night at the lodge or one of their cabins and admission to the water park is included in your stay.
To truly relax, unplug, and get away from the stresses of daily life, rent a cabin in the woods. Brown County State Park offers a variety of cabins of different sizes and we love renting the two story family cabins for big group getaways.
Outside of the State Park there are many additional cabins available for rent in Nashville. They can accommodate all types of travelers. Opt for a rustic cabin or rent a deluxe mini-mansion in the woods. Nashville offers tons of cabins to choose from so you can create your perfect woodland retreat. Keep in mind that these cabins are in high-demand during peak season, so make your reservations early and be prepared to pay premium prices. Or find great deals and enjoy a cozy cabin getaway during the more budget-friendly winter months. Snow just adds to the charm of any of these quaint towns in Indiana
North Van Buren Street in Nashville, Indiana and the adjoining roads are lined with numerous quaint shops. It is a picturesque setting and a true shoppers delight! A far cry from the tacky souvenir shops you find in huge tourist areas, Nashville’s shops offer unique finds for all kinds of travelers. From crazy socks and jewelry to leather goods, vintage toys and arts and crafts of all mediums, you can spend hours roaming from store to store.
Along the way you will find plenty of stores selling candy, gourmet popcorn, specialty teas, fudge, and ice cream. All of which will ensure you keep up your strength for shopping. Or you can sit a spell and dine at any one of a number of locally owned restaurants sure to please any palate. You will be hard pressed to find a big chain restaurant in this area, so take in a unique Indiana dining experience instead.
So Much More to Quaint Towns in Indiana
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Nashville and the surrounding area is home to some fabulous wineries. Another huge draw is the brand-new Brown County Music Center. This 2000-seat venue hosts concerts with world-class artists from many genres of music. With all the places to explore in Nashville, Indiana, you can create the perfect itinerary for a family vacation, a romantic weekend, or a girl’s getaway.
Madison is situated along the Ohio River at the southeastern tip of Indiana. Dubbed the largest contiguous National Historic Landmark District in the U.S., Madison is a must-see Midwest destination.
If you’re anything like me and enjoy visiting wineries, then a trip to Lanthier Winery is a must. They offer a variety of fabulous wines and provide pleasant indoor and outdoor settings to enjoy a glass…or two. The wine selection at Lanthier Winery includes several options for every kind of wine palate. I personally prefer sweeter wines and have honestly loved every one I’ve tried. And with free tastings, it’s easy to explore the full range of options.
Be sure to visit Lanthier Winery during the holiday season. This is when every nook and cranny of the two story winery is decked out with themed Christmas trees. Santa and his elves go berserk at Lanthier Winery with trees in all different shapes and sizes. From a Colts tree to an Elvis tree and a farm animal tree to a circus-themed tree, you will find every theme imaginable. The holidays are a great time to stock up on wine, too. So add a trip to Lanthier Winery to this year’s seasonal festivities.
The Lanier Mansion was the 1840s home of a wealthy and influential financier who settled in Madison. The home was very extravagant for that time and continues to be an iconic Indiana landmark. A guided tour of James F.D. Lanier’s former home and gardens is a must for any history buff. Take in the beautiful architecture as a capable tour guide regales you with tales of the rich and famous from days gone by.
Shopping in Quaint Towns in Indiana
If you prefer shopping in boutiques rather than gigantic malls, then Madison will be right up your alley. Several blocks along the main thoroughfare and adjacent streets offer unique gift shops, antique stores, and confectioneries that attract eager shoppers all year long. Adorably decorated displays highlight seasonal decor, creations from local artisans, and tempting treats. Ideal for browsing and finding just the right gift for someone special…or yourself! There are plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and candy stores sprinkled throughout, enabling visitors to spend the whole day shopping.
And So Much More
Madison is another of the quaint towns in Indiana that really sparkles at Christmas time! Stroll down the quaint streets, pop in and out of festively decorated shops, and lounge in cafes as Christmas music plays. If you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, check out Dr. William Hutching’s Office & Museum for a step back in time. Here you will learn what health care was like back when doctors made house calls. With so much to discover in Madison, this quaint Indiana town is definitely worth putting on your travel wish list!
Just a stone’s throw from our southern neighbor, Kentucky, is Jeffersonville, Indiana. Another small town, Jeffersonville offers plenty of character and charm with an environment that is appealing to both tourists and locals alike. It’s one of the quaint towns in Indiana you don’t want to miss.
Schimpff’s Candy Shop
Schimpff’s Candy Shop opened in 1891 making it one of the oldest family-owned candy businesses in the U.S. Full of nostalgia, Schimpff’s includes a candy museum and plenty of vintage memorabilia. There’s even an old-time soda fountain from the 1950s. So take some time to enjoy a frosty malt or milkshake as you recall simpler times.
Visitors can frequently enjoy watching a candy demonstration of Schimpff’s many tasty treats that are made and packaged in-house. While you can find just about any sweet treat your heart desires at Schimpff’s, they are famous for their cinnamon Red Hots, as well as hard candy fish and Modjeskas. Indulge your sweet tooth and stock up!
The Red Yeti
Jeffersonville offers numerous restaurants and cafes, but we are partial to The Red Yeti. On a nice day, sitting at one of the outdoor tables at the corner of Spring and Chestnut Streets is a delightful way to spend an afternoon.
Having just opened in 2014, The Red Yeti is a relative newcomer to the historic downtown. Regardless, it creates a great dining experience for foodies of all generations. The menu includes mouthwatering burgers, shrimp and grits, brisket, and much more. All menu items are made with a focus on locally grown ingredients. With numerous craft beers on tap, go ahead and indulge in a refreshing adult beverage with your meal.
Big Four Bridge
Spanning the Ohio River, the Big Four Bridge connects Jeffersonville, Indiana to Louisville, Kentucky. While this bridge was built well over 100 years ago, it was just reopened to pedestrians in 2014.
Spanning nearly one mile, this bridge is a car free zone. This makes it a haven for both walkers and cyclists. In addition to providing an opportunity for physical fitness, this architectural feat also offers visual appeal. You will definitely want to check out the Big Four Bridge after dark when it is illuminated. It cycles through a rainbow of colors for onlookers in two different states to enjoy.
The Fun Never Ends
Get in on all the charm of this quaint town in Indiana with its concerts in the park, farmer’s market, and seasonal festivities. While visiting the historic downtown, you’ll also find several interesting shops, restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, and bars catering to many different crowds. If you find yourself visiting Louisville, Kentucky, be sure to hop across the river and check out everything Jeffersonville, Indiana has to offer as well!
And So Much More in Quaint Towns in Indiana
Visit these five quaint towns in Indiana, but also know that there is so much more to see in the Hoosier state! You can visit rival college towns with a trip to boilermaker country (Purdue) in West Lafayette. Travel to Bloomington to check out Indiana University, or head up north to prestigious Notre Dame in South Bend.
Spend some time in Indianapolis to check out our world-class museums, stroll along the beautiful canal, browse Mass Avenues hip shops, or take a tour of the Indianapolis 500.
From Fort Wayne to Evansville to Valparaiso to Kokomo. Indiana offers something for every kind of traveler. Put Indiana on your travel itinerary and come take in a little Hoosier Hospitality for yourself!
Thanks for reading fellow travelers! My name is Tanya, but you can call me Traveling Tanya!
In addition to being a mother, wife, public health professional, and community volunteer, I’m also a world traveler. I’ve made it my mission to inspire busy people to make travel a priority. Even when time and budgets are limited. At www.travelingtanya.com I share travel tips and take my followers on vicarious vacations as I traipse around the globe. I enjoy gallivanting around Europe, lounging at the beach, and any trip that includes visiting a winery. However, as a lifelong Hoosier, I also appreciate sticking close to home and exploring all that Indiana has to offer.
Wherever the road takes you, make it a joyous journey,
Inspiring busy people to make travel a priority
Contact Tanya at TravelingTanyaShelburne@gmail.com
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