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With an extensive history of motorsports, Indiana's main claim to fame is the popular automobile race held each year in its capital city. A mostly rural state, Indiana is a land of till plains and lakes, its appearance a result of traces left behind by receding glaciers. The central section of the state, mostly flat with some rolling hills, contains some of the country's most fertile farmland. The state also contains almost 39,000 km (24,000 mi) of waterways, including the Wabash River, the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi. For a genuine "Hoosier" experience, tour the state's slow-paced small towns, noted for their hospitality and outstanding local cuisine. You'll remember the warmth and charm long after your vacation is over. Arrange all the small, but important details of your Indiana trip itinerary using our United States vacation builder.Read the Indiana Holiday Planning Guide »
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©The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
©Indianapolis Motor Speedway
©Basilica of the Sacred Heart
©Lucas Oil Stadium
©University of Notre Dame
©Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park
©Exotic Feline Rescue Center
©Turkey Run State Park
©Allen County Public Library
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Best things to do in Indiana
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Visit for: 8h
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Visit for: 2h
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Visit for: 2h
Kid Friendly Attractions©
Visit for: 3h
Children's Zoo Gift Shop
Visit for: 3h
Turkey Run State Park
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 2h
University of Notre Dame
Visit for: 30min
Visit for: 2h 30min
Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park
Visit for: 2h
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum Store
Visit for: 1h 30min
Exotic Feline Rescue Center
Visit for: 2h 30min
Clifty Falls State Park
Visit for: 3h
Spring Mill State Park
Visit for: 2h 30min
Potato Creek State Park
Visit for: 3h
Recently planned trips to Indiana
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Indiana Holiday Planning GuideWith an extensive history of motorsports, Indiana's main claim to fame remains the popular automobile race held each year in its capital city. A mostly rural state, Indiana is a land of till plains and lakes, its appearance a result of traces left behind by receding glaciers. The state's central section, mostly flat with some rolling hills, contains some of America's most fertile farmland. Nearly 39,000 km (24,000 mi) of waterways run through Indiana, including the Wabash River, the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi. For a genuine "Hoosier" experience, tour Indiana's slow-paced small towns, noted for their hospitality and outstanding local cuisine. You'll remember the warmth and charm long after your vacation is over.
Places to Visit in IndianaIndianapolis: From top-notch sporting events to a bustling art and gastronomic scene, the state's capital and largest city offers a bit of everything, making it a must on your tour of Indiana.
Bloomington: It might not be a huge city, but Bloomington is definitely one of the liveliest places in Indiana. The seat of Indiana University, the city thrives with a colorful, multicultural atmosphere and a great selection of small shops and eateries.
Fort Wayne: The state's second-largest city, Fort Wayne offers a good combination of urban attractions and outdoor activities, earning it a reputation as one of the best places for a family vacation in Indiana.
South Bend: The main urban center of northern Indiana, South Bend is best known as the seat of the historical Notre Dame University. In addition to the picturesque campus, the city provides its visitors with a number of museums and restaurants, plus a rich cultural scene.
Evansville: The cultural and commercial hub of southern Indiana, Evansville is a mid-sized city that lets you explore plenty of historical sites and enjoy a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
Lafayette: Located midway between Indianapolis and Chicago, this is a great spot to combine urban sightseeing with excursions into the scenic countryside along the Wabash River.
Things to Do in Indiana
Popular Indiana Tourist AttractionsThe Children's Museum of Indianapolis: One of the biggest museums of its kind in the world, this famous Indiana attraction is a real treat for kids of all ages as well as adults.
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari: Celebrate the four biggest U.S. holidays in a single day and experience thrilling and exotic rides at one of America's highest-ranking amusement parks.
Indianapolis Zoo: From scorching deserts to ocean depths, go on a tour of the natural world through an impressive display of plants, animals, and recreated habitats.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway: A true temple of speed, this is the place to visit in Indiana for all motorsports enthusiasts.
Indianapolis Museum of Art: One of the largest and oldest in the country, this art museum will take you on a journey through thousands of years and many different aspects of human creativity.
Children's Zoo Gift Shop: Home to over 1,000 animals from all over the world, this zoo caters especially to its youngest visitors. Interactive and educational exhibits, together with petting areas, provide tons of fun for the kids.
Holler Hoppin' Zip Lines: Experience the thrill of ziplining through the scenic woods of Indiana's countryside. With a selection of lines and experienced guides, the course provides a great experience for visitors of all ages.
Eiteljorg Museum: Celebrating Native American history, art, and heritage, this museum is one of the highlights of the Indianapolis cultural scene.
Indiana Beach Amusement Resort: Have some adventurous fun with everything from roller coaster rides to arcades, right on the coast of Lake Shafer.
Planning an Indiana Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Indiana with KidsThe abundance of family-oriented places to visit in Indiana makes the state an excellent destination for a vacation with children. The two largest cities, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, perfectly combine a high concentration of attractions and a peaceful atmosphere, offering plenty to fill your family's Indiana itinerary. If you choose to head to the state's smaller cities and rural areas, you'll also find plenty of things to keep the kids entertained. Smaller children should get a thrill in the town of Santa Claus, where the holiday spirit prevails year-round, while cities like Evansville and South Bend provide a good selection of diversions for both little ones and teenagers.
Things to do in Indiana with KidsThe wealth of kid-friendly attractions in Indiana--especially zoos and children's museums--makes it really stand out among other American states. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis and Children's Zoo Gift Shop might be the most famous, but throughout the state you'll find plenty of similar institutions well worth visiting. A great experience for the entire family will be a visit to Amish Acres, an attraction that celebrates traditional crafts and an authentic rural way of life. Add some excitement to your Indiana trip by planning a visit or two to its many amusement parks, suited for kids of all ages. If it's a sweltering Midwest summer, head to the water parks, where the adults can relax while kids enjoy slides and splashing pools.
Between visits to the state's cities, plan some day trips or camping excursions into the surrounding natural beauty: Marengo Cave, Falls of the Ohio State Park, and Indiana Dunes State Park are excellent options. Sports fans of all ages will find a whole array of places to visit in Indiana, from Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts play their football games and Bankers Life Fieldhouse--home of the Pacers--to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, venue of the world-famous Indy 500 races.
Tips for a Family Vacation in IndianaIf your family's trip to Indiana includes touring the state, you'll find that it's fairly easy to get from one place to another. As in many other U.S. states, driving is the main means of transportation and numerous car rental agencies service tourists who need to rent some wheels for their holiday. That said, a car won't be necessary if you plan to stay in Indianapolis and tour the area north of the city, thanks to regular train connections between the state capital and Chicago that give easy access to towns along the way. A combination of walking or cycling and public transportation will easily get you around most of Indiana's cities.
All the amenities your family might need are easily accessible in Indiana's cities and towns, and family-oriented accommodations are plentiful, from campgrounds to all-inclusive resorts.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Indiana
Cuisine of IndianaIndiana is definitely the place to go for all those looking to try hearty Midwestern cooking. The state's hardworking agricultural past gave birth to recipes that perfectly compensate with flavor what they might lack in complexity. Meat has pride of place in local specialties, such as Indiana's trademark pork tenderloin sandwich, or the state's favorite snack--the corndog. Another trademark "delicacy" especially popular in the Evansville area is the fried brain sandwich. Alongside fresh vegetables, you'll probably see plenty of pickles and sauerkraut accompanying main dishes. Visitors with a sweet tooth can use their holiday in Indiana as an excuse to taste traditional desserts like sugar cream pie and persimmon pudding.
You may be slightly surprised to learn that Indiana was one of the first winemaking regions of the United States, and that the tradition is still strong today. Visit places like Huber's Orchard & Winery or Oliver Winery for tours and tastings in thoroughly pleasant surroundings. If beer is your drink of choice, you can go on a tasting tour of some of the state's many microbreweries, or join other beer enthusiasts on the Indy Brew Bus.
Shopping in IndianaShopping opportunities in Indiana greatly depend on the part of the state you're visiting. While all towns and cities feature small boutique stores and galleries selling local designs and artwork, if you're looking for a large mall and world-famous brands, Indianapolis is the number one destination. Here, places like The Fashion Mall at Keystone will satisfy the tastes of even the pickiest fashionistas. Indiana's smaller towns are excellent locations for buying locally made handicrafts, sweets, spices, and souvenirs. Antiquing ranks high on many lists of things to do Indiana, and the town of Nashville with its collection of shops draws treasure hunters from far and wide. Farmer's markets like Bloomington Community Farmers Market give you a real taste of the friendly faces and local abundance in rural Indiana.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Indiana
History of IndianaPre-colonial Indiana was a hotbed of Native American civilizations, with numerous tribes taking advantage of the area's fertile soil and plentiful hunting grounds. Today, Indiana is home to one of the best-preserved Native American monuments in the country, Angel Mounds State Historic Site, where the native civilization thrived long before the Europeans caught wind of the American continent. However, the tribes didn't always live in peace, and the Beaver Wars right before the arrival of the Europeans resulted in a severe depopulation of the area that was to become Indiana.
The first Europeans to venture into the region of Indiana were the French fur traders, who arrived in the mid-17th century. Following several clashes with the Iroquois, the French established a trade route along the Wabash River that connected their possessions in Canada with the Gulf of Mexico. To thwart the British attempts at interfering with their interests, the French established the first European outposts, several of which would later grow into cities like Fort Wayne and Lafayette.
The British victory in the French and Indian War gave them command over Indiana, but the French influence remained strong just as the British did after the American victory in the Revolutionary War. In fact, it took several more decades for the United States to establish a firm grip over Indiana, which was only achieved after the British defeat in the War of 1812. In 1816, Indiana gained its statehood, and soon after the city of Indianapolis was founded. During the construction of the new capital, Corydon Capitol State Historic Site served as the seat of Indiana's government.
During the Civil War, the state stayed firmly on the abolitionist Union side (visitors interested in this historical period should include Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in their Indiana itinerary). Following the war, Indiana started a period of transformation that turned it from an almost exclusively agricultural state to one of America's industrial powerhouses. Numerous railroads earned it the nickname "Crossroads of America" and Indiana steel was a great contributor to the American efforts in both world wars. Among the historical places to see in Indiana is USS LST Ship Memorial, a landing ship that once saw action in Sicily and Normandy and now stands as a permanently docked museum in Evansville.
Landscape of IndianaTo get an idea of just how flat Indiana is, consider that Hoosier Hill, the state's highest point, stands just slightly taller than the tallest skyscraper in Indianapolis. However, despite the lack of mountains, several areas of the state feature lovely rolling hills, forests, and bodies of water--more than enough to satisfy nature lovers on vacation in Indiana.
Although technically landlocked, Indiana meets the enormous Lake Michigan in the north; if you're hankering for a little coastline, head here to see Indiana Dunes State Park, one of the prime natural attractions in Indiana. For craggy terrain, untouched nature, and scenic hiking trails, Turkey Run State Park makes a great destination. Unlike its southern neighbor Kentucky, Indiana's geography doesn't include a huge number of subterranean cave systems, but the ones it does have, such as Marengo Cave, are definitely impressive.