Indiana road trip destinations can promise you some exciting adventures. It is a very underrated state with so many stunning places to explore. This state is known as the ‘Hoosier State’. It is surrounded by the states of Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio on three sides but towards the north, it is exposed to Lake Michigan. Indiana also envelopes a great history of the American Civil War and therefore is an attractive state for history buffs.
Whether you’re looking for a new attraction or looking for a weekend trip, the size of the state is ideal for a road trip. If you’ve decided to go on a trip to Indiana and confused about what are the suitable options, then you should check out these top 11 must-visit places in Indiana.
Short on time? How about a quick summary of all the best Indy road trip destinations? Check out the slides below!
Crossroads of America & Neighboring Indiana Road Trip Destinations
The capital city of Indiana, Indianapolis is known as the Crossroads of America as it is centrally located and connects to 4 interstate highways connecting the Hoosiers to the rest of the US. This is where we will start with out list of Indiana road trip destinations.
1. Indianapolis Motor SpeedWay: Top-Most Attraction
Starting the road trip from Indianapolis City can be exciting. One of the city’s major attractions is the Indianapolis Motor SpeedWay, an Indianapolis Motor SpeedWay which is an automobile racing circuit that holds more than 500 events annually, including the Formula One World Championship, Moto GP & the Grand PRIX.
These events have given the city the nickname of ‘The Racing Capital of the World.’ Even if you’re not an automobile enthusiast this is a must-visit Indiana road trip destinations.
2. Motor SpeedWay Museum: History of Racing:
Next to it is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum displaying the world’s largest collection of racing cars and antiques.
This is a tempting stop to witness the history of the sport. There are several tours arranged here, including the famous ‘Kiss the bricks’ tour.
3. Must Explore museums of Indianapolis:
Museums are another great attraction of the city. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians And Western Art has varied collections of Western art, native American art historic objects, and contemporary art, but one of the most attractive exhibits is the Jingle Rails exhibit, the G-scale model trains wonderland with nine working model trains moving around in the miniature landscape of Indianapolis. This is a fun visit for family travelers.
Another attractive place for children and families is The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which hosts exhibits of dinosaurs in the Dinosphere displaying the skeletons of these prehistoric creatures found in the state. This is one of the many exciting exhibits here.
4. Attractions towards South East of Indianapolis:
About a 1.5-hour road trip from Indianapolis to the southeast can take you to Lawrenceburg, the Whiskey Capital of the world, housing the biggest distillery (spread over 300 acres and 92 buildings) that produces the best rye whiskey in America.
It has been producing whiskey for 169 years and was earlier known as the ‘Seagram’ Distillery and is now known by the name of MGP Ingredients. This distillery sells to approximately 130 different brands. The city even hosts a great whiskey-tasting festival in November. You can explore these places at night to make the most out of it.
5. Attractions towards West & South of Indianapolis:
A 1-hour road trip from Indianapolis to the west can take you to the Turkey Run State Park, while if you go towards the south you can end up at the Brown County State Park. These state parks offer a lot of adventures for nature lovers. Brown County is the largest of the 24 state parks in Indiana, while the Turkey Run state park hosts an Olympic swimming pool. Horseback riding and hiking trails are the best way to enjoy the breathtaking, jaw-dropping natural beauty offered by these state parks. Camping and picnicking are great fun activities for families and children.
The nature center at Brown County hosts attractive exhibits of snakes and birds, while the Ogle Lake and Strahl Lake offer warm-weather fishing and ice-fishing options. Turkey Run offers canoeing in Sugar Creek, one of the most beautiful rivers in Indiana. Brown County offers varied wildlife including raccoons, white-tailed deer, songbirds, wild turkeys, bears, and wolves. These state parks are escapes from the local din and can be explored and enjoyed over a long weekend on a solo trip or with friends or family.
Popcorn Capital & Neighboring Indiana Road Trip Destinations…
6. Van Buren: Popcorn Capital of the World
Van Buren is a small town situated 1.5 hours away from Indianapolis and is the home to one of the most renowned popcorn manufacturers of the world, Weaver Popcorn. It is the largest bulk popcorn producer in the world, and has been in existence for over 90 years and has customers all around the world, serving close to 90 countries. Further, Indiana is known for the vast cornfields from where the companies source corn for popcorn manufacturing. This town can be visited en route to other attractions of the state. In August, the town hosts a three-day Popcorn festival full of fun, food, and entertainment, organized by the local businesses of the town. It is a fun event for families and children, with a fair, carnival, rides, and all-you-can-eat popcorn! The festival first started in 1973 and has been held continuously every year since then.
7. Conner Prairie: A Historic Adventure
On your way to Van Buren from Indianapolis, you can stop at Conner Prairie, Hamilton County. It is a great attraction for history buffs. It is a themed historic area that takes you back to 1836. It is an interactive outdoor museum for children where they can see the past right in front of them and be a part of it. There is a blacksmith, a one-room school, butter-churning, and a lot more. Explore how life was back in the 1800s, but the most attractive part of the place is the balloon voyage which involves a bright yellow and red-colored hot air balloon that takes you as high as 400ft into the sky. This is to commemorate the first-ever successful airmail delivery in the US. There are old trading docks and canoes, and the recreation of the civil war period where you can try out the civil war uniforms or see the soldiers marching.
8. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: A Unique Experience
A 2.5-hour road trip from Van Buren will take you to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore situated right at the shore of Lake Michigan at the northern tip of the state. It is a 15-mile-long shoreline and perfect for building a sandcastle or enjoying a walk along the beach or even taking a dip in Lake Michigan. Now it has been converted into a state park and offers several hiking trails for nature lovers. The area is covered with coniferous forests that present spectacular hues in the fall or autumn. Paths lined by pine and maple trees are a treat to walk through. Rangers extract maple syrup from the leaves and it is a fun activity to be a part of. Valpo Velvet Ice cream shop is a must-visit place here. Dune climbing is another great adventure this place offers. The 3 Dune Challenge is a 1.5-mile trek covering the steepest dunes. Camping, riding, and fishing are several other outdoor adventures.
Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana & Neighboring Indiana Road Trip Destinations
Having covered Central and Northern Indiana, it’s time to explore Southern Indiana.
9. Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve: A Couple’s Paradise
Bloomington is known as the ‘Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana’ and is 1-hour away from Indianapolis by road. It is the home to Indiana University and is known for its beautiful pine trees and autumn hues, especially along Kirkwood Avenue. It is the heart of some of the most beautiful forest lands of the state. One of the major attractions is the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, a combination of hardwood forest and the shrub wetland. This offers beautiful scenery and is home to close to 80 bird species. Walking on the 2-mile trail could be the most romantic getaway or a place for solitude for nature lovers and offers observation decks to enjoy the view from the top.
Another unique attraction is the Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve situated in the middle of Lake Monroe and is the largest contiguous forest in the state. It is a secluded land mass floating in the lake and looks like an island from the bird’s eye view. It has designated parking spots and from there, people can go hiking and biking in the forest.
10. Marengo Cave: State’s Most Visited Landmark
A one-hour road trip from Bloomington will take you to Marengo Cave, Indiana’s most visited National Landmark. It is more than just a cave. Two walking tours help you explore the caves. The Crystal Palace & the Dripstone trail tours take you to the formations of flowstone deposits and rooms full of them. These formations form small mounds in the room or protrude from the ceiling of the cave forming pointed cones. It is a unique sight. Apart from these tours, there are other activities such as gemstone mining, pedal karting, camping & crawling. This is an interesting place for children and adults to experience. It can also be a great adventure for solo travelers as well. Right next to the cave is the Hoosier National Forest, spread over nine counties including Jasper County. Jasper County homes the greatest wildlife adventure at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. It is a must-visit spot for fauna lovers.
Not only is this a top road trip destination, it is also one of the most affordable places in Indiana, making it a budget-friendly place in the state.
11. Holiday World And Splashin Safari: Best Family Destination
A 50-minute drive from the cave is the Holiday World And Splashin Safari, a mix of a theme park and waterpark that offers rides based on 4 different events of the year, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and 4th of July. There are more than 40 different kinds of rides and slides here for children and grown-ups and it is a place full of fun, music, and entertainment. Take out one whole day to enjoy the place to its fullest.