15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Indiana
Author Brad Lane enjoyed traveling throughout Indiana while on assignment for PlanetWare.
Indiana is home to the Hoosiers and a history that runs deep. Entertainment and tourist attractions embed themselves across all corners of the state. From fun things to do in the state capital, Indianapolis, to family-friendly tourist attractions in Fort Wayne, Bloomington, and Lafayette, Indiana has no shortage of exciting places to visit.
Several museums across the state blend fun experiences with educational value. A few of these educational escapes dive into science, Studebakers, and fine art at places like the Snite Museum of Art on the Notre Dame campus. And while the world-famous Indianapolis 500 only takes place once a year in May, the on-site museum celebrates the track's history throughout the year.
And Indiana is big on getting outside. Areas like Prophetstown State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, among many others, provide campsites, hiking trails, and stunning scenery for those adventurous explorers looking to get outdoors.
Plan your visit with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Indiana.
1. Spend the Day at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a large and wondrous place the whole family can enjoy. It encompasses 29 acres in the United Northwest neighborhood of the city. And as the largest children's museum in the world, the many different exhibits and hands-on science displays span from the time of the dinosaurs to astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.
The museum is a sure-fire favorite for children of all ages and an incredible learning experience for adults as well. The collection includes thousands of artifacts, photo opportunities, and interactive experiences. A few exhibits at this world-renowned museum include a planetarium, children's theater, and numerous outdoor exhibits, including an eye-catching "Tree of Sports" playground.
Other areas of eye-catching interest include a 43-foot-tall Dale Chihuly glass sculpture; full-size dinosaur skeletons, including one of the world's few mummified dinosaurs; and an interactive playscape designed specifically for preschoolers.
Alongside several full-day family outings, the museum also provides daily events and programs. A sample of scheduled events includes costume-building workshops, a "Secrets of the Lab" series, and Astronaut Training aboard the International Space Station. For even more fun things to do, the children's museum also features a restored 1917 carousel on the fourth level of this nearly 475,000-square-foot facility.
Address: 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
2. Kiss the Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, or the Indy Racing Museum, is located within the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also known as "The Track." This world-renowned raceway is home to the Indianapolis 500-miler every May. And this year-round museum commemorates this fastest day in motorsports with a premier collection of automobiles and artifacts.
The museum is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its collection includes over 55,000 artifacts, including over 300 cars. And at least 25 past winners of the Indianapolis 500 are on permanent display. Other artifacts include racing memorabilia, photography, and archived video.
Several guided tours are also available through the museum. The two-hour golf cart tour is a popular outing, including an in-depth trip around the track. However, the most popular tour is the Kiss the Bricks Tour, which features a narrated bus ride and an opportunity to get personal with the famous racetrack.
Address: 4750 W 16th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
3. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art, Indianapolis
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art is situated at the White River State Park entrance in downtown Indiana. It holds a remarkable collection assembled by Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg. On display are paintings and sculptures of the West, from the early 19th century onwards.
A few art pieces on display include works by the landscapists Albert Bierstadt and Georgia O'Keefe, and pictures and sculptures by the leading Western artists Frederick S. Remington and Charles M. Russell. The museum's most recent installation, Attitudes: The West in American Art, features a diverse collection of artists and cultures of the American West.
The encompassing White River State Park contains many other gems of the city. Adjacent to the Eiteljorg Museum, the Indiana State Museum features three floors relating stories of Indiana art, science, and culture through interactive exhibits.
Another great add-on experience to the Eiteljorg within White River State Park is the Indiana Zoo, across the banks of the White River. Resident animals include sea lions, cheetahs, and brown bears. White River State Park also features the NCAA Hall of Champions and Victory Field, home to the Indiana Indians minor league baseball team.
Address: 500 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Indianapolis
4. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari is a premier amusement park located in Santa Claus, Indiana. This immersive theme park has a massive collection of rides and slides enticing all sorts of family vacations. It's recommended to spend at least two days exploring the different themed worlds of this Indiana amusement park, from vertigo-inducing roller coasters to kid-friendly attractions.
Holiday World is split between the Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving worlds, each offering unique details and rides. Splashin Safari encompasses its own massive section of the park, offering one of the largest water parks in the state.
5. Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run is one of the most popular state parks in Indiana and is located just over an hour's drive west of Indianapolis. Several outdoor activities entice visitors to this natural space, including miles of hiking trails, a popular swimming pool, and other adventures like kayaking and fishing. Much of the landscape comprises woodlands and sandstone ravines along Sugar Creek.
Turkey Run is also a popular spot for overnight adventures. The state park has both indoor and outdoor places to stay, including lodge rooms and campsites. The 60-plus rooms at the Turkey Run Inn are available to book up to a year in advance, and many of the summer reservations go fast. Approximately 23 cabins are also available. Campsites are abundant, with more than 60 sites accommodating tent campers and RVs.
6. Appreciate the Art at Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame
The Snite Museum of Art offers free admission and a dense collection of 19th- and 20th-century artworks on the University of Notre Dame campus. The collection spans different cultures and significant periods of world art history.
The galleries include European paintings and sculptures, Mesoamerican effigies, Native American ceramics, and contemporary works. The museum also hosts a constantly rotating selection of new exhibits, including thesis projects by current MFA students at the university.
The museum is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays, with more limited hours on Saturdays. The newly instated Charles B. Hayes Sculpture Garden is also operated by the museum a couple of blocks away, allowing visitors to enjoy aesthetic art and nature throughout the year.
The University of Notre Dame offers plenty more to explore for students and community members alike. It's not hard to find inspiration when stepping foot into the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus, as well as the adjacent Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes spiritual shrine.
The nearby Compton Family Ice Arena is a great place to catch a hockey game or get on the ice yourself. For many, attending Fighting Irish football games at Notre Dame Stadium is a way of life and much-anticipated activity every season.
Address: 100 Moose Krause Circle, Notre Dame
7. Discover Wildlife at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne
Celebrating over 50 years as one of the top attractions of Fort Wayne, the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo encourages tourists and residents to experience award-winning animal exhibits.
Spread throughout distinct ecosystems spanning the African Serengeti to an Indonesian rainforest, a few of the hundreds of animals at the zoo include Amur leopards, Tasmanian devils, red pandas, and Komodo dragons.
Other attractions at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo include family-friendly rides like the Endangered Species Carousel. The zoo also facilitates animal experiences that allow visitors to interact with giraffes, goats, and ponies. Recent large-scale renovations to the Children's Zoo have been extremely popular and have given it the national recognition it receives today.
Address: 3411 Sherman Boulevard, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Fort Wayne
8. Explore the Campus of Indiana University Bloomington
Home to the Hoosiers and nearly 200 years of education history, Bloomington hosts the flagship campus of Indiana University. An air of academia defines the historic lecture halls and pedestrian pathways found on campus, including the iconic Sample Gates, leading to other campus attractions like the Kirkwood Observatory.
Hoosier sports intertwine with the identity of the entire state, and both football at Memorial Stadium and basketball at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall provide true community gathering spots and reasons to cheer.
Cultural institutes like the Eskenazi Museum of Art and the IU Arboretum are popular for students and community members alike and help define the community. For dining and local shops near the university, the neighboring Kirkwood Avenue is a popular spot for afternoon storefront perusing and evening entertainment.
Address: 107 South Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana
9. Prophetstown State Park, West Lafayette
Steeped in natural and cultural history, Prophetstown is a new addition to the Indiana State Park system and features many ways to interact with the environment. Within the state park, the 125-acre Farm at Prophetstown embodies a 1920s motif, including hands-on experiences with homesteading, gardening, and livestock feeding.
The state park is at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers and features a variety of hiking trails that cater to all abilities of hikers. An extensive Aquatic Center at the park also draws a lot of warm-weather attention with a zero-depth entry pool, lazy river, and 30-foot waterslide. Nearby, interested visitors can learn more about the area at the Tippecanoe Battlefield Park.
Address: 5545 Swisher Road, West Lafayette, Indiana
Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Lafayette, Indiana
10. Experience American Manufacturing at the Studebaker National Museum, South Bend
The American car manufacturer Studebaker was a defining industry of South Bend and has long roots tied to the city. It once was the headquarters for manufacturing, and today, the Studebaker National Museum displays a wide range of these made-in-Indiana automobiles. Among their exhibits are classic models, military vehicles, and the largest collection of Presidential carriages found anywhere in the country.
The Super Service Center at the museum is an interactive area at the museum designed for children. It enables young visitors to step inside an auto shop to work on kid-size cars. The museum's collection also consists of numerous manufacturing drawings and history relating to the Studebaker Corporation.
Address: 201 Chapin Street, South Bend, Indiana
11. Conduct a Family-Friendly Experiment at WonderLab Museum of Science, Bloomington
WonderLab is a children's fun center in Bloomington with a focus on science, health, and technology. It features hands-on and immersive learning experiences alongside popular permanent exhibits.
A few of the favorite exhibits include a Bubble-Airium; the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science; and an outdoor WonderGarden, which connects with the nearby pedestrian corridor, the B-Line Trail. Other areas of interest at the museum include a coral reef aquarium, a children's Discovery Garden, and facilities for birthday parties or events.
The museum also runs an active events calendar targeted at both adults and children, including science talks, STEM Sundays, and a "WonderLab After Dark" series.
Address: 308 West Fourth Street, Bloomington, Indiana
12. Take in the Waves at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore overlooks the shores of Lake Michigan near the Illinois border, presenting a unique landscape found in no other place in the state. The lapping shores and lakeside landscape enable a wide variety of outdoor activities. The adjacent state park of the same name is one of the most popular spots for hiking, biking, and beach-going.
Fishing and boating are also available at the lakeshore, and camping at the seasonal Dunewood Campground is a great way to make a multi-day trip. During the winter, activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing tend to reign supreme. Sunsets at Lake Michigan are a recommended experience for any visit, which often resonate with brightly changing colors and tones.
Address: 1215 IN-49, Porter, Indiana
13. Tour the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, Madison
The Lanier Mansion was built for James Franklin Doughty Lanier, a prominent businessman in the state of Indiana around the mid-1800s. The Greek Revival-style house was completed in 1844 and is one of the finest buildings in Madison's National Historic Landmark District.
The home was designed by architect Francis Costigan. Inside are some of the original furnishings and an impressive three-story spiral staircase. On the grounds are formal gardens showcasing plants and landscape styles of the late 19th century.
Visitors are welcome to tour the historic mansion during daily operating hours, Tuesday through Sunday. Guided tours begin at the top of every hour. The historic mansion is also home to several events and programs throughout the year, including holiday candlelight tours, early childhood programs, and adults-only 1940s Dance Hall celebrations.
Address: 601 W First Street, Madison, Indiana
14. RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum
The RV/MV Hall of Fame in Elkhart showcases all kinds of recreational vehicles in all shapes and sizes from various decades. It's a must-see for people interested in RVs or anyone who wants to see the classic vehicles that Americans have been driving along the roads and vacationing in for the past 90 years.
Popular vehicles and exhibits on display include Mae West's 1931 Chevrolet Housecar, a "Road Back in Time" walking tour, and a Tennessee Traveler Motorhome. Visitors can also see how the interiors and appliances of recreational vehicles have changed over the years. The museum displays trailers, motorhomes, photos, and memorabilia dating back to the 1920s, all within a huge showroom.
Address: 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart, Indiana
15. First Christian Church
The First Christian Church in Columbus was designed by Eliel Saarinen and completed in 1942. It has a non-traditional look, with rectangular shapes and a rectangular tower standing 160 feet high. It is noted to be one of the first churches in the United States built in such a contemporary style. The materials, exterior and interior, are mostly buff brick and limestone.
All members of the public are encouraged to check out the regular services hosted by the church. The Sanctuary can seat about 900 people. And this religious establishment provides numerous ways to connect with the surrounding community.
Address: 531 Fifth Street, Columbus, Indiana