Statues, Sand and Studebakers: 12 of the Coolest Places to Visit in Indiana

santa claus - indiana offbeat places to visit

Don’t forget to check out the offbeat town of Santa Claus, Indiana!

 

Kurt Vonnegut, race cars, Michael Jackson, and the Amish don’t have much in common, except perhaps for one thing: They’re a part of some of the coolest places to visit in Indiana!

I’ve been all over the Hoosier State. While this list is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every hotspot in the Hoosier State, it’s a good start for putting together a list of interesting places that you may not have considered visiting before.

Read along to see what I think are the 12 coolest places in Indiana. Feel free to leave a comment with any that I missed!

The RV Hall of Fame, Elkhart

coachmen camper rv hall of fame
In the northern Indiana town of Elkhart, you can find the RV and Motorhome Hall of Fame. This cool museum describes the history of camping and RV travel. The best part is the large warehouse full of both vintage and brand-new RVs. You can walk through them and fantasize about a life on the road!

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Indianapolis

kurt vonnegut library - indiana attractions
The celebrated writer from Indy is honored with a library in his hometown featuring his writing and paintings, a documentary video about his legacy, and artifacts from his life. My favorite part? The gift shop offers the opportunity to purchase a cute little stuffed Vonnegut!

Indiana Dunes National Park, Chesterton

indiana dunes state park
There’s an Indiana Dunes State Park and an Indiana Dunes National Park. Both offer access to Lake Michigan, with opportunities to camp, play on the beach, and hike in the woods and along tall sand dunes that formed along the shore. On clear days, you can see the Chicago skyline 50 miles away.

Michael Jackson’s birth home, Gary

michael jacksons birth home - things to do in indiana

MJ’s house: A must-see Indiana attraction!

 

The King of Pop grew up with his parents and siblings in a very small house at (coincidentally) 2300 Jackson Street in Gary, Indiana. After MJ’s death in 2009, hundreds of fans flocked to his birth home and left behind photos, flowers, and personal messages.

All these years later, the rather ordinary-looking house has been fixed up quite a bit, with expert landscaping and a stone monument on the front lawn honoring Michael’s achievements.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, South Bend

basilica of sacred heart - places to visit in Indiana
The Basilica is a prominent house of worship on the campus of Notre Dame, but even the non-spiritual will be awestruck at the sights, which include marble statues, stained glass windows, and magnificent altars. Respectful visits to admire the architecture are encouraged – look for self-guided tour pamphlets at the entrance.

Holiday World Theme Park, Santa Claus

holiday world cool places to visit in indiana
The small town of Santa Claus, Indiana becomes a tourist mecca during the summer months. Families flock to the area to check out the city’s crazy Christmas spirit, as well as its roller coaster and water park, Holiday World. The park draws tourists from all across the Midwest. They’re eager to ride the Thunderbird steel coaster or the old-time wooden coasters Voyage and Raven!

Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy, Vincennes

If you’re into quirky attractions, then add the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy in Vincennes to your list of places to visit in Indiana. If you’re too young to remember Red Skelton, he was a popular entertainer starting way back in the 1930s when all shows were on the radio. He made the transition to television and his career lasted into the 1970s. This museum contains many of his personal and professional mementos. They even hold an annual festival in July!

100 Acres Park, Indianapolis

100 acres park indiana attractions

100 Acres Park is one of the most offbeat Indiana attractions.

 

Now known as the Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, 100 Acres at Newfields is a cool green space with all sorts of fun art. It’s located near the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and it’s worth your time. Some of the art pieces are temporary, so I’m not sure if you can still sit on the slanted benches, but you’ll definitely find some cool artwork to interact with in the forest and around the lake here. Your IG feed is begging you to visit!

Studebaker National Museum, South Bend

studebaker national museum

South Bend’s Studebaker Museum is one of the coolest places to visit in Indiana.

 

Check it out – an entire museum dedicated to the classic American automobile! Dozens of vehicles spanning 150 years are on display across three floors at the Studebaker Museum, including the Studebaker used in The Muppet Movie from 1979.

Before cars, the company manufactured horse carriages, and one of the carriages on display here is the very one taken by President Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre the night he was killed.

Lifelike Human Statues, Carmel

sidewalk concert statues carmel violinist
I mentioned this one in my 24 hours in Hamilton County roundup. The city of Carmel has 14 life-size and very lifelike human statues scattered around its Arts & Design District.

J. Seward Johnson Jr. created the “Man on the Street” series, which includes the likenesses of small children, a police officer, a businesswoman walking her dog, an elderly woman carrying groceries, and a violinist playing for tips. They’re fun to see up close… and to take pictures with.

Amish Culture, Shipshewana

amish buggy

Shipshewana may not have as large of an Amish community as Holmes County in Ohio, where I met some long-lost Amish relatives earlier this year, but it’s not that far behind. Elkhart and LaGrange Counties in Indiana have the third-largest Amish population in the country.

Among the attractions in Shipshewana are the Menno-Hof Amish and Mennonite Information Center, a twice-weekly flea market with a large Amish presence, and companies that offer private buggy tours to tourists.

Indy 500 Museum, Indianapolis

indy 500 winning 1951 car

Racing fan or not, you’ll probably enjoy the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum because it provides a comprehensive history of the sport’s biggest event – and there are a ton of fast cars on display.

See more than 30 Indy-winning cars, including some of the very early ones from 1911 and 1912. The vehicle above was used by Lee Wallard when he won the 1951 event. He had an average speed of 126 MPH to earn $63,612 in prize money. Make sure to take part in the Kiss the Bricks Tour, where you can visit the actual racetrack!

Which of these cool places to visit in Indiana would you most like to see?

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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8 Comments

  1. Indiana doesn’t hit the top of anyone’s lists of tourist hotbeds 🙂 but you’ve done an excellent job here of highlighting some cool off-the-beaten path things to see there.

    I still haven’t visited Indiana Dunes on my National Parks quest- that’s a must on my next trip from Detroit to Chicago.

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