Fall break is nearly upon us. Just because the kids are getting a break from the classroom doesn’t mean they need to take a break from learning. Indiana is a state steeped in history and this is the perfect time of year to get out and explore our Hoosier heritage. Here are just a few suggestions for quick getaways packed with history.
Located right here in Hamilton County, this park spans 750 acres of formerly undeveloped land and is home to some of the most significant archaeological sites in Indiana. Researchers have discovered that the major occupancy of this property dates back to 1200-1400 A.D. Among the artifacts unearthed are arrowheads, pottery and remains of what the occupants may have eaten, including bear and elk.
The Taylor Center of Natural History, named after the former land owner, includes an exhibit area, a classroom, a laboratory, a curation room and research headquarters. The center is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
A bit further north, this park just outside of Anderson features 10 unique earthworks built by the prehistoric Adena-Hopewell people that date back as far as 200 B.C. An interpretive center brings the history of the mounds to life. The park’s Nature Center features a wildlife viewing room, animal displays, interactive games and more. Hours are 9 am to 4 pm daily.
On Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm, you can also tour the historic Bronnenberg House, which tells the story of the family who discovered the mounds in the 1800s and fought to preserve them.
A walk through this Tippecanoe Battlefield, located in the aptly named town of Battle Ground, affords the opportunity to step foot on the grounds of the historic battle that pitted Tecumseh’s Indian Confederacy against United States forces led by Governor William Henry Harrison and served as a precursor to the War of 1812. A museum on the grounds relays events leading up to battle, as well as its aftermath. The museum is open noon-5 pm daily (closed Wednesdays).
Nearby, The Farm at Prophetstown, located within Prophetstown State Park, offers a unique look at 1920s farm life, as farming began the transition from animal to tractor power. The Farm serves as a training farm for sustainable agriculture, homesteading, gardening, canning, as well as farm-to-table cooking, sewing and quilting. Admission is free with state park entry. (Some special programming and workshops may require an additional admission fee.) The Farm is opens daily 10 am to 5 pm through the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Take a step back into the 1800s in this charming town. Nestled in the beautiful countryside of southeastern Indiana, Metamora is best known for its preservation of Indiana’s oldest and still operating water-powered grist mill. Other attractions include a horse-drawn canal boat, the only working wood aqueduct in the country and more than 40 shops and restaurants. This is a great place to relax and enjoy the slower pace of a simpler time. You can stroll the streets any time you like; shop hours vary.
Founded in 1732, Vincennes is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in Indiana and one of the oldest settlements west of the Appalachians. It is also home to George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, which gives visitors a glimpse into 18th century frontier life as experienced by pioneers along the western fringe of the American Revolution. The park features a massive granite memorial – the largest national monument outside of Washington, D.C. – that commemorates the conquest of the Old Northwest Territory.
The Memorial is located on the site of the former British Fort Sackville. Colonel George Rogers Clark and his army of 170 frontiersmen and Frenchmen captured the Fort, marking the birth of the United States north of the Ohio River. The park’s Visitor Center offers a 30-minute movie outlining the area’s history. Hours are 9 am – 5 pm daily. While Vincennes is a bit of a drive from Hamilton County, there are a number of other sites to explore in the area, many of which can be found here.
This National Memorial site serves to preserve the period of time from 1816 to 1830 when Abraham Lincoln called our great state home. Learn about Lincoln’s family, his boyhood and frontier life in Indiana at the Memorial Visitor Center. You can also explore a working pioneer homestead complete with log cabin, outbuildings, split rail fences, livestock, gardens and field crops. Please note that while the grounds of the Living Historical Farm are open year-round, the buildings are closed beginning in September.
However, historic pathways like The Allee, a landscaped, tree-lined walkway that leads to the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, is buried, are particularly picturesque this time of year and put you directly in the footsteps of our 16th President during his formative years. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is located in southwestern Indiana close to the Ohio River, making it a trip that will require an overnight stay. If you are traveling on a weekend in October, delight your kids by pairing this destination with a trip to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, which is just up the road. Or take in the sites at nearby Santa Claus, Indiana, including Santa’s Candy Castle and Santa Claus Museum and Village.
Fall is such a beautiful time to explore Indiana. Whether you are looking for a quick day trip or a weekend excursion, visiting any one of these scenic destinations will give your family a glimpse into Indiana’s rich history.