For many parents, getting behind the wheel has given families a small sense of normalcy and happiness. Maybe even nostalgia.
Cultivate some family fun by checking out these landmarks from the comfort of your car. All of these sights are less than 90-minutes away from Indianapolis. The sights we’ve chosen have a good mix of peculiarity, folklore, history and adventure.
Be sure to be prepared. Have everyone use the restroom before you venture out, as many rest stops and restrooms might be closed. And just in case you need to stop, pack the car with the pandemic in mind. Stock your car with everything your family will need, including personal protective equipment (face masks and hand sanitizer), drinks and snacks. And be sure to have playlists, podcasts, and electronic gadgets are all charged and ready to go! Here’s a list of 10 family-friendly podcasts if you need a place to start.
Recycled tires create the equestrian on the corner of Prospect and New Jersey.
This large fiberglass man on the West side (near Speedway) stands tall and proud at Ralph’s Mufflers (1250 W 16th St.).
Columbus has been called one of the best cities in the world for architecture lovers. We think it’s a great place for you to fall in love with architecture for the first time, too. There are many sites to see from the comfort of your car, but it might be worth parking and walking, too. Here’s a great link to a self-guided tour. Local architect and author, Gary Vance, also has a great book about Columbus – geared toward kids.
The strangest grave in the world might just be in Amity, Indiana. In 1831, a woman named Nancy Kerlin Barnett passed away, and she was buried on a hill near Sugar Creek. In 1905, officials planned to build County Road 400 right through Barnett’s grave. They changed their minds when Barnett’s grandson showed up with a shotgun and threatened them. To compromise, they built the two lanes of the road around the grave, making it one of the few known gravesites located in the middle of a road.
This 32-foot-tall structure was built in 2004 by JD Long, the former owner of Long’s Furniture World (at 4108 S. US Hwy 31, Franklin, Indiana) between Franklin & Edinburgh.
There are plenty of quarries across Indiana, but there are very few that you can enter without trespassing. White Rock Park has one such quarry in Saint Paul, Indiana. While it may seem like every other quarry in Indiana, it’s unique because it’s filled with water, and the owners allow visitors to swim in it. There are also some rope swings, a zip line and a couple of diving platforms, varying in heights up to 10 meters.
North of Anderson, you will find the community of Alexandria, which has the odd distinction of hosting the world’s largest ball of paint. This strange attraction is in a small, roadside house on Florida Road just west of town. Check their website to confirm hours and COVID guidelines. After the visit, head to BK Root Beer Stand for a tasty drink and burger.
Brown County State Park offers six scenic overlooks, ten miles of hiking trails. If you prefer to stay in your car, know the park’s 15,500+ acre preserve is drivable. Don’t expect all the roads to be anything but gravel—but that’s part of the rural charm.
Crown Hill Cemetery is the largest greenspace inside the Indianapolis beltway and the third largest non-government cemetery in the U.S. Enjoy the solitude of the natural surroundings through the drivable cemetery, or walk the rolling hills. Here’s an interactive google map.
Locals claim that this mysterious hill seems to pull objects uphill. If you stop your car in just the right place and throw it into neutral, your car will begin to roll uphill. It seems it’s an optical illusion, but a very convincing one. There is no “true” address for this location (the closest we can give you is 705 Keller Hill Rd) – but it’s near Magnetic Acres.
Housed in the visitor’s center in Highland Park, Kokomo, Old Ben weighed 2.5 tons and measured nearly 16 feet long when he died in 1910.
For over 100 years, this Indiana town has had a tree growing out the top of the local courthouse. The original trees eventually died, but not before new sprouts could take root. For over 130 years, trees have continued to sprout, grow and die in a so far endless cycle atop the courthouse. Although more than a century has passed since the first sprig was discovered, the surreal nature of the situation is not lost on Greensburg locals, who still stare up at the courthouse in awe.
Camp Chesterfield, home of Spiritualism to many believers, has historically remarkable religious displays sprinkled with an abundance of natural beauty that is a part of its unique topography. Expect fountains, a stone pyramid, Buddha and Gnome Garden, and a labyrinth. They welcome visitors, Camp Chesterfield has been designated as one of the 10 most endangered landmarks on an annual list of Hoosier historic sites in jeopardy. Consider a donation!
Welcome to the farm of Ernie and Dottie Taylor, owners of privately owned large display of dinosaurs, farm implements, windmills and much more. Visitors come from all over to see the collection. Here’s a fun story from WTHR on the couple and grounds.
Parke County is a rural county located approximately 58 miles west of Indianapolis, Indiana. There are 31 covered bridges in Park County, making it the Covered Bridge Capital of the World. Here’s a map.
In addition to the bridge sightseeing, Parke County is also home to Turkey Run State Park, Shades State Park and much more. Consider parking your car and hiking, canoeing, or renting a boat. Check out more things to do.
If you hike in the woods east of Bloomington, you might stumble upon Knightridge Space Observatory, an abandoned building that once served as a fully-functional observatory. Originally built in the mid-1930s, the observatory was abandoned as Bloomington grew and light pollution become a nuisance. The surrounding forest has taken over, and the Observatory now stands as a creepy ruin intertwined with nature. This is located on the southeast corner of Knightridge Road and E. Lampkins Ridge Road.
Dozens of artists have contributed to paint and customize sixteen-foot-tall “Walking Men” (and Women) placed around the city. Go on a treasure hunt – or even download their passport stamp map and find them all!