Road Trip: Indiana Historic Sites

Did you know: Your membership to the Indiana State Museum grants you admission not just to the ISM, but also 11 other state historic sites around Indiana? The statewide museum system offers visitors a chance to engage with Indiana’s past and present. At each location, visitors are invited to explore big questions and create lasting experiences that will resonate long after each visit ends. Whether interested in art or architecture, history or science, there’s something for everyone and every interest.

Summer is the perfect time to get in the car or RV and take a day trip, an overnight jaunt or even a weekend getaway to one of Indiana’s 11 state historic sites. And while you’re there, be sure to check out all the other activities nearby.

NORTH REGION

Limberlost

Geneva, Indiana

Limberlost and the nearby Limberlost Swamp provided famed Indiana author Gene Stratton-Porter with the perfect playground, laboratory and inspiration for her acclaimed articles, fiction and photographs. In the 18 years that she lived at Limberlost, she wrote six of her 12 novels and five of her seven nature books, including the best-selling “Freckles” and “A Girl of the Limberlost.”

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: You’ll have a bit of a drive for upscale dining, but 50 minutes from Limberlost is Tolon, a farm-to-table restaurant in Fort Wayne. There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants near Limberlost, including Berne Dining in Berne, the Limberlost Diner in Geneva and Kuhn’s Den Bar & Grill in Geneva. Back 40 Junction in Decatur also comes highly recommended.

SPEND THE NIGHT: The Schug House Inn is a 1907 Queen Anne home in Berne that’s been converted to a bed and breakfast (B&B). The 45-room Clock Tower Inn, also in Berne, is run by the Muselman family – lifelong Berne residents.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: Other attractions in the area worth visiting include Ouabache State Park in  Bluffton – a great place for fishing; the Museum of the Soldier in Portland; the Ceylon Covered Bridge (the last covered bridge along the Wabash River); and the Swiss Heritage Village and Museum in Berne. And while in Berne, don’t miss the 160-foot-tall, multi-million-dollar replica of the Bern, Switzerland, clock tower.

Limberlost

Gene Stratton-Porter

Rome City, Indiana

Gene Stratton-Porter was home to Indiana’s most widely read female author/gifted nature photographer/entrepreneur. Gene Stratton-Porter’s Cabin at Wildflower Woods is nestled on the shores of Sylvan Lake amongst 148 acres of fields, woods and beautiful formal gardens.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: For family-friendly dining, try Sylvan Shores Diner in Rome City. Backroads Tavern (formerly Copper Top) in Wolcottville is good for sandwiches, burgers and pizzas.

SPEND THE NIGHT: Check out the Brick Ark Inn in Albion, an 1880 home that underwent a major renovation in 2000.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: The Mid-America Windmill Museum in Kendallville displays all windmills manufactured at Kendallville’s Flint and Walling Company and now boasts 52. Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion exists “to provide refuge to displaced, captive-raised exotic animals for the REST of their lives and to educate people about responsible animal care and conservation.” The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn offers over 120 cars on exhibit on three levels and nine automotive themed galleries. And you’re just a short drive from Shipshewana – Amish country.

Gene Stratton-Porter

  

CENTRAL REGION

Levi and Catharine Coffin

Fountain City, Indiana

The Levi and Catharine Coffin house provided a safe haven for more than 1,000 freedom seekers on their journey to Canada. The Coffins’ eight-room home became known as “The Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.”

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: Galo’s Italian Grill and Old Richmond Inn, both 15 minutes away in Richmond, are recommended for fine dining. Good family fare can be found at Little Sheba’s and Firehouse BBQ and Blues in the Richmond Depot District.

SPEND THE NIGHT: Seldom Scene Meadow Bed and Breakfast’s upstairs guest rooms provide a front-row seat to birds and wildlife active in the surrounding woodland and native grass meadow habitats.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: The Wayne County Historical Museum is home to a range of objects that includes an Egyptian mummy and cultural pieces from Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. Thistlewaite Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Indiana and is a place to search for fossils or to hike.

Levi and Catharine Coffin

White Water Canal

Metamora, Indiana

White Water Canal was funded by the Indiana Mammoth Internal Improvement Act of 1836, and Metamora is an example of the kind of towns that grew along the canal routes in Indiana. Stationed every few miles, these towns provided a source of fresh horses, food and lodging for travelers and a place for farmers and others to buy and sell their goods along the canal route.

While you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: The Hav-a-Bite Diner in Metamora is open every day serving up comfort food. Of the Earth Café makes home-cooked specialties like flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and bakery items. El Reparo, nine miles away in Brookville, serves Mexican food, and Ainsley’s Cafe & Harbor Bar, which overlooks Brookville Lake in Liberty, is the place for steaks, burgers, pizza and more. At The Sherman, about 15 miles away in Batesville, you have the choice of a biergarten, a restaurant with an American-German bistro menu, and a bar.

SPEND THE NIGHT: In addition to food, the aforementioned Sherman is a 168-year-old boutique hotel with 22 guest rooms. The Metamora Inn is a bed and breakfast in the heart of Metamora.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: Brookville Lake State Park, the area’s biggest tourism spot, has more than 25 miles of hiking trails, boating opportunities, fishing, two beaches and more than 400 campsites. Take a ride on the Whitewater Valley Railroad. Or visit nearby Oldenburg, settled in 1817, a charming town with a German heritage.

White Water Canal

T.C. Steele

Nashville, Indiana

T.C. Steele is a noted Indiana artist and member of the Hoosier Group of Impressionist Painters, was inspired by the picturesque scenes that he encountered in Brown County. He was at the forefront of the state’s art movement and remains one of Indiana’s most honored artists.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: There are a slew of restaurants in proximity. The upscale ones – C3FARMbloomingtonUptown Café and Truffles Fine Cuisine & 56 Degrees Bar – are all in Bloomington. The casual eateries – Big Woods PizzaThe Bird’s Nest Café and Hob Nob Corner Restaurant – are in Nashville.

SPEND THE NIGHT: The Artists Colony Inn in Nashville has 23 rooms and its own restaurant; the Brown County Inn is a 65,000-square-foot hotel, restaurant and bar.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: Aside from the shopping in Brown County and fall foliage, you can continue the art theme of your trip by visiting the Brown County Art Guild and Brown County Art Gallery.

T.C. Steele

SOUTHEAST REGION

Culbertson Mansion

New Albany, Indiana

Culbertson Mansion was the home of William Culbertson, who moved to Indiana seeking a new life and eventually became one of the richest men in the state and a renowned philanthropist. In fact, Culbertson invested much of his wealth in New Albany. His mansion stands as an example of the tastes, ideals and lifestyles of the late 1800s.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: Brooklyn and the Butcher calls itself a “modern steakhouse.” Seeds and Greens calls itself a “natural market and deli” that serves sandwiches, salads and smoothies.

SPEND THE NIGHT: The Pepin Mansion bed and breakfast in New Albany was built in 1851 and restored in 2013. Just over the bridge in Louisville is The Bed and Bike B&B, which provides complimentary bikes during your stay.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: Take a walk across the Big Four Bridge, which crosses the Ohio River connecting Waterfront Park to Jeffersonville, and take a tour of the Falls of the Ohio State Park to see its 390-million-year-old fossil beds.

Culbertson Mansion

Lanier Mansion

Madison, Indiana

Lanier Mansion is one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the country and is considered to be the “Crown Jewel” of Madison’s Historic District. Here you’ll have the opportunity to encounter, explore and experience history as it was in the 1840s–when America was still young and the Ohio River was the gateway to the West.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: Harry’s Stone Grill specializes in steaks, seafood and pasta. Crafted Coffee & Cafe is the place for sandwiches, soups, coffee and pastries. And you should have a burger at Hinkle’s Sandwich Shop.

SPEND THE NIGHT: The Hillside Inn – which is, indeed, on a hillside – boasts that it hosted Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley McClaine during the filming of “Some Came Running” in 1958. The Clifty Inn puts you in the middle of Clifty Falls State Park.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: Clifty Falls State Park offers year-round hiking and ever-changing scenery. Or take a river tour, which can last from a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Lanier Mansion

Corydon Capitol

Corydon, Indiana

The Corydon Capital is where Indiana made its transformation from a territorial outpost to a functioning modern state. Here, you can explore Corydon’s colorful beginnings where Hoosier statesmen carefully built the foundations for the state we know today.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: 1816 Modern Kitchen showcases the chef’s take on southern comfort fusions. Frederick’s Café is a place for comfort food, and be sure to get a milkshake at Butt Drugs.

SPEND THE NIGHT: The 14-room Kintner House Inn bed and breakfast traces its roots to 1830.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: The high-tech, interactive galleries at the Harrison County Discovery Center allow you to walk in the footsteps of history to explore the importance of Harrison County in the development of Indiana. Zimmerman Art Glass is the second-oldest family run studio glass factory in the United States.

Corydon Capitol

SOUTHWEST REGION

Angel Mounds

Evansville, Indiana

Angel Mounds is one of the best-preserved, pre-contact Native American sites in North America. Built between A.D. 1000 and 1450, the town was occupied by more than 1,000 people who were part of the Mississippian culture, and included earthen mounds built to elevate important buildings.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: Madeleine’s Fusion Restaurant in Evansville specializes in dishes such as rack of lamb and steaks, and The Landing in Newburgh is fancy and family friendly. Also in Newburgh, you’ll find fried fish, chicken and more at Knob Hill Tavern.

SPEND THE NIGHT: Le Merigot Hotel, in the city center, is a short walk from the Tropicana Evansville Casino. Cool Breeze Bed and Breakfast, in Evansville’s historic district, was once the home of truck and auto builder Joseph Graham and then John Giltner Igleheart of Swans Down Cake Flour.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: Tour the LST-325, the last remaining fully functioning LST (Landing Ship, Tank), located in downtown Evansville, or visit the Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science.

Angel Mounds

New Harmony

New Harmony, Indiana

New Harmony is the site of not just one, but two early American utopian communities. The Harmony Society, led by George Rapp, arrived in the United States in 1804 and settled in Pennsylvania before purchasing 20,000 acres on the Wabash River and moving to Indiana in 1814. They sold New Harmony to Robert Owen in 1825, and he, along with his business partner William Maclure, hoped to establish a model community where education and social equality would flourish.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: The “charming and romantic” Red Geranium serves seasonal American cuisine and Midwest favorites. Mary Scott’s Kitchen describes itself as “casual fine dining,” and the Yellow Tavern is “where friends meet for a cold beer and pizza.”

SPEND THE NIGHT: The 90-room New Harmony Inn Resort and Conference Center boasts four historic guest houses and private gardens. Sophie Grace’s Bed and Breakfast, an arts-and-crafts-inspired home built in 1929, once operated as a working farm.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: The Atheneum houses visitor information, the Museum Shop, and is the starting point for guided walking tours of historic structures. Tillich Park, which commemorates Paul Johannes Tillich, a German-American theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher, features a pine-needle-covered path that winds through a forest of Norwegian Spruce.

New Harmony

Vincennes

Vincennes, Indiana

Vincennes, which was founded in 1732 in a part of the Midwest that belonged to France, is Indiana’s oldest city. Over time, ownership of this town and area changed hands from France to Great Britain, and ultimately America following the Revolutionary War of 1776. In 1800, Congress created the Indiana Territory and named Vincennes its capital.

When you’re there:

HAVE A MEAL: The Cafe Moonlight promises “a sense of peace and contentment” and menu of chicken, fish and steak. Procopio’s is the place for pizza and pasta.

SPEND THE NIGHT: The Log Ends Farm Bed & Breakfast, in nearby Petersburg, is nestled in the countryside on a working farm that grows grain, hay and livestock.

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP: At George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, you’ll learn about how the American colonel defeated the British at Fort Sackville in 1779. The Indiana Military Museum is “dedicated to fostering the memory, understanding and appreciation of U.S. military history,” and the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy is dedicated to the appreciation of the comedian.

Vincennes

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