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15 Best Day Trips from Indianapolis

Indianapolis is Indiana’s state capital, making it a worthwhile destination for a trip across the country.

Being Indiana’s most populous city, it also boasts some great restaurants and bars, a tonne of great museums and art spaces, and plenty of green areas for al fresco activities.

It’s a great place for kids, too, not least because it’s home to the popular car race: the Indy 500, which is held on the Indianapolis motor speedway every year.

These attractions aside, there are plenty of places to visit in the surrounding area, all across the state, making it an excellent base from which to take some day trips.

Whether you live in Indianapolis or are just visiting, here are fifteen of the best day trip options from the city.

1. Marengo Cave

Marengo Cave

Marengo Cave offers an action-packed day away from Indianapolis, with activities ranging from guided tours of the caverns, to mining for gem stones.

The cave system was discovered in 1883 by a couple named Orris and Blanche Hiestand, and today it is a popular spot for locals.

The Dripstone Trail cave tour lasts 60 minutes, and is a mile long, while the Crystal Palace tour is just 40 minutes and a third of a mile, so this is a good option for a more relaxed visit.

Either tour will show you some jaw dropping stalactites and stalagmites, as well as other rock formations.

There’s also a great place nearby where you can hire kayaks if that takes your fancy.

2. Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake

In a landlocked state, Patoka Lake provides some much-needed refreshment in summer, and is certainly a tranquil place to spend a day out.

Kids will love floating around on the water or taking a boat trip to explore, while there’s something for the grown-ups in the nearby wineries of the region.

It’s the second-largest reservoir in the area, and if you just can’t get enough of the place on your one day there, then you can always rent a space in one of its famous floating cabins, stretching out your escape from the busy city that little bit longer.

3. Brown County State Park

Brown County State Park

Outdoor lovers will adore this gorgeous state park for a day trip option, particularly if it’s visited in the autumn when its magnificent colours come into play.

Located near the peaceful, creative town of Nashville, there are hiking trails dotted across the park just waiting to be explored, and lots of activities to be found: from horseback riding to swimming.

There’s also a nature centre and an indoor water park, meaning that the children certainly won’t be bored.

4. Pokagon State Park

Pokagon State Park

Tucked in the northeast of Indiana lies the beautiful Pokagon State Park, which has something to offer at any time of year; from the international Migratory Bird Day or the fun Mother’s Day Meander to the much-anticipated date of the annual triathlon.

There could hardly be a better place to immerse yourself in nature; whether you want to witness the first bloom of the wild flowers in spring or the crisp cold of the first dusting of snow.

Plentiful wildlife, the great outdoors and acres of space in which to roam: this is a fantastic day trip for all.

5. Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes State Park

The Indiana Dunes are surely one of the most impressive natural phenomena to be found across the state.

You can hike, camp, sunbathe and swim across the park, among more than 2000 acres of sand dunes which are thought to have formed in the Ice Age.

Race around among the sand giants, and when the heat and dust gets too much, head over to the gorgeous Lake Michigan to take a dip and wash all that sand off.

This is an excellent day trip for all the family.

6. Shipshewana

Shipshewana, Indiana

Located just north of Indianapolis is the quaint rural town of Shipshewana, the beating heart of Amish Country.

This little community is the perfect package from the past; with Amish horse and buggies trotting around town and Amish cuisine on offer at the Blue Gate Restaurant, where you can also take in a show.

It also has the largest flea market in the Midwest: the Shipshewana Trading Place.

It really is the perfect family-friendly location for a day trip.

7. New Harmony

New Harmony, Indiana

For something a little different, why not pay a visit to this intriguing small town just south of the capital, where you can find a whole other world? Originally founded as a utopian commune, the place still has echoes of its fantastical past, including a roofless church which was intended for members of any and all religions to worship in.

There are also antique stores ready for the browsing, scattered about the streets.

Though the idea of a utopian community ultimately failed, it’s still an interesting place to spend the day.

8. Whitewater Valley Railroad

Whitewater Valley Railroad

Embrace the train spotter within you on your visit to this authentic piece of history at the Whitewater Valley Railroad.

It’s a brilliant way to learn more about the past of the local area, and this place is lauded for its dedication to historical accuracy.

Today, it also serves the purpose of a museum.

There are special event train rides throughout the year, including the Wild West Train and the Fall Foliage Flyer, so make sure to look it up before you go.

9. Wolf Park

Wolf Park, Battle Ground, Indiana

An absolute treat for the kids is a visit to Wolf Park, situated in Battle Ground, Indiana.

Visitors get the chance to learn more than you ever realised there was to know about the calls of wolves and their behaviour; while a brief wander around the park might lead to encounters with wildlife such as foxes, bison, coyotes and, of course, wolves.

The facility opened in 1972, intended as an education centre, where the behaviour of wolves and coyotes were studied, and today day trippers are educated on all this and more.

It’s certainly an interesting place to spend the day.

10. Paoli Peaks

Paoli Peaks

It might surprise outsiders to learn that Indiana has a skiing and snowboarding scene, but Paoli Peaks is certainly the spot for it in winter.

Though it might not be considered a highlight of ski locations across the US, it’s still a fun way to spend some hours, even if it’s just for a bit of tobogganing in the park.

There are also a few places to grab a hot drink, a snack, and sit back to watch the scenery unfold before you with its snowy carpet.

11. Santa Claus

Santa Claus, Indiana

Christmas comes early and stays all year round in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Everything in this pint-sized place is Santa or Christmas-themed, so if you’re feeling in need of some Christmas cheer it’s definitely worth paying a visit: it’s a guaranteed family favourite.

There’s the Lake Rudolph Campground and plenty of Christmassy shops to explore, as well as a central post office where all the letters to Santa Claus are delivered and carefully answered.

Two highlights of the town are Frosty’s Fun Centre and Santa’s Candy Castle.

12. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

A guaranteed hit among the kids, Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari has four distinct sections, each dedicated to a different public holiday, and an adjoined water park.

Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Independence Day all have their own special space in this wonderful place, so get ready for an adrenaline rush when you try out all those rollercoasters and rides.

There’s live entertainment, rafts and water slides too, so there’s really something for everyone.

It’s very accessible, at just a short distance from the city, making it a headache-free spot to visit for the day.

13. Indiana Zip Line

Indiana Zipline Tours

For the adrenaline seekers among you, a trip to Indiana Zip Line Tours will certainly provide the goods.

Located in Crawfordsville, this is a popular attraction among both locals and tourists alike.

Get some spectacular views of the natural landscape from a bird’s perspective as you zip along through the trees.

There’s also a rock climbing wall and a gyroscope located in the same area, if zip lining doesn’t provide quite enough adventure for you.

This day trip will definitely be a hit.

14. Indiana beach

Indiana Beach

The shoreline in this relaxed amusement park takes some beating: it’s Indiana’s best beach in a state without a coastline.

It may not be by the sea, but that doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on all the water-based activities that you desire, provided on the lake.

The resort also boasts lots of different attractions; from the Den of Lost Thieves, to an amusement park with thrilling rides like the Double Shot.

This is a kid-friendly option too, so definitely consider it for a fun day’s getaway.

15. Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana

This small but perfectly formed college town is located just southwest of the capital, and is an excellent option for a more chilled out day trip.

Its highlights are certainly hidden among the arts scene; it has galleries, museums and art exhibitions aplenty scattered about town, providing a more intellectual diversion to while away the hours spent here.

There are also some fantastic dining options.

If you’re visiting in summer, then you certainly shouldn’t miss the chance to pay a visit to the amazing Taste of Bloomington festival: a gustatory extravaganza with enough different types of food and drink to make anyone salivate.

15 Best Day Trips from Indianapolis:

  • Marengo Cave
  • Patoka Lake
  • Brown County State Park
  • Pokagon State Park
  • Indiana Dunes State Park
  • Shipshewana
  • New Harmony
  • Whitewater Valley Railroad
  • Paoli Peaks
  • Santa Claus
  • Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
  • Indiana Zip Line
  • Indiana beach
  • Bloomington

VacationIdea

  • Last Minute

25 Best Day Trips from Indianapolis, Indiana

Last Updated By VacationIdea Staff on January 8, 2024

25 Best Indianapolis Day Trips

Tucked away in Southern Indiana, Bedford is about an hour and a half away from Indianapolis, but it's well worth the drive. The biggest attraction here are the spectacular Bluespring Caverns, which boast the largest underground river in the country. Between March and October, visitors can take a boat tour of the 21-mile-long cave system, where they'll have the opportunity to spot unique albino animals and insects. After emerging from the caves, the rest of the day can be spent relaxing in one of the city's parks, visiting the local craft brewery, and browsing the shops in the Bedford Antique Mall.

  • 2. Bloomington

Bloomington

Phone: 812-334-8900

  • 3. Brown County

Brown County

Phone: 800-753-3255

  • 4. Cataract Falls

Cataract Falls

Off Country Rd. 1050 North, 2605 N. Cataract Road, IN 47460, Phone: 765-795-4576

  • 5. Day Trips from Indianapolis: Columbus

Day Trips from Indianapolis: Columbus

Phone: 800-468-6564

  • 6. Whitewater Valley Railroad

Whitewater Valley Railroad

455 Market St, Connersville, IN 47331, Phone: 765-825-2054

  • 7. Crawfordsville

Crawfordsville

Phone: 800-866-3973

  • 8. Day Trips from Indianapolis: Fort Wayne

Day Trips from Indianapolis: Fort Wayne

Phone: 800-767-7752

  • 9. Marengo Cave

Marengo Cave

400 East State Rd 64, Marengo, IN 47140, Phone: 812-365-2705

  • 10. Day Trips from Indianapolis: Marshall County

Day Trips from Indianapolis: Marshall County

Phone: 574-936-1882

  • 11. Getaways from Indianapolis: Mishawaka

Getaways from Indianapolis: Mishawaka

Phone: 800-519-0577

  • 12. Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort

Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort

5224 E. Indiana Beach Rd. Monticello, Indiana 47960, Phone: 574-583-4141

Muncie

3700 S. Madison St. Muncie, Indiana 47302, Phone: 765-284-2700

  • 14. Getaways from Indianapolis: New Harmony

Getaways from Indianapolis: New Harmony

Settled in 1814 by a group of German Christian separatists who called themselves the Harmonists, New Harmony is a tiny town with a unique history. In 1824, the town was purchased by the wealthy Robert Owen, who dreamed of creating a community that supported education and equality for men and women. This dream fell to the wayside only three years later, but the town still made plenty of important contributions to the educational theory and the woman's suffrage movement. Today, visitors can learn about the town's fascinating history by taking a two-hour walking tour of the historic district.

  • 15. Day Trips from Indianapolis: Parke County

Day Trips from Indianapolis: Parke County

401 E Ohio St Rockville, IN 47872, Phone: 765-569-5226

  • 16. Day Trips from Indianapolis Today: Patoka Lake

Day Trips from Indianapolis Today: Patoka Lake

3084 N. Dillard Rd. Birdseye, IN 47513, Phone: 812-685-2464

  • 17. Pine Lake Waterpark

Pine Lake Waterpark

4640 IN-218, Berne, IN 46711, Phone: 260-334-5649

  • 18. Pokagon State Park

Pokagon State Park

450 Ln 100 Lake James, Angola, IN 46703, Phone: 260-833-2012

  • 19. Day Trips from Indianapolis This Weekend: Porter

Day Trips from Indianapolis This Weekend: Porter

Phone: 800-283-8687

  • 20. Day Trips from Indianapolis: Santa Claus

Day Trips from Indianapolis: Santa Claus

Phone: 888-444-9252

  • 21. Shipshewana

Shipshewana

Phone: 800-254-8090

  • 22. Fun Day Trips from Indianapolis: Spencer County

Fun Day Trips from Indianapolis: Spencer County

Spencer County is home to the town of Santa Claus, but there's much more to it than that. It's true that no visit here is complete without visiting the Christmas-themed town to see the sights and snap some photos, but make sure to leave some time to explore the surrounding attractions as well. The Lincoln Pioneer Village is a must-see if you're interested in history, and it's worth stopping by the 1854 Saint Meinrad Archabbey for a tour of the grounds as well. If you want to hike or swim, you can do so in the scenic Lincoln State Park.

  • 23. Valparaiso

Valparaiso

Hidden away in rural northwestern Indiana, the city of Valparaiso is a charming university town filled with inviting parks, peaceful residential neighborhoods, and unique shops. Families will enjoy the trails and gardens of the Gabis Arboretum, the drive-in movie theater, and the entertainment center at Zao Island, but there are also cultural attractions like a theater, an art museum, and an opera house. The city also hosts all sorts of events throughout the year, including a summer market in the Central Park Plaza, a popular Brewfest, and the annual Popcorn Festival, held in honor of popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher. Things to do in Valparaiso

  • 24. West Baden Springs

West Baden Springs

Phone: 812-936-3418

  • 25. West Lafayette

West Lafayette

Phone: 800-872-6648

The 25 Best Day Trips from Indianapolis, Indiana & Fun things to do near me today:

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  • 19 Fun Day Trips from Indianapolis
  • Post author: Rachel Means
  • Post published: 2022-11-02
  • Post last modified: 2023-10-25

Escape your everyday in central Indiana and find the best day trips from Indianapolis for a fun or relaxing day away!

Whether you’re looking for a good hiking trail, to learn some local history, to get an adrenaline rush from an amusement park, or to discover a new city, there are plenty of options within easy driving distance from Indianapolis.

Let’s find the best Indianapolis day trips for you and your group!

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and associate of other programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

19 Best Day Trips from Indianapolis

There are so many different types of day trips from Indianapolis that we’re sure you’ll find something that works for you, whether you’re traveling solo or with family or seeking adventure or relaxation.

We’ve purposefully only included destinations that are a minimum of an hour away and no more than 5 hours away from Indianapolis.

Some sites, like Conner Prairie or Eagle Creek Reservoir, are on the outskirts of Indy and could take a full day, but we consider those things to do in Indianapolis , and not full day trips from Indy.

~ Important Note on Time Zones ~

Most of Indiana, including Indianapolis, follows the Eastern Time Zone and daylight savings time.

However, there are a few counties that adhere to Central Time for convenience. This is mostly northwest Indiana because of its proximity to Chicago, which is on Central Time, but also some southern Indiana counties as well.

We’ve noted the driving time from Indianapolis for each location as well as which sites operate on Central Time.

Here are our favorite day trips from Indianapolis:

An unmarked paved road cuts through a brilliantly orange forest in Brown County State Park in Indiana

Brown County State Park

1 hour drive

The most popular place in Indiana to go for fall foliage and fun country-style shops, Brown County and Brown County State Park deliver!

Go hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking on miles of trails. Camp out with the family. Fish or boat on the lakes. It’s a forested rural escape, just an hour from the city.

Shades State Park

1 hour 15 minutes’ drive

Come for the tubing, stay for the camping!

Reserve your tube time ahead because this place gets packed in the summers.

Floating down a river with a group of friends, plus the tube specifically for the cooler, is a fun way to relax and unwind.

Turkey Run State Park

1 hour 20 minutes’ drive

One of Indiana’s favorite state parks for hiking . Sandstone gorges surrounded by beautiful forests is not what you’d expect to find in Indiana, but it’s what you get when you visit Turkey Run!

A green forest meets dark sandstone canyons in Turkey Run State Park in Indiana

Parke County also happens to be the Covered Bridge Capital of the World , or so they say. There certainly are a lot of covered bridges to discover here.

Try stopping by in October for the Covered Bridge Festival!

Lake Monroe

1 hour 30 minutes’ drive

Just outside of Bloomington, Lake Monroe is Indiana’s largest lake completely within the state boundaries. This 11,000 acre beauty is perfect for a weekend escape from Indianapolis!

Boating, fishing, camping, and hiking are all available at Lake Monroe. The best part is there’s so much shoreline here that it’s easy to find a little spot just for you and your group.

Indiana Beach Amusement & Water Park Resort

1 hour 35 minutes’ drive

Indiana’s own amusement park on Lake Shafer, Indiana Beach is still operating as of 2022 and is advertising for their 2023 season. A change in ownership saved the park from permanent closure.

Indiana Beach has a lot of variety, but it is a smaller park. It’s not as large as say, a Six Flags Park, but it’s also more affordable than one of the national amusement park chains. 

Smaller crowds make this a good option for families that don’t want to battle crowds at a larger park further from Indy.

French Lick/West Baden Springs

2 hours’ drive

French Lick, IN and the neighboring town of West Baden are home to several points of interest: hot springs, the French Lick Scenic Railway, and Larry Bird’s Childhood Home.

The area was first famous for its mineral springs where visitors would come “to take the cure.”

Both French Lick and West Baden built opulent resorts to entice the wealthy elite to the area, and trains used to run frequently from Chicago.

The luxurious colonnaded interior of the West Baden Springs resort, with interior facing balconies

Today, the French Lick Resort owns both the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel. Both are National Historic Landmarks and still operate with their Gilded Age splendor mineral springs.

Paoli Peaks

Not far to the east of French Lick/West Baden is the Paoli Peaks skiing area . Yes, you can ski in Indiana!

This seasonal resort is a good alternative for beginners to learn and get comfortable with skiing before spending big to go to the Rockies or Europe. It also offers snow tubing, fun for the whole family!

A skier in blue jacket and red pants stands out against the brilliant white snow of the ski slope

Patoka Lake

2 hours 30 minutes’ drive

Head to French Lick, keep going south for another 30 minutes or so, and you’ll find Patoka Lake. Indiana’s second largest reservoir , Patoka is perfect for fishing, boating, and relaxing on the water.

The lake is almost completely surrounded by Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana. This is the ultimate way to escape the city and civilization for a bit.

Marengo Cave

2 hours 20 minutes’ drive

Two cave tours in one cave system for twice the fun! Marengo Cave is near-ish to Louisville and French Lick. It’s like a smaller, closer-to-Indy version of Mammoth Cave National Park.

The town of Marengo itself is tiny, but they have other things to do here besides tour the cave, like pedal karts, mini golf, and a maze.

The cave stays open all year round because it maintains a pretty even 52°F temperature year-round. The pathways are all well-lit with no stairs , but it’s not an accessible path. No strollers or wheelchairs.

Indiana Dunes National Park & State Park

2 hours 30 minutes’ drive, on Central Time

Up on Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes was recently upgraded to full national park status!

The state park still remains, and is actually completely surrounded by the national park, but both areas preserve the beautiful lake dune ecosystem in northern Indiana.

Soft sand creates a path through the Indiana Dunes to the blue waters of Lake Michigan on a sunny day

The Great Lakes provide gorgeous blue waters you’d expect to see in the Caribbean but with no salt and no sharks. Relaxing on a state or national park beach is a great way to spend a long weekend.

Get out of the sun for a bit and take a hike through the Indiana Dunes on one of the parks’ many hiking trails. There’s a trail for most skill levels and some great views of Lake Michigan as well as the inner dune forests and wetlands.

While you’re here, don’t forget to drive past the Century of Progress homes , a quick stop for photos of some cool, futuristic looking houses from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Just one of the many other things to do in Indiana Dunes National Park besides the beach.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, IN

2 hours 45 minutes’ drive, on Central Time

The tiny town of Santa Claus, IN is tucked away by itself in southern Indiana. It exists mostly for Christmas Lake and as the home of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Amusement Park.

This is a truly unique amusement park , ideal for families and those that don’t like too wild of a time. The park only has 4 roller coasters, five if you count the kiddie coaster. The rest of the park consists of water rides, arcade games, and fair-type rides.

Holiday World is divided into sections by, you guessed it, holiday. Christmas, July 4 th , Halloween, and Thanksgiving each have their own part of the park. Splashin’ Safari is the water park, as I’m sure you guessed.

A horse pulls a small Amish buggy down the road past farm fields

Shipshewana, IN

3 hours’ drive

One of America’s largest Amish & Mennonite communities resides in Shipshewana, IN, due east of South Bend and very close to the Michigan-Indiana state line.

Visitors flock here for the Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market , supposedly the Midwest’s largest flea market. The goal here is shopping for amazing Amish-built or baked goods.

Try Amish cooking at one of the restaurants, pick up some Amish cheese at the store, and learn about the Amish and Mennonite faith at the Menno-Hof Museum .

College Towns in Indiana

Indianapolis is the largest city in and capital of Indiana, but there are a few others cities in the state that might catch your eye.

College towns are perfect for wandering around before or after a sports game or musical or drama performance. Alumni enjoy the nostalgia of being on campus again, and enjoy the opportunity of recruiting the next generation for their alma mater.

Tan brick and gray stone dominate the front facade of Purdue University's Student Union Building with green grass and a blue sky

West Lafayette

Home to Purdue University , West Lafayette is strictly a college town. There’s not much else to do in town itself besides things related to the university. Most visitors come to watch a football or basketball game.

Luckily, the campus is pretty and there are tons of interesting artifacts inside and outside of the buildings, boasting about their famous alumni. The Neil Armstrong statue is pretty popular.

Nearby is Prophetstown State Park , an important site in Indiana and US history. This park certainly won’t take all day to explore, but it’s a nice add-on when you’re already in the area.

Bloomington

Bloomington is often cited as one of the prettiest towns in Indiana, which is weird because it’s also a Big10 college town, and those don’t typically go together.

Indiana University is the largest university in the state, and it’s also often overrun with visitors during football and basketball seasons.

But Bloomington is more than just IU. It has a thriving art scene of its own and enjoys easy access to the many beautiful southern Indiana state parks, like Lake Monroe and Brown County State Park .

An imposing stone county courthouse dominates a square in Bloomington, IN

2 hours 40 minutes’ drive

Home to the University of Notre Dame , South Bend is northern Indiana’s hub.

It’s far enough from Chicago that it resists becoming just another commuter suburb, but it’s close enough that you can escape to the Windy City for a quick day trip anytime.

The St Joseph River runs through the heart of South Bend and provides opportunities for water sports within the city limits.

Or, tour one of South Bend’s historic homes or history museums for a peek into what this area used to be like.

Cities within 3 Hours of Indianapolis

Sometimes you just want to experience somewhere new, outside of Indiana, and that’s understandable.

Indiana is lacking in the big city department, but there are no less than 4 major interstates that connect Indianapolis to the rest of the Midwest, including direct access to some real big cities.

The following city escapes are all within a 3 hour drive and doable as day trips from Indianapolis if you start early.

They also make good weekend getaways if you want to splurge and stay downtown somewhere new!

Chicago, IL

3 hours’ drive, on Central Time

The most famous and visited of all Midwest cities, Chicago is perfect for those seeking an urban escape from Indianapolis.

Chicago's skyscrapers glow blue and gold along the river as the sun sets

Indianapolis is not a bad alternative to Chicago; Indy is much cheaper with similar things to do . But we still believe that everyone should visit Chicago at least once before they write it off completely.

It’s a 3 hour drive from Indianapolis, assuming no traffic, but you gain an hour on the drive up because Chicago is on Central time.

Pro Tip : If Chicago is your final destination, we don’t recommend flying from Indy to Chicago. The drive is short enough even if you hit traffic that it’s not worth the time spent in the airports, and then getting downtown from the airport, to fly.

Chicago has skyscrapers, parks, museums, theaters, festivals, food, and Lake Michigan. All it’s missing is outdoorsy things like hiking, but if you walk all over town, you’ll get the same benefits as hiking.

Columbus, OH

2 hours 45 minutes’ drive

Columbus, Ohio is one of the US’s fastest growing metro areas. Most of you probably only know this city as the home of Ohio State University of Big10 fame. (Yes, I left the “the” off just to make you Ohio State fans mad.)

The capital city of Ohio has plenty of things to see and do. The Columbus Zoo is one of the best in the country and even has its own TV show.

Downtown is full of architecturally interesting buildings and bridges, and museums like the Center of Science & Industry (COSI) and the Columbus Museum of Art add a bit of culture.

Cincinnati, OH

Ohio’s third largest city is only 2 hours from Indianapolis, and Cincinnati has a lot to offer for a day trip or a weekend getaway. This hilly city on the Ohio River can be a fun place to chill for the day.

We’ve day tripped to Cincy for concerts and sports games , and even specifically for Ikea in the days before Indy got its own Ikea.

Professional sports are big in Cincinnati, home to the Reds MLB team and the Bengals NFL team . Both teams’ stadiums are on the riverfront with awesome views.

You can also walk across a few of the historic bridges that cross the Ohio River to Kentucky. If you like old architecture, you’ll enjoy the many bridges and skyscrapers on display here.

The downtown Louisville skyline at night, as seen across the Ohio River

Louisville, KY

Just a two hours’ drive from Indianapolis on I-65 will see you to Louisville. Louisville is about the same size as Indianapolis, maybe a bit smaller population-wise, but it has its own charms.

The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is a big hit with tourists and locals alike ( no regrets on that pun! ), as is the Mohammed Ali Center a few blocks away. ( That pun worked twice!)

Louisville is also home to the Kentucky Derby horse race every year. Churchill Downs racecourse floods with visitors all donning their best hats and/or fascinators. If your just curious and not actually a fan, then visit the Churchill Downs Museum instead of attending a race.

This Ohio River city is packed with art and history. There’s a museum for almost every taste and style. Pick yours and enjoy!

Weekend Getaways from Indianapolis

Looking to fill a long weekend, away from home?

While you can stretch many of the day trips discussed above into weekend-long trips, fun destinations like St Louis, MO and Nashville, TN are just a smidge too far to work as day trips from Indianapolis but are perfect for a long weekend trip from Indy.

Choose the Perfect Day Trip from Indianapolis!

Enjoy escaping Indy for a day! Whether you choose relaxation or adventure, there’s a perfect day trip from Indianapolis waiting for you.

More Indiana Travel Ideas

  • 8 Best Hikes in Indiana Dunes National Park
  • One Day in Indiana Dunes National Park
  • 3 Tempting Reasons to Visit Indianapolis
  • 40 Romantic Things to Do in Indianapolis {Date Night Ideas}

Happy travels!

Headshot of Rachel Means at Clingmans Dome in Smoky Mountains

About the Author : Rachel Means

With six-figure student loan debt and only 10 PTO days per year, Rachel started traveling the world. A decade later, she’s paid off her loans, changed careers, and been to 36 US states and 14 countries. She’s an expert at planning and budgeting for travel and loves to help others do it, too! Read her full story here.

A photo of an Amish horse buggy, the Louisville skyline at night, and the Indiana Dunes on a sunny day, with text 19 Easy & Fun Day Trips from Indianapolis

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  • Last Updated On
  • June 25, 2023

30 Best Weekend Getaways From Indianapolis — Quick Trips!

Madison White

If you’re in Indianapolis, or “Indy,” as the locals call it, you’ve already found yourself in a pretty cool vacation spot. 

But guess what? 

There’s even more to explore beyond the city limits.

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some amazing weekend getaways from Indianapolis, and I’m here to spill the beans.

Whether you’re into history and crave a dose of historic landmarks, or you’re on the hunt for some thrilling family adventures, I’ve got you covered. 

From charming cities to hidden gems in the surrounding areas, these destinations are guaranteed to make your weekend getaway a memorable one.

So, buckle up and get ready for a virtual tour of the best weekend getaways from Indianapolis. 

You won’t want to miss this.

Best Weekend Getaways From Indianapolis Compared

Discover our handpicked gems, from charming historical towns to breathtaking outdoor adventures. 

Unforgettable family experiences await just a short drive away.

Editor’s Choice

day trips near indianapolis

The Hoxton, Chicago

This vibrant boutique hotel seamlessly blends modern style with historic charm, providing an unforgettable experience.

  • Room Variety: 4/5
  • Comfort and Cleanliness: 4/5
  • Location: 5/5
  • Affordability: 3/5
  • Family-Friendliness: 3/5

#2nd Best Choice

day trips near indianapolis

Hyatt Place Bloomington Indiana

Hyatt Place Bloomington Indiana, just an hour’s drive from Indianapolis, presents an excellent weekend getaway option.

  • Room Variety: 3/5
  • Location: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5
  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5

#3rd Best Choice

day trips near indianapolis

Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection

Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection is an architectural masterpiece that combines history, luxury, and unparalleled charm.

  • Comfort and Cleanliness: 5/5
  • Affordability: 2/5

Here are top 30 weekend getaways from Indianapolis.

1. The Hoxton, Chicago  (Editor’s Choice)

The Hoxton, Chicago

200 N Green St Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 761-1700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ratings Criteria

  •  Vibrant urban atmosphere: You’ll be surrounded by bustling streets, trendy restaurants, and a variety of entertainment options.
  • Stylish accommodations: The rooms are designed with a chic aesthetic, creating a comfortable and visually appealing environment for guests.
  •  Potential noise levels: If you’re sensitive to noise or prefer a more peaceful setting, this could be a downside.
  • Limited Parking Options: The hotel might have limited parking options or charge additional fees for parking, which can be inconvenient for guests traveling by car.

Located just a three-hour drive from Indianapolis, The Hoxton, Chicago offers an ideal weekend escape. 

This vibrant boutique hotel seamlessly blends modern style with historic charm, providing an unforgettable experience. 

With its prime location in the heart of Chicago’s bustling Fulton Market District, guests can easily explore the city’s renowned attractions, from Millennium Park to the Magnificent Mile. 

It also boasts a range of amenities, including stylish rooms, a rooftop pool, and a lively bar and restaurant scene. 

2. Hyatt Place Bloomington Indiana

Hyatt Place Bloomington Indiana

217 W Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47404 (812) 339-5950 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Convenient location: This central location provides easy access to local attractions, restaurants, and shopping areas, making it an ideal choice for those looking to explore the city.
  • Spacious and comfortable rooms: The rooms are equipped with modern amenities and designed to cater to the needs of both business and leisure travelers.
  • Limited nightlife options: If you’re seeking vibrant nightlife or a wide range of entertainment options, you may find the options in Bloomington to be relatively limited.
  • Potential crowds during University Events: Given its proximity to Indiana University, the hotel may experience higher occupancy rates and larger crowds during university events such as football games or graduation weekends. 

Hyatt Place Bloomington Indiana, just an hour’s drive from Indianapolis, presents an excellent weekend getaway option. 

This contemporary hotel serves as a vibrant and convenient hub for exploration. 

Its proximity to Indiana University ensures access to a plethora of cultural and entertainment attractions, like art galleries, theaters, and live music venues. 

Nature enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the picturesque beauty of nearby parks and trails. 

Lastly, it offers comfortable accommodations, a 24/7 gym, and a refreshing indoor pool. 

3. Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection

Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection

50 W Broad St Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 224-9500 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Historic and unique atmosphere: The hotel’s interior reflects the building’s heritage, offering an immersive experience for history enthusiasts and those who appreciate architectural beauty.
  • Central downtown location: You’ll be within walking distance or a short drive from many of the city’s highlights.
  • Potentially higher price range: If you have a strict budget or prefer more affordable options, the pricing of this hotel might be a drawback.
  • Limited on-site amenities: There might be a smaller fitness center or fewer dining options within the hotel itself. 

Its distinctive art deco design, inspired by the iconic LeVeque Tower, sets the stage for an unforgettable experience. 

They have lavish accommodations adorned with stylish furnishings and modern amenities.

Explore the vibrant Columbus art scene, with renowned galleries, theaters, and music venues just steps away.

Unwind at The Keep Liquor Bar, a speakeasy-style lounge, or savor delectable cuisine at The Keep Restaurant. 

With its seamless blend of elegance, convenience, and cultural allure, Hotel LeVeque is the perfect choice for a weekend retreat.

4. Cataract Falls

cataract falls

2605 N. Cataract Road Spencer, IN 47460 (765) 276-0194 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Cataract Falls, the biggest waterfall in the state, is located in the Lieber State Recreation Area on Mill Creek.

This scenic trip will take you just under an hour to drive from Indianapolis.

There are two gorgeous waterfalls to explore, one of which is over 45 feet high.

A short path connects the two waterfalls.

And if you’re up for a longer climb, you may continue from the lower falls to Cagle Mill Lake.

Every day from dawn to sunset, the public is welcome to enjoy the park and its upper and lower falls, equipped with picnic pavilions and pit toilets.

Recommended Hotel: Motel 6-Cloverdale, IN – Greencastle

5. Columbus

Columbus

Columbus, OH (614) 221-6623 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Columbus, Ohio , is one of the smallest U.S. cities, yet it has one of the country’s most spectacular collections of contemporary architecture.

It’s 2 and a half hours away from Indianapolis and is worth the trip.

Tour the downtown area to see more than 70 buildings designed by the most famous architects in the world.

Visit gardens, museums, boutique shops, an amusement park, and a large stadium to make the most of your trip.

If you’re looking for getaways in Indianapolis for the family, this is the route to take.

Recommended Hotel: Hilton Columbus Downtown

Related: Day Trips Around Columbus

6. Whitewater Valley Railroad

Whitewater Valley Railroad

455 Market St Connersville, IN 47331 (765) 825-2054 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Whitewater Valley Train is a vintage railroad that departs from Connersville and takes passengers through the beautiful central Indiana countryside.

Drive 1 hour and 13 minutes east of Indianapolis to catch this train ride.

Regular trips take guests to Metamora, a historic canal town where they have two hours to tour the town’s shops, restaurants, and historic sights.

Other trips, such as a Friday night train to the Laurel Hotel for supper, and seasonal rides, are also available.

Recommended Hotel: Liberty Motel

Related: Hotels in Indianapolis

7. Crawfordsville

Crawfordsville

Crawfordsville, IN (765) 364-5160 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Crawfordsville is a city in Montgomery County known to be where the first basketball games were held.

This city is just under an hour away from Indianapolis and is a fantastic getaway to experience.

It’s a great destination to visit anyhow, but history buffs will appreciate it even more because of the abundance of historical sites.

The beautiful Antebellum Lane Place Home is open for tours and festivals from April through December.

The Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County and the 1882 Rotary Jail Museum both hold fascinating historical exhibitions.

Downtown also has several restaurants, retail establishments, and a farmer’s market on Saturday mornings during the summer.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Crawfordsville, an IHG Hotel

8. Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne, IN (260) 424-3700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Fort Wayne, the state’s second-largest city, is well-known for its exceptional tourist destinations and warm Hoosier friendliness.

This city can be reached by driving just a little over 2 hours north of Indianapolis.

Aside from the city’s three rivers and historic districts, the bustling downtown area is home to several superb restaurants and shops.

The Fox Island County Park and the Lindenwood Nature Preserve are also close if you want to spend even more time in nature.

Take the kids to Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo for a blast with the animals.

Or visit the stunning Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory for a peek into nature’s creativity.

Fort Wayne Museum of Art, which has a significant collection of American art, is also one of the most popular destinations in the city.

Recommended Hotel: The Bradley

9. Marengo Cave

Marengo Cave

400 East State Rd 64 Marengo, IN 47140 (812) 365-2705 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Marengo Cave is a privately-owned cave in Indiana that has been giving tours since 1883.

If you’re looking for cheap vacations from Indianapolis, drive 2 hours to this cave.

Two separate walking tours are available to guests, one of which takes them through the Crystal Palace’s impressive stalactites and stalagmites.

The other tour takes you deep into the cave’s pitch-black interior with a bit of surprise.

If you’re looking for more excitement, you may even go on a cave crawl that takes you through narrow tunnels and openings.

There is also a gemstone mining station and a twisting labyrinth that feels like exploring a cave, both of which are aimed towards younger children.

If you’re looking for Indianapolis area weekend getaways, this cave is an exciting trip you’ll want to take.

Recommended Hotel: Clarion Pointe by Choice Hotels Corydon

Related: Weekend Getaways in Indiana

10. Marshall County

Marshall County

Plymouth, IN 46563 (800) 626-5353 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Marshall County was organized in 1836 and is named after the US Chief Justice John Marshall.

It’s about 2 hours away and is one of the best last minute weekend getaways from Indianapolis.

If you’re looking for a taste of the quiet country life, go no farther than Marshall County, tucked away in the rolling hills of northern Indiana.

Indulge in the laid-back vibe by bringing a fishing rod and spending some time at one of the area’s lakes.

Enjoy eating breakfast at a roadside cafe, then drive down the rural roads to see the many colorful barn quilts that local artists have lovingly created.

A four-day blueberry festival is held each summer, so try to visit during that time to experience the fun.

Recommended Hotel: Super 8 by Wyndham Plymouth

11. Mishawaka

Mishawaka

Mishawaka, IN (574) 258-1601 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Mishawaka is located on the St. Joseph River, nicknamed “the Princess City.”

This gorgeous city is just 2 hours and 31 minutes away from Indianapolis.

Beutter Park, in the heart of downtown, contains a river racing and a lovely perennial garden you can take a stroll in.

The city’s business section is home to one of the largest shopping areas in the whole Midwest, so do some shopping while you’re here.

If you’re down for a bit of thrill, go whitewater rafting down the East Race Waterway.

Then visit Notre Dame’s football facilities and the Studebaker Museum if you’re prepared to go a little farther away.

Recommended Hotel: Home2 Suites By Hilton Mishawaka South Bend

12. Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort

Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort

5224 E. Indiana Beach Rd Monticello, IN 47960 (574) 583-4141 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort is an entertainment park that has welcomed visitors since 1926.

It is located on the coast of Lake Shafer, which is about 1 hour and 41 minutes away from Indy.

There are six roller coasters, an 80-foot drop ride, and an exhilarating Skycoaster that replicates the feeling of skydiving.

If you’re not in the mood to stay dry, the waterpark has six slides and a lazy river you might love.

After all that fun, you’re sure to get hungry, and luckily there are several dining options here.

There is also a rooftop bar with a great beachfront view and a full bar.

Recommended Hotel: Alexander’s Landing

muncie

Muncie, IN (765) 284-2700 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Until 1845, Muncie was known as Muncietown, and now it is a historic town around 50 miles from Indianapolis.

The drive will take you just over an hour, and it is one of the best places near Indianapolis for vacation.

It’s a charming tiny town with a few museums and cultural attractions, despite its long history of serving as an agricultural and industrial center.

Visit the National Model Aviation Museum to see the birds of steel in real life.

Then wander the themed gardens and historic home at the Minnetrista cultural center.

Or ride your bike (or stroll) along the paved Cardinal Greenway, which extends 62 miles to Marion.

Recommended Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott Muncie at Horizon Convention Center

14. New Harmony

New Harmony

New Harmony, IN Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

In 1814, a group of German Christian separatists calling themselves the Harmonists founded the little town of New Harmony, Indiana.

New Harmony is just 3 hours away from Indianapolis, but it feels like you traveled back in time.

Indulge in an intriguing stroll through the Harmonist Labyrinth, with its different paths in a maze of several dead ends.

Only one path leads to the center, so it’s quite an exciting task.

Stop by Moon River Spa and New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art to continue your Zen trip.

Small restaurants like the Yellow Tavern and Mary Scott’s Kitchen are great places to sample regional specialties.

If you’re looking for Indianapolis vacations that charm the socks off you, check out this place.

Recommended Hotel: New Harmony Inn Resort and Conference Center

15. Parke County

Parke County

Parke County, IN (765) 569-5226 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Parke County is the unofficial “Covered Bridge Capital of the World” due to the presence of 31 such structures in the county.

This charming destination is about 1 hour and 22 minutes away from Indianapolis.

You’ll take a journey back in time and still see horse-drawn buggies and antique shops on the roads.

Turkey Run State Park, where hikers and kayakers may explore sandstone canyons and rivers, is an awesome visit.

We recommend you plan your trip to coincide with the Covered Bridge Festival in October.

You’ll see the most beautiful area as the leaves turn from green to red, orange, and yellow.

Recommended Hotel: Turkey Run Inn & Cabins

16. Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake

3084 N. Dillard Rd Birdseye, IN 47513 (812) 338-5589 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Patoka Lake is the second-largest reservoir in Indiana, behind Lake Monroe, with a surface area of over 14 square miles.

Take a trip of 2 hours and 30 minutes south of Indianapolis, and you’ll reach Patoka Lake in an instant.

This park provides an abundance of options for swimming and boating, and it is consistently stocked with game fish for those who like fishing.

In addition to the six miles of paved bike paths that weave through the park, there is a disc golf course and a marina that guests are welcome to enjoy.

The large lake has plenty of space for your favorite outdoor activities like picnicking or flying a kite.

If you’re looking for Indianapolis area weekend getaways, this park has your name on it.

Recommended Hotel: Comfort Suites French Lick

17. Pine Lake Waterpark

Pine Lake Waterpark

4640 IN-218 Berne, IN 46711 (260) 334-5649 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Pine Lake Waterpark in Berne is an excellent option for families wishing to cool down throughout the summer.

It’s a mere drive of just under 2 hours from Indianapolis, so it’s perfect for a cool overnight trip.

This exciting waterpark is complete with six slides, a zipline, and other exciting water-based sports and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

There’s also a snack bar, a beach volleyball court, a splash park for kids, and a series of diving boards of increasing heights.

Recommended Hotel: Express Inn & suites

18. Pokagon State Park

pokagon state park

450 Ln 100 Lake James Angola, IN 46703 (260) 833-2012 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Pokagon State Park, formerly known as Lake James State Park, spans 1,260 acres and is home to two lovely lakes.

You can easily reach this park in 2 hours and 35 minutes from Indy.

Take a boat out on the lake, go for a swim, or go for a hike in the woods.

Then relax in your accommodation at the Potawatomi Inn after a long day.

Fishing boats, kayaks, and pedal boats may be rented on-site, and fishing is allowed from the pier.

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, Indianapolis has plenty to offer nearby, just like this park.

Recommended Hotel: Quality Inn Fremont

19. Nashville, Indiana

nashville indiana

Nashville, IN Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Nashville is a small town in southern Indiana best known as the center of the Brown County Art Colony, founded in 1907.

If you’re looking for a quick weekend trip without spending too much time in the car, Nashville, Indiana, is only about an hour south of Indianapolis.

Visit one of the numerous local art galleries or boutiques to see the works of creative locals.

If you’re an art lover, there are a few places you could check out to be entertained.

Brown County is home to the Brown County Art Gallery and the Brown County Playhouse, which are well worth a visit.

Then spend some time in nature at Brown County State Park over the weekend.

Recommended Hotel: Brown County Inn

20. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, IL (312) 744-5000 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Chicago is one of the nation’s largest cities and is famed for its bold architecture, cuisine, and jazz music.

Chicago is under 3 hours away, so it’s perfect for long weekend trips from Indianapolis.

For a weekend trip that won’t break the bank, head to Chicago to see a festival, concert, parade, or the city’s top sights and attractions.

During your stay, check out a live comedy show at Second City.

Or see some of the city’s numerous museums, like the Field Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry.

Then get some exercise on the Lakeshore Path or stroll through the iconic Millennium Park to see the giant reflective bean.

Recommended Hotel: Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

Related: Fun Day Trips From Chicago

21. Valparaiso, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Valparaiso, IN (219) 462-1161 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

It is well known that Valparaiso is home to Valparaiso University, which is renowned for its gorgeous chapel.

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway destination, go no further than Valparaiso, which is just 2.5 hours away by vehicle from Indianapolis.

This town is perfect for fun Indianapolis weekend getaways, especially for foodies.

There are many fantastic restaurants and many more breweries and wineries to sample.

Kick off your trip at the South Shore Brewery Trail to explore the town while enjoying fantastic local drinks.

Or hike a local summit to see the sunset over the Indiana Dunes.

Recommended Hotel: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Valparaiso, IN

22. Oldenburg, Indiana

Oldenburg, Indiana

Oldenburg, IN Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Oldenburg is a town in Franklin County that was founded in 1837 by German settlers.

This charming town is just over an hour away, so it’s perfect for memorable short trips from Indianapolis.

Oldenburg is to Indiana as Helen is to Georgia, and Leavenworth is to Washington.

These towns are bursting with strong German influence, which means it’s picturesque, historic, and worth the visit.

Oldenburg is brimming with authentic German cuisine and brews, and you can find many cozy restaurants and breweries.

Shop for antiques and learn about this town’s rich history in the downtown area.

In the summer, when the Oldenburg Freudenfest celebration is in full swing, many people from Indianapolis make the trip to Oldenburg.

Recommended Hotel: Best Western Batesville

23. Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes

1215 N State Rd 49 Porter, IN 46304 (219) 395-1882 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Indiana Dunes is a 15,000-acre park that was established in 2019.

These dunes are only about 2 and a half hours away from Indy, and it’s one of the best places to go for a weekend trip near you.

To have some fun and explore the area, rent a sandboard from one of the shops in the area and have a trip down the dunes.

You can also head down to the beach for a swim, although it can get quite cold during winter.

Between April and November, visitors to Indiana Dunes National Park may stay at one of the 66 campsites at the Dunewood Campground.

Sing around a bonfire, lie down to look at the stars, or hike during the day to explore nature.

Recommended Hotel: Spring House Inn

24. French Lick, Indiana

French Lick, Indiana

French Lick, IN (888) 936-9360 Open in Google Maps

French Lick is a town in southern Indiana known for its historic mineral springs.

You can get to the French Lick from Indy in just over two hours.

Even though it has an amusing name, this weekend destination is a top choice for Indianapolis locals looking for romance and excitement.

Vacationing families with kids will love the Big Splash Adventure indoor water park, while couples appreciate the hotel’s historic and opulent suites.

You can also spend hours soaking in the town’s famous mineral spring waters.

Check out the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail, an excellent option for a weekend trip if you’re a wine lover.

For those interested in seeing the surrounding Hoosier National Forest, French Lick is also an excellent base of operations.

This is one of the best romantic getaways from Indianapolis, and many locals swear by it.

25. Bristol, Indiana

Bristol, Indiana

Bristol, IN (574) 848-7007 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Since it was first laid out in the year 1835, Bristol has been one of the oldest communities in Elkhart County.

Bristol is a scant 3 hours away from Indianapolis, and there’s nothing better for a weekend getaway.

Visit the RV Museum to see old RV campers and exciting exhibits like Henry Ford’s 1913 Earl Travel Trailer.

Take a trip down the Little Elkhart River in a canoe or kayak rented from Lazy Dayz Canoe and Kayak and relax after a long week.

Bring a picnic lunch and intend to enjoy it with the family on a tranquil sandbar.

Then, after dinner, go to Bonneyville Mill County Park to walk the trails and see the historic mill.

There’s also a souvenir store in the flour mill, so stop by for gifts.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Elkhart North, an IHG Hotel

26. Wadsworth, Illinois

Wadsworth, Illinois

Wadsworth, IL (847) 336-7771 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Wadsworth is a village in Lake County named after E.S. Wadsworth, a major stockholder for the railroad that passes through the village.

A 4-hour trip to Wadsworth from Indianapolis is well worth it, especially if it means seeing a pyramid covered in genuine 24-karat gold.

In addition, there is a 50-foot figure of King Tut and a metal palm tree right next to this pyramid.

If you’re looking for some kid-friendly fun, Patch 22 is the place to go, where children will have a blast in an animal petting zoo and on a hayride.

There’s also a wide variety of cuisine and drinks available at the Shanty Restaurant, such as seafood, steaks, and burgers.

The Savanna House Restaurant is a classic American eatery in the Van Patten Woods woodland preserve.

Recommended Hotel: Wingate by Wyndham Gurnee

27. Belknap, Illinois

Belknap, Illinois

Belknap, IL Open in Google Maps

Belknap is a small village in Johnson County with plenty of scenic spots for the family.

Belknap is 4 hours away from Indianapolis and is worth every second of the trip.

Once you arrive, stow your bags at Mermet Springs, which is a great place to unwind after the trip.

It’s also a diving site where you’ll explore an underwater motorcycle, a full semi-trailer, an ambulance, and a Boeing 727.

Visit downtown for entertainment options like a live show or a movie.

Or head to Cache River Basin Vineyard & Winery, which offers an exquisite dining experience on its balcony.

Relax and enjoy your meal with a glass of wine or a beer from the extensive list.

Recommended Hotel: Harrah’s Metropolis Hotel & Casino

28. Bonne Terre, Missouri

Bonne Terre, Missouri

Bonne Terre, MO Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Bonne Terre is a 19-century lead mine that was flooded in 1962 and is now the world’s largest freshwater diving spot.

This fascinating destination is only 4 hours and a half from Indy, so it’s great for a short trip.

There are over 17 miles of subterranean rooms here, so you’ll never get bored exploring.

Tourists may swim through arches and chambers to find buried mining equipment worth millions of dollars.

Tours of this man-made cavern may be taken on foot or by boat, so visitors can see all the sights up close.

When you finally emerge from the tunnels, you may reach for the stars at the Space Museum, where you can view and touch real space rocks.

Recommended Hotel: Crown Pointe Lodge; BW Signature Collection

29. Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Point Pleasant, WV (844) 333-1245 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Point Pleasant is a city and the county seat of Mason County, famous for its paranormal occurrences in 1966.

In just under 5 hours of travel, you can have one of the most awesome inexpensive weekend getaways near Indianapolis.

Visit the only Mothman Museum in the world on Main Street to see movie memorabilia from “The Mothman Prophecies.”

Then take your time perusing the two floors of the town’s general store, where you can get everything from antique stoves to jelly.

The Mason Jar is great for browsing antiques and treasures from various periods.

And the surrounding stores, restaurants, and cafés should be able to supply your needs.

Historic buildings are also fascinating, including a log cabin, schoolhouse, doctor’s office, and log church.

These may be seen at the West Virginia Farm Museum, located just on the outskirts of town.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn Gallipolis

30. Delton, Michigan

Delton, Michigan

Delton, MI Visit Website Open in Google Maps

Delton is a charming little town in Michigan known for over 10 different lakes.

Escape the hustle and bustle of Indianapolis and drive 4 hours to Delton.

This charming town holds a plethora of warm and cozy restaurants, exciting museums, and attractions.

Enjoy a day at the Crooked Lake beach or an afternoon fishing on Long Lake.

Mullenhurst Golf Course is one of the most well-known courses in southwestern Michigan, so why not try it yourself?

Bring the kids to Rarity Acres, where the proprietor crosses zebras with horses and donkeys to create zorses and zonkeys.

The Gilmore Car Museum, located less than 10 minutes to the south, is home to more than 400 classic and historic vehicles you’ll love.

Treat the family to a taste of yesteryear at George and Sally’s Blue Moon Diner, a railroad dining car built in 1941.

This is known to be one of the best weekend getaways from Indianapolis, and for a good reason.

Recommended Hotel: Bay Pointe Inn

Getaway Guide 

Comparing destinations: which one is right for you.

Weekend getaways from Indianapolis are always a treat for my family, and we’ve discovered some hidden gems along the way. 

One of our favorite finds was The Hoxton in Chicago. 

From the moment we walked into the stylish lobby, we knew we were in for a special stay. 

The rooms were modern and cozy, with breathtaking city views. 

We spent our days exploring Millennium Park and indulging in deep-dish pizza. 

Next, we ventured to the Hyatt Place Bloomington Indiana, where we enjoyed the serenity of nature at Brown County State Park. 

Finally, we stayed at Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection, and marveled at its art deco charm while exploring the vibrant Columbus neighborhood. 

Each weekend was a unique adventure, leaving us with cherished memories to last a lifetime.

How I Picked The Destinations 

As a travel expert, I meticulously selected the resorts featured in this guide.

Thorough research led me to exceptional destinations with top-rated amenities, customer reviews, and unique features. 

I also sought recommendations from travelers and locals, ensuring a well-rounded perspective. 

Personally visiting each resort, I assessed accommodations, dining, activities, and service quality. 

This thorough process guarantees transparent and unbiased reviews, helping you make informed decisions for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Our Property Rating Method 

I rate these properties based on the following criteria:

  • Room Variety: I use this to rate the room options offered by every property. What room types are available? Can it accommodate different budgets, group sizes, and preferences? I ask myself these questions when evaluating the property’s room variety. 
  • Comfort and Cleanliness: This measures the overall cleanliness and comfort of the accommodations. Does it have comfortable beds? Are the rooms spotless and dust-free? These are important factors I consider when rating comfort and cleanliness. 
  • Location: This is used to evaluate how convenient and accessible the property is. How close is it to the attractions? Are there good public transportation options near the location? Is it easily accessible for families? These questions are important when I rate the location of every accommodation. 
  • Affordability: I use this to evaluate the property’s affordability. Are the room rates reasonable? Does the property have any additional fees? Does the property offer discounts or packages? I ask myself this in order to rate affordability. 
  • Family-Friendliness: This evaluates the family-friendliness of each property. Does it offer babysitting services and children’s activities? Does it have connecting rooms for families? I use these questions to rate the family-friendliness of the property. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What cities are 4 hours away from indianapolis.

Cities approximately 4 hours away from Indianapolis include Chicago, Louisville, and Cincinnati. These offer a variety of cultural attractions, shopping opportunities, and dining experiences.

What Cities Are 5 Hours Away From Indianapolis?

Cities approximately 5 hours away from Indianapolis include St. Louis, Nashville, and Detroit. Each has its own unique blend of music, history, and entertainment.

Why Is Indianapolis So Popular?

Indianapolis is popular because of its renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the annual Indianapolis 500 race, attracting motorsport enthusiasts worldwide. It also offers a vibrant cultural scene, professional sports teams, and a thriving economy, making it an appealing destination for visitors and residents alike.

Is Indianapolis A Friendly City?

Yes, Indianapolis is generally considered a friendly city. With its Midwestern hospitality, welcoming residents, and community-oriented atmosphere, visitors often find the city to be friendly and welcoming. 

Conclusion 

In pursuing the best weekend getaways from Indianapolis, your trail should lead to The Hoxton, Chicago. 

With its perfect blend of exemplary service and family-centric facilities, it’s a diamond that sparkles brighter than its competitors. 

This isn’t mere hearsay.

It’s a testament from someone who has savored the experience firsthand. 

The food scene, the myriad activities, and the comfort of their rooms stand in a league of their own. 

So, when planning your next family trip, let The Hoxton, Chicago be your destination. 

It’s our number one choice, and we are confident it will charm you just as much.

30 Best Weekend Getaways From Indianapolis — Quick Trips!

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Driving by Eagle Creek Park

A short drive from Indy invites opportunities to discover all that Central Indiana has to offer.

Day Trips from Indianapolis

Take a drive to discover even more of the hoosier state.

Indianapolis has plenty to do, but if you're up for a short road trip, check out our dynamic neighbors around Indiana.

Bloomington

Bloomington

Known as the home of Indiana University, Bloomington landed at #3 on Livability.com's 2013 list of Top 10 Foodie Cities in America, citing restaurants with refined kitchens, respected chefs and avant-garde menus along with food-focused special events. The choices will tempt your taste buds from the inspired comfort food at Restaurant Tallent and Farm Bloomington to the variety of ethnic cuisines such as Tibetan, Thai, French, African, Moroccan, Turkish, Asian and Italian. Add to that award-winning Oliver Winery, Upland and Bloomington Brewing Companies, stunning scenery highlighted with rolling hills, and a growing arts and culture community.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 53 miles.

Columbus

Home to more than 70 renowned pieces of architecture and public art, Columbus boasts the work of Dale Chihuly, Richard Meier, Henry Moore, I.M. Pei, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese and more. Walking or bus tours are available to take it all in. Be sure to take a break and pull up a stool at Zaharako's Victorian Soda Shoppe, opened in 1900 and still serving classic treats. If bargain shopping is more to your liking, don't miss Edinburgh Premium Outlets with more than 85 stores including Columbia Sportswear, Izod, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 45 miles.

Located in Northwest Indiana,  Fair Oaks Farms  is the perfect day trip for anyone. Head to the farm site where you can experience outdoor fun and participate in daily Pig and Crop Adventures. Fair Oaks Farm is dedicated to educating individuals on modern day farming practices. This educational and fun trip is something you’ll never forget! The impressive Farmhouse Restaurant has a farm-to-table experience that showcases natural ingredients straight from the farm. Before you leave, you must try the famous homemade ice cream.

Driving distance from downtown in Indy: 109 miles.

French Lick/West Baden

French Lick

A true resort community, French Lick West Baden welcomes guests to the ultimate luxury experience. The French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs Hotels are historic, opulent lodging choices set amidst the hills, valleys and lakes of the region. Make a splash at an indoor water park, go boating on Patoka Lake, take a train through the Hoosier National Forest, climb in the saddle for a horseback ride or put on your best walking shoes to explore one of the many scenic trails.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 124 miles.

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Called Indiana's premier golf destination, Hamilton County prides itself on the quality and variety of its courses which include a couple designed by the legendary Pete Dye. On a break from the links, enjoy Geist and Morse Reservoirs for boating and fishing, learn about our past at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park which was recently named one of the top five museums in the nation, explore independent restaurants and creativity in Carmel's Arts & Design District, shop at the area's first outdoor lifestyle center (Clay Terrace) or treat yourself to a show at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 17 miles.

Hendricks County

Hendricks County

From March to October, Lucas Oil Raceway's oval and dragstrip are alive with racing action. See the world's largest drag race, the U.S. Nationals, over Labor Day weekend, NASCAR's Kroger SpeedFest in July and the USAC Sprint Car and ARCA Racing Series throughout the year. Experience an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment phenomenon, Metropolis, with regular live music performances and a Rave theater. For a more relaxing vibe, try shopping in quaint downtown Danville, pick some produce at Beasley's Orchard & Gardens or sample some of the 50 varieties of wine handcrafted at Chateau Thomas Winery.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 13 miles.

Nashville/Brown County

Getaways Brown County

Whether it's an excursion to downtown Nashville with all its eclectic shops and art galleries, a mountain bike ride or a trip on a zip line, you can find it here. Brown County State Park is the state's largest with 16,000 acres of trails, forests, shelters, campgrounds, lakes, a nature center and abundant recreational options. The world's oldest, continuously running bluegrass festival, the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, takes place here each June and the Melchior Marionette Theatre calls the area home. And nestled in the mature forests of the area is Getaway Brown County , a series of homey cabins with an onsite trail along a series of small bluffs. These nature-inspired escapes come with everything you need and (nothing you don’t) so you can disconnect from the noise and reconnect to nature.

Santa Claus

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari was the world's first theme park and still has plenty of thrills for the whole family. The park's wooden coasters are consistently voted near the top and the relatively recent opening of Splashin' Safari provides lots of family water rides, action rivers and wave pools. Known for its cleanliness, the park provides free soft drinks, sunscreen, inner tubes and parking in a non-smoking environment. In addition, the world's only Santa Claus Post Office resides here and still receives--and answers--more than 12,000 children's letters each holiday season.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 150 miles.

Shelbyville

Shelbyville

Put your chips on the table at Indiana Live! Casino or pick your lucky horse at adjacent Indiana Downs. In addition to the table games, you can also bet on finding great eats at the casino's Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, the Live! Market Buffet and Deli or NASCAR Sports Grille. Spend some of your winnings seeing a true vaudeville show at the BC Supper Club. Come for lunch or dinner and experience a show full of music, dance and comedy.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 30 miles.

Lafayette/West Lafayette

Lafayette/West Lafayette

Home of Purdue University, West Lafayette has a thriving arts community and a healthy embrace of the region's history. The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette … take in a concert at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Explore the country's largest collection of Amelia Earhart memorabilia and marvel at the Purdue Marching Band's world&'s largest drum! Travel back in time to see how the area's woodlands, wetlands and prairie helped shape life at Historic Prophetstown and the Living History Center and how Native Americans fought to unite against the white settlers at the Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum. And for something truly unique, visit Wolf Park. Learn about wolf behavior and watch them interact with the park's other residents, like foxes, coyote and bison. Be sure to take part in a Wolf Howl, offered every Saturday night, May-November.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 65 miles.

South Bend

Cheer, cheer, for old Notre Dame with a trip north to South Bend Mishawaka. As the home to Notre Dame University a tour of the campus with legendary landmarks like the Golden Dome, Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and the Notre Dame Football Stadium is a must. The food scene is South Bend has spawned a Foodie Trail with restaurants singled out by Midwest Living. Three historic museums are on one campus with the Studebaker National Museum, The History Museum, and the Oliver Mansion. You'll want to satisfy your sweet tooth at The South Bend Chocolate Company (they a location is in Indy, but they're based in their namesake). Adventurous types can paddle down the East Race Waterway, the first man-made whitewater rafting course in North America that runs through the heart of the city.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 140 miles.

Zionsville/Boone County

Zionsville

Zionsville's brick streets and buildings may have a quaint, yesteryear appeal, but you'll find no shortage of trendy boutique shops and cutting-edge restaurants in the village. Pack a picnic and visit Lincoln Park where Abraham Lincoln stopped to visit in 1861 on his way to Washington, D.C. to be inaugurated. If you plan to eat out, visit The Friendly Tavern for their famous wings and fried pork tenderloin sandwiches.  During the summer months visit the Zionsville Farmers Market from late July to late September and support local Indiana farmers and artists.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 20 miles.

Hoops rule in Indiana and New Castle feeds the madness as home to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Thousands of artifacts tell the story of the Hoosier State's proud tradition from its inception with peach baskets to present day championships.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 48 miles.

Fountain City 

Visit the new interpretive center and the adjoining  Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site . The Interpretive center opened in December 2016 and has already been highlighted by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the 12 best new museums to visit.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 70 miles.

Spartanburg

Travel to Spartanburg to visit the  Union Literary Institute . It was established in 1846 to provide higher education to people of color. Notable alumni include Hiram Revels, who was the first black Senator in Congress.

Driving distance from downtown Indy: 85 miles.

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Black culture in indy, modern families, history buffs, urban adventurers, cultural connoisseurs, nature lovers, bucket listers, golf getaways.

The top 5 day trips from Indianapolis: enjoy Tibetan culture, bourbon tours and foodie hot spots

Jul 23, 2022 • 7 min read

Downtown Indianapolis reflecting on the canal at dusk.

Make the most of your trip to Indianapolis by exploring its surroundings on a day trip © John J. Miller Photography / Getty Images

As the host of the Indy 500 – the world’s largest single-day sporting event –  Indianapolis has made a name for itself as the racing capital of the world. If the engine revving from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway inspires you to go for a drive, the city has connections to all four major interstate highways, earning it the nickname “ the Crossroads of America.” 

If you find yourself in the city for a sports game or a trip to the world’s largest children’s museum , don’t rush back home when you’re done. You’ll find plenty to do within a two-hour drive, whether you enjoy basking in nature or slowly sipping sour ales. 

Here are five of the best day trips from Indianapolis.

Dalai Lama teaching in Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington, Indiana 

Why go: experience tibetan culture.

The small college town of Bloomington has a surprising infusion of Tibetan culture, thanks to the Dalai Lama’s late brother who was a professor at Indianapolis University. While you’re in the city, you can learn about Tibetan heritage and visit one of only two Tibetan chortens in the country at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center . You can even try traditional Tibetan food at Anyetsang’s . 

For a city with less than 100,000 people, Bloomington offers more than 350 places to eat. Stop by farm-to-fork restaurant Small Favors Bar to get a literal taste of Bloomington or The Elm for American fine dining with a twist of Mediterranean and North African flavors.

After you’ve filled up, head out into nature. Just outside of Bloomington is Monroe Lake , where you can take a dip, go fishing or rent a pair of jet skis to cool off in the summer. 

How to get to Bloomington 

It’s a 51-mile journey to Bloomington from Indianapolis, and it’ll take about one hour and 15 minutes on Interstate 69. The most convenient way to get to Bloomington is by car, but if you’re at the Indianapolis International Airport, you can take the GO Express Shuttle . 

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Why go: take advantage of the downtown food scene.

While it’s not as large as Indianapolis, Fort Wayne is perfect for the foodie family, with restaurants boasting creative concepts and various cuisines clustered in close proximity to one another. Mercado On The Landing will temporarily transport you to the West Coast with its Cali-Mexican options, while Haru Sushi & Izakaya Japanese Restaurant has some of the freshest sushi in town. Fortezza Coffee can pull a few shots to give you a caffeine boost (don’t miss the Creme Brûlée french toast). Getting that "it's 5 o’clock somewhere" vibe? Visit Copper Spoon , and pick one of its 100 cocktails, ranging from Adonis to Zombie. 

After all the food samplings, take in Fort Wayne on foot along the Public Art Trail . Downtown is easy to stroll through, and the interactive Science Central provides a captivating portal of learning for children. Just a few steps away is the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory , where seasonal exhibits might make you forget that you’re in the middle of a bustling downtown. If you’re a fan of the bold-printed Vera Bradley brand, the newly built Bradley Hotel offers exclusive prints you can purchase only at the property. 

How to get to Fort Wayne 

It’s a straight shot on Interstate 69 to get to Fort Wayne from Indianapolis by car, and the route is about 125 miles. Barons Bus departs once a day from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, dropping passengers off by the Botanical Conservatory. The bus time is comparable to driving by car, and it costs approximately $20 per ticket.

Visitors crowd the Rhinegeist Brewery.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Why go: tramp through the underground brewery tunnels .

In Cincinnati , you can take a trip through underground brewery tunnels from more than 100 years ago to see what one of the leading lager-brewing cities in the US was like before prohibition.

Cincinnati’s emphasis on innovation while integrating its rich history has lent itself to all kinds of thriving small businesses. Wonder what one of those tunnels would be like infused with life? Four stories under street level, Ghost Baby is an underground bar built out of a brewery tunnel with live music, small bites and immaculate design. Creative collisions like this happen often in Cincinnati, making it a perfect romantic day trip for couples that could easily extend into a weekend. For fine dining, the French and Italian restaurant Metropole is another example, sharing space with an art museum. 

You can keep things more casual at Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, Findlay Market , which has dozens of vendors and foodie treats, from arepas to falafel wraps. Donut lovers will want to grab a Donut Passport to follow along the Butler County Donut Trail , but you’ll definitely need a car.

How to get to Cincinnati

The drive to Cincinnati takes about two hours from Indianapolis on Interstate 74. Barons Bus operates out of Indianapolis twice daily, as does Greyhound , but the bus takes about an hour longer than driving. Amtrak has a three-hour train on the Cardinal line to get you to Cincinnati. But plan ahead – there are only three departures a week.

New Harmony, Indiana

Why go: take an architectural tour through a utopian society.

Originally the site of two different attempts at a utopian community, New Harmony has evolved since 1819 to become a hub for artisans who craft textiles, soaps and woodwork. The community also boasts sculpted art and world-renowned architecture. New Harmony’s visitor center, the stunning Atheneum , was designed by modernist architect Richard Meier.

Meander through the New Harmony Harmonist Labyrinth and feel the world slow down with nothing but the puzzle ahead of you. Don’t worry about getting a little lost between the privet hedges – you’ll eventually find your way out.

Architectural enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Roofless Church , an open-air concept meant to encourage a space for all mankind to worship under one roof: the sky. While some find the quiet garden courtyard spooky, others find it serene. The church was designed by Phillip Johnson, known for his modern architecture in New York. The minimalist design of the parachute-like altar makes the church a contrasting site in a town with more than a dozen buildings from the 19th century. 

When you’re ready to shake off the silence, grab a bite and a break at Black Lodge Coffee Roasters , a small batch roastery and coffee shop that serves creative latte flavors like sorghum, sage and bourbon barrel stout. The coffee shop also gives a glimpse into the New Harmony art scene through its monthly artist displays. For more art, the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art presents an impressive collection of fine art from international and local artists. 

How to get to New Harmony 

The journey to this odd little town is longer than the average day trip from Indianapolis. But the drive to New Harmony is well worth it, at just more than three hours, or 180 miles, from Indianapolis. You can get there by taking I-69. Buses and trains don’t operate between Indianapolis and New Harmony, so driving is the only option. 

Close-up of bourbon in glasses in a row on bar

Louisville, Kentucky

Why go: follow the bourbon trail .

What’s a visit to Bourbon City without a bourbon tour ? The Urban Bourbon Trail has a program that provides discounts for different bourbon restaurants and bars around town. Even if you’re not drinking, Louisville is known for its vibrant city culture and culinary landscape, setting itself up to be one of the best Indiana day trips for museums and food. 

The Muhammad Ali Center is an iconic, award-winning museum celebrating the Louisville local’s life. The interactive, three-story museum takes a deep dive into the story of the greatest boxer of all time while engaging visitors in civil rights issues of the 1960s and '70s. If you enjoy museums in general, the Louisville Legends Ticket will give you access to the Muhammad Ali Center as well as three other top Louisville museums:  the Kentucky Derby Museum , the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and the Frazier History Museum , which just so happens to be the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail .

While Louisville is known for its bourbon and sports legends, the city is also the birthplace of the Modjeska candy, a marshmallow caramel sweet. Muth’s is the sweet tooth’s paradise and the perfect place to try it.

When evening comes around, the rooftop bar at Copper and King presents a stunning view of the Louisville skyline and sunset.

How to get to Louisville from Indianapolis

To get to Louisville from Indianapolis, drive 112 miles along I-65. The trip takes a little under two hours. Alternatively, you can take Greyhound to Louisville. Multiple buses make the trip every day between the two cities. Depending on the departure time you choose, Greyhound takes from two to three-and-a-half hours.

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TravelAwaits

Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

8 Fantastic Day Trips From Indianapolis

day trips near indianapolis

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  • Indianapolis
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I have always enjoyed traveling throughout the state of Indiana, and there are many fantastic day trips from Indianapolis that you should know about. I have found some communities that I find myself wanting to return to, over and over, after being in town less than one hour. You know you have found a fantastic town to explore when you can’t seem to get enough of everything. Each of these towns is within a 3-hour drive of Indianapolis and worth every moment of your windshield time.

I was hosted in some of these destinations as a FAM Trip guest. All opinions are my own.

1. Hendricks County

Hendricks County offers a little bit of everything, including outdoor adventure and the arts. Danville is in Hendricks County and has one of the best town squares in Indiana. The beautiful courthouse sits in the middle of town. Nearby you can dine at the Mayberry Cafe while dining on Aunt Bee’s famous fried chicken served on the Andy Griffith Show. Stock up on your fresh fruits and vegetables from Beasley’s Orchard . Nature Valley Ranch offers a great lodge with horseback riding. Sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee with a view of the lake makes this a winning choice for lodging in Hendricks County.

A unique experience is tie-dying at The Tie Dye Lab . You choose an item to tie-dye with assistance from trained staff. You will walk away with a colorful item of your choice. Glass blowing is popular at Indiana artisan Lisa Pelo’s glass blowing shop . Lisa and her team will help you create a fabulous work of art with your choice of colors. Hendricks County is a short 10-minute drive from Indianapolis, making this an easy destination to visit.

Waterfall in Richmond, Indiana.

2. Richmond

Richmond, Indiana, sits on the Indiana/Ohio State Line. The Chocolate Trail is not to be missed. Indulge in fine chocolates of all types while exploring Richmond. History comes to life at the Wayne County Historical Museum , featuring incredible antique cars and more. The charming downtown area is home to several shops that make Richmond the ideal girlfriend’s getaway. From the downtown to the parks, Richmond has a lot of areas that you can safely stroll and take in some incredible views. Summertime brings flower gardens in full bloom in several of the parks. 

On your return to Indianapolis, stop at the Warm Glow Candle Company at Exit 145. Stock up on the incredible scented candles and products that this candle company has to offer. Plan to spend 30 minutes shopping for treasures at this fun stop. Richmond is an hour’s drive from Indianapolis on I-70.

3. Fort Wayne

From an incredible children’s zoo to boutique shopping, you will find adventure in Fort Wayne, Indiana . It’s not uncommon to find the well-known Vera Bradley products in several boutiques and shops in Fort Wayne. I have several Vera Bradley travel bags and would highly recommend them to anyone that travels a lot. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is a top-notch facility for folks of all ages. Don’t let the word Children’s Zoo stop you from visiting.

The attractions at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo are at a level that children can easily view the animals. This means that everyone can view the animals and have an enjoyable experience. If family history interests you, a visit to Fort Wayne is in order to dive into your family archives at the genealogy center. The genealogy center is wheelchair accessible and it’s easy to spend hours in this complex if you don’t pay attention to the clock. You can easily fill a full day with the zoo, shopping, and a visit to the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library will complete your day.

South Bend, Indiana.

4. South Bend

South Bend, Indiana, is a college town, and it knows how to shine. Notre Dame University is in South Bend, and a visit to South Bend should include a tour of the campus. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is an incredible experience and worth going to see. Car buffs will love the Studebaker National Museum , as the Studebaker shines in this fantastic museum. The History Museum & Oliver Mansion still sticks out as one of the finest mansions that I have ever set foot in.

The historical museums in South Bend are top-notch, offering kids activities, artifacts, and a mansion to write home about, featuring 38 rooms. Not only was the history of the home showcased, but the history of agriculture was also present in the Oliver Mansion. A full day of exploring in South Bend also needs to include a visit to the South Bend Chocolate Company . South Bend is a 2-hour drive from Indianapolis.

Indiana Dunes National Park.

5. Indiana Dunes

Many people think they need to hop on a plane to experience a fabulous beach. Did you know that Indiana has an incredible beach in the northwest part of the state? Indiana Dunes National Park offers a beach, hiking, biking, and stunning views of Lake Michigan. The prairies and woodlands surrounding the area make it a beach opportunity unlike any other in the country. You can take a stroll on the beach with a pair of binoculars in hand for an incredible birding experience. Memorial Day to Labor Day is the busiest time of year. Spring and fall offer beautiful weather and fewer crowds and make it my favorite time of year to visit. A 2.5-hour drive from Indianapolis makes this an epic adventure for the day.

6. Morgan County

Morgan County sits approximately 45 minutes south of Indianapolis. The outdoor adventures in Morgan County are second to none. The small towns in Morgan County are proud to show visitors what they have to offer. Community pride shines here. Old Town Waverly Park offers historical buildings and a beautiful hiking trail that leads to stunning river views. Old Town Waverly Park is one of several parks in the area that is sure to keep you occupied. A fun surprise in Morgan County is all of the murals that you can find throughout the county. History comes to life in many areas of this town that is a short drive from the metropolis of Indianapolis.

Hamilton County in Indiana.

7. Hamilton County

Hamilton County, Indiana, is a short 30-minute drive from Indianapolis and offers some incredible experiences. The sculpture walk in Carmel is second to none. I always enjoy strolling through the town and looking at each of them. It always seems that each one has a story to tell. A visit to Hamilton County would not be complete without a visit to Conner Prairie. This complex is where you can learn how earlier residents lived in the area in the popular 1836 Prairie Town. On my visit to Conner Prairie, I saw the beautiful balloon that sits on the property. It was closed on the day that I visited, but it was clear that this was a highlight for many visitors.

K-Trails adventures at Strawtown Koteewi Park offers an opportunity for you to enjoy a horseback ride. Guided trail rides and sunset rides are popular trail rides for participants. If it’s been years since you have been on a horse, this is a fantastic trail to hop back on a horse. The trail travels through the wooded areas and offers some incredible views of the wide-open spaces. If you are like me, I appreciate a knowledgeable trail guide and a horse that does not wander off the trail. Horses do have minds of their own, making your trail guide the most important person on the ride. 

Bloomington, Indiana.

8. Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana, is home to Indiana University, making it a city that everyone knows about. University towns are always buzzing and busy with things going on. Bloomington is not any different. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a quiet place to visit, The Wylie House . This historic home is where Indiana University’s first president, Andrew Wylie, lived. On the day that I visited, several students from the university were painting individual wall hangings on the lawn. I quickly saw that this house was a home that was well respected within the town. A highlight of my visit was the Christmas cactus that was blooming in the middle of summer.

Kirkwood Avenue is the most recognizable street in Bloomington. The shops, restaurants, and shopping experiences are endless. You can see street art in several places throughout the town. The Sample Gates, built in 1987, serves as the gateway between Indiana University and the community of Bloomington. These gates are the most photographed place in Bloomington. Nature, incredible dining experiences, historical sites, and unique shopping make Bloomington a fun day trip from Indianapolis.

Each of these places offers something different to do in one day. You can choose to spend one day in these communities, or you may find that you are having so much fun that you need to stay overnight. All types of lodging are offered in each of these destinations, from hotels to motels, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds. There’s something for everyone in each of these locations. Make your day a fun day, and hop in your car and find a fantastic day trip from Indianapolis.

Related Reading: 

  • 10 Adorable Small Towns In Southern Indiana
  • 8 Best Experiences At Indiana’s Brown County State Park
  • How To Spend A Perfect Day In Quaint New Harmony, Indiana

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101 family day trips and staycation ideas around indianapolis.

Remember, it's always best to follow each link to get details about your visit directly from your destination, since some places operate seasonally or by reservation, as well as to check each venue's COVID requirements (masks, limits, social distancing).

Free activities and splurges that are worth it. The coolest stuff for a staycation in town and road trips for less than a tank of gas from Indianapolis. Kids Out And About has tons of ideas for family travel, with places to explore, learn, and have fun!

KidsOutAndAbout is America's online guide to everything for kids, teens, and families! If you don't already receive our free weekly e-newsletter, sign up today to make sure you're in the know about free stuff, festivals, classes, camps, vacation ideas, and all the best events near you!

Explore Gardens and Sculpture Parks

Get wild on a hike, time travel today, make life a beach, splash into some water fun, spend the day at a museum, explore these cities, all aboard planes, trains, and automobiles (and boats), grow some fun at the farm, treat yo' self, connect with nature, amuse yourself at these amusement parks, talk to the animals, explore the globe close to home, let's go chasing waterfalls, get active indoors, challenge yourself, shop your heart out.

Limiting our list to 101 ideas meant some great destinations may have been left off the list - if there is something you’d like to see added, share it with us on Facebook !

Most of these destinations are within an hour from downtown Indianapolis. For those that are a bit farther away:

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Winter Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Indianapolis

Some of our favorite places to visit on cold winter weekends..

The holidays have come to and end and it’s easy to want to hide out at home until spring is here. However, if you are up for a little exploring, there are many things to do that are just a short drive from Indianapolis.

Brown County – 1 hour 15 minutes drive

At just over an hours drive from Indianapolis, Brown County is well known for beautiful fall foliage but there is still lots of fun to be had even after the leaves have fallen. There are many wineries, restaurants, boutiques and local art to enjoy and keep out of the cold. We highly recommend the signature pulled pork nachos at Big Woods Brewing .

Perfect North – 1.5 hour drive

A crisp snowy weekend is perfect (see what we did there) for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing! Bring your own snacks and drinks or enjoy some of the treats the lodge has to offer. Their website says they are making fresh snow for this weekend so book your passes quickly!

French Lick – 2 hour drive

French Lick our favorite weekend getaway in Indiana. We love the peaceful setting and there is truly something for everyone. 

The West Baden Springs Hotel is absolutely beautiful and filled with history. It was even once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” largely in part to its incredible glass atrium in the center. The French Lick Springs Hotel is stunning and historic as well, but also has a casino, spa, restaurant, bowling alley – and more!

Big Splash Adventure is the third major hotel in French Lick and features a 40,000 sqft indoor water park.

Pokagon State Park – 2.5 hour drive

While this trip requires a bit more driving, it’s well worth the trip. In addition to miles of scenic trails and a full calendar of activities, there is a quarter-mile, toboggan run where you can experience speeds of 35-40 mph. The inn also has an impressive brunch on Sunday mornings.

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Clocking in at just under five hours from Indy, Put-in-Bay is a tropical getaway in the middle of Lake Erie just off the shore of northern Ohio. You’ll take a ferry to the island and find live music, nightlife, great shopping and food, as well as plenty of things to keep you busy! Rent a golf cart to tour the island in style! If the party atmosphere isn’t your style, take the ferry over to nearby Kelleys Island for a more peaceful, secluded atmosphere.

Travel Time: 4h 51m / 276 miles

2. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

The Island in Pigeon Forge

Is there anything better than looking up and seeing the Smoky Mountains in the skyline while you play mini golf, ride an alpine coaster, or walk into a gigantic replica of the Titanic? Pigeon Forge is a family friendly destination with lots of fun attractions, entertainment, and one of the best theme parks in the country – Dollywood! Best of all – you’re a hop, skip, or a jump away from the nation’s most visited National Park. If you’ve never seen it in person – it’s a life changing experience. Nothing like it! And admission to the park is absolutely free. Pigeon Forge is also home to one of the neatest crime museums I’ve ever seen – Alcatraz East Crime Museum is definitely worth a visit!

Read: Top 10 Things To Do in Pigeon Forge

Travel Time: 5h 50m / 391 miles

3. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee City Hall at night

Milwaukee may be known worldwide for cheese and beer but there’s so much more!  You can keep busy for several days exploring places like the  Harley-Davidson Museum , the  Milwaukee Public Market , and watching the famous wings open on the  Milwaukee Art Museum .  If you love a good festival – Milwaukee has lots and lots of them including the world’s largest music festival each summer.  The city has an endless amount of great food for all tastes, and don’t forget the beautiful views of Lake Michigan.  Take the time to explore some of the historic downtown neighborhoods and don’t leave without buying a bag of fresh cheese curds for your road trip home.

Travel Time: 4h 9m / 279 miles

4. Dayton, Ohio

day trips near indianapolis

Dayton is best known as the place that gave birth to modern aviation. The Wright Brothers called Dayton home and the city is full of historic places that will give you a front row seat to the history of the “flying machine” which is how the first airplane was trademarked. One of the original Wright Brothers bicycle shops is still in tact, and you can see an original Wright Flyer at the Carillon Historical Park. Take a ride over to Huffman Prairie Field where the brothers tested out there invention or tour the mansion where they lived. Best of all – Dayton is home to the Museum of The United States Air Force – an unbelievable airplane museum that consists of four different hangars and impossible to see in a single day. See rare military aircraft and even go on board a retired Air Force One plane. And it’s free!

Travel Time: 2h 11m / 117 miles

5. Parke County, Indiana

day trips near indianapolis

Parke County, Indiana is best known as the “covered bridge capitol of the world”! Located less than than two hours from downtown Indy, you’ll find a great relaxing destination with some much needed peace and quiet. You can grab an old fashioned map (remember those?) at the local visitors center and then set out to find as many of the historic covered bridges as you can, making it a perfect romantic getaway. Consider booking a room or campsite at Turkey Run State Park, Indiana’s most popular state park, for your home base. They offer brand new, minimalist cabins as well. The park has plenty of great hiking trails for all skill levels.

You can check out my post on visiting Parke County for other tips and suggestions:  This is the Covered Bridge Capitol of the World

Travel Time: 1h 40m / 78 miles

6. Adventures On The Gorge – Lansing, West Virginia

day trips near indianapolis

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most impressive architectural feats in American history. One of the many daring activities offered through  Adventures On The Gorge  in Lansing, West Virginia is called “Bridge Walk”. You can literally walk along the catwalk beneath the third highest bridge in the U.S. It’s not for everyone, but an unforgettable experience for thrill seekers! During your stay at the adventure resort, you can zip line, climb trees, enjoy incredible sunsets, and of course – some of the best whitewater rafting in the world.

Travel Time: 5h 50m / 372 miles

7. St. Louis, Missouri

Soda Fountain at Union Station

The Gateway to the West is more than just the country’s tallest national monument. (630 feet high, in case you were wondering – and yes, you can take a tram all the way up to the top.) Saint Louis is home to Forest Park, which is bigger than New York’s Central Park, and full of free attractions like the Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum and yes – the award winning Saint Louis Zoo, which is only one of two major zoos in the America with free admission. Enjoy a great meal on “The Hill” – the last still thriving Italian neighborhood in America and take your kids to City Museum – one of the most bizarre, yet incredible places in the midwest. Tour Budweiser, take a stroll at the Missouri Botanical Garden, or try some St. Louis style thin crust pizza or toasted ravioli! Yum!

More fun:  Here are 10 “quirky” things to do in St. Louis!

Travel Time: 3h 35m / 243 miles

8. Springfield, Illinois

day trips near indianapolis

This is a great road trip idea for history lovers – Abe Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois! You can spend an entire weekend exploring where Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature, worked as a self-taught lawyer, and lived with his family. You can tour the only home he ever owned which is beautifully preserved along with the neighborhood where he lived. Lincoln is also buried in the local cemetery beneath a massive tomb. You can also enjoy some Route 66 history and tour the state’s capitol building as well as the Governor’s mansion.

Travel Time: 3h 11m / 213 miles

9. Holland, Michigan

day trips near indianapolis

If you thought Holland was in Europe – you are correct!  But, America’s Holland is located in Michigan and it’s a cool town worth exploring.  Pick up a pair of wooden shoes and walk along the streets of downtown for great shopping and lots of dining options.  (Fun fact:  the streets of downtown Holland are heated so they don’t have to plow snow in the winter. Genius!)  Holland is also home to the only authentic Dutch wind mill that is still operational in the U.S.  If tulips are your thing – visit during the annual  festival  each spring.  The Holland Bowl Mill is also very cool – ask them for a quick tour of the production and find a one of a kind wooden bowl to take home!

Bill’s Advice:  I eat a lot of pizza when I’m on the road and Holland has one of the best pizza places I’ve ever been to.  It’s called  Fricano’s Pizza  and sometimes, I have dreams about it. 

Travel Time: 3h 40m / 235 miles

10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

day trips near indianapolis

Famous for having more bridges than any other U.S. city, Pittsburgh is a terrific destination for a weekend or extended getaway. You can take in a baseball game with beautiful views of the Sixth Street Bridge, take a ride on the historic Duquesne Incline, or visit the city’s quirky bicycle museum. If you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, Pittsburgh was his home town and you can spend a day exploring all things Mr. Rogers – including seeing the very sets from the iconic television show and his puppets!

Check out my story: Finding Mr. Rogers in Pittsburgh .

Travel Time: 5h 21m / 360 miles

11. Owensboro, Kentucky

day trips near indianapolis

Just south of Evansville is the bluegrass music capitol of the world – Owensboro, Kentucky. If you like the idea of watching local bands in a barn, taste testing bourbon, eating good barbecue, or catching catfish – you’ll love this place. Owensboro is also home to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and music legend Bill Monroe. You can even tour his childhood home .

Travel Time: 3h 10m / 197 miles

12. Cincinnati, Ohio

day trips near indianapolis

There’s a lot to see and do in Cincinnati! One of my favorite museums – The American Sign Museum is alone worth the road trip. Downtown you’ll find some fun places to eat, catch a game at Great American Ballpark, or take a stroll along the Ohio river on the beautiful hiking and biking trails. If you take a short drive (or walk) across the bridge downtown you’ll wind up in Covinginton, Kentucky. This historic town that was once notorious for gangsters is now a lovely area with dining and shopping, plus great views looking back at the Cincinnati skyline. Speaking of “skyline” – Cincy’s famous chili is available all over town. (I’m not personally a fan – but a lot of people like it!)

Travel Time: 1h 42m / 112 miles

13. Madison, Wisconsin

day trips near indianapolis

The state capital of Wisconsin is constantly ranked as one of the best places to live in the U.S.  Madison is also a fun college town with lots of things to do – though its best to visit in the spring and summer months if you hate cold weather.  My favorite thing to do in Madison is the Dane County Farmer’s Market that wraps around the entire Capitol building. Patrons all walk in one direction to shop for fresh produce and local goods.  Of course, State Street is full of action – all seven blocks between downtown and the University of Wisconsin campus. You can find food (140 restaurants!) unique stores, and plenty of entertainment day or night.

Bill’s Advice:  Tour the beautiful Wisconsin State Capitol, and enjoy some time relaxing near the water.  (You can ice skate in the winter months)  For a quirky stop – a short drive to Middleton will get you to the  National Mustard Museum ! 

Travel Time: 4h 51m / 330 miles

14. Nashville, Tennessee

day trips near indianapolis

Music City USA has seen a major boom in recent years. Along with the treasures that have always made Nashville great, there are brand new attractions and businesses making it one of the hottest cities in the south.  For country music fans – the Hall of Fame is a great bet, along with a tour of the  Ryman Auditorium  and  Grand Ole Opry.   These days, Broadway is a happening street akin to Times Square in New York City.  Bars, live music, and plenty of good people watching.  Check out an exact replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park, and be sure to try some authentic Nashville Hot Chicken while you’re in town!

Bill’s Advice:  Nashville is great for a weekend but definitely plenty to do for an extended visit or vacation.  It’s also one of the most popular cities on the list – which means it’s going to be busy.  Brace yourself for crazy traffic, higher than average prices to park your car downtown, and lots of people.  To save a bit of money, consider staying in one of the many communities that surround Nashville or out near the airport.  If you’re a country music fan – the George Jones Museum is a must! If not, you can still check out the rooftop bar on the fourth floor with great views of the river. 

Travel Time: 4h 10m / 288 miles

15. Door County, Wisconsin

Al Johnson's Door County

One of the prettiest destinations in all of the midwest is Door County, Wisconsin. With its welcoming small communities, abundance of outdoor adventure, and of course – cherries galore – it makes for a perfect road trip. Be sure to check out the goats walking atop the roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish restaurant in Sister Bay, take a sunset cruise from Fish Creek to capture some beautiful photos, and of course if your timing is right – pick some fresh cherries in one of the many orchards in the area.

Bill’s Advice: Be sure to pop into the Wisconsin Visitors Center and pick up a cheese map! You’ll find every location for fresh cheese and cheese curds all of the state. It’s fantastic!

16. Louisville, Kentucky

day trips near indianapolis

Of course most people know Louisville as the place where the famous Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made, but that’s just the start!  Downtown Louisville offers a wide variety of attractions from the Muhammad Ali Center to Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby takes place.  For an adventure – try out the world’s only underground zip line at Louisville Mega Cavern or a cruise on the historic Belle of Louisville.  Lots of great restaurants for all tastes and cool places to stay including 21c and The Galt House Hotel.

Bill’s Advice:  Louisville is a great weekend trip!  If you love Kentucky Fried Chicken, pay your respects to Col. Sanders himself.  His grave site is a short drive from downtown.  Just follow the yellow line at Cave Hill Cemetery and you’ll find it.  Don’t be surprised if you see a bucket of chicken sitting on the tombstone.  No, seriously. 

Travel Time: 1h 43m / 113 miles

17. Quad Cities, Illinois/Iowa

day trips near indianapolis

Talk about getting your bang for the buck – how often do you get four destinations packed into a single stop?  The Quad Cities is made up of five towns that share the Illinois-Iowa border.  (Yes, “quad” makes no sense as there are five and not four – but believe me, they know.)  It’s best known as the world headquarters for John Deere, and visitors can tour multiple historical spots that tell the story of the famous company.  Take a quick side trip up to LeClaire on the Iowa side to see where the show American Pickers began.

Bill’s Advice:  Try some Whitey’s Ice Cream while you’re in the region because it’s amazing!  It is seriously so good that it’s the first thing I want to do when I pass through the region.  I’ve interviewed the family that owns it – and they’re very nice! 

Travel Time: 4h 30m / 306 miles

18. Fort Wayne, Indiana

day trips near indianapolis

Fort Wayne is probably not a spot that’s been on your radar but Indiana’s second largest city has a lot going on.  Its minor league baseball stadium is award winning and its local library is known as the best genealogy research center in the country.  The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is one of the best designed kid-friendly zoos around and a brand new, beautiful  riverfront project  has injected new energy into the town.  You’ll also find lots of opportunity for outdoor recreation.

Bill’s Advice:  For something unique, visit the headquarters for Sweetwater – one of the largest music and instrument stores in the world.  Vera Bradley is also headquartered in Fort Wayne and has events during the year.  

Travel Time: 1h 57m / 126 miles

19. Indiana Dunes National Park

day trips near indianapolis

So let’s be honest, Indiana isn’t exactly a great place to live if you crave frequent road trips to the ocean. Florida? California? Better save some money for gas. However, it’s an easy trip to some of the beaches along beautiful Lake Michigan. Often underrated are the northern beaches of the midwest which are often less crowded, cleaner, and have sunsets that are just as beautiful. You can check out:  Indiana Dunes  for info on places to stay and things to do in the region. You can sit back and relax, rent a paddle board or kayak and watch your kids burn off energy running up and down the impressive sand dunes.

Travel Time: 2h 16m / 153 miles

20. Columbus, Ohio

day trips near indianapolis

Columbus, known to locals as “C-Bus” is the capitol city of Ohio. It’s been going through major growth over the last decade and is a destination worthy of a road trip. The sprawling downtown is easily accessible with the new CBUS Circulator, free to use for visitors. Check out the Short North Arts District for galleries, dining, and locally owned shopping. Local attractions include the Franklin Conservatory and Botanical Garden, the COSI Science Museum, Columbus Art Museum, and the Columbus Zoo which is one of the best in the country. Be sure to take a free tour of the Ohio state capitol building as well!

Travel Time: 2h 36m / 176 miles

Top 20 Road Trip Ideas From Indianapolis

  • Put-In-Bay, Ohio
  • Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Parke County, Indiana
  • Adventures On The Gorge, West Virginia
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Springfield, Illinois
  • Holland, Michigan
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Owensboro, Kentucky
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Door County, Wisconsin
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Quad Cities Region
  • Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Indiana Dunes National Park
  • Columbus, Ohio 

day trips near indianapolis

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One Day in Indianapolis Itinerary – Top things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis, colloquially known as Indy, is the most populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana and also its capital. Choosing Indy as your traveling destination is definitely a great idea because the city offers world-class attractions, amazing restaurants, and great neighborhoods open to be explored. Although quite small, Indianapolis also has some beautiful sights and wonders to be discovered, so if you are able to stop by for only 24 hours, there are still plenty of things to unwrap. This is a short guide that will help you find your best entertainment options while visiting this city, even if only for one day.

One day in Indianapolis Itinerary

Plan your trip to Indianapolis

1. What’s the best time to visit Indianapolis? 2. A few facts about Indianapolis 3. One Day in Indianapolis Itinerary 3.1. Start with a visit to the Children’s Museum 3.2. Get breakfast at Milktooth 3.3. Walk down Mass Ave 3.4. Choose your tasty lunch 3.5. Visit Monument Circle 3.6. Explore the Indy Zoo! 3.7. Check out the Canal Walk 3.8. Dine at the St. Elmo’s Steak House 4. Where to stay in Indianapolis, Indiana? 5. Day trips from Indianapolis 6. Extra tips for visiting Indianapolis

What’s the best time to visit Indianapolis?

The best time to visit Indy is at the end of spring and the beginning of fall. This is when the weather is at its best and you can feel free to savor all of the city’s activities. You can book a ticket to a concert venue, visit your favorite museum, or walk through Indy’s peaceful parks. Since Indianapolis sees such extreme polar weather conditions (it can get super cold in the winter and very hot in the summer), your best bet is picking a month where the cold and heat balance each other out. So, September through November and May are your optimal months to visit Indy.

Indianapolis

If, however, you’re here for Indy’s major events, you might want to look at different dates for your plane ticket.

The most important events to check out in the winter are:

– Christmas at the Zoo , during Christmas. Great for kids. Enjoyable due to Indy’s hot drink season, festive choral music, and awesome train rides.

– IPL Yuletide Celebration . Enjoy a true Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Christmas.

– Carmel Christkindlmarkt , during Christmas. A European Christmas market worth seeing.

Events during spring:

– The Indianapolis 500 . Features Race Day and the Miller Lite Carb Day. The IPL 500 Festival Parade is also popular.

– The Indiana State Fair . Amusement park rides and concerts, fair food.

– Fourth of July . Always fun to explore.

– Symphony on the Prairie . Listen to soothing classical music and watch a fantastic firework show.

– Concert at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center . The coolest and biggest music venue in the state of Indiana. You could see Future, Coldplay, Blink 182, etc. LIVE.

– Watch any Indianapolis Colts Game.

– Get the Headless Horseman experience , a yearly tradition.

A few facts about Indianapolis

If you’re excited about coming to Indy, here are some facts that’ll excite you even more. Did you know that Indianapolis replaced Corydon as the state capital in the year 1821 and that it is the largest major U.S. city not located on a navigable river? The White River passing through Indy is too shallow for that.

Indianapolis Downtown

Indy also features the third largest cemetery in the United States, encompassing 555 acres. Here, John Dillinger , Whitcomb Riley , and Benjamin Harrison are all buried. On the bright side of things, Indy also features the largest Children’s Museum in the world and The Slipper Noodle Inn , one of the city’s most popular bars!

Indy is also called the “crossroads of America” because it has the most interstate legs in the U.S. Here, Elvis Presley held his last concert; the venue was called the Market Square Arena and was demolished in 1977. And if you’re visiting Indy, you must see Eagle Creek Park ! It is one of the largest municipal parks in the country.

Central Canal, Indianapolis

Don’t forget to take another look at the major events happening in different seasons. Indy’s most beautiful when it is celebrating!

One Day in Indianapolis Itinerary

The coolest thing about spending only 24 hours in a city is that you get to experience everything at once! From local cuisine, to nightlife, and sights, everything is presented to you on the spot. This makes your trip even more spontaneous and intense, turning one day into a great learning experience. Take our advice on how to spend one day in Indy and have a blast.

Start with a visit to the Children’s Museum

You’d regret not visiting this beautiful museum if you’re visiting Indy. With kids or not, this place is a must-see because of its family vibe and cool dinosaurs.

Indianapolis Children's Museum

Walking through the aisles you might feel like a child again; and it’s worth it. P.S. – you can learn how to control the snow in a snowstorm!!!

Indianapolis Children's Museum

Get breakfast at Milktooth

This is probably one of your best restaurants in the world. Jonathan Brooks, the charming owner, offers amazing traditional breakfast and brunch foods for anyone willing to try. From Dutch pancakes to grilled cheese and potato latkes, you can literally try anything on the menu and be convinced that it’ll taste great.

Milktooth, Indianapolis

Walk down Mass Ave

After a tasty breakfast, you’ll want to walk down Mass Ave . Here, you can get a quick taste of the local shops and attractions that Indy has to offer. You can bike all the way from Milktooth to Mass Ave if needed. Make sure you pass by Global Gifts, Silver in the City , The Best Chocolate in Town , and The Flying Cupcake . All of these small, local shops are a must-see.

Indianapolis Downtown Architecture

Choose your tasty lunch

There are plenty of options available for lunch, so your selection palette is not scarce. If you want something traditional, stop by the Indianapolis City Market . You can have anything from vegan to meat-based! Some of the best spots we recommend are Three Carrots , The Spice Box , Circle City Soups , Gomez BBQ , and Mauricio’s Cheesesteak Grill . Don’t forget to pack a delicious snack for later from Twenty-Two Juice or Pat’s Philly Pretzels !

Visit Monument Circle

Your next stop is Monument Circle , where you’ll find out how the Circle City got its nickname. You’ll get to see the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (especially pretty if you’re here during the Christmas season) and will be able to ride through downtown Indy on a horse-drawn carriage!

Monument Circle, Indianapolis

Explore the Indy Zoo!

Tell your carriage to drop you off at the Indy Zoo , where you can experience more than 31,000 types of plants and 1,400 animals. This is how you’ll burn off some of your energy before heading to the dinner place.

Indy Zoo, Indianapolis

Check out the Canal Walk

Before your dinner, explore the Canal Walk . You won’t regret it. If you’re able to arrive when the sun sets, your day will end more beautifully.

Indianapolis Canal Walk

The Canal Walk is a calm, peaceful sidewalk along the White River, so ending your day with a slow walk after such a long day is a must.

Dine at the St. Elmo’s Steak House

You cannot leave Indianapolis before trying its world-famous steakhouse. St. Elmo’s been around for decades and it’s the best dining venue around. Their killer steaks blend well with their shrimp cocktails and spicy sauces! This is a must-try!

St. Elmo’s Steak House, Indianapolis

After that, head back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. You could wake up early and run to the General American Donut Company on East St. to get a delicious donut before catching your plane.

Where to stay in Indianapolis, Indiana?

Drury Plaza Hotel, Indianapolis

Drury Plaza Hotel

9625 North Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46290

While it isn’t exactly located in downtown Indianapolis, Drury Plaza Hotel is nevertheless an excellent place to stay. This beautiful hotel serves a fantastic breakfast, and every room is exceptionally clean, with a private bathroom and a coffee machine. Add to that a jacuzzi and a pool, and you get absolutely everything you need for a pleasant stay.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Ironworks Hotel Indy, Indianapolis

Ironworks Hotel Indy

2721 East 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240

You will absolutely love the design of this place because Ironworks Hotel Indy has a unique industrial charm that permeates its every room. But it is in no way lacking in any respect. Quite the contrary – the rooftop lounge will blow you away, and the restaurant is excellent, as well. If you want a special place to stay, this is most certainly it.

Conrad Indianapolis

Conrad Indianapolis

50 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Conrad Indianapolis is at the very heart of this beautiful city and boasts five stars and impeccable service. Apart from large rooms and an excellent spa, it also has a great wine tasting bar, so all your senses will be sent into overdrive. The staff really makes you feel welcome here, and you will certainly be getting your money’s worth if you decide to book a room.

Indy Hostel, Indianapolis

Indy Hostel

4903 Winthrop Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46205

Looking for something more affordable? Indy Hostel will oblige! Bright, clean, and comfortable, it’s everything you could want from a hostel and more. It’s located in a quiet neighborhood, but you’re reasonably close to downtown Indianapolis, which is another big plus. Relax and enjoy your stay!

Day trips from Indianapolis

Should you decide to stay more than one day in Indianapolis, you may be tempted to go on a day trip to see some of the more interesting places in the vicinity. Here are a few suggestions you should definitely keep in mind.  more of an explorer, here are some of the best day trips destinations from Indy.

Patoka Lake

A wonderfully serene place surrounded by lush greenery, Patoka Lake is an ideal destination for your day trip from Indianapolis if you want to take a break from that hectic city life. Take a boat trip or even book a floating cabin to bring this trip to a whole new level.

Shipshewana

Shipshewana is something tourists may find quite fascinating because this lovely little town is the heart of Amish Country. Yes, that means carriages pulled by horses and a trip to the past, but don’t miss out on the local food, either. Oh, and they have a huge flea market here, too.

State Parks

There are plenty of state parks around Indianapolis, so you have plenty of options to choose from if you want to spend your day trip in nature. Brown County is perfect in autumn, Pokagon has plenty of wildlife, and Indiana Dunes are quite a sight to behold. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong.

Marengo Cave

Marengo Cave is a majestic system of caverns that offers plenty of activities to any visitors. Sure, you can explore all of that with the help of a guide, but you can also mine for gemstones on your own! You will see some fascinating formations and enjoy a wonderful day out.

Your choice should be based on the season in which you’re visiting and the budget you have when arriving. You could plan ahead to worry less when getting here. But nevertheless, don’t forget to have some fun!

Extra tips for visiting Indianapolis

Here are some of the things you did not know about Indy. It’s time you discover them before your arrival.

– The weather is unpredictable, so make sure you’re packing well.

– The city’s design makes it easy to navigate, so don’t worry about getting lost.

– Public transportation is not very common, but you can walk or bike.

– The local food is one of the best in the U.S.

– Always pick the craft drinks when hanging out at a bar or restaurant!

– This city is beautiful and there’s a giant community to be explored.

– Indies are super friendly and open, so you’ll make friends easily.

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip.

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully. Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times. Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

Related posts:

Michael Gorman

Michael Gorman

Michael Gorman is one of the best essay writers and proofreaders from the UK currently working at bestcustomessay.org . Being interested in everyday development, he writes various blog posts for another essay writing service and discovers new aspects of human existence every day.

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Indiana Audubon hosts winter eagle watch trips

day trips near indianapolis

Indiana Audubon is hosting a series of winter eagle watching field trips at the Salamonie Reservoir located between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

Winter is a great time to go eagle watching, Indiana Audubon ’s Whitney Yoerger said. The birds of prey are in their winter gatherings leading up to breeding season and usually congregate together around open waters.

Groups will caravan along the reservoir to observe the eagles.

When are the eagle watching trips?

The trips are scheduled for Saturday and Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. and cost $5 for Indiana Audubon members and $10 for non-members.

Registered watchers will meet at the Lost Bridge East SRA parking lot near the boat launch to being the caravan that will travel to a few different areas with the eagles feed and roost.

Registration is limited and the trips are filling up quickly. Head to indianaaudubon.org/events to register.

What to bring while winter birding

If you’re heading out with Indiana Audubon, Yoerger said participants can bring binoculars, but if they don’t have a pair, the guides have spotting scopes available.

It’s winter in Indiana, so dress warmly and pay attention to the weather forecast before leaving.

Pack a lunch or some snacks and fill up a thermos with coffee or tea to help stay warm.

More coverage: Lead shot in deer carcasses is toxic to eagles, other animals. DNR wants hunters to change

How can I see eagles if I can’t make the trip

Indiana Audubon’s trips fill up quickly, but Yoerger said there are plenty of opportunities to spot the grand birds in the state. They tend to congregate near large, open waters like big lakes and ponds or reservoirs.

Eagles are large enough that binoculars are not always needed, but juveniles are a bit more difficult to spot.

“It’s great to spend extra minutes just enjoying and watching their behavior,” Yoerger said. “It’s probably one of the coolest things listening to their calls back and forth when they’re hunting. Just soak in the experience of those birds.”

Indiana Audubon’s upcoming events

The organization is also working on its Indiana Dunes Birding Festival in mid-May, which features a multi-day experience within the Indiana Dunes National Park.

Before the festival, there are other birding activities for those interested. Raptors and waterfowl are the focus until about mid-March, then once April comes around, there will be songbird and others species events.

Indiana Audubon hosts a monthly Feathered Focus virtual event . It will also host a beginners waterfowl walk on March 16 at Eagle Creek

Karl Schneider is an IndyStar environment reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter  @karlstartswithk

IndyStar's environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.

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