From its sprawling farmlands to the renowned Indy 500, Indiana is a state that embraces its unique heritage. Whether you're a nature enthusiast seeking outdoor adventures, a history buff craving intriguing stories, or an antique lover looking for hidden treasures, Indiana's best small towns have something delightful in store for you. Prepare to embark on a journey of exploration and discovery as you immerse yourself in the charm and warmth of Indiana's small-town communities. It's time to embrace the slower pace, soak up the local flavors, and create unforgettable memories in the heartland of America.
Greenfield, a community about 10 minutes from Indianapolis, is the birthplace of James Whitcomb Riley, a noted poet whose work inspired "Raggedy Ann" and the beloved musical "Annie." A noted ambassador for the state in the early 1900s, Riley's mark is throughout the town, including at Riley's Boyhood Home and Museum, Riley Park (a fun playground), and the Riley Festival, one of the biggest craft festivals in the state.
The small city of Goshen is home to the Goertzen Pottery shop as you explore the town for antiques and handcrafts. While in the city, play a visit to the Goshen Theater's latest live performances or spend the day at the Kercher Sunrise Orchard learning about the area's farms.
Corydon is one of the best places to stop when you want an outdoor adventure. Start by exploring the Indiana Caverns, the perfect place for a long hike. Then, book a zipline adventure at Squire Boone Caverns or Eagles Wings Zipline. After getting your heart racing, go swimming or fishing in O'Bannon Woods State Park. You can also charter a boat into the water for a relaxing sunset cruise.
Historic Aurora is a small community with a strong passion for its waterfront. If you're looking for a way to get out onto the water, you can rent a sailboat, do some jet skiing, or take a boat tour at sunset. You can also ride on the historic steamboat along the Ohio River for a step back into history. Then, check out the Hillforest House Museum, a fascinating museum focused on the region's history.
A tiny community in southern Indiana, Nashville is a fabulous place to visit to tour a winery or two or to spend some time hiking along the covered bridges. For art lovers, it's home to the Brown County Art Gallery and Brown County Art Guild, two of the best art galleries in the region. Other locations include Anabel Hopkins Fine Arts, Eli's Gallery and Framery, and the Emerald Pencil, noted for its curiosities.
Metamora is the only canal town in the state, and one of the best ways to experience that is with a horse-drawn canal boat ride. It's a fascinating look into the importance of the canal system in the area. You can also check out the water-powered historic Metamora Gristmill and the Whitewater Valley Railroad for a 30-minute ride.
Williamsport is noted as one of the many places in the state for a fun hike into densely wooded areas. One treat for those who explore the area's most sought-after hike is Williamsport Falls. It's right near the town center and is the state's tallest waterfall. It's only about a 1.6-mile loop trail that's fairly easy, even for inexperienced hikers. While here, check out the historic Warren County Courthouse.
For those who love a good, fun golf course that's not too challenging, check out Zollner Golf Course in Angola. This 18-hole championship golf course is noted for its beautiful scenery and views of Trine University. Enjoy a meal at Mulligan's Restaurant and Pub afterward, or head out onto a boat ride at the Corner Landing. Make a weekend of it by visiting other area golf courses, including Glendarin Hills Golf Club and Lake James Golf Club.
One of the best small towns in Indiana for museum and history lovers is Greencastle. It's home to the Putnam County Museum, which houses a pretty interesting antique rifle collection. You can also check out the Periodic Museum of the Elements for more of a science-filled experience. And, for a bit of culture, visit The Richard E. Peeler Art Center, which is both a gallery and an art history museum.
Winona Lake is a historic area right on the waterfront. While many come for fishing, boating, and hiking, it's also a fun place to shop. Check out the Village at Winona, a fabulous, locally-focused shopping area with locations such as the Canal Street Market, the Mucky Duck (fun pottery here), and The Pottery Bayou. You may also want to browse the goods at Nine Pines Apothecary or stop at the Luxe Studio and Boutique for some pampering.
From the town's architecture to the small shops that line the Main Street area, Madison feels as though you are stepping back about 100 years, especially the downtown historical portion known as Old Madison. It's a nice area for a romantic walk along the waterfront, where you can enjoy the riverfront cafes. You're also only a few minutes from the Indiana Wine Trail, which features five artisan wineries, dozens of antique and craft shops, and a few locally owned restaurants.
Spurgeon's population is under 200 people, which creates an opportunity to step into a densely forested area noted for its creeks, parks, and hiking paths. The Knobstone Trail is one of the best. It's located in Deam Lake State Recreation Area and ends at Delaney Creek Park. If you've wanted to backpack along stunning vistas and through a canopy of trees without a paved road in sight, this is a good place to do just that.
Many know of French Lick because it's the home to a casino by the same name. This small community is also a fun location to go for a spa getaway. Spend some time at one of the luxury spas enjoying a natural spring bath, massage, and rejuvenating skin treatment. You can book a spa treatment alongside a golf package if you like. For something a bit more lighthearted, plan a few hours of go-karting or playing laser tag.
Shipshewana, a noted lakefront township, is a fabulous place for those who want to explore Amish Country. You can easily take home some freshly made bread and enjoy a fantastic meal at the Blue Gate Restaurant. Spend some time at the Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park to see a working farm. From May through September, you can find treasures at the Shipshewana Flea Market. This open-air market is home to hundreds of vendors selling clothing, artisan crafts, food, and more.
Troy's way of life is centered around the Ohio River. The Troy Boat Dock is the perfect place to see the Ohio River, which is quite impressive at sunrise and sunset. There's a boat ramp for easy access to the waterfront and its expansive views. You can rent a small sailboat to do some fishing or try kayaking instead. While you're here, check out the Nester House/Riverplace property. Built in 1841, it's on the National Register of Historic Places and is tied to the Underground Railroad.