Indiana is a scenic state with plenty to offer residents and visitors alike. From urban gems in Indianapolis to sprawling nature parks, the state is full of beautiful attractions. Work up an appetite while you explore the Hoosier State with this helpful guide of the 16 most fascinating places to visit.
1. Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run State Park is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. The park, characterized by deep ravines and canyons surrounded by towering trees, is one of the prettiest places in Indiana. A suspension bridge that spans Sugar Creek leads to several of the park’s marked trails. On the trails — a mix of easy, moderate, and rugged difficulties — you can take in the view on foot or horseback.
While you trek through the greenery, keep an eye out for historical sites, including a log church dating back to the 1870s, an early pioneer home, and the Narrows Covered Bridge. Turkey Run has campgrounds, cabins and an inn if you want to spend more than a day in the park. The park is open all year long, so you can visit anytime. Check the weather and plan your hiking and camping trips accordingly.
2. The Indiana Dunes
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is the state’s very own national park. The park spans 15 miles along the coast of Lake Michigan and a total of 15,000 acres of land. Visitors flock to the Indiana Dunes to swim and spend the day on the beach, but the national park is about more than the waterfront. The Indiana Dunes is also home to 50 miles of hiking trails that wind through different natural habitats, including wetlands, prairies and forests.
The park is open all year, so your ideal visit depends on your outdoor activity preferences. If you want to spend the day out in the water, summer is the best season to come to the dunes. If you like getting outdoors in winter, the Indiana Dunes offer plenty of spots for skiing and snowshoeing. The flowers of springtime and the changing colors of fall offer visitors a dazzling color display, too.
3. Cataract Falls
The Midwest, generally regarded as flat land, is not the first place you’d think to look for waterfalls. But, Indiana’s Cataract Falls is a sight worth seeing. The falls, located on Mill Creek in Owen County, are a rush of water that drop 86 feet. Visitors can take photos or simply watch the water from a bridge that stretches across the creek. A half-a-mile trail runs between the upper and lower falls.
The waterfalls are part of a state recreational area, which is open from sunrise to sunset. Pack a picnic to eat at one of the covered pavilions and spend the day out by the falls.
4. Clifty Falls State Park
Clifty Falls State Park attracts visitors with its stunning views of natural waterfalls and downtown Madison. The stunning terrain of the park was formed by the movement of water and glaciers during the Ice Age.
The park is open all year, but the waterfalls are seasonal. They are at their largest and most powerful during the winter and spring, fed by snow and rain. During the summer and fall, the water flow is more of a gentle, though still beautiful, mist. During the warm months, visitors can swim in the park, while hiking and camping are available options any time of year.
In addition to the outdoor beauty, the state park is also home to a mansion at Lanier State Historic Site.
5. Indianapolis Artsgarden
If you are looking for beautiful places to visit in Indiana, you will have plenty of options in the capital city. The Indianapolis Artsgarden, one of the city’s cultural gems, is a striking seven-story building constructed of glass and steel. Inside, the arts center hosts hundreds of free public performances and exhibits local artists.
Centrally located, Indianapolis Artsgarden is an excellent place to start a day in the city. The arts center is open all year round, but it does host special seasonal events. For example, you can attend the Mistletoe Music Festival in November and December. The center also has a concierge desk with information on many of the other beautiful attractions in Indiana.
6. Monument Circle
Monument Circle is an iconic Indianapolis landmark. The limestone structure was created from 1887 to 1902 and still stands today in the center of the city. Visit Memorial Circle to see the striking tower set against the city skyline. You can step inside to visit the Col. Eli Lilly Civil War Museum on the lower level.
For the most beautiful views, take the 330 steps — or the elevator — up to the monument’s observation deck. From this vantage point, you can see out across the city for miles. The monument’s architecture and the view it affords make it one of Indiana’s prettiest spots.
7. Clayshire Castle
In Indiana, beautiful places are easy to find if you know where to look. In the western central area of the state, you may be surprised to find an actual castle.
Clayshire Castle, a bed and breakfast with a medieval flare, sits on 120 acres of property. The impressive building is paired with amenities like hiking trails, a gorgeous pond, lawn chess and an outdoor hot tub. The secluded location and luxurious rooms create an unforgettable experience.
If you stay at Clayshire Castle, you will also be nearby other beautiful Indiana attractions, such as Cataract Falls, Pine Woods Golf Course and the restored Tivoli Theater. The bed and breakfast is undergoing renovations and reopens in the spring of 2019.
While you can stay any time of year, add a little more excitement to the experience during the fall. From September 28 to 29, Claymore Castle is hosting a Medieval Faire complete with costumes and live entertainment.
8. Clegg Memorial Garden
West Lafayette is well-known as the home or Purdue University. The campus is definitely worth touring, but the city is home to another beautiful attraction: Clegg Memorial Garden. The garden offers a peaceful retreat from the rush of everyday life.
Overlooking a creek, the garden is a natural space that includes flower beds, oak trees and native plants. Visitors are welcome to wander along the garden paths. Just last year, the nonprofit that safeguards the garden added a natural playground to the garden.
Clegg Memorial Garden is open daily in all seasons. Visit in the summer and spring to experience the garden in bloom, or plan a trip in fall or winter for a crisp walk through the native plant life of Indiana.
9. Holliday Park
Holliday Park is a 94-acre park located right in Indianapolis. This urban oasis makes the list of most beautiful places in the state because of one of its unique features. The park is home to The Ruins, a collection of statues that once graced a skyscraper in New York. The statuary is surrounded by towering columns and lush gardens. The contrast of stone architecture and green landscaping make Holliday Park worthy of a visit.
In addition to The Ruins, the park also has 3.5 miles of hiking trails, natural springs, a pond, wetlands and forested land. Though you are still in the city, you may catch a glimpse of deer, foxes and other wildlife. The park is free and open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset. The Ruins are an impressive sight no matter the season.
10. East Pierhead Lighthouse
Indiana’s location next to Lake Michigan makes its northeastern shoreline one of the most scenic places in the state. If you’re wondering what vantage point offers the best view of the iconic Midwestern lake, Michigan City East Pierhead Lighthouse is a good place to start.
The lighthouse dates back to the 1800s, the earliest days of Michigan City. Today, the tall white and red structure set against the deep blue of the lake makes a picturesque spot. Visitors come to walk the length of the pier, photograph the lighthouse and even fish. The lighthouse is also noteworthy for its place on the National Register of Historic Places.
11. Hoosier National Forest
Hoosier National Forest sprawls across 200,000 acres and nine Indiana counties. Within that vast stretch of forest, visitors have access to 266 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The major lakes of the national forest, including Celina Lake, Indian Lake, and German Ridge Lake, attract both boaters and fishing enthusiasts. The national forest is also a popular spot for camping, picnicking and birdwatching.
While beauty surrounds you at every turn in Hoosier National Forest, you can capture some of the best views by taking a scenic drive. The Ohio River Scenic Byway will take you along the Ohio River and Indiana shore. Catch the changing colors of the forest during autumn, or come in spring to see the dogwood and redbud trees in bloom.
12. Sunken Gardens
The Sunken Gardens, located in Huntington, are often used for wedding photos and special events. Once you see this botanic attraction, you will understand why so many people want to photograph its natural beauty. A part of Memorial Park, the Sunken Gardens look like something straight from the pages of a fairytale. The garden, located below ground level, features towering trees, fountains, a pond and a gazebo. A winding path gives a peaceful place to walk through the green space. The garden and park are easily accessible from downtown Huntington.
13. Market Street Catacombs
Catacombs may call to mind the maze-like network beneath the streets of Paris or the networks within the pyramids of ancient Egypt, but you can find them right in Indiana. The Market Street Catacombs are the remains of an 1800s building that burned to the ground in the 1950s. Today, the building’s basement remains beneath the street’s of Indiana’s Whistler Plaza at City Market. The remaining brick and limestone are beautiful if slightly haunting.
There are not many ways to access the Market Street Catacombs — you will have to schedule a tour to get a glimpse of this underground spot. Tours of the catacombs are fairly limited, as well, running only on select Saturdays May through October. Keep in mind the catacombs will likely be cooler during the autumn months. If you want to add this to your Indiana bucket list, you will need to plan ahead.
14. Indiana Caverns
There is more to Indiana than what you see on the surface. The Indiana Caverns, located just outside Corydon, includes the state’s longest cave. At more than 100 feet underground, visitors can tour the breathtaking caverns on foot and by boat. Though perhaps an unconventional kind of beauty, the ancient rock and water of the caverns are undeniably breathtaking.
Tours range from just a couple of hours to the more challenging four-hour deep darkness tour. For a fun group activity, work together to break free from the caverns’ escape rooms, or stay above ground for an adrenaline rush on the Bat Chaser zip line. The Indiana Caverns are open every day of the year except Christmas and Thanksgiving.
15. Bluespring Caverns
The Indiana Caverns are not the state’s only underground spot. Descend below the ground into the Bluesprings Cavern Park for a unique and starkly beautiful experience. Families and groups can sign up for individual or group tours of the extensive network of caverns. The Bluesprings park also has above-ground activities like a gemstone mine, a natural area with trails and picnic spots.
Bluesprings Caverns is a seasonal activity, open daily from mid-March through October. While the season may suggest warm weather, come prepared to go below ground. Once in the caverns, you will need a light jacket to stay warm during the tour.
16. Sapphire Natural Pool
White Rock Park in St. Paul, Indiana, is an aquatic wonderland. The park is filled with natural swimming pools that people use for swimming, cliff diving, fishing and even scuba diving. Sapphire Natural Pool is one of the park’s most stunning attractions. The natural pool is named for its impossibly blue water. The park allows camping and rents private firepits if you want to stay after you’ve had your fill of playing in the water. Indiana experiences those chilly Midwestern winters, so Sapphire Natural Pool and White Rock Park are best experienced during the sunlight and heat of summer.
Whether you’re looking for a place to refuel before your next stop or searching for a restaurant to end the day, Giordano’s is the perfect spot. Stop at one of the three Giordano’s Indiana locations for delicious, unforgettable deep dish pizza.