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Did You Know…?
- Santa Claus, the Indiana town, receives more than half a million letters at Christmas.
- The winner of the first 500-mile auto race in Indianapolis (1911) averaged 74.59 mph.
- There are 30 covered bridges in Parke County.
- Indiana was the 48th state to adopt Daylight Saving Time (2006); it has two time zones.
- The Battle of Tippecanoe occurred in Indiana (1811) at a town now called Battle Ground.
From Lincoln to the Indy 500
Indiana is a solidly midwestern state with the requisite rolling hills and farmlands, but it also is a manufacturing state, known for its steel mills and oil refineries.
There is plenty for tourists, too: a Great Lakes shoreline in the northwest; a history that embraces President Lincoln, utopian societies and a long-established Amish community; basketball, a sport much loved in Indiana, and the annual Indy 500 auto race. That race could well be the only thing some people know about the Hoosier State.
Indiana’s piece of Lake Michigan is a water playground. Rural areas offer bucolic backdrops to road trips and encompass numerous state parks, forests and wildlife areas. Also, there is evidence of Indian and pioneer history all over the state.
Indiana is among a group of area states that have claims on President Lincoln; he spent part of his childhood here, and this is where his mother is buried.
The past is writ large at New Harmony, once home to two utopian societies. It was founded in 1814 by the Harmony Society, a group of Separatists from the German Lutheran Society. In 1825, the group sold the town to Robert Owen who aimed to create his ideal community.
The Amish are a small portion of the state’s population, but they have made a large impression with a rural way of life that many find fascinating. There are opportunities for tourists to learn more about this group of residents — and to buy some fine Amish-made products.
Indiana also is home to three notable universities: Indiana University, Notre Dame and Purdue. These schools —aside from their importance as educational institutions —are known for sports, specifically basketball and football.
Nevertheless, most Americans haven’t found their way to Indiana. Those who stop by will find plenty to do and see, from the lush forests and hanging cliffs in the south to the lakeshore and dunes in the north. Shoppers can use the capital Indianapolis as a base to go antiquing in nearby small towns while many visitors come to test the waters of Lake Michigan and the mineral springs at French Lick.
Things to do for Venturers
- Ride the mountain bike trails in the Deam Lake State Recreation Area near Borden and connect to the trails in Clark State Forest.
- Attend the Indy 500 auto race on Memorial Day weekend. Plan this trip well ahead.
- Attend a maple tree tapping workshop in Deep River County Park.
- Camp (with modern or primitive facilities) at Amishville USA at Berne. Tour the house and ride a buggy across the 120-acre farm. Eat Amish-style food at the on-site restaurant, located in the old chicken house.
- Hike Indiana’s longest trail, 58 miles through Clark and Jackson-Washington state forests.
- Test the quarter-mile toboggan track, at speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour, at the Pokagon State Park.
Things to do for Centrics
- Stay at the haunted Old Bridge Inn in Jeffersonville.
- Satisfy your every yen for chocolate during the Week of Chocolate in Bloomington. If you are good at culinary arts, enter the Chocolate Creations Contest. If the timing is right, also attend an Indiana University basketball game.
- Using accompanying audio narrative, drive the Heritage Trail in Amish country in and around Elkhart.
- Bicycle through Parke County as one way to see the area’s numerous covered bridges. If you time it right, you can join a structured Parke County Covered Bridge Bike Tour.
- Attend a historical reenactment event. There are many in Indiana, but Vincennes calls itself the state’s City of Living History. It is the site of separate events remembering the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
- Canoe and camp in Chain O’Lakes State Park. Cross-country skiing is a winter option. Or, try that skiing in France Park, Logansport, or Potato Creek State Park, North Liberty.
Things to do for Authentics
- Visit the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, site of the Lincoln family farm where President Lincoln lived from ages 7 to 21. The park includes a visitor center and museum, a hiking trail, living history farm plus the grave of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks.
- Attend the Buckley Homestead Fall Festival which promises reenactments that cover the time from the area’s fur trade era to the Civil War, plus demonstrations of traditional crafts. Try your hand at making candles or a piece of rope, or play games that date from the time of the Civil War or earlier.
- Buy tickets to a Notre Dame football game.
- Take a guided walking tour of New Harmony, which was home to two early 19th century utopian societies that left a rich heritage in this small town.
- Attend the Parke County Maple Syrup Fair and visit maple syrup camps around the county. Of course, have pancakes with lots of syrup, and buy the locally made syrup. There are several maple syrup festivals in the state.
- Treat yourself to a spa experience in French Lick.
For more information, consult the Indiana Office of Tourism Development at www.visitindiana.com