In the true United States Midwest, Indiana is well-known for its farmland and the popular auto race, the Indy 500. While Indianapolis is a sprawling metropolitan center, why not head outside the city and explore some of the enchanting rural countryside that Indiana has to offer?
With sprawling plains that seem to stretch for miles around, or rivers looping lazily through, there are beautiful gems awaiting you and fun activities sure to please all ages and walks of life.
Check out our list of the best small towns to visit in Indiana:
1. Williamsport, Indiana
A town located in Washington Township, Warren County, Williamsport is the county seat. Nicknamed “Side-Cut City” for the short canal dug in an attempt to draw shipping traffic from the nearby Wabash and Erie Canals; Williamsport is the largest town in the county and has the county’s single hospital. The fairgrounds here also host the annual Warren County Fair if you’re headed through during the fair!
Take a stroll through downtown Williamsport – Old Town boasts a lovely view of the Wabash River and buildings listed on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures such as the Presbyterian Church and the Tower House. There is also the historic Warren County Courthouse that has been standing for over a hundred years now! Have a slice of pizza at Biggy’s Pizza before going to Mind Song Books to browse their eccentric collections. Don’t forget to visit the Williamsport Falls, which are the highest falls in the state and located in downtown as well.
2. Patriot, Indiana
Patriot is located in Posey Township, Switzerland County. No, it is not Europe, but it is along the lovely Ohio River! Patriot is as resilient and dedicated as its name would imply: it has survived fires and floods and stubbornly remains standing to this day. Visit their historic post office and check out this sturdy town.
Don’t forget your walking shoes when you head out to Patriot and check out their hiking trails or attend their local festivals. Patriot boasts one of the best shoreline viewpoints along the river. Head out to the Ohio River and bring a kayak, or a fishing pole if that is more up your alley. Wander around in the afternoon at Posey Park and don’t miss out on quaint Main Street.
3. Stinesville, Indiana
A town in Bean Blossom Township, Stinesville is a part of Bloomington, Indiana Metropolitan Area. Originally founded when the New Albany and Salem Railroads extended that far, it was named after its first owner. Stinesville has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1995. If the idea of a historic town in a place named Bean Blossom isn’t endearing enough, the quiet pace is perfect to disconnect.
Stop in to check out the Stone Quarry Festival in September for live music, arts, dancing and a parade! True old town America charm describes this place. You can always check out Treadle Anne’s Custom Civil War Era Clothing and stroll around downtown’s historic buildings.
4. Spurgeon, Indiana
Located in Monroe Township, Pike County, Spurgeon is another quaint, small Indiana town – the population is just around 200! Originally called Pleasantville, the name was changed in the 1800s to Spurgeon. However this has done nothing to alter the cheery manners of the locals, who do indeed make it a pleasant place to visit or live. Its historic post office was built in 1866 and is still open to this day.
Spend some time in this pleasant town and wander the old streets that have so much history. A former tobacco town that has since turned to mining at the Enos Coal Mine, a tipple called Old Ben #1 is a few miles outside the town. Bring a fishing pole and drive out to the nearby Patoka State Fish and Wildlife Area or drive down Country Road 150 E to see the lakes and creeks surrounding the town. At the Interlake State Recreation Area, activities abound: take a whirl on an ATV or climb those hills!
5. Buck Creek, Indiana
Part of Lafayette Indiana Metropolitan Area, Buck Creek is in Washington Township. It was originally named Transitville, but I think we all agree that Buck Creek has more appeal. While it is small, there are many sources of trade here: the cultivation of grain and other agricultural endeavors keep the farmers busy and the town happy.
Take a sojourn into the country, maybe go on a hayride or if you’re a hunter, check out the different opportunities available in the area. Or spend a day at the Columbian Park Zoo if you’d prefer to interact with animals that way, and spend the evening at the Wildcat Creek Winery.
6. Pine Village, Indiana
A tiny village in Adams Township, Warren County, Pine Village used to be a trading post in the 1800s. The town formed around this and has been established since 1851. For those trivia lovers out there, they did once host a professional and prominent football team in the mid-1910s. Spend an afternoon in the town park getting to know the friendly locals and ask them about it!
Pine Village also offers the opportunity for good meal or two. The Windy Mill or Arni’s are popular local choices in Warren County, or if you’re in search of a nightlife scene, go to Brummett’s Village Inn for a few drinks and to listen to some music. There are many options in the region for sportsmen: Big Pine Creek hunting reserve if nearby or there are plenty of fishing opportunities at the Wabash River, not to mention the gorgeous nearby Fall Creek Gorge.
7. Monterey, Indiana
Monterey is located in Tippecanoe Township, Pulaski County. Monterey goes back to before the Mexican American War, and was originally named Buena Vista. The name was changed to commemorate the Battle Of Monterey, in which the Mexican Army of the North was defeated by a United States’ force of Regulars, Volunteers and Texas Rangers.
No battles are waged here though, and you should visit Monterey for some peace and quiet, Stop in for a drink or a bite to eat at the local pub, Denton’s Corner Tavern, or spend the afternoon at Hartz Lake. The county offers plenty of attractions for nature lovers. Drive out to Tippecanoe River, one of the top-10 most important freshwater systems in North America. Take your bike for a spin on the Panhandle Pathway, a biking/walking path that spans more than 20 miles.
8. Riley, Indiana
Formerly known as Lockport, Riley is a town in Vigo County. Its previous name is attributed to the importance of its location during the construction of the Wabash and Erie Canals, and was a noteworthy tradition point along the canal. While the waterway closed in 1873, the railroads were kept the community a center point for trade in the area. The town changed its name to Riley in the early 1900s and shifted towards the coal mining industry.
Riley is a part of the Terre Haute region and has many outdoors activities for the avid sportsman. If you like shooting, the Riley Conservation Club might interest you. A wildlife conservation that promotes shooting sports, the club is comprised of several acres that include a rifle range and hunting sections, as well as a lake for fishing. There are ample hiking opportunities at Deming Park, and you can always cool down with a pint or two at Terre Haute Brewing Company afterwards.
9. Shamrock Lakes, Indiana
No, this isn’t located in Ireland and you won’t see any leprechauns lurking around clover patches, but this town in Blackford County is ideally situated at a group of 6 lakes that were created in the 1960s. It is one of only five places in the US that is named after Ireland’s emblem, the shamrock!
A town with an appreciation of classic Hollywood, Shamrock Lakes hosts an annual James Dean festival for all those movie buffs out there. There is also a Run Rod and Custom Car show. Check out the New Bremen Historical Museum or the Blackford County Courthouse if you’re into history. Stroll through Hoosier Park and end the day with a cool drink at Mississinewa Tavern.
10. Merom, Indiana
Located in Sullivan County, Merom is also a part of the Terre Haute Metropolitan Area. “Merom” commemorates the Battle of the Waters at Merom, a battle written about in a book of the Bible, Joshua, about the conflict between Israelites and the Canaanites and in which the Israelites triumphed. While there is no archeological evidence that this ever took place, this town very much exists in Indiana.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, visit the Bluff Park in Merom to see the Merom Sandstone, which comprises about 55 feet of the bluff’s rocks. Take in the view or snap a photo of this fascinating rock formation overlooking the Wabash River. Take a drive through the idyllic farm field surrounding the town and enjoy the peace and serenity of the countryside.
11. Lake Holiday, Indiana
True to its name, Lake Holiday, a private community in Montgomery County, is located on the banks of Lake Holiday and is noted for the dam which created this lake and the picturesque beauty of the surrounding areas. Why not steal away for a lakeshore holiday here?
There are several parks and beaches along the lake itself, and a fishing tournament is hosted here each May. Camp out at Lake Holiday Campgrounds and enjoy some rest and relaxation, whether you’re catching some rays lakeside or playing games at the recreation hall, there is something for all ages here.
12. Rolling Prairie, Indiana
Think back to those olden days when you pass through Rolling Prairie. Located in Kankakee Township, this small town lives up to its name with its undulating terrain. A former railroad town, Rolling Prairie has maintained a slow-paced life since the first cabin was built here in 1831.
The surrounding lands are ideal for farming; check out local harvests in the summer and spring or go pumpkin hunting in the fall. Garwood Orchards is great for fruit picking. Also check out the Hesston Steam Museum if you’re a train enthusiast. Have a meal at Nowhere Bar & Grill; it will feel like a somewhere destination before you are finished!
13. Star City, Indiana
A true gem tucked away in Pulaski County, Star City formerly bore the less flattering name of Scarborough. Changed by popular vote of the citizens in 1861, the town is as charming as the new name implies. Come here to disconnect from the city and enjoy the countryside again.
Play a couple rounds of golf at Pond View Golf Course, or even take some lessons if your swing needs some work. You can also visit Apple Blossom Honey Farm, a honey haven for those with a sweet tooth, or Jones Dairy Farm, the first ever robotic dairy in Indiana! Finally, relax over a delicious meal at Oak Grove Restaurant before continuing on your way.
14. Dune Acres, Indiana
Dune Acres is in Westchester Township, Porter County, perched atop the Indiana dunes along the south shore of Lake Michigan. A lakeside resort village, the clubhouse, Dune Acres Clubhouse, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sits atop one of the tallest dunes on the Lake Michigan Indiana shores.
Dunes Acres has spectacular views of Chicago and is connected to the South Shore Line Commuter railroad if you don’t want to bring the car. Boasting diverse ecosystems, the area is a paradise for botanists. Check out the tranquil town for the views and relaxed atmosphere, and remember to bring your camera.
15. Ambia, Indiana
A little town in Hickory Grove Township, Benton County, Ambia was founded in 1975 by Ezekiel Talbot. He decided to name the town Ambia after his daughter, Ambia Talbot. Such a sweet gesture, isn’t it? This town continues to charm long after its original and very charming founders passed.
Stroll along the Ambia Alumni Monument Park, or check out Wolf Park, located in Benton County if you are feeling brave. You won’t be able miss the wind farms that now dot the countryside of Benton County – it is home to the first wind farms in Indiana and one of the largest areas of Wind Farms in the United States! You can even take a tour if your curiosity demands.