Close to the confluence of the Little River and Wabash River, Huntington is nicknamed “The Lime City” for the many quarries and kilns here in the mid-19th century
In fact, one of the city’s loveliest features is the enchanting Sunken Garden, which was planted in a former limestone quarry in the 1920s.
Forks of the Wabash, the river confluence just west of downtown, has real historical significance as the site of the Chief Richardville House and Miami Treaty Grounds, on the National Register of Historic Places
From the 1830s this was also a terminus for the Wabash and Erie Canal, which was a catalyst for Huntington’s early development.
1. Sunken Gardens
One of only two gardens of its kind in the country, the Sunken Gardens were landscaped in the 1920s on the site of a disused quarry close to downtown Huntington.
The Chicago Landscape Co. turned this from an eyesore into an idyllic public space, reached by a stone stairway and sheltered on all sides by the high limestone walls of the former quarry.
A large, horseshoe-shaped pond with fountains trails through the garden and is crossed by a pair of beautiful stone bridges.
At the center is a wooden gazebo encircled by flowerbeds, understandably a favorite spot for wedding photographs.
2. Historic Forks of the Wabash
You can’t exaggerate the importance of this site where the Wabash and Little Rivers meet on the west side of Huntington.
The Forks of the Wabash was the scene for Miami settlements and a number of Miami Councils in the 19th century.
It was here in 1838 that the Treaty of the Forks of the Wabash was signed, ceding a big portion of reservation land in Indiana to the Federal Government, eventually leading to the removal of the Miami.
French and English traders had passed through during the 18th century, and in 1835 this became the first section of the Wabash and Erie Canal.
This varied heritage is remembered with an exciting outdoor museum preserving remnants of the canal, the 1827 home of Miami Chief Jean Baptiste Richardville (1761-1841), a schoolhouse from the 1880s and the Nuck Log House, a pioneer log house raised in 1841.
3. Huntington County Historical Museum
Previously based in the courthouse, this museum moved to its spacious current location in 1999.
What you’ll find is an absorbing trip down the centuries, from prehistory through the time of the Miami Indians, French voyageurs and the Wabash and Erie Canal, up to the present.
Especially interesting are the artifact-rich reconstructions of a Victorian parlor, drugstore, 1940s farmhouse, as well as the abundance of memorabilia for the military, local sports teams and long-running businesses in the county.
In this vein there are several examples of cedar chests, produced by Caswell-Runyan a highly-regarded manufacturer based in Huntington in the early 20th century.
4. Downtown Huntington
Threaded by Jefferson Street and leading north from the impressive Huntington County Courthouse (1904), there’s a cute downtown area adding new shops and restaurants by the year.
This is also an historic district with more than 100 contributing buildings, the oldest going back to 1845.
Along Jefferson Street you can admire restored storefronts in a host of styles, from Italianate to Chicago School.
Within these walkable few blocks you’ll find a growing list of stores for furniture, sewing supplies, candy, musical instruments and records, along with art studios and the new Huntington Arts and Entrepreneurial Center.
5. Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center
For many years Indiana was a swing state in United States presidential elections, which could explain why it produces so many vice presidents.
One is Republican Dan Quayle (b. 1947), Vice President under George H. W. Bush. Quayle went to Huntington North High School and practiced law in the city in the 1970s.
In the Old Plat Historic District is the only learning center in the country for a vice president. The location is the converted former First Church of Christ, Scientist, with two grand Ionic pillars in its porch.
The center is on two floors. Downstairs there’s a gallery dedicated to vice presidents, in particular those from Indiana, all with at least one accompanying artifact. Upstairs is a theater and a collection of memorabilia from Quayle’s time in office.
6. Salamonie Lake
Southeast of Huntington, on the way to Wabash, there’s a gigantic reservoir on the Salamonie River, built for flood control in the mid-1960s.
Covering a vast area, Salamonie Lake has a few recreation areas on its shores, for fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, camping and many more activities.
A great starting point is the Lost Bridge State Recreation Area on the south shore, which has a fabulous beach, campgrounds for every taste, a marina, disc golf course, fishing pier and access to six different trails, including the 13-mile Bloodroot Trail through woodlands and open fields.
This sets off from the Interpretive Center, which warrants a visit for its interactive exhibits, natural and cultural history displays, children’s room, wildlife viewing area and live animal exhibits.
7. Zip Timber Lake
Camp Timber Lake, in the northeast of Huntington, has long been a local destination for fishing, boating, swimming and hiking.
Recently this has also become the perfect setting for something more adventurous, courtesy of spectacular guided zip line tours.
There are eight zip lines here, with dual zips and scenic lake zips, as well as sky bridges and a range of other climbing elements.
Zip Timber Lake is the only place in Northeast Indiana where you can zip line, and there’s a choice of adjustable packages, depending on ability/experience levels, how much time you have and how well you can handle heights.
8. Two-EE’s Winery
Opened in 2013, this award-winning winery is by U.S. Route 24 in Indiana, to the northeast of Huntington.
The name comes from the owners Emily and her husband Eric, whose long-held interest in viticulture resulted in a certificate in enology from U.C. Davis.
Two-EE’s puts an emphasis on lesser known wine varietals, like its bold and smoky Tannat, or crisp Grüner Veltliner, or its intense Primitivo.
Something recommended for first-time visitors is the guided tasting experience, in which knowledgeable servers will help you discover the ideal wine for you.
You can order a charcuterie board, pizza and many more bites to pair with your wine, while there’s a lively lineup of events, with food trucks, live music and yoga, to name a small few.
9. Huntington Arts and Entrepreneurial Center (HAEC)
You can get in touch with Huntington’s art scene at this facility in the historic UB Block opposite the courthouse.
This complex, combining a gallery, classrooms, studio spaces and apartments, includes the handsome Odd Fellows Hall (1889).
The center took up residence in the summer of 2019 and is intended as a creative hub for Huntington, continuing the revitalization of the historic downtown area.
There’s a lot going on here, with free art exhibitions for talented local artists in a wealth of media, as well as public creative workshops, ceramics classes and culinary classes in a cutting-edge commercial kitchen.
There’s a packed events calendar too, featuring artist receptions, live performances, coffee mornings, drum circles and much more.
10. Rustic River Outfitters Canoe & Kayak Rentals
At the Ole Saw Mill in Mount Etna, 15 minutes from downtown Huntington, this bar/restaurant/event venue is also an outdoor adventure business, renting out canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.
The scenic three-acre property backs onto the Salamonie Reservoir and the Salamonie River, with access to more than eight miles of riverway.
So this is the perfect starting point for a water adventure, whether you want to paddle along the meandering river or savor the wide open space of the reservoir.
Rustic River also offers access to the Wabash River, with a variety of routes available, from four miles to 18 miles.
11. Lime City Trail
Huntington has a network of shared-use trails that have gradually spread throughout the city in the last decade.
Under the HARTA (Harta Area Recreational Trails Association) umbrella, these paths have been given consistent wayfinding signage, and are now a reliable way to navigate the city.
You can get from the university to downtown, and travel along the banks of the two rivers and into numerous interconnected parks.
Arguably the backbone of this system is the Lime City Trail, a mile-long journey next to the Wabash River in the west of Huntington, taking you as far as the Historic Forks of the Wabash. On the route are numerous information signs about the history of Wabash.
12. Yeoman Park
Northeast of downtown Huntington there’s a community park brimming with recreation facilities.
One is the Hayes Lemmerz Skate Park, with all kinds of equipment including slide rails, fun boxes, wedges and quarter pipes. Also here is an Olympic-standard BMX pump track that attracts riders from across the state.
There’s also a playground, geared more towards younger children, as well as soccer fields, a lighted baseball diamond and a pavilion.
With new signage unveiled in 2021, Yeoman Trail is on the Erie Rail Trail, linking the fairgrounds in the south with Gragg Street by Huntington University. This trail is on the right of way of the old Erie Railroad, and crosses a beautiful old bridge on the Little River.
13. Tel-Hy Nature Preserve
Within ten minutes of downtown Huntington you can be at this beautiful patch of nature on the winding Wabash River.
From the Hebrew words for “high” (tel) and “life” (hy), the Tel-Hy Nature Preserve is posted on a riverbluff, with sublime views of the Wabash.
These 40 acres contain riparian and upland woodlands composed of willow, sycamore, maple, hickory and beech, with stunning wildflowers in spring and summer.
There’s a 1.1-mile trail network through the preserve, and you can spot birds like wood thrushes and scarlet tanagers in the trees, as well as wood ducks on the water.
14. GQT Huntington Drive-In Theater
This drive-in theater opened way back in 1950, making it one of the oldest still operating in the United States. The season runs from April through around October, and start times tend to fluctuate as the show doesn’t begin until after sunset.
A second screen was added about ten years ago, and both have high-end 4K digital projection systems for perfect clarity.
You’ll get double features of the latest blockbusters for less than the price of one movie at a normal cinema. You can listen via the old-time in-car speakers or through FM radio, and there’s a concession stand for all your favorite movie theater treats.
15. Sheets Wildlife Museum
Huntington man, Sumner B. Sheets (1927-2012), was an interesting character to say the least. From the early 1960s, he embarked on hunting and fishing expeditions all around the world.
By today’s standards, his trophy-hunting exploits might be frowned upon, but later in life Sheets donated his entire collection to Huntington County, and also set up the maintenance fund for the museum that holds it.
What you’ll find at the Sheets Wildlife Museum is an educational display of scores of animal specimens from several different continents, many presented in lifelike dioramas.