Indiana’s landscape is as varied as the attractions within it. From hills, small towns and beaches to museums, fine dining and world-class sports, Indiana is a place to relax and -- forgive the pun -- restart your engines.
One of the state’s most popular destinations, in northern Indiana along Lake Michigan, is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, home to steep sand dunes, sandy beaches, blue butterflies landing on wild lupines and swallows flying from their nests inside the dunes. The massive lakeshore runs for 25 miles and encompasses 15,000 acres, so the visitor center with maps and trail guides is a great place to start.
The Hoosier National Forest, in the hills of south central Indiana, is 200,000 acres of hardwood forests, rolling hills, waterfalls, back-country trails and rural communities.
In Southern Indiana, the Ohio River Scenic Byway follows the river through. In all the byway is 967 miles long and, in Indiana, the byway is 303 miles long, stretching from Lawrenceberg through Mount Vernon in Posey County on US 50 over US 56, 62, 66 and Interstate 164.
The state is also home to 20,000 Amish people in northern Indiana. You can travel through Amish Country by following the 90-mile Heritage Trail, sharing the road with horse-drawn carriages and stopping off at farmers’ markets or quilt gardens -- blossoms planted in the shape of the quilt patterns. Amish Acres in Nappanee is a 137-year-old homestead that shares the whys and ways of the Amish and still is a working farm, alive with barnyard hens, livestock, gardens and apple orchard.
While Indiana is home to charming small towns, Indianapolis offers a taste of big-city life. Among its museums are the NCAA Hall of Champions, the Indiana State Museum, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The Indianapolis Zoo has an underwater dolphin viewing dome. The Indianapolis Museum of Art is located on 152 acres of gardens and grounds with a permanent collection of more than 50,000 works, including one of the nation’s largest and most significant collections of Asian art.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which held its first 500-mile race in 1911, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the race in 2011. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum houses one of the world’s largest collection of race cars (including more than 30 past winners of the Indianapolis 500), as well as the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Elsewhere in Indiana are nearly 20 automotive museums including the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, and the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum and the Automotive Heritage Museum in Kokomo.
And, of course, Indiana is home to the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers and five minor league baseball teams.