Although it’s often overlooked by visitors as a tourist destination, the slow-paced Midwestern state is mostly famous for the Indy 500 race, its once-thriving industrial towns, the Amish communities, and its huge and unwavering passion for sports. Although Indiana has many pockets of true beauty and is home to a hugely diverse range of stunning landscapes including golden lake shores flanked by moody sand dunes, acres of swaying cornfields, leafy protected parks perfect for Fall walks, interesting caves, and prehistoric natural attractions. Here are 15 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Indiana…
1. Indiana Dunes National Park – America’s newest National Park and one of the most stunning places to explore in Indiana
Formerly known as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Indiana Dunes National Park is the 61st national park of the U.S. Located within 40 miles of Chicago, the Indiana Dunes State Park is a part of the national park. Running along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, the majestic national park spreads across 15,000 acres and is definitely a must-see place to visit in Indiana.
Comprising some of the most beautiful diversities with towering dunes, marshes, wetlands, prairies, and vast fields of wildflowers, this charming landscape will continue to enchant you. Hike along with the peaceful forests or dip your toes in the beach, the adventure-filled wilderness is a perfect getaway from the bustling city.
2. Coxhall Gardens – Carmel’s prettiest park which is home to spectacular gardens
A visit to Carmel is incomplete without touring the most picturesque park, the Coxhall Gardens. The 125-acre park was donated to the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation in 1999 by Jesse and Beulah Cox. An oasis amid the sea of homes, the freshly manicured lawns, water bodies, colorful flowers, and an expansive garden makes Coxhall Gardens a popular Indiana destination for visitors and photographers.
This one-of-a-kind park includes a museum, elegant centerpiece, bell towers, a museum, and mirroring ponds with plenty of green space. The serene location is ideal for walking, biking, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
3. Potato Creek State Park – one of the most beautiful state parks to visit in Indiana
Tucked away in north-central Indiana’s South Bend, the Potato Creek State Park was a territory of Native Americans in the 1830s. One of the most visited parks of Indiana, the sprawling state park covers 3840 acres, and Lake Worster being the focal point. Full of mature woodlands, restored prairies, old fields, and diverse wetlands, the park offers a prime spot to get close to nature.
The park – which is definitely one of the best places to visit in Indiana – provides a wide array of activities including hiking, kayaking, swimming, picnicking, mountain biking, birding for your enjoyment. With year-round camping and forested beauty, the campground allows access to some of the best outdoor activities.
4. Washington Park Beach – a stunning sandy beach on the shores of Lake Michigan
Easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Indiana, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the charming beauty of the sandy Washington Park Beach. Spreading across more than 100 acres, the large expanse of beach offers a pretty walkway onto the beach.
Walk out on the Pier or launch your kayaks from the beach, the Lighthouse Museum provides a wonderful history of the area. Sit around and witness the stunning sunset with the Chicago skyline at the backdrop, or enjoy the beach sports along the dunes, the beach is fun for all to enjoy.
5. Indiana State Capitol Building – a neo-classical beauty which is one of the most beautiful buildings in Indiana
Indiana’s statehouse is an outstanding majestic structure rebuilt in 1888 on the previous state capitol building. Designed by architect Edwin May, the current building is the fifth state building located in America’s heartland, Indianapolis. Constructed on Indiana limestone and white oak, the beautiful rotunda has a lovely stained glass with grand staircases on both sides of the building.
Decorated with classical paintings, sculptures, murals, and opulent chandeliers, the stunning architecture sets a perfect model for state capitols around the nation.
6. Brown County State Park – a stunning beauty spot to explore in Indiana
Amidst the winding roads and rugged vistas is Indiana’s largest state park, the Brown County State Park occupies nearly 16,000 acres. Also called, the “Little Smokies” the state park features fog-shrouded ravines, steep slopes, deep gullies, and ridges, and lush forestland. Established in 1929, the park is a memorial to Indiana’s renowned humorist, “Kin Hubbard”.
Indiana’s fall color hot spot, the state park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts with a range of activities including hiking, biking, swimming, camping, and lots more of outdoor fun. Enjoy the scenic vistas of sunrise or sunset or explore the surrounding county and the town of Nashville, this wonderful place takes you a step back in time.
7. Mounds State Park – a unique and beautiful pre-historic state park to explore in Indiana
The tranquil Mounds State Park near Anderson is a Native American heritage comprising unique earthworks built by prehistoric Indians. The largest earthwork, often called the “Great Mound” dates back to around 160 B.C. The mounds were used as a gathering place for religious ceremonies.
Today the peaceful state park offers hiking, camping, and bird-watching and water activities to enjoy all nature has to offer. On the northwest of the park lies the Mounds State Recreation Area. A great place to go and walk around and enjoy the scenery, the park offers fairly easy trails through the woods.
8. Turkey Run State Park – an awe-inspiring geological wonder of Indiana
Discover Indiana’s ancient remains in Turkey Run state park on a trip through time. Located in Parke County, less than 90 mins drive from Indianapolis, the Turkey Run state park is a place to reconnect with nature. Discover the deep canyons of sandstone amid old-growth forests and hemlock groves.
Flowing through the heart of the park is the picturesque Sugar Creek known for fishing and canoeing. The ruggedly beautiful hiking trails, swimming pool, and picnic area offers some of the best places to enjoy a day and relax.
9. Cataract Falls – an Indiana treasure which is home to a stunning waterfall
Nestled in the northern Owen County along with west-central Indiana, the stunning Cataract Falls is the largest waterfall in the state of Indiana and a great beauty spot to explore in Indiana. Part of the Lieber State Recreation Area, the Cataract Falls were formed by ancient glacial bedrock ridges. Consisting of two sets of waterfalls a mile apart on Mill Creek, the flat rocks are great for picnicking, hiking, or just enjoying the view.
The picturesque scenery, rushing cascades, and bubbling waters make it a beguiling and lovely place to spend an entire day.
10. Griffy Lake Nature Preserve – scenic woodlands and beautiful Indiana landscapes perfect for outdoor lovers
A striking preserve teaming up with scenic woodlands and vast fauna and flora, the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is just minutes away from downtown Bloomington. Originally designed as a reservoir, Griffy Lake is now a paradise for nature seekers. Covering a wide area of 1,200 acres, the unique Preserve offers a variety of activities.
Hike along the wooded ridges or rent a canoe, this beautiful spot is perfect for catching some bluegill, largemouth bass, and catfish. A great place to hike and explore, the tranquil lake is a perfect spot for a family picnic.
11. East Pierhead Lighthouse – a beautiful historical landmark to visit in Michigan City
Often called the Michigan City Breakwater lighthouse, the East Pierhead Lighthouse is located in the harbor of Michigan City. Built-in 1904, today the lighthouse has become a historic symbol of Michigan City. The only operating lighthouse of Indiana, the pier and the lighthouse is off the Michigan City Beach.
The elevated lighthouse, popularly called the “catwalk” is a favorite spot of the visitors for watching sunsets. The pier is also a favorite destination for photographers and local artists for a pretty lighthouse picture.
12. Hoosier National Forest – a picturesque hidden treasure in south-central Indiana
Nestled in the lush green hills of south-central Indiana, the Hoosier National Forest is managed by the United States Forest Service. Amid the rolling hills, rural crossroads, and backcountry trails, the beautiful forest spread over 200,000 acres is a local treasure.
Minutes away from Bloomington is Indiana’s expansive national forest with miles of hiking, cycle trails, camping, and amazing sight-seeing activities. With the headquarters in Bedford, popular attractions within the Lick Creek Settlement, and the Potts Creek Rockshelter Archeological Site.
13. Clifty Falls State Park – a popular place for swimming, hiking and camping
The rugged geological splendor of the Clifty Falls state park is known to enthrall visitors with its enchanting beauty. A part of the Indiana state park, the Clifty falls state park is located in Jefferson County. Popular attractions of this state park include the Clifty Creek, Little Clifty Creek, and a canyon.
The Creek’s bed features fossil remnants of the ancient marine ecosystem. Witness the forces of nature at work with the deep cut gorges, sheetrock walls, and plenty of hiking to get the best view of the man-made cave and downtown Madison.
14. Holliday Park – a vast 94-acre city park with great hiking trails which is one of the best places to visit in Indiana
One of the oldest parks of Indianapolis, Holliday Park offers some of the most diverse ecosystems with naturals springs, wetlands, woodlands, ponds, ornamental gardens, and much more. A part of the country estate donated by John and Evaline Holliday in 1916, visitors can stroll around the extensive nature gardens or hike the exciting trails.
Along with the heavily wooded forests, visitors can find innumerable native species of birds and animals and relish the serene beauty of this park.
15. Sapphire natural pool, White Rock Park – for the prettiest waters in Indiana
Named for its pristine blue waters, the Sapphire natural pool in White Rock Park is one of the most stunning attractions in St. Paul. Initially, a quarry, now the natural pool is a great place for novice thrill-seekers. Experience the thrill of cliff diving or go scuba diving, this natural pool is a perfect place to relax and camp.
Bubbling with water sports, you can enjoy serene boating long with this idyllic setting or go zip lining over the blue waters. Explore this stunning place to escape the summer heat of Indiana.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Indiana?
Indiana’s finest time to visit is during the fall season, which runs from September through October.
Indiana’s fall colors are the hallmark of the season. Visitors flock to Indiana during this time in order to experience its beauty. The trees that line the roadways change into a wide spectrum of reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and pinks. It has been estimated that during autumn, over 400 million leaves colorize Indiana’s forests.
Indiana is a vast and varied state with many hidden gems. While it may not be as famous for its natural beauty as other states, what’s waiting to be discovered in the Hoosier State will make any traveler happy if they decide to visit. If you’ve been looking for some more beautiful places of interest to explore during your next trip, here are 15 of the best spots from all across the great state of Indiana that we think should definitely be on your list!
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Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland, UK and the US but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and great football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @scottbalaam