Amish buggies in Shipshewana, Indiana

7 Most Idyllic Small Towns In Indiana

First admitted to the Union as a state in 1816 as the 19th state, Indiana has a long and storied history at the crossroads of the Midwest. Home to the Indianapolis 500, it's a mecca for racing fans. However, the state has more to it than just racecars. It also has many idyllic small towns that offer beautiful forests, gorgeous riverside vistas, and rich historic districts. The next time you are in the Midwest, consider visiting one of these seven idyllic small towns in Indiana.

French Lick

Aerial view of the Historic West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana.
Aerial view of the Historic West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana.

French Lick is a hidden gem in Southern Indiana, featuring some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. The West Baden Springs Hotel was once called the Eighth Wonder of the World for its 200-foot atrium and soaring towers, making this a brilliant site to see even if you aren't staying in the hotel. The town is full of other beautiful sites as well, such as the French Lick West Baden Museum, which features the world's largest circus diorama. Take the French Lick Scenic Railway through the Hoosier National Forest and Burton Tunnel for a more natural adventure. While you are exploring French Lick, make sure to try out the French Lick Winery for some locally produced wine.


Main Street in Nashville, Indiana
Main Street in Nashville, Indiana. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

While often overlooked due to the city in Tennessee, Nashville, Indiana, has both natural wonders and charming boutiques. Home to the Brown County State Park, which has been nicknamed the Little Smokies due to how similar it is to the Great Smoky Mountains, this beautiful park has almost 16,000 acres of hills, ravines, and more. This is the largest park in the entire state and has nearly 20 miles of roads and vistas to explore. Nashville itself is a rich art town, which you can see on display at many galleries such as A W Mathis Primitive Paintings, Amy Greely's New Leaf Gallery & Studio and Anabel Hopkins Fine Art/Les Nympheas Studio. One of the best ways to see the small town is to take a carriage ride with Brown County Carriages.


Amish buggies in Shipshewana, Indiana
Amish buggies in Shipshewana, Indiana.

Located on the border between Indiana and Michigan, Shipshewana is known for its beautiful woods, wetlands, prairie hills and rich Amish history. It has the 3rdlargest Amish population in the US and, as such, has many local Amish businesses and delicacies you can try out, such as the Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery. The most idyllic feature of the town is the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, a 17-mile trail that goes in and out through the Northern Indiana countryside, with many Amish farms, ice cream, and food stops along the way. Shipshewana is also renowned for its quilts, which you can see by traveling the Barn Quilt Trail.

Beverly Shores

A train station in Beverly Shores, Indiana
A train station in Beverly Shores, Indiana. Image credit: Ɱ via Wikimedia Commons.

Located on the banks of Lake Michigan, Beverly Shores offers relaxing days on the beach without the noise of more crowded beaches. First founded in 1927 by Chicago real estate developer Frederick H. Bartlett, it is now home to 606 people. The primary draw of the town is the Indiana Dunes National Park. At this park, you can spend your time exploring the sand dunes or dipping your feet into the sand or water of Lake Michigan. Kemil Beach is the closest beach to the town, but there are other natural wonders to see nearby, such as Mount Baldy, located a few miles away in Michigan City.

New Albany

New Albany, Indiana.
New Albany, Indiana, on the shores of the Ohio River. Image credit: Mikehallna via Wikimedia Commons.

Located on the shores of the Ohio River, this small town has many picturesque historic and natural sites to see. Take a bike ride or hike along the Ohio River Greenway, a paved trail that runs for 7 miles along the Ohio River to Clarksville and Jeffersonville. Explore some of the historic houses in the town's mansion row, including the 19th-century Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site and Pepin Mansion. New Albany is also home to the beautiful Stained Glass Gallery, housed inside the historic Town Clock Church, where you can see many works of stained glass art. New Albany is located at the foothills of Floyd Knobs, which you can also visit to see the serene Mt. St. Francis Monastery, which has many trails to hike and meditate.


The view of Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison Indiana,
The view of Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison, Indiana.

This quirky Ohio River town is a great spot to relax and explore, as Madison features some of the best natural sites in Southern Indiana. For example, the Clifty Falls State Park features ten trails and waterfall views, while nearby Hanover College has three miles of trails throughout the college campus, including The Point, the best spot to see the Ohio River Valley. For architecture admirers, consider visiting some of the town's historic homes, such as the Lanier Mansion State Historic Sites, which offers guided tours. One of the most interesting spots in town is the Springdale Cemetery, with beautiful marble statues and graves dating back to 1844. The cemetery is also the resting place of many Civil War veterans, including one of the first to charge across the corn field at the Battle of Antietam.

New Harmony

The Labyrinth at New Harmony, Indiana.
The Labyrinth at New Harmony, Indiana.

New Harmony has a unique history as the site of multiple utopian experiments in the 1800s, particularly the Harmonists. The impact of these utopians is felt throughout the town today with its many idyllic spots to sit back and reflect. For example, the Harmonist Labyrinth features concentric circles of privet hedge for you to explore, while the Cathedral Labyrinth mimics the original at Chartres Cathedral, a 12th-century French cathedral. For garden lovers, the New Harmony Garden provides tours of the town's formal gardens. For another hidden spot, consider visiting Our Lord's Woods, a trail that runs along a lake with a turquois bridge and art and poetry placed along the trail. This idyllic small town is perfect for a weekend getaway.

The Hoosier state of Indiana may not be the most well-known in the Union, but that doesn't mean you should leave it off your travel plans. For small-town lovers, the gentle hills of Amish country, the unique labyrinths of New Harmony, and the lush waterfalls of Madison are among the best in the country. These small towns have idyllic trails, architecture, and much more to experience. The next time you are looking for a small-town adventure, consider visiting Indiana.

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