Overlooking Dearborn Circuit Court Clerk Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

8 Most Charming River Towns in Indiana to Visit in 2024

Indiana is most well-known for the Indy 500 and for the mysterious nickname of its residents: Hoosier. Sometimes referred to as the crossroads of America for its central position for many interstates, the state also has a number of rivers, such as the Ohio River, a major tributary of the Mississippi River. It also contains other rivers, such as the White River up near its capital, Indianapolis. These charming river towns in the Hoosier state have a deep history, culture, restaurants, local attractions, and walking trails to give you something to do no matter the season. Discover eight of the most charming river towns in Indiana to visit in 2024.


The business district on Market Street, Spencer, Indiana
The business district on Market Street, Spencer, Indiana. Image credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock

With a population of just over 2,400, this quaint town on the White River is a joy to visit with its historic buildings and natural attractions. For example, go back in time with the Tivoli Theater, which opened for business in 1928 and was restored in 2013 or visit the Dragonfly Gallery in a building first built in the late 19th century.

Spencer is also home to the first state park in Indiana, McCormick's Creek State Park. See the limestone canyon and waterfalls in the park or hike to the Statehouse Quarry. You can relax at the Canyon Inn afterward or enjoy a wine at the Owen Valley Winery.

New Albany

Sherman Minton Bridge spans the Ohio River between Louisville Kentucky and New Albany Indiana
Sherman Minton Bridge spans the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky, and New Albany, Indiana. Image credit Thomas Kelley via Shutterstock

With a population of just over 37,000, this Southeastern town sits at the border between Indiana and Kentucky on the Ohio River and has a lot to see and experience. Founded in 1813, it's one of the oldest towns in Indiana and has many historic buildings in its mansion district, which you can take a regular tour for, or a haunted one during fall months. Take a hike on the riverside at the Greenway Trail, which runs for seven miles from New Albany to Jeffersonville. Learn about the cultural history of New Albany and its connection to the Underground Railroad at the Floyd County Library Cultural Arts Center.

During the fall, experience all the joys of harvest with the Harvest Homecoming Festival, held from October 5 to 13, 2024, which gathers numerous restaurants, businesses, and organizations in the town to sell boutique goods and food. New Albany has a number of great places to eat as well. For example, grab a pizza and a brew from the New Albanian Brewing Company (a local favorite) or try a donut at the locally-owned Honey Crème Donut Shop.


Main Street and Jefferson Street, Knightstown, Indiana
Main Street, Knightstown, Indiana. Image credit Chris Flook, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on the shores of the Blue River, about half an hour away from the big city of Indianapolis, Knightstown maintains its small-town charm with multiple antique shops and boutiques, such as The Yellow Brickroad antique store and Glass Cupboard Antique Mall. It's also a perfect place for a day of boating, with its Canoe Launch right on the Blue River. For those without boats, you can rent a kayak for a three to four-hour journey down the river.

Learn about the history of the area at the Historic Knightstown Museum or visit the world-famous Hoosier Gym, which was featured in the 1986 movie called The Hoosiers.


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

Another hub for the Underground Railroad, Madison today is a major center for hiking and antiques. With multiple antique malls in the area, you are sure to find something interesting. Go for a hike at the scenic Clifty Falls State Park to see a beautiful waterfall or across the Milton-Madison Bridge. For another site, check out The Point at Hanover College, where you can see the three bends in the Ohio River. For food, try out Hinkle's Hamburger or The Red Pepper Deli and Café.

Madison comes alive in the fall with its Clifty Falls of Fear Haunted House from October 18 and 19, 2024, and Soup Stew Chilli and Brew Festival on October 12, 2024.

New Harmony

Downtown New Harmony, Indiana
Downtown New Harmony, Indiana. Image credit Dougtone, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the banks of the Wabash River, New Harmony is a beautiful town with a colorful history. Founded in 1814 by the Harmony Society as an attempted utopia, the area was renowned for textiles and whisky production. Today, New Harmony is an arts town with multiple galleries in the area, including a clay studio. You can visit several of the original buildings left behind by the Utopians and take a ghost tour in the fall.

Go fishing, hiking, or boating at the Harmonie State Park on the Wabash, or go for a Garden Tour hosted by the New Harmony Garden Club. It is an ideal place for artists to visit as it holds the 25th annual First Brush of Spring event from April 17 to 20, 2024, where artists can bring out their canvases to paint whatever catches their eye in this scenic area.


Essenhaus, a multi kingpost truss bridge, was built in 1993 on a service road of the Dutchman Essenhaus campus in Middlebury, Indiana
Essenhaus, a multi kingpost truss bridge in Middlebury, Indiana. 

Middlebury represents the spirit of river towns well. It hosts a famous Riverfest event in August that celebrates the Little Elkhart River with games, crafts, kayaking, and a live animal show. The town also has the largest family-owned restaurant in the area Das Dutchman Essenhaus, which serves Amish style recipes. This fits the demographics of Middlebury as it has a large Amish population.

For hikers, Middlebury can't be beat as it has the top-rated trail in Indiana: the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. This trail will guide the hiker through prairie, farmland, and wetlands for a fun, scenic day in nature. In the summer, check out the Middlebury Summer Festival or take a look at classic cars during the Classic Car Cruise-Ins held from May to September 2024.


The Rush County Courthouse, Rushville, Indiana.
The Rush County Courthouse, Rushville, Indiana. Image credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock

Founded in 1822 on the Flatrock River between Cincinnati and Indianapolis, Rushville prides itself on its 40 acres of parks. This includes the Riverside Park & Amphitheater, which features the annual summer concert series Live by the Levee. For lovers of cover bands, this series, running from July to September 2024, has acts covering Pink Floyd, Neil Diamond, and other famous bands.

Rushville also hosts the iconic Princess Theater, which has been in business for 100 years, and a farmers market. For meals, grab a bite to eat at The Corner Restaurant or El Reparo Mexican Restaurant in the downtown area. Also, on August 5 and 6, 2024, you can see historic steam engines in action during the Pioneer Steam Show.


Small bridge over a lake w/ fountain in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Small bridge over water, with a fountain in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Lawrenceburg has a bit of everything for everyone, with its appreciation for its archeology and its love for racing. Located on the Ohio River, you can visit the Dearborn County Historical Society & Museum and tour the 1819 Angevine log cabin or discover the town through the Aurora Architectural Walking Tour and Alley Tour.

Lawrenceburg also hosts the Lawrenceburg Motorcycle Speedway for weekend thrills. Try out the Tri State Antique Market, which is hailed as the largest vintage market in Indiana. For gamers, the Atomic Arcade features arcade games spanning 80 years of history. The region also hosts two wineries: At The Barn Winery and Holtkamp Winery. During the winter, go skiing or snowboarding at the Perfect North Slopes.

There is nothing like water to refresh the spirit, and these friendly Indiana river towns offer many scenic sites, restaurants, and fun activities. By visiting these river towns, you can find many state parks, breweries, antique shops, race tracks, historic sites, walking bridges, and much more. These towns are ideal to visit in the spring or summer for fun hikes or during the fall for bone-chilling ghost tours or haunted houses. If you find yourself in the Hoosier state in 2024, consider visiting one of these river towns.

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