A wellspring of lively people and vibrant culture, Indiana is a beautiful state in the Midwestern United States. Home to a plethora of small towns, one can take in the vast scenery without the city crowds. These towns provide a break from city life and have great attractions like parks, restaurants, museums, and art galleries. For example, sports enthusiasts can watch the Indianapolis 500 while nature lovers can adore the abundant farmland. For the best destinations ranked among US's favorites, these are the most popular small towns in Indiana.
Nestled in Steuben County, Angola is a quaint retreat that anyone can appreciate. Home to 8,600, this town is popular with people from all over for its array of interesting attractions. History enthusiasts can learn about the town’s 200-year past at a number of sites, such as the Steuben County Soldiers’ Monument. Constructed in 1917, this soaring memorial showcases military statues and bronze plaques bearing the names of over 1,000 men who served from the county. To learn more, visit the Angola Commercial Historic District. It features the Steuben County Courthouse, Steuben County Jail, and dozens of other contributing buildings. Even a short stroll through this district is engulfed by fascinating Italianate, Classical Revival, and Late Gothic Revival architecture styles.
Step back into the present, and Angola is full of outdoor recreation. One can enjoy Indiana’s wilderness at the beautiful Pokagon State Park right next to town. Encompassing 1,260 acres of land, this place boasts wetlands, Lake James, and the Potawatomi Nature Preserve. Thanks to this, hiking, wildlife watching, fishing, boating, and camping are just some of the pursuits on offer. Hikers can head out on the 8.2-mile Hell’s Point Challenge, a moderate route showcasing verdant greenery and endless fields. After being outdoors, visit Chapman's Brewing Company for tasty drinks and lively chats.
Retreat from Angola’s bustling streets to the peaceful town of Nashville, Indiana. With a tight-knit community of 800 people, you’ll be surrounded by smiling faces and hospitable locals. The town is a hit with tourists due to the nearby Brown County State Park. The largest state park in Indiana, you can explore over 15,000 acres of pristine forests, hills, lakes, and more. A great way to take in the sights is with a hike along the stunning Trail 8. Spanning 3.9 miles, this trail is an iconic route nestled within thick foliage and lush flowers. Keep your eyes open to spot local wildlife, such as bobcats, spotted salamanders, timber rattlesnakes, and flying squirrels. In addition, you can enjoy fishing, mountain biking, sledding, and skiing for endless fun in the sun.
Once you’ve taken in the fresh air, head back into town to enjoy the lovely culture and vibe. Among many options, tourists in Nashville are drawn to the town's spirited arts scene. From the Brown County Art Gallery to the Hoosier Artist Gallery, one can spend hours appreciating local art, sculpture, and ideas. As the day comes to an end, hit the streets for fun food and drink in town. The Hobnob Corner Restaurant is a hotspot known for some of the best steak and eggs in the county. Or, drop by Big Woods at Hard Truth for delicious snacks accompanied by chilled drinks to end the night.
New Harmony is a unique town intertwined with an interesting past. Founded in 1814, the town was initially part of the Harmony Society, a Christian theosophy. Known as Harmony, it began with hope, but numerous issues led to its failure, and the town was sold to Robert Owen in 1825. Owen was a Welsh industrialist who attempted to create a utopian community, the Owenite social experiment in town. As this plan also failed, New Harmony became a historical goldmine featuring unique ideologies, establishments, and stories. Visit one of the amazing sites, such as the Roofless Church, the Atheneum, and the Labyrinth State Memorial.
Once you’ve learned all about the town’s utopian communities, it's time to have outdoor fun. Harmonie State Park is a great place to start with 3,500 acres of outdoor land. Featuring hiking trails, animal exhibits, and interpretive programs, the whole family can have a blast. If you just want to relax, opt for Tillich Park instead. The tranquil park offers a calming environment in town where one can sit along the pond and appreciate mother nature’s embrace.
If you enjoyed New Harmony’s unique vibe, Shipshewana is another high-rated town to consider. Situated in the heart of Indiana’s Amish Country, this scenic town is a wellspring of Amish culture. Prevalent throughout the streets, one can begin their trip at the Menno-Hof Mennonite, the Amish Visitor Center. Take in the abundance of information with presentations, exhibits, and guides to help you plan out your time in Shipshewana. Most travelers flock to the Blue Gate Carriage Company or Buggy Lane Tours, which offer guided tours of the Amish farms, shops, and houses. From the Auction & Flea Market to Brandenberry Amish Furniture, take in the vibrant culture oozing throughout town. End the day at the Blue Gate Restaurant & Bakery for delicious Amish buffet and snacks.
While these sights are available throughout the year, Shipshewana has a hidden treat for Christmas visitors. Shipshewana’s Lights of Joy is a marvelous 1.5-mile-long drive consisting of colorful lights, festive music, and good vibes. Hop in the car with your family and enjoy an enchanting drive engulfed by more than two million LED lights in Christmas colors.
Step away from the crowded streets of Shipshewana and dive into nature in Madison, Indiana. Home to 12,000 residents, this town rests along the stunning Ohio River. Receiving more than 300,000 visitors a year, Clifty Falls State Park is a prime waterside destination. The park encompasses 1,400 acres of waterside land where one can find waterfalls canyons, trails, and wildlife. For example, head down to the park’s namesake, Big Clifty Falls, a 60 feet tall rocky waterfall perfect for sightseeing. On the other hand, hikers can embark on one of the ten trails that range from easy to professional difficulty with firsthand views of the stunning natural formations. If this isn’t enough, set up camp in the park as there are electric and non-electric campgrounds available.
After the great outdoors of Madison, head back into town for rustic attractions. Once an active steamboat port, this town has seen many major events throughout the years. A short walk through the Madison Historic Landmark District, and you’ll find dozens of significant sites. The 1844 Lanier Mansion is a crowd favorite as it displays a fine example of Greek Revival Architecture. Whether you spend your time outdoors or in the historic district, drop by Lanthier Winery and Distillery for a drink. Located on Mill Street, it is the town’s oldest winery, with award-winning handcrafted wines for you to relish.
Another peaceful town in Indiana, Aurora is a favorite destination that combines small-town charm with a lively vibe. With a population of 3,750, the streets are always filled with hospitable people up for a quick chat. To experience this firsthand, head down to Aurora’s main street, often touted as one of the cutest in Indiana. Riddled with shops, murals, and eateries, one can spend hours taking in the sights. If you’re into art, take part in the walking tour that covers 64 idyllic murals of people, landscapes, and buildings. Or, stop by Second Time Around, a quaint collectibles store perfect for grabbing Aurora souvenirs.
Along with the lively main street, Aurora is known for its interesting history. Platted in 1819, the town was named after the goddess of dawn in Roman mythology. History enthusiasts can learn about the town’s 200-year past in the historic downtown area. Sites such as the Aurora City Hall, Levi Stevens House, Aurora Methodist Episcopal Church, and Hillforest abound. There is an endless array of history to uncover. Hillforest, for example, is an iconic mansion from the 1850s that preserves the work of architect Isaiah Rogers. Designed for Scottish businessman Thomas Gaff, tourists can tour the mansion or book it for events.
Continue the historic journey through Indiana with a visit to Corydon in Harrison County. This town of 3,100 was founded in 1808 and served as the state capital from 1813 to 1816. So, you’ll find an abundance of historical establishments which have now become popular tourist spots. If this is something you’re interested in, the Corydon Historic District is a must-visit locale. Stop by the 1816 Old Capitol building, which once served as the seat of Indiana's government. Or, check out the 1817 First state office building, where many government offices were located. With these and dozens of other sites like the Leora Brown School, Westfall House, and Posey House, you’ll feel like you’re in the 1800s!
Historical appeal aside, Corydon boasts a combination of interesting attractions that anyone can enjoy. Family travelers can relish some fresh air at the O’Bannon Woods State Park. With 2,000 acres of land, one can pursue hiking, cycling, fishing, and wildlife viewing. If you’re lucky, you might spot warblers and woodpeckers that call this park home. However, for adults, the Turtle Run Winery is an option to consider. Boasting events, tours, and amazing wine for sale, it is a bundle of fun and drinks to end a great trip.
Sprawling with green space, Goshen is a beloved small town in Elkhart County, Indiana. For a waterside experience, Fidler Pond Park is a great retreat featuring an 80-acre pond. Rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboat and enter a watery world of tranquility in the pond. Stay along the shore for catch-and-release bank fishing, a popular activity with locals and tourists alike. Another natural location that many people adore is the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. Spanning more than 16 miles engulfed by verdant forests and lush greenery, it is a delight for walkers and bikers.
Continue walking into town and the trees will slowly be replaced by quirky stores and delicious eateries. Exuding an active feel, Downtown Goshen offers all sorts of opportunities, from buying souvenirs to grabbing a meal. Pizza lovers can relish traditional Neapolitan pizza and cocktails at the idyllic Venturi restaurant. Meanwhile, the Old Bag Factory is a great spot to grab souvenirs such as lotions, pottery, handmade food items, and much more. Enter an even livelier environment than Downtown Goshen at Elkhart County’s 4-H Fair. Taking place at the end of July, it is a wellspring of games, rides, snacks, exhibits, and more that people from all over come to visit.
Famed for being the birthplace of “Hoosier Poet,” James Whitcomb Riley, step into a historical reprieve in Greenfield. Bustling with 23,500 residents, the town features a plethora of historical and cultural attractions to enjoy. Start your journey with a tour of the James Whitcomb Riley Old House and Museum. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and tourists can see many items, photos, and furniture from the poet’s life. So, if you’re into poetry, this is the place to visit. For a broader insight into the town’s past, take a stroll through the Greenfield Residential Historic District. With more than 500 contributing buildings, such as the Charles Barr House, witness rustic architecture and quaint establishments all over.
As you’re already in town, why not check out some of the stores and restaurants lining the streets? Testament to the lively community in Greenfield, you’ll be greeted with hospitable smiles and friendly conversations no matter where you go. Drink with the locals at Sugar Creek Brickhouse, which has a delightful ambiance everyone is sure to love.
From the historical intrigue of New Harmony to the natural appeal of Goshen, there is something for everyone in Indiana’s small towns. With a range of entertaining options and unique attractions, it's no wonder they are ranked among US favorites. Moreover, great food and drink await tourists in these towns, so you’ll never get bored!