Located in central Indiana, Indianapolis, which is often referred to as "Indy," is home to a wide variety of historical landmarks, outdoor recreational opportunities, and natural and cultural attractions. Indianapolis is best known for hosting the Indianapolis 500, the world's largest single-day sporting event, each year. As exciting as Indianapolis is, there are many day trips visitors and residents can take from the city when looking for a change of pace or scenery. Luckily, there are lovely day trips at the ready just a short distance from the state capital of Indianapolis.
Brown County State Park
Situated about an hour outside of the city, Brown County State Park is the largest park in Indiana. Sometimes referred to as the "Little Smokies" as the area's terrain resembles the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County is set apart from the typically flat northern part of the state. Brown County State Park offers visitors a diverse landscape in that it features rugged hills and ridges, as well as ravines and deep gullies.
Explore one of the park's several trails, which range from a half-mile to almost 4 miles long, and take hikers through a nature preserve and by Ogle Lake. Park visitors are encouraged to climb the 90-foot fire tower for a scenic view of the hills below, visit the onsite nature center to see an endangered rattlesnake, and swim in the pool.
The park also offers mountain bike and horse trails, a playground, picnic areas, an open field for group sports, tennis courts, and fishing opportunities. For those who may decide to spend the night, a campground is available, as is a rustic lodge with motel rooms and an indoor water park!
White Rock Park
Located in Saint Paul, Indiana 45 minutes from Indianapolis, White Rock Park is the ideal location for day trippers looking to get their adrenaline pumping while taking in scenic nature views. The park features a few lakes, which are the hubs of most activities. Visitors can take a relaxing float on a raft, or jump into the water from a cliff, depending on what type of experience they desire.
The park also offers several floating docks for just soaking in the sun and relaxing with friends and family. There is also one lake that is dedicated to just fishing to keep the activities separate. The fishing lake is stocked with catfish, largemouth bass, and crappie, among other fish, for an exciting angling experience.
Adventure seekers also will not want to miss the park's rope swing or two zip lines, which suspend out over the main lake. Campsites with picnic tables and firepits are also available for those wanting to spend a night or two.
Just an hour south of Indianapolis, the city of Bloomington is home to Indiana University, drawing in students from all over the country. No matter what time you visit this thriving city with small-town charm, you'll have no shortage of fun activities to enjoy and exciting attractions to discover.
If you're visiting Bloomington with kids in the spring, summer, or fall, spend some time at the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve, which is located just five minutes from the university campus. You can canoe or kayak in either your own or rented watercraft, or hike the trails that wind over gently rolling hills. After a day in nature, take in a movie at the Starlite Drive-In Theater, which shows both classic and new movies.
Art and culture lovers won't want to miss a trip to the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, or the Monroe County History Center. The city also offers the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and the Lilly Library, which is home to an internationally revered collection of cultural and literary artifacts, such as books and sheet music.
A little over an hour outside of Indianapolis, the Heritage Farm makes an exciting day trip for both couples and families. The 120-acre farm is a working alpaca farm that is dedicated to educating the community about animals.
Although guests do have the option to stay at the farm overnight, it also offers several experiences that are ideal for day-trippers. Visitors can interact and engage in daily farm life through a variety of hands-on activities, such as an Alpaca trek, during which trekkers can feed alpacas and take a short hike with them. After an exciting farm experience, spend some browsing the onsite farm store for alpaca-inspired clothing, toys, and other items.
This farm also can be rented for special events, including family reunions, kid birthday parties, and weddings. Guests are welcome to enjoy the farm's 400-foot-long zip line, fire pits, a creek, and a 50-foot-long hill slide.
If visiting Indianapolis or are a resident of the city and want to see the surrounding areas, travelers will have no problem finding a day-long adventure to take. From college towns to state parks teeming with local wildlife and scenic views, all located just outside Indiana's largest city. Take some time out of the daily life and hustle and bustle of Indianapolis' metropolis and hit the state's highways and byways for a memorable adventure!