Aerial View of Elkhart Courthouse in Goshen, Indiana.

The Best Small Towns In Indiana To Chill Out In 2024

People probably have heard of the Hoosier State of Indiana thanks to the hit television film Stranger Things. And people might have some notions about what a town in Indiana looks like because of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Of course, you ought to verify for yourself whether your expectations about the real and modern small towns in Indiana are anything like Hawkins (better yet, anything unlike Hawkins that does not have evil monsters from an alternate dimension wreaking havoc every season). So consider this list of the best small towns in Indiana to chill out in 2024 and discover for yourself the mysteries and intrigues at the crossroads of the United States of America.


An Amish buggy in Shipshewana, Indiana
An Amish buggy in Shipshewana, Indiana. Editorial credit: Landon Troyer /

Strengthen your relationship with Indiana by exploring the lush town of Shipshewana. Only around 40 minutes from Angola, Shipshewana invites travelers with dozens of beautifully painted murals. The Pumpkinvine Trail is not only a relaxing jogging and walking route but also one that connects Shipshewana with several nearby towns and municipalities. On the other hand, the Barn Quilt Trail is flanked by over 80 or more barn quilt patterns in historic farmsteads, while the Culinary Trail is lined with ten stops, each offering a savory meal and treat of Indiana’s Amish culture. Learn of the town’s past at the Ruthmere Museum or the Menno-Hof, an educational center for the Anabaptist faiths (Mennonites, Amish, and Hutterites). Hop aboard a luxurious carriage ride through the town and along Shipshewana Lake. Do not miss out on the annual Mayfest, where the Amish culture comes alive. Do not feel unwanted in Shipshewana, especially in fine lodgings like the Brethren Retreat at Shipshewana Lake or Der Ruhe Blatz Motel.


 The Steuben County Soldiers Monument in downtown Angola, Indiana.
The Steuben County Soldiers Monument in downtown Angola, Indiana. Editorial credit: Landon Troyer /

Not to be mistaken with the country in central Africa, the town of Angola is home to the illustrious Trine University. Several lakes and bodies of water surround Angola, from the basin-layered Crooked Lake to the much bigger Lake James. Angola is an idyllic starting point for purchasing camping supplies and gear for the greater outdoors. One can pitch their tents in the many serene spots and watering areas around town, like Angola / Hogback Lake KOA Holiday or Camp Chief Little Turtle. Travelers will be especially jubilant while taking horseback rides and toboggan runs at the Pokagon State Park. More of you might be invested in roaming on foot in the Marsh Lake Wetlands State Fish and Wildlife Area. You can feel old school and rustic while boarding an ancient steam locomotive at the Indiana Rail Experience. Get a glimpse of the indigenous cultures of the past at the Trine State Recreation Area, or witness the thunderous hoofbeats of buffalos at the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve. Whatever you decide on, make sure your first choice is to find a place to stay in the Potawatomi Inn Resort & Conference Center.


Aerial view of Goshen, Indiana
Aerial view of Goshen, Indiana.

Around 16 miles from Shipshewana and 10 miles from the city of Elkhart, Goshen is a gushing little town along the Elkhart River. Much like its neighbors, Goshen is brimming with Mennonite and Amish communities that keep Goshen alive and prosperous. Despite the rigid rules of dogma, Goshen is liberal enough to allow hectic car rodeos and other vehicular sports at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds. Locate the stone tablet that marks the site of old Fort Beane, a former settlers’ refuge given by the Native Americans in the region. Visit the former abode of Howard Hawks, a renowned motion-picture director. And on the last days of August this year, you ought to attend the River Bend Film Festival for the unique indie and international films to be shown this year. More things can be uncovered in Goshen, so occupy your evenings at The Willows if the need for sleep becomes great.


 The business district on Main Street in Nashville, Indiana.
The business district on Main Street in Nashville, Indiana. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

Approximately 40 miles south of the state capital of Indianapolis, the whimsical town of Nashville mesmerizes travelers with an impressive collection of artworks and masterpieces from local artists. Originally, the town was called Jacksonburg when it was founded in 1836. However, it was renamed a year later after Nashville, Tennessee. These days, the town of Nashville in Indiana is renowned for being the center of the Brown County Art Colony, an institution formed in 1907 by T.C. Steele. The artist’s former home, gallery, garden, and artworks can be admired at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.

Adjacent to the town are a handful of scenic locations that have inspired many local artists like Steele. Among these locations are the Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Forest, each with their own arboreal beauties and panoramic backdrops that have been interpreted and mimicked in paintings in the Brown County Art Gallery. For those of you who wish to see these paintings and the landscapes that inspired them, you should first purchase a room at the Hotel Nashville, The Seasons Lodge, or Robinwood Inn.


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

On the Ohio River, which straddles the state borders between Kentucky and Indiana, travelers will find themselves at ease and happy in the small town of Madison. As a town only an hour away from Louisville, Madison is a convenient reprieve from a normally chaotic city lifestyle. It was named after President James Madison in its founding in 1808 and was the southern terminus of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad, one of the first lines west of the Allegheny Mountains from 1836 to 1847.

Nowadays, visitors can appreciate the antebellum homes and structures all over town, such as the J.F.D. Lanier State Historic Landmark, a Greek Revival mansion from 1844. The Shrewsbury-Windle House and Schofield House both showcase the early pioneering lifestyle in Madison. The Talbott-Hyatt Pioneer Garden and Clifty Falls State Park are two excellent destinations for leisurely walks. Unlock more of Madison’s heritage at the Jefferson Proving Grounds and Eleutherian College, where many African Americans and women were educated following the American Civil War. Consider watching or participating in the Indiana Governor’s Cup race for hydroplanes in July and the Chautauqua Festival of Art in September. Last but not least, find a good place to settle down at night, such as the Butterfly House Bed & Breakfast or Clifty Inn.

New Harmony

Roofless Church in New Harmony, Indiana
An interesting church building in New Harmony, Indiana

Find newness and harmony in New Harmony, a humble town on the Wabash River that borders the state of Illinois. In a land where the Piankashaw Native Americans once roamed, one can admit a number of intriguing attractions. Take, for instance, the artifacts and artworks at the Historic New Harmony’s Atheneum. Aside from the structure containing a large theater with an orientation film showcasing New Harmony’s inception, the Atheneum is a stunning modern masterpiece that even its original blueprints are now part of an architecture collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Another alluring structure in New Harmony is the Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden, whose pattern was based on the 12th-century Chartres Cathedral in Paris, France. There is also the Harmonist Labyrinth for your leisure and the Harmonist Cemetery to pay respects to the many hardy pioneers and settlers who built a home in New Harmony. For those who intend to spend a long time in New Harmony, do not forget to find accommodations at the Leather Leaf Inn, the New Harmony Inn Resort & Conference Center, or A.C. Thomas House Bed & Breakfast Inn.


Harrison County Courthouse in Corydon, Indiana.
Harrison County Courthouse in Corydon, Indiana. Image credit: Brent Moore via

When settlers arrived in the Indiana Territory in 1808, they built Corydon to be their first state capital from 1816 to 1825 before moving the seat of power to Indianapolis. The original founders named the town after a shepherd in a popular song, “Pastoral Elegy,” and today, visitors can tour the impeccably preserved capitol building or uncover more history at the Harrison County Discovery Center. A more direct appreciation of Corydon’s bygone days can be seen at the Battle of Corydon Historic Site, renowned for being the only recorded Civil War battle fought on Indiana soil in 1863.

Beyond the history lessons, you can go traipsing through the serene O’Bannon Woods State Park and Harrison-Crawford State Park. And in an underworld where sunlight does not touch, venture into the Indiana Caverns, Indiana’s longest cave and the 7th largest cave in the United States. Spelunkers might also be challenged by the Wyandotte Cave, one of the US’ largest limestone caverns. There is also the Squire Boone Caverns, which Daniel Boone’s brother, Squire Boone, discovered when he was hiding from Native Americans and is said to be buried there to this day. There is no need to worry about lodgings because The Kintner House Inn has all the equipment to keep you safe and cozy in Corydon.

French Lick

A beautiful church in French Lick, Indiana
A beautiful church in French Lick, Indiana. Editorial credit: GypsyPictureShow /

You might have heard of a French kiss, but have you ever heard of French Lick? It is not as unusual and unsavory as it sounds because the quirky town of French Lick will have your mouth watering for its splendid attractions. The town got its name from an 18th-century French trading post in the region, as well as an animal (salt) lick. The French Lick West Baden Museum illustrates the town’s significance as a resort and a getaway vacation spot, particularly for its many historic mineral springs that are sure to soothe you as they have soothed thousands before. The museum also chronicles the sports contributions of basketball legend Larry Bird.

One can board the French Lick Scenic Railway for a historic tour of French Lick’s episodic past and through the vast Hoosier National Forest. Or you can play in one of the many casinos that dominate the town’s industries. Behind the West Baden Springs Hotel, the Stables at French Lick Resort allow travelers and locals to ride horses through the area. Naturally, the West Baden Springs Hotel contains many rooms for you to choose from, in addition to the French Lick Springs Hotel, which has equally comfortable accommodations.

As a state that inspired the iconic name Indiana Jones, the Hoosier State of Indiana is home to many unearthed and underappreciated treasures worth cherishing. From the avant-garde artistries in French Lick, the historical edifices in Madison, and wilderness opportunities in Angola, you will not feel irate or uninterested as you tour Indiana’s beautiful small towns. These destinations are certainly a far cry from your assumed image of Indiana’s small towns—for instance, a lack of Demogorgons, Mind Flayers, and other monstrosities from a chthonian parallel reality—but at least they do not disappoint. So, this 2024, visit the best small towns in Indiana to chill out from the summer heat.

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