Whether 2016 was an awesome year for you or if you’re not sorry to see it go, you have to admit, quite a lot happened this year for our humble state, including adding yet another vice president to the history books. We’ve worked hard to bring you the most interesting places in the Hoosier state to explore in 2016 and now we’re getting your year off to a great start with 21 places to add to your 2017 bucket list.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Turkey Run State Park - Marshall
This unbelievably gorgeous state park looks just like a place out of Middle Earth. With tons of huge rock formations to explore, waterfalls to take in, paths to uncover, and a stunning suspension bridge to lead you to the magic, this state park is an absolute must see.
2. Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery - Shipshewana
Indiana has some of the most amazing Amish food in the country, and when it comes to food, presentation, and hospitality, you won't find any better than Blue Gate. This picture perfect restaurant offers fantastic home cooked food and has some of the best pies in the state.
3. Veach's Toy Station - Richmond
When it comes to toys, there's no place as magical as Veach's for kids and kids-at-heart. This massive, imaginative toy shop encourages creativity and packs a whole lot of fun. You have to see this one in person!
4. Rose Island - Charlestown
Rose Island is what's left of a former, historic amusement park in Charlestown. Now you can explore what's left of the park, from stone structures to an eerily beautiful massive swimming pool.
5. Rock Run Cafe & Bakery - Rosedale
This charming and cheery restaurant can be found in lovely Parke County, right across from the pretty Roseville Covered Bridge. This hidden gem of a restaurant offers a scenic eating experience and cooks up incredible pizzas, tenderloin, and their world famous vinegar pie. If you've never tried it, you might be skeptical, but trust me...one taste and you'll be in heaven!
6. Pine Lake - Berne
Once the weather starts to warm and you begin looking for spring and summertime fun, be sure to add Pine Lake to your list. With a bunch of water slides, a fun splash pad, log walk, and even kiddie slides, you'll find a true adventure at this little known lake.
6. Spring Mill State Park - Mitchell
With four distinct sections to explore, Spring Mill State Park is the perfect family destination that you probably haven't stumbled upon yet. Uncover rich culture and historical ties in the Pioneer Village, explore the Grissom Memorial and pioneer graveyards, learn and see exciting creatures in the Nature Center, and enjoy a relaxing boat ride through Twin Caves.
8. The Log Inn - Haubstaudt
Visit the oldest restaurant in Indiana, founded by Henry Haub in 1825. Enjoy dining where former president Abraham Lincoln once feasted and rested in the famous Lincoln Room. You'll enjoy amazing family style cuisine with dishes like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and warm, oven-fresh rolls.
9. Albanese Candy Factory - Merrillville
Ever wanted to visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory? You can get pretty darn close at the famous Albanese Candy Factory. Learn how the infamous gummy bears are made and explore a massive candy store that seems like it popped out of your own imagination.
10. No. 9 Grill - Cambridge City
This wonderful eastern Indiana restaurant (along with the rest of the charming town) is a real delight. They're well known for their famous smoked and marinated Rihm's pork chop and whip up a mean tenderloin, steak, and haddock, as well.
11. Jungle Park Speedway - Bloomingdale
This former racetrack was the place to be in the late 1920s and was where some of the most famous, original racecar drivers got their start (Wilbur Shaw, anyone?). The racetrack closed because the track itself was unsafe and led to some pretty tragic accidents. Since then, the racetrack has begun being reclaimed by nature, turning into a bit of a jungle itself. Now, it's reopened as a place to show off Indy cars and a historic place to explore.
13. Marengo Cave - Marengo
This National Natural Landmark has been wowing Hoosiers for decades. It's the most visited cave in our state with amazing caverns and rock formations to uncover. This is one place every Hoosier absolutely must visit, at least once.
13. Harry and Bud's - Terre Haute
The exterior of this European restaurant barely looks inhabitable, much less impressive. However, once you step inside, this restaurant will absolutely floor you. This place is unlike any in the world, with a mastermind chef and no menu. The way it works is simple. Either book a reservation or drive by and see if the front light is on to gain entry. Once inside, the chef will come around to find out what the table enjoys eating, noting any dislikes or allergies. From there, prepare to be amazed as course after course of inventive cuisine arrives at your table. This isn't a restaurant; it's a must-have experience.
14. Whihala Beach - Whiting
This lovely, hidden gem of a beach is located close to Chicago and offers beachfront parking and a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan.
This historic and fascinating small canal town has a ton to offer visitors. From their incredible water powered Grist Mill to their lovely small shops and restaurants to their horse drawn canal boat rides to their Railroad excursions, there's plenty of unique options for exploration here!
16. River Watch - Lawrenceburg
This floating, seasonal restaurant is ideal for hanging out in the spring and summertime. With incredible nautical decor inside and a stunning view of the Ohio River from their deck side seating, you can enjoy some of the best seafood in Indiana with a tranquil view.
17. Sunken Gardens - Huntington
Step into a fairy tale at the most magical gardens in Indiana. This unbelievable park is the only garden of its kind in the United States and has incredible rock steps, stone bridges, and fountains to explore.
18. Prairie Creek Reservoir - Muncie
This gorgeous body of water in Muncie has a killer view and so much to offer. From boating, to swimming, to just hanging out on the lovely beach, you'll find the spring and summer fun you've been looking for in the New Year.
19. Joe Huber's Family Farm and Restaurant - Starlight
If you love fresh, home cooked food, you won't get any fresher than Joe Huber's. This farm restaurant has some of the most incredible, locally sourced food in Indiana, from honey ham and country fried chicken to homemade mashed potatoes and farm fresh produce.
20. Veal's Ice Tree - Indianapolis
If you've never seen Veal's magical ice tree up close, this is your year to make it happen! Come visit in January while the temperatures stay cold or make it a Christmas tradition starting in 2017!
This architecturally rich town in Indiana has amazing buildings and churches to explore, incredible public art, an amazing indoor playground, and Zaharakos, an old fashioned ice cream shoppe and diner that must be tasted to be believed.
Be sure to add these 21 places to your Indiana bucket list for the best 2017 ever! Which place are you dying to explore?