20+ Essential Indiana Bucket List Activities and Food

Updated

Indiana is a diverse state with rolling hills, caves, caverns, and stunning valley vistas. It’s also a hot spot for motorsports fans, Amish country, and athletics. No matter who you travel with, there’s something to do for everyone. 

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From spring and summer to winter and fall, here are the top bucket list destination spots we recommend in Indiana.

Indiana Bucket List Trip Destinations

Want a few spots to plan your whole trip around? Consider including these destinations into your bucket list trip itinerary.

1. Amish country

Take a step back in time with a visit to Amish country. Visit farms and watch how the Amish use farming implements of days gone by to till, plant, and harvest their land. Don’t forget to stop into their shops to purchase high-quality Amish goods such as handmade quilts and furniture items.

2. Brown County State Park

If you enjoy hiking and outdoor activities, you’ll be glad you decided to visit this gorgeous park. There are abundant hiking trails, plenty of areas to go swimming, horseback riding opportunities, and numerous areas to put a line in the water and go fish. 

Pro tip: Camping is also available in the state park, making this a perfect destination spot to stay for a while.

3. Indiana Dunes National Park

The Indiana Dunes National Park is a gorgeous area set against Lake Michigan with over 50 miles of hiking trails and sand dune activities. Splash in the lake, hike, or ATV across the dunes to your heart’s content.

4. Washington Park and Beach

Visit Michigan City to get to Washington Park and Beach where you’ll enjoy over 140 acres of park land and two miles of sandy beachfront. While there, be sure to take a tour of the only working lighthouse open to the public in Indiana. 

There is also a boat launch, restaurant, and splash park in the park, so you’ll have plenty to do.

Spring and Summer Indiana Bucket List Ideas

Spring and summer months are perfect for visiting “the crossroads of America.” From hiking and outdoor activities to seasonal events, we know you’ll be glad you visited during the warm, sunshiny months of spring and summer.

Pro tip: If you’re working on making a travel bucket list, organizing according to seasons can be helpful when planning activities and travel plans.

5. Catch a race at the Indianapolis 500

Race fans of all ages will thrill at the sights and sounds of catching a race at the Indy 500 Motorway. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the roar of the crowd, the buzz of the track, and the excitement of cheering on your favorite driver as they race around the track.

Pro tip: Some races can sell out quickly, so be sure to get your tickets well in advance of your trip.

6. Learn to paint like Bob Ross

Bob Ross showed the world how to paint on PBS Television. He had his studio in Indiana, and today, you can tour the studio, see his original paintings, and learn about his painting philosophy. 

7. Take a drive along the Ohio River Scenic Byway

This gorgeous drive will take you through some of the most scenic areas in Indiana, as well as through small towns with lots of character. Plan some time so you can get out and take pictures or sample local cuisine in the towns you come upon.

8. Tour a WWII tank landing ship

The last fully-operational tank landing ship from WWII can be found in Evansville, Indiana. Tours are held Wednesday through Sunday, and you get to tour the entire ship from the main deck to the captain’s quarters. 

Pro tip: The USS LST-325 is a fully operational ship, so military buffs and ship enthusiasts alike will enjoy getting to see the inner workings of the ship, ask questions, and take plenty of pictures.

9. Hike to the biggest falls in Indiana

Cataract Falls is the largest waterfall in the state and has both upper and lower falls. A smaller waterfall and a covered bridge can also be enjoyed in the area.

Fall and Winter Indiana Bucket List Ideas

Fall and winter is a good time to visit Indiana. Just bundle up and you’ll be ready to have some fun.

10. Visit Santa Claus (the town, that is!)

If you’re in Indiana during the winter, no trip would be complete without a visit to the town of Santa Claus. In addition to the whole town dressing up year-round in honor of its namesake, there are plenty of family-fun winter activities such as a Christmas theme park, light shows, live reindeer exhibits, parades, and much more.

Pro tip: While there are fun activities all winter long, the bulk of events start from the day after Thanksgiving and run right up until Christmas.

11. Admire the fall foliage

No matter where you go in the state, hit it during the right months and you’ll be surrounded by stunning fall foliage. Take a drive and take your camera with you for postcard-worthy pictures you won’t find anywhere else.

Pro tip: Fall foliage can be seen especially during mid-late October. Brown County State Park is an especially beautiful area for picture taking and photo shoots.

12. Pick pumpkins and explore a corn maze

Pick-your-own farms like Beasley’s Orchard specialize in providing fun activities during the fall harvest season. These farms plant several acres worth of corn and cut a maze into the field for kids of all ages to enjoy. 

Pro tip: Most farms include both the corn maze entrance and a pick-your-own pumpkin from their vast pumpkin patch in the admission fee.

Family-Friendly Indiana Bucket List Ideas

If you’re traveling with young adventurers, then you’ll want to visit these family-friendly places that kids of all ages will enjoy.

13. Check out Indiana’s beach boardwalk

If you find yourself pining for some ocean boardwalk fun, look no further than Lake Shafer. There’s a lakeside boardwalk with all the classic games you’d find at a beach boardwalk, carnival-style food, and rides like a Ferris wheel. 

For even more family fun, there’s an amusement and water park lakeside, as well!

14. See the wildlife at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

This zoo is a must-do if you’re traveling with kids or animal lovers of any age. The exhibits are world-class, and there are plenty of activities throughout the day such as feeding stingrays, giraffes, goats, and ponies.

Pro tip: The zoo is open seasonally from the end of April through the end of October.

15. Explore the Indianapolis Children’s Museum

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is one of the best children’s museums in the United States, and you’ll be glad you took the time to visit. Exhibits are interactive and abundant with rotational exhibits in addition to their permanent exhibits on trains, dinosaurs, and Egypt.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Indiana

No travel bucket list would be complete without a food bucket list section. If you spend any time in Indiana, here are the must-try foods and food stops in the state.

16. Try a slice of Indiana’s state pie

Sugar cream pie is Indiana’s favorite and their official state pie. One bite of this heavenly mix of sugar and cream and you’ll see why it’s such a beloved dessert.

17. Chow down on an epic pork tenderloin sandwich

You might have had a pork tenderloin, but unless you’ve had one in Indiana, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Indiana pork tenderloin sandwiches are made of a pounded pork tenderloin that’s been breaded and fried. What makes it “Indianan”? The tenderloin is at least twice the size of the bun that it gets sandwiched between.

18. Snack on delectable Amish baked goods

Amish homemade baked goods are some of the best you’ll get anywhere around. From luscious cinnamon rolls and gluten-free bread to mouth-watering pretzels, you’ll find plenty to enjoy at places like Nappanee’s Bakery and Treat Shoppe, Grandma’s Pantry in Wakarusa, and Yoder’s Red Barn Shoppes in Shipshewana.

Indianapolis Bucket List Ideas

Indianapolis or “Indy” is filled with fun activities, adventures, places to explore, and things to do for the whole family. Here are several of the best.

19. Feed dolphins at the Indy Zoo

Visit the Indianapolis Zoo where you can get into the water with dolphins, feed them, and communicate by using hand signals! 

Pro tip: Dolphins not your thing? Other interactive exhibits include elephants, rhinos, and penguins!

20. Go karting

Since the Indy 500 is located in Indianapolis, is it any surprise that Indy is the racing capital of the world? Visit Indy and you can watch races and get some thrills on the track yourself. There are three major karting venues to choose from that accommodate kids and adults eight years old and older.

Pro tip: Each venue has its own height requirements, so check before purchasing tickets to ensure your whole group can go karting.

21. Step back in time and visit the 1930s at Fountain Square Theatre

Fountain Square Theatre features a restored 1930s building that hosts a vintage duckpin bowling alley and billiard hall, rooftop garden and restaurant, and Friday night swing dancing. 

22. Overnight in a Pullman Train Sleeper Car

The Crowne Plaza at Union Station has real Pullman sleeper cars that rest on their original tracks available for rent in lieu of a traditional hotel room. While there, take the time to tour the old Union Station. Built in 1888, a station tour is a must-do for history and train buffs alike.

Pro tip: There are only 26 Pullman Sleepers, so book well in advance to ensure you can reserve a car.

23. Go on a three-hour zip line adventure

Kids 10 and up will love the Go Ape Treetop Adventure where five zip lines and 40 treetop obstacles and adventures await. The grounds are located in Eagle Creek Park, and you’re sure to feel like Tarzan as you walk, zip, and swing through the treetops.

Explore Incredible Indiana

Indiana is a land filled with exciting activities, wondrous scenery, and loads of adventures to be had. Whether you travel solo, with your significant other, or as a whole family, we know you’ll enjoy everything you plan in this incredible state. What are you looking forward to the most? 

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