Since Indiana is almost entirely a farming state, this Midwest beauty is ideal for travelers in search of a low-key outdoor vacation. Its state park system is more than a century old and includes America’s fourth-largest expanse of public lands to play in. Take your pick of 24 state parks, 14 nature preserves, 13 forests, and nine huge reservoirs. In the northernmost portion, there is also a stretch of shoreline along Lake Michigan.
Most visitors come to Indiana to fish, boat, camp and hike, but the gentle rolling topography of the state is also ideal for golf courses and lengthy biking excursions. Indianapolis, the largest city, is a sports mecca, with professional teams, as well as the legendary Indy 500 motorcar race each summer. Most state recreation areas are located near popular towns and cities, making it easy to enjoy diverse nature without having to rough it.
Motorsports are a big thing in Indiana. Many state recreation areas dedicate special areas for people to ride dirt bikes, ATVs and other vehicles in the woods. But the real star of motor racing is found in Indianapolis. This sports-happy city is home to both the Indianapolis 500 motor race, the US Grand Prix and the Allstate 400 at the famous Brickyard race track. Both races are highlights of the state’s sporting calendar and companies like Grand Prix Tours can arrange worry-free travel plans.
Indiana is a superb destination for golfers thanks to the gentle terrain, lush countryside and mix of water and woodlands. Most of the hundred or so golf courses in the state are public and very affordable. Hamilton County is home to the Pete Dye Golf Trail, a series of inspiring courses like Plum Creek and Brickyard Crossing. Use Hamilton’s Stay and Play to save on hotels and course fees in this scenic region of the state.
Fishing in Indiana is also excellent, from open water adventures on Lake Michigan to any of the nine state reservoirs and dozens of smaller local lakes. Most outfitters like Fish Indy and Indiana Fishing Adventures specialize in the native muskie, striped bass, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass.
Indiana is a major farming state, and as a result, there are hundreds of small farms and orchards. Many of them welcome visitors to come pick their own produce like at Harper Valley Farm in Westport, pet docile livestock, or check out herds of bison at the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve. Tours like the Farm to Fork Trail in Kendallville showcase the local operations.
Water parks are hugely popular in Indiana, giving kids and adults alike plenty of opportunity to cool off and have fun during the long hot summers. They range from amusement park rides at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus to twisting and turning slides and wave pools at Deep River Waterpark in Merrillville and Splash Island Water Park in Plainsville.
There are more than 2,400 miles of dedicated hiking trails in Indiana. From the state’s largest park in Brown County to intimate spots like Clifty Falls State Park, trekkers have options in every corner of the state to safely and conveniently get one on one with nature. Shops like Discovery Outfitters are found near every major park, providing equipment, maps, and even guided tours if needed.
Biking is Indiana is among the best in America. Most of the trails are long flat cruisers along restored railroad beds or riverside paths, many originating in populous towns and cities. Touring Ride in Rural Indiana is just one of the outfitters that can arrange multi-day cycling trips. There is also plenty of single track mountain biking in Indiana’s state parks if more excitement is in order.