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Home Road Trip Road-tripping to Indy for the 2024 eclipse? Check out these spots

Road-tripping to Indy for the 2024 eclipse? Check out these spots

by Staff

A total solar eclipse will pass through the Midwest on April 8, and Indianapolis is smack-dab in the middle of the path of totality, meaning tens of thousands of people will descend upon the Circle City to take in the event.

If you’re planning a road trip to Indianapolis for the eclipse and you’re looking for entertainment along the way, here are a few destinations that are just off the various highways (they don’t call us the Crossroads of America for nothing) you’re likely to travel.

Indiana attractions and things to do

Things to do north of Indianapolis

About two and a half hours northwest, Indiana Dunes National Park offers gorgeous views of Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline, as well as recreational and educational opportunities.

About an hour northwest, not far off I-74, in Crawfordsville, is the Rotary Jail Museum, which is exactly what it sounds like — a museum in an 1800s-era rotating jail. The jail began housing inmates in 1882, but was immobilized in the 1930s after some of them sustained some gruesome injuries. The jail closed in 1973. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-11 and free for kids 5 and under.

Along I-65, about an hour and a half northwest, is Fair Oaks Farms, one of the country’s leading agritourism destinations. Visitors can take tours of the farm, which includes dairy cows, pigs and crops. You can also dine at the Farmhouse Restaurant or get a quick bite at the Cowfé ice cream and gift shop.

Things to do east of Indianapolis

Just over an hour east, not far off I-70, is a restored 1800s Federal-style home known as “The Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.” Levi and Catherine Coffin, both Quakers, helped more than 1,000 enslaved people along their journey to freedom in Canada, and you can explore their eight-room home. Purchase of a guided tour is required, and tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with additional tours at noon and 3 p.m. on April 6 and 7. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit indianamuseum.org/historic-sites/levi-catharine-coffin-house.

Nearby, off I-70 in Knightstown, is perhaps one of the state’s most famous high school gyms. Fans of the movie “Hoosiers” will recognize The Hoosier Gym as the Hickory Huskers’ home court. The gym and museum are available for tours, and will host a special screening of “Hoosiers” for eclipse fans visiting the area on April 6.

A little under an hour northeast, off I-69 in Anderson, is Mounds State Park, home to 10 earthworks built by prehistoric Native Americans known as the Adena-Hopewell people. Historians and archaeologists believe the mounds were used as gathering places for religious ceremonies. The largest earthwork, known as the Great Mound, is believed to have been built around 160 B.C.

Things to do west of Indianapolis

A little over an hour west of the city, just south of I-70, in Center Point, is the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, a nonprofit that rescues and cares for big and small exotic cats that have been abused, abandoned or otherwise found themselves without homes — from “pets” to retired circus animals. Tours are offered daily at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and tickets cost $10 per adult and $5 for children 12 and under.

If the weather’s nice, stop by either Shades State Park in Waveland or Turkey Run State Park in Marshall. Both offer hiking and recreation opportunities as well as beautiful views of Indiana’s sandstone cliffs and ravines.

Things to do south of Indianapolis

About an hour south, along State Road 135, is Nashville, a small town with lots of art and antique shopping and stunning views of rolling Southern Indiana hills. While you’re there, stop by the TC Steele State Historic Site, the former home of one of the state’s most prolific artists. Guided tours of the home are offered Wednesday through Sunday at 10:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Self-guided tours are available all day. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit indianamuseum.org/historic-sites/tc-steele.

Two hours south of Indianapolis sit French Lick and nearby West Baden Springs, birthplace of basketball icon Larry Bird. West Baden is home to the iconic West Baden Springs Hotel, once referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Its 200-foot-wide atrium is currently undergoing repairs from damage sustained during a hail storm last spring, but it’s still worth a stop. The French Lick Springs Hotel and casino offers plenty of entertainment options, as well as a world-class spa.

Nearly three hours southwest is New Harmony, the site of two of America’s early utopian communities, established in the early 1800s and dissolved by 1827. The Harmonists were known for their unique construction designs, including labyrinths, one of which is replicated south of town. Tours of the community are available Wednesday through Sunday via Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites: indianamuseum.org/historic-sites/new-harmony.

Check out the architecture in Columbus, just under an hour southeast of downtown Indianapolis, along I-65. The small city is world-renowned for its architectural quality and innovation. It’s home to designs by I.M. Pei and Eero and Eliel Saarinen. You can take a tour of Eero Saarinen’s iconic Miller House, a midcentury residence regarded alongside Fallingwater, the Glass House and the Farnsworth House as one of the country’s best examples of modern residential architecture. Ninety-minute tours are $30, and more information and ticket details can be found at bit.ly/3T6o58W. Children under 10 are not permitted on Miller House tours.

Restaurants to visit in Indiana

Just about an hour southeast, along I-74, is a nondescript fried chicken joint with a James Beard Award. Wagner’s Village Inn in Oldenburg was recognized with the prestigious award in 2023 for its family style dinner, which includes 10 pieces of lard-fried chicken, coleslaw, green beans, and mashed potatoes with gravy.

About an hour northwest, in West Lafayette, you can stop by Triple XXX restaurant, featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Get the Drew Brees First Choice breakfast special, which includes two eggs, chicken fried steak or ground sirloin, fried potatoes or hash browns and two buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy or the Duane Purvis All American burger, a quarter-pound chop steak cheeseburger slathered with creamy peanut butter. (Guy Fieri has also visited restaurants in Goshen, to the north, and Mooresville, to the southwest.)

Indiana’s ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’: The Guy Fieri-approved eats foodies should try

About two hours and 45 minutes northeast, in Middlebury, is Das Dutchman Essenhaus, where you can get a large, family-style meal. By our last count, they have 25 different pies on the menu — and that doesn’t include seasonal offerings. And that’s not all: You can also book carriage rides, a few holes of mini golf or bike rentals to explore Amish country.

If you’re passing through Bloomington, about an hour south of the city, we’d be remiss not to mention Fourth Street, which is home to a variety of international restaurants including Burmese, Thai, Indian and Tibetan cuisines. Elsewhere in the city, The Elm recently earned a spot on USA TODAY’s Restaurants of the Year list. With a seasonal, rotating menu and craft cocktails, it’s best to check the website for the most up-to-date offerings: elmbloomington.com.

From The Herald-Times: A huge tree is its namesake. Now it’s been named one of the best restaurants in the U.S.A.

Claiming to be the oldest coney dog stand in the country, Fort Wayne’s Coney Island opened in 1914 and has become one of the city’s most iconic eateries. At the small hot dog joint about two hours northeast of Indy, you can get a classic coney dog — a grilled frank on a steamed bun with mustard, coney sauce and onions — and a glass bottle of Coke for less than $4, pre-tax.

Step into the past at Lynn’s Pharmacy and soda fountain in Brazil, about an hour southwest of Indianapolis, just north of I-70. Inside a running pharmacy, the soda parlor opened in October 1996 and makes old-fashioned Cokes with shaved ice and carbonated water and syrup flavors including cherry, chocolate, lemon and vanilla. The fountain also serves phosphates as well as milkshakes, malts and sundaes. Much of the antique décor was purchased from former pharmacies and soda shops, adding to the nostalgic feel. The pharmacy is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It’s closed Sunday.

Contact IndyStar newsroom development director Holly Hays at [email protected]. Follow her on X/Twitter: @hollyvhays.

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