Indiana is a state full of surprises. In this one (very tall) Midwestern state, you can find sugar sand beaches, lakeside resorts, giant sand dunes, ancient burial grounds, ski resorts, German villages, and vineyards. Pretty impressive for just one state, right?
I’ll admit: I was surprised, too. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky on the border of Indiana – like, Indiana is RIGHT across the river, you can literally walk there – gave me a bit of tunnel vision when it came to our northern neighbor. Kentucky and Indiana have a friendly rivalry, which mostly has to do with college basketball. And yet, when it came time to decide where to go to college, Indiana University called to me… so I became a Hoosier! And I could not be happier about it.
Today, I am a proud Hoosier (AND a proud Kentuckian). I LOVED attending college in Bloomington – my personal favorite destination in Indiana, centrally located within a several hours drive of many amazing Indiana getaways.
I explored Indiana on weekends and holidays, venturing as far north as the South Shore and as far south as Evansville. From the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan to the southern border with my hometown on the Ohio River, Indiana is filled with hidden gems to explore. Here are 8 of my favorite weekend getaways in Indiana!
Psst: looking for more weekend trips near Indiana, Kentucky, or Tennessee? Check out our other posts:
- The Ideal Indianapolis Weekend Getaway Itinerary
- 14 Charming Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan
- 50+ Things to Do in Louisville, Kentucky: A Local’s Guide
- The Ultimate Self-Guided Tour of Cleveland Breweries
Bloomington, Indiana: A College Town Getaway
So I’m incredibly biased as an Indiana University grad (go Hoosiers!), but Bloomington is the best college town in America and IU is the most beautiful campus ever. Ok, fine, I guess Notre Dame and Purdue are nice, too.
Bloomington – aka B-town, if you’re hip and with it, which I like to act like I am – is filled with small-town charm, delicious food, and college-themed fun.
Visit during the school year on a game weekend and you can party it up at a tailgate or out at the bars (trust me, it’s not just students partying on game weekend. According to my scientific research/Facebook feed, 99% of IU alumni still attend home games… regularly). Or visit during the summer and be treated to a much quieter but just as gorgeous Bloomington!
What to Do in Bloomington
Spend a day wandering the Indiana University campus. It’s beautiful, and it always inspires me to go read something educational.
Wander through downtown Bloomington via Kirkwood Avenue and stop into the shops and restaurants, or bike the adorable B-Line Trail through downtown. During the summer, escape to Monroe Lake to swim, boat, or fish.
Where to Eat (& Drink) in Bloomington
Bloomington is home to incredible restaurants! Wander down 4th street downtown to find cuisine from all over the globe. For that authentic college vibe, go to Nick’s English Hut, which is where Obama ate when he visited and ALSO home of the locally famous game Sink the Biz, which involves a giant bucket of fries and a LOT of beer (you’ll see).
Bloomington is home to a few rival pizzerias, and locals are rabidly loyal to either Mother Bear’s Pizza or Aver’s Gourmet Pizza (I’m an Aver’s girl myself, and the Cream & Crimson is my favorite pizza in the world). If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, FARMBloomington is an incredible farm-to-table restaurant.
If you’re up for an authentic local experience, the nightlife in Bloomington is incredible. Bring 2 forms of ID to Kilroy’s on Kirkwood (KOK for short) – come early so you don’t have to pay a cover – and order Long Island Iced Tea. There are about 20 flavors to choose from, they’re all $5, and they come in a huge pitcher that, as an adult, I absolutely cannot finish on my own.
Once you finish your massive LIIT, stumble down Kirkwood into any of the bars that strike your fancy – on a weekend night during the school year, they will ALL be poppin’.
Get your next-day hangover brunch at the Runcible Spoon.
Where to Stay in Bloomington
The Showers Inn is an adorable historic Bed & Breakfast located within walking distance of downtown & the IU campus. For a more rustic feel, check out the Adventurewood Luxury Log Cabin. While it’s about 10 miles from campus, this 4-bedroom cabin has a pool table and a hot tub on a screened in porch. Definitely a place to check out with your closest friends!
Syracuse: A Lakeside Getaway
A lakeside resort in Indiana? Yes, it’s true! Escape into the retreat of Syracuse, Indiana, on the shores of stunning Lake Wawasee. Visit in the summer so you can cool off in the lake, pick fresh berries at the Blue Barn Berry Farm, and spend a day at one of the many golf courses in the area. We think this is one of the most romantic getaways in Indiana.
What to Do in Syracuse
Take advantage of Lake Wawasee! Cool off from the summer heat by swimming, fishing, boating, water-skiing, tubing, jet-skiing, or just enjoying the 25 miles of gorgeous shoreline. If golf is your sport, take your pick: there are a ton of golf courses nearby.
Where to Eat in Syracuse
Start the night off in downtown Syracuse at the Huntington Street Bar & Grill, where you can enjoy a delicious craft beer (an Indiana local favorite is Three Floyds Brewing Company) and live music along with dinner. Or head to Down Under Bar & Restaurant: it’s literally down under, as in underground – look for the gazebo to find the hidden entrance.
Thirsty? Try the homemade root beer at Shopoff’s Drive-In.
Fancy something fancier? The Westmain Tavern is a foodie’s dream come true.
Where to Stay in Syracuse
Stay at the luxurious Oakwood Resort, located on the shore of beautiful Lake Wawasee!
French Lick, Indiana: A Romantic Getaway
Don’t let the name throw you off: French Lick is a fantastic romantic getaway in Indiana and the perfect spot for a weekend trip! The town is centered around the historic French Lick Resort, an absolutely incredible luxury hotel built in the early 1900s and still serving up fabulousness to this day.
What to Do in French Lick
Go wine tasting at the French Lick Winery on the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail (yes, Indiana has a wine trail!) Pretend you’re a kid again at the giant indoor water-park, Big Splash Adventure. Then later, head to the Vegas-style casino because you’re a grown-up.
If you plan a Christmas-season getaway, you can experience the kid-friendly Polar Express train at French Lick Resort and hit the slopes at nearby Paoli Peaks to ski, snowboard, or tube!
Where to Eat in French Lick
If the thought of a sizzling steak makes your mouth water, head to 1875: The Steakhouse for a delicious dinner overlooking the gardens. The restaurant is named for the first running of the Kentucky Derby, which gives it major bonus points for me as a Kentucky native!
The German Cafe serves up authentic, stick-to-your-ribs German cuisine, which is exactly what you’ll want in the middle of winter after a long day of skiing at Paoli Peaks – trust me, I’m a spatzle addict.
Where to Stay in French Lick
Of course, you can splurge and say at the French Lick Resort.
But if you’re on a budget, stay at the French Lick Quarters, a comfortable and cozy home right in the heart of historic downtown French Lick! The neighborhood is full of beautiful architecture – perfect for taking long, romantic strolls in. You’ll be walking distance from restaurants, shops, pubs, and casinos. Also check out this beautiful newly-built Turkey Hill Log Cabin, which is just 4 miles from the French Lick resort and is located on 20 acres of land. This is the perfect place for some privacy and romance!
Travel Tip: We recommend booking directly through VRBO because it has fewer fees and more flexible cancellation policies than Airbnb – also, we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record and lax security.
Valparaiso, Indiana: A Foodie Getaway
Not to be confused with its namesake in Chile, Valparaiso is located in Indiana Dunes Country just south of Lake Michigan. Visitors to Valparaiso will be treated to a smorgasbord of deliciousness, from locally brewed craft beer to locally grown wine to a plethora of delicious restaurants!
What to Do in Valparaiso
Valpo – Valparaiso’s way-too-hip nickname – is a booze traveler’s dream! Hit the South Shore Brewery trail and get a flight at Four Fathers Brewing or Ironwood Brewing, or try a wine tasting at Anderson Vineyard & Winery. Catch a double feature with your sweetheart at the old-timey 49er Drive-In Theatre. Wander around downtown Valparaiso and explore the countless adorable shops and delicious restaurants.
If you need a break from eating and drinking your way through Valpo, take a day trip to the Indiana Dunes State Park to experience Indiana’s unique giant sand dunes and gorgeous beaches. Yes, Indiana has beaches! And dunes! Y’all, I was surprised too.
Where to Eat (& Drink) in Valparaiso
Downtown Valparaiso is chock full of delicious eateries to discover! Head to library/book-themed Stacks Bar & Grill for some craft cocktails and a delicious, always-surprising menu, and be sure to try the Stack Sticks. Or grab a burger at Radius, along with a(nother) delicious craft cocktail, of course. The Rolling Stonebaker is a cozy little gourmet wood-fired pizza spot serving up some of the most unique pies you’ve never heard of. Be sure to try the local favorite, Stoner Bites 😉 For dessert, hit up Designer Desserts for an Instagram-friendly rainbow cake.
Where to Stay in Valparaiso
Stay at the super-cute Abbotsford Suite, a Bed & Breakfast where you’ll feel right at home. That is, if your home has a giant bathtub and a fireplace in your bedroom. And as if you need even more food, the hearty breakfast is free!
Oldenburg Indiana: A Historic European Getaway
Visiting Oldenburg, Indiana feels a bit like you’ve wandered through an enchanted wardrobe in Indiana and ended up in Oldenburg, Germany. There are street signs in both German & English. There are clapboard houses. Most importantly, there is schnitzel.
Founded in 1837 by a group of German settlers, the “Village of Spires” remains one of Indiana’s most picturesque towns. Soak up old European charm in the most German town in Indiana!
What to Do in Oldenburg
Plan your visit around Oldenburg Freudenfest in the summer to experience peak German-ness – who says Oktoberfest is the best German festival?!
During the rest of the year, you can explore historic Oldenburg and pretend you’re walking through a town in Germany. Pop into Carriage House Antiques (Kutschenhaus in German) and browse for treasures. To soak up even more history, explore the nearby historic canal town, Metamora. Or take a day trip to the Salt Creek Ranch for hiking, horse-back riding, and hayrides!
Where to Eat in Oldenburg
Visit The Kessing Haus Café for coffee and fresh baked goods. Dine at The Brau Haus for authentic German cuisine (and beer – of course). Or stop by Wagner’s Village Inn for their famous family-style crispy fried chicken!
Where to Stay in Oldenburg
Stay just a few minutes outside of tiny, historic Oldenburg at the Batesville Hampton Inn.
Madison, Indiana: A Riverside Antique Getaway
Located directly on the banks of the Ohio River in Southern Indiana, Madison is one of Indiana’s most charming river towns. Plan a road trip on the Ohio River Scenic Byway and you’ll drive straight through little Madison, with its charming historic downtown and cozy antique shops.
What to Do in Madison
Rent a bike at Fizz’z Bike Shop to explore the historic district. Spent a lazy afternoon browsing the many boutiques and antique shops. Get lost in the enormous Lumber Mill Antique Mall and transport yourself back in time – you’re sure to find a treasure (or 3)! Sample locally made wine and hard cider at the Thomas Family Winery.
While you’re visiting Madison, be sure to go hiking in Clifty Falls State Park to see its stunning namesake.
For even more tips, check out this guide to taking a day trip to Madison, Indiana on Cali Globetrotter.
What to Eat in Madison
Stop for a delicious lunch at Bad Apple Mac’s. Or stop by the super artistic and quaint Gallery 115 for a homemade quiche or pie! Or relax with a beer and some down-home comfort food at Off Broadway Taproom.
Where to Stay in Madison
Stay at the Hillside Inn for a gorgeous view of the water.
Nashville, Indiana: An Artist’s Retreat Getaway
Quaint little Nashville, Indiana shares one thing in common with its Tennessee namesake: it’s an artistic mecca! The Brown County Art Colony was founded in Nashville, Indiana over 100 years ago, and the arts abound in this tiny town.
Wander the arts & crafts shops of Nashville and you’ll discover everything from paintings to sculptures to stained glass art to hand-made furniture to wood carvings to metal sculptures to hand-blown glass to custom jewelry to custom birdhouses. That’s a LOT of talent in one place!
As if to inspire its local artists, Nashville sits just outside of Brown County State Park, a gorgeous forest in the rolling hills of Indiana (yes, Indiana has rolling hills). On your scenic road trip to Nashville, be sure to stop at the Bean Blossom covered bridge and the The Bean Blossom Overlook on State Road 135 North to take in the foliage – especially in the fall!
What to Do in Nashville
Explore the home of the first Nashville artist-in-residence at the T.C. Steele Historic Site. Support local artists and take in a show at the Brown County Playhouse, or go dancing at Mike’s Music & Dance Barn. Or treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind show at the Melchior Marionette Show, featuring stunning hand-crafted cabaret marionettes!
Once you’ve gotten in touch with your artistic side, spend a day hiking in Brown County State Park. Be sure to climb the famous Fire Tower for stunning forest views! You just might want to bring a canvas and some watercolors in case inspiration hits. 😉
One last famous thing to do in Nashville, Indiana? Get married! The town is full of romantic cabins, rustic Pinterest-worthy barns, and wedding chapels. All you need is some burlap and a chalkboard sign.
Where to Eat in Nashville
Transport yourself back to yesteryear at the Nashville General Store and Bakery. Be sure to try a deep-fried biscuit rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with apple butter (omg, I just drooled on myself). Have a decadent tea party at cozy Sweetea’s Tea Shop. Head to Big Woods Village for some craft beer and brewery fare. Right on Main Street, local favorite Hob Nob Corner serves up rustic, honest food in a down-home setting..
Where to Stay in Nashville
The Brown County Inn is a comfortable hotel tucked into an old-fashioned general store facade and gives that rustic Indiana down-home feeling right in the heart of town. There’s also this super charming Artist Lane Cottage which is super bright and inviting. Or you could stay at the Daffodil Hill Log Cabin, which is a pet-friendly cabin with a hot tub in the woods and just half a mile to town!
Indianapolis, Indiana: A City Getaway
I’ve saved the most famous for last: Indianapolis! Of all the places to visit in Indiana, Indianapolis is probably the most popular – and for good reason. Indianapolis’ biggest city is both metropolitan and distinctly Midwestern – and just like the rest of Indiana, it might surprise you!
Explore Indianapolis and you’ll stumble onto scenic canals and bridges straight out of a Venice summer evening. You can choose to tour Indianapolis’ more upscale side, or you can choose to get down and dirty at the Speedway or the Speedrome, where monster trucks and buses smash into one another in a way that can only be described as primally satisfying.
What to Do in Indianapolis
Wander through hipster hotspot Broad Ripple Village, with its foodie-friendly and culturally diverse restaurants, local brewpubs, and funky indie shops. Take a class to learn how to brew your own beer, kombucha, or bake bread at Great Fermentations.
Oogle at all things quirky and weird at the Sideshow Art and Odditorium, or the Museum of Psychphonics. Spend a day wine tasting at Indianapolis’ 4 local wineries on the Indy Wine Trail. Rent a bike and tour the city via the scenic and historic Monon Trail, or explore the 3 mile Downtown Canal Trail on foot.
Visit the stunning Indianapolis Museum of Art, aka Newfields, and take an Instagram picture in front of the iconic LOVE sculpture – it’s the first one ever created!
For even more suggestions on what to do in Indianapolis, check out our Indianapolis Weekend Getaway Itinerary!
Where to Eat in Indianapolis
Enjoy a farm to table, fancy foodie meal at Bluebeard, a stunning restaurant whose name is a nod to famous Indianapolis novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Sip a craft cocktail at Ball & Biscuit or The Inferno Room. Dig into a steak dinner at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse (the shrimp cocktail is famous – but beware) and then sneak upstairs to the 1933 Lounge, a prohibition-style speakeasy.
Where to Stay in Indianapolis
We love this stunning VRBO which was converted from a historic department store that dates back 1911. Today, the airy, spacious apartment – complete with its very own entrance to the mall it was once part of – is the perfect location for your Indianapolis getaway and walking distance from many attractions downtown.
This beautiful home, which looks like everything I’ve ever saved on my Pinterest home decor board, is located next to Lucas Oil Stadium and just a 5-minute drive or Uber ride from downtown. A great place to relax and still be close to it all!
This 200-year old log cabin is 30-minutes away from downtown, but it’s pet-friendly and overlooks a lake! It’s a great spot to base yourself if you’ll also be exploring other Indiana getaways, like Bloomington or Nashville, because it’s about halfway between both them and Indy.
Aww, you guys, writing this post just made me want to go back to Indiana! Last time I was home, I visited both Madison and Bloomington – there’s always a good excuse to hop in a car with friends and spend a couple of hours driving to somewhere new.
Which of these weekend getaways near Indiana are you dying to visit? Drop us a comment below!
Psst: This is a shortened version of a post that originally appeared on Trivago. Click here to read the full post!
Looking for more weekend trips near Indiana? Check out our other posts:
- The Ideal Indianapolis Weekend Getaway Itinerary
- 50+ Amazing Places to Visit in Louisville, Kentucky
- 14 Charming Things to Do in Traverse City, Michigan
- Romantic Things to Do in Memphis, TN: Weekend Getaway Itinerary
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Disclaimer: The original version of post, published in 2018, was sponsored by Trivago. The post has since been updated.