Looking for something to do in our great Hoosier State that is a little outside the norm? Do you like your trips a little off the beaten path? Check out these seriously unique and usual places to visit in Indiana!
If you have driven between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, you passed a wolf sanctuary, and likely didn’t even realize it. As long as the weather is cooperating, this sanctuary is open on the weekends. Admission is completely free of charge, but there are interactive packages that allow visitors to get up close and personal. They range in price from $40.00 to $50.00 per person. Wolf Creek Habitat is tucked in along Wolf Creek southwest of Brookville Indiana.
Crown Hill Cemetery sits just a few miles north of Downtown Indianapolis, and it has been in operation since 1864. While it has the appearance of a normal, large cemetery, it is the final resting place for several famous Hoosiers. Among many other famous Hoosiers, President Benjamin Harrison, poet James Whitcomb Riley and outlaw John Dillinger are all buried here. Public tours are available on select weekends throughout the summer.
Rubber Horse Sculpture
Indianapolis certainly has its share of oddities, but this strange sculpture might take the cake. Constructed completely with used tires, art enthusiasts flock to the intersection of Prospect Street and New Jersey Street near Downtown Indianapolis to see this piece of abstract art in person.
Mooresville is home to one of the strangest stretches of roads in the entire world. Nicknamed Gravity Hill, drivers have reported rolling up the hill backwards when they park their cars in neutral at the bottom of the hill. The validity of their claims is certainly up for debate, so you might just have to go see for yourself. The hill is located about a mile off IN-42 on Keller Hill Road.
Any old-timer will tell you Indiana high school basketball is not what it used to be. Still, you can take a step back in time to the glory days by visiting the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, a 14,000 square foot museum that celebrates the love Hoosiers have for basketball. Located in New Castle, visitors should also stop by New Castle Fieldhouse, the largest high school gymnasium in the world.
Long’s Furniture World and Mattress is a successful Indiana business with locations across the Indianapolis area. Its Franklin location is the most unique, however. On the grounds, visitors will find “Big John,” recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest wooden rocking chair in the world. It is 32 feet in size, and it was built in 2004.
Muncie holds the distinction of being home to the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Across the street, you will find the National Model Aviation Museum, which holds around 9,000 different types of model airplane artifacts. Visitors will find model airplanes, radio systems, engines and other types of equipment used in model airplanes. Model enthusiasts will love this unique museum off of US-35.
Definitely an oddity, Old Ben is a famous steer that has been completely preserved since his death in February of 1910. Before his death, Old Ben was already famous due to his large size. He was a whopping 6.5 feet tall, and he weighed somewhere between 4,585 and 4,270 pounds when he was alive. Today, he is a standalone feature located in a pavilion in Highland Park in Kokomo.
When you think of Indiana, you probably do not think of tobogganing. That said, during the winter months of the year, you can do it up in Angola at Pokagon State Park. The track is an astounding quarter mile long, and riders have reached speeds of 42 miles per hour. The track is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between late November and late February with or without snow on the ground.
Needless to say, there seems to be a museum for pretty much anything anymore. In Indianapolis, you will find the Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum, which only has small Statue of Liberty memorabilia. This strange museum has been open to the public since Easter Weekend of 2016, and it is definitely one of the odder collections in the state.
Hoosier United States presidents have not exactly left a huge mark on American history when compared to other presidents like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. One Hoosier president, William Henry Harrison, was president for just 31 days before passing away from pneumonia. Still, as one of Indiana’s proudest sons, his beautiful 19th-century Vincennes home is open year-round to the public.
At one time, Indiana had the largest free-span dome in the world. The dome can still be visited today, and it covers the main atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel, the most famous landmark in French Lick, Indiana. The hotel has an interesting pas, welcoming wealthy businessmen and gangsters as hotel guests and serving as a seminary for Jesuits at various points throughout history. The hotel was fully renovated in 1996, and, today, is arguably the most beautiful hotel in Indiana.
In extreme eastern Indiana, there is a small community called College Corner. It has all the looks of a normal, unassuming Midwestern town, but it is unique because it is split in half by the Indiana-Ohio state border. The town’s public system also strangely serves students from both sides of the state line, meaning public students hail from both Indiana and Ohio. Appropriately, the state borderline runs directly along South State Line Road.
DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, has an artistic display of the Periodic Table of Elements. If they have been able to get their hands on them, curators of this unique display have live samples of the table’s various elements. Unfortunately, many elements are missing from the table because they are deemed unsafe for display. Still, this interesting piece is a great educational tool for Hoosiers of all ages. It can be found within the Julian Science Center on campus.
For a unique urbex experience, consider following the Lake Michigan shoreline and visit Indiana’s lighthouses. Most of them have fallen into disrepair, but the beautiful Michigan City Old Lighthouse is well maintained today, and its structure now holds a museum. See if you can find the handful of Indiana’s lighthouses located along Indiana’s 45-mile coastline with Lake Michigan the next time you are in northern Indiana.
Depending on your taste, you will think the Miller House and Garden’s architecture style is either ugly or revolutionary. Commissioned in 1953, this Columbus home looks like something from a science fiction novel, employing steel columns, glass walls and sharp edges, all unusual features for a home built in its time. The home received National Historic Landmark designation in 2000, and it can be toured.
In the early years of the 1870s, Greensburg residents noticed something unusual was occurring in the town’s main square. A shrub had sprouted on the roof of the county courthouse. Many years later, this shrub grew into a large tree, and more trees have sprouted on the roof throughout the years. Today, there are five trees in total, and they still thrive year-round. Locals and experts are still dumbfounded how these trees managed to sprout 110 feet off the ground.
The town of New Harmony, located along the banks of the Wabash River, was founded as a social experiment by British socialist Robert Owen. The town ultimately failed, but it holds the distinction of being one of the only communities in the United States that tried to create a completely classless, Utopian society. Today, the town’s socialist roots are pretty much non-existent, but many of its original 19th-century buildings remain intact.
The strangest grave in the world might just be in Amity, Indiana. In 1831, a woman named Nancy Kerlin Barnett passed away, and she was buried on a hill near Sugar Creek. In 1905, officials planned to build County Road 400 right through Barnett’s grave. They changed their minds when Barnett’s grandson showed up with a shotgun and threatened them. To compromise, they built the two lanes of the road around the grave, making it one of the few known gravesites located in the middle of a road. Since then, an additional six bodies have been discovered at the site
Priding itself in its inconvenient location, the Story Inn is located out in the middle of nowhere in Brown County State Park. Completely devoid of modern amenities like televisions, phone, and radios, the inn is designed to give guests the feeling they went back in time to the 19th Century. The inn is also rumored to be haunted. Guests that have stayed in the Blue Lady Room have reportedly “summoned” the Blue Lady by turning on one of the room’s lights.
There is just one superhero museum in the entire world, and it happens to be located in Elkhart. The museum has 75 years’ worth of superhero artifacts, including 60,000 comic books, over 10,000 toys and figurines and tons of other types of superhero memorabilia
Most Hoosiers are probably unaware that there was a Civil War battle in Indiana. On July 9th, 1863, Confederate soldiers under the command of General John Hunt Morgan crossed the Ohio River into Indiana. They were met by Colonel Lewis Jordan, leader of the Harrison County Home Guard, and Indiana’s only Civil War battle occurred. The battleground, near Corydon, can be visited today completely free of charge.
Two famous Hoosiers named Levi and Catherine Coffin were extremely important figures of The Underground Railroad. This Quaker couple helped over 1,000 slaves escape to Canada. Today, their eight-room home is an Indiana Historic Site, and it can be toured every day of the week except Mondays. This historic home is located on US-21 in Fountain City.
Jug Rock is kind of hard to explain, so you might just have to see it for yourself. It is the largest free-standing table rock formation in the eastern half of the United States. The rock got its shape from constant erosion since its formation in the Pennsylvania Epoch. This rare rock formation is located within Jug Rock Nature Preserve, located outside of the small town of Shoals.
While some might say it is a dying science, Purdue University’s School of Nuclear Engineering is still thriving. To help educate its students in nuclear science, Purdue has a small nuclear reactor located below its Electrical Engineering Building. Compared to most nuclear reactors, this one is not very powerful, licenses to produce just one kilowatt, which is about the energy required to power a toaster. Purdue provides regular tours of the reactor, which is completely safe to visit. In fact, a little over 1,600 people visit this reactor per year.
The home you see in the opening of the hit show “Roseanne” is actually located in Evansville, Indiana. The home is located on otherwise unassuming Runnymeade Avenue in the eastern part of the city. On the outside, the home has not changed much since it was built in 1925, and it looks pretty similar to how it did during the famous show’s running. The home was included in the show because it was the family home of Roseanne Barr’s best friend.
In tiny Metamora, you will find the world’s largest collection of cookie jars. This odd collection is open to visitors seven days a week, and there are over 2,600 cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers and other types of jars on display. “Granny” also serves delicious ice cream to visitors starting at 10:00 am every day.
Evidence of Indiana high school basketball’s rich history can be found once again in Knightstown, Indiana. Parts of the 1985 film “Hoosiers” were taped at the Hoosier Gym, the fictional home for the Hickory Huskers. This old gym has stood for over 80 years, and it is open to the public. It can even be rented for private events.
Railroad enthusiasts will be awed by Tulip Trestle, an extremely long railroad bridge located in Green County. The trestle was built in 1906, and it was originally constructed to transport coal from Greene County to other parts of the Midwest. While you are not permitted to walk on the track itself, you are allowed to get close to it, and it you can even drive beneath it.
There are plenty of quarries across Indiana, but there are very few that you can enter without trespassing. White Rock Park has one such quarry in Saint Paul, Indiana. While it may seem like every other quarry in Indiana, it is unique because it is filled with water, and the owners allow visitors to swim in it. There are also some rope swings, a zip line and a couple of diving platforms, varying in heights up to 10 meters. In 2017, this unique destination will be open seven days a week for the summer season beginning May 26th.
The City of South Bend has the world’s first artificial whitewater rafting course. Built in 1984, the origins of the waterway can be traced way back to 1840. The channel was originally constructed to power a nearby mill. Today, you can trek down the 2,000-foot course, regardless of your white-water rafting experience.
North of Anderson, you will find the community of Alexandria, which has the odd distinction of hosting the world’s largest ball of paint. This strange attraction is in a small, roadside house on Florida Road just west of town.
Hoosiers that have done the drive from Indianapolis to Chicago have undoubtedly come across Meadow Lake Wind Farm, a humongous windmill farm in White County. This massive project was completed in four phases, and, today, it powers about 127,00 Indiana homes. Consider winding down White County’s rural roads during sunset for some beautiful photos and an unforgettable experience.
Indiana’s Parke County is nicknamed “The Covered Bridge Capital of the World.” 31 different covered bridges are spread throughout the county. Parke County takes special pride in its unique designation, and it even has the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival every year in Rockville in the middle of October.
Mitchell is home to another creepy Southern Indiana destination–Whispers Estate. Whispers Estate was home to Dr. John Gibbons, a medical doctor for the town. Throughout his 26 years of practice, it is believed that many of his patients passed away in his first-floor office. Visitors report experiencing paranormal activity in the home, and it is believed that many different spirits haunt the grounds. Whispers Estates allows overnight stays, but only the bravest may want to visit this spooky Indiana destination.
If you hike in the woods east of Bloomington, you might stumble upon Knightridge Space Observatory, an abandoned building that once served as a fully-functional observatory. Originally built in the mid-1930s, the observatory was abandoned as Bloomington grew and light pollution become a nuisance. The surrounding forest has taken over, and the Observatory now stands as a creepy ruin intertwined with nature.