LET’S GO SOMEWHERE

This is the first in an occasional series of ideas for summer travel throughout the state of Indiana.

This reporter had the pleasure of attending the Annual Tourism Media Fair at the Indiana State Fairgrounds this past April, where several dozen city and county visitors bureaus and tourist locales from the state of Indiana set up tables and booths to provide visitors to the fair with information and story ideas about their product — which, generally, is tourism in Indiana.

Over the course of the morning, I was treated to locally made chocolates, a slice of pie, a bottle of wine (put away for later), every kind of trade-fair trinket known to man, and stories, stories, stories from wonderfully friendly people of fun and interesting places to go and things to do in Indiana.

Although I have lived all of my 55 years in this state, I learned about places — in my state! — that I had never heard of, all of which made me want to put on my travel clothes, jump in the car, and explore the state I call home.

Shall we get started?

Trail of entertainment

Just west of Indianapolis lies the Rural Routes to Main Street Cultural Trail (ruralroutestomainstreet.com). A loop through Hendricks County and a loop through Morgan County lead you to art galleries, handicraft shops and local restaurants.

Here is a look at a few of the stops:

The Porch, a tearoom restaurant in Danville, features a full lunch menu that includes organic and gluten-free items as well as 50 flavors of fresh tea. Diners can also shop for artisan items, gifts and books all located in the refurbished 1856 one-room schoolhouse.

The Finer Things art gallery in Brownsburg features sculpture, photography, glasswork, pottery, fabric art and papercrafts. Artisan gourmet food, vintage-style sodas and made-to-order gift baskets are also available.

Nomad Yarns in Plainfield is a specialty store featuring a large supply of yarns, fibers, and notions for knitting, crocheting, spinning and felting. Nomad Yarns offers hand-knitted and hand-crocheted items by local artisans as well as classes, workshops and private lessons.

Mooresville Open Market Antiques is a family-operated antique store full of antique and vintage furniture, décor and collectibles, and a selection of items hand-made by local artist Judy Lee.

The Sterling Butterfly in Martinsville is home to more than 30 Indiana artists, including Pam Hurst, whose jewelry has been featured on the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. All in all, there is much to explore in a day trip through Hendricks and Morgan counties.

Southern splendor

Why wait until the leaves have turned to visit Brown County? Recently named one of the top five destinations for Midwestern mountain biking, there are more than 30 miles of trails in Brown County State Park alone, with another 150 miles of trail all within a half-hour’s drive of the park.

Mountain biking in Brown County might be one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Make it an outdoor weekend at Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground, where campers enjoy not only scenic views and rustic surroundings but live entertainment in the music park with more than a dozen events a year.

Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Park welcome four-legged friends at their horseman camps. Campsites have tie-ups for horses and 70 miles of horse trails. For those who enjoy the water, Most High Adventure Outfitters offers kayak and canoe adventures.

With more than 40 festivals throughout the year, there’s always something to celebrate in Brown County.

From May 30 to the first of October, the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail in Northern Indiana Amish Country showcase 19 quilt-inspired gardens and 21 quilt art murals.

More than 150,000 blooms fill quilt gardens that average 1,200 square feet in size and cover 23,000 square feet of land. The hand-painted outdoor quilt art murals average 129 square feet in size with the largest mural measuring 448 square feet. These vibrant quilt gardens and murals can be found along the Heritage Trail in the communities of Bristol, Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Middlebury, Shipshewana and Wakarusa. They are open to the public and are viewable free of charge.

According to Diana Lawson, executive director of the Elkhart Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Quilt Gardens are a signature attraction for the area and have been recognized as an American Bus Association Top 100 Event for seven consecutive years.

Audio tour guides are available for download online at amishcountry.org.

Let's Go Somewhere

This is the first in an occasional series of ideas for summer travel throughout the state of Indiana.

Author photo
Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or cschaefer@greenfieldreporter.com.