Resting beneath the southern shore of Lake Michigan, Indiana is a state teeming with natural beauty and rich history. The state's famous limestone forms the backbone of Indiana's diverse natural attractions, including rivers, canyons, gorges, caverns, forests and more. Those who sneeze at the thought of the outdoors needn't avoid Indiana; the state is also home to several dynamic urban centers. Throughout the year, visitors and residents alike can take their pick of an abundance of festivals, attractions, cultural events, musical activities and more.
Beginning in 1852, this state fair has brought in some of the most famous people in the world, and still does. You can't top the Beatles, John Phillip Sousa, Elvis, The Jackson Five and four presidents: JFK, FDR, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. A million people attend annually to see farm animals, ride the rides, eat fair food and catch the free entertainment. It's the 6th oldest fair in the nation for good reason.
- Johnny Appleseed and Archer Parks Fort Wayne, IN 46805 in Fort Wayne, IN
What are you doing the third Saturday of September? This festival entertains hordes of people with crafts, antiques and food. Find Johnny Appleseed behind one of the trees in the kids' area. The Farmers' Market has dried herbs, fresh vegetables and fruits, and there are old fashioned food booths as well. There also may be a blacksmith and other traditional demonstration artisans. Live entertainment and a living history area really make history come alive.
- Shipshewana, Ind. in Shipshewana, IN
May through September, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, this huge flea market offers some incredible finds, including fresh flowers and produce and handcrafted furniture. Handmade arts and crafts lure interested buyers and browsers, and there are hundreds of other items to ponder. The Auction Restaurant is on the grounds for hungry shoppers. The flea market has daytime hours, usually 8a-5p.
- Elkhart, Ind. in Elkhart, IN
You have all summer to see this, from the end of May to the beginning of October, and it is well worth a trip. Beautiful blooms create quilts on the ground and hand-painted quilt murals on outdoor walls, all original designs. Follow the Heritage Trail through Amish country on the northern border of Indiana, just about a hundred miles east of Chicago. Along the way, buggy rides and farm tours are nice diversions, and Amish food will fill up anyone. Downtown Elkhart is pretty and clean, and the epitome of fifties, small-town America. Norman Rockwell, anyone?
- West Lafayette, Ind. in West lafayette, IN
Points for originality go to this unique and truly American festival celebrating the annual gathering of the French and Native Americans in the mid-1700s at Fort Ouiatenon. The reenactment of this gathering at the fur-trading post includes authentic food, gunfire and smoke from wood fires; who can resist that? The romantic setting on the banks of the Wabash River southeast of town gives the reenactment a 1700s flavor, and the first weekend of October offers pleasant temperatures. It's a great opportunity to experience something different and historic.