Top Free Things To Do In Indiana | Midwest Living

Top Free Things To Do In Indiana

Explore free museums, parks and monuments in Indianapolis, Richmond and other cities in Indiana.
  • Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park: 100 Acres
    Photo courtesy of Visit Indiana

    Free art in Indianapolis

    Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park: 100 Acres (pictured) Admire modern art while exploring the woods, meadows, wetlands and lake at this former quarry. Guided tours of the 100-acre park, adjacent to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, run seasonally on Saturdays.

    Indianapolis Art Center The center offers interactive exhibitions and artist demonstrations, both indoors and in a 12-acre creativity park.



  • More in Indianapolis

    Soldiers and Sailors Monument (pictured) Climb 330 steps (or take an elevator ride for a small fee) for a 360-degree view of downtown. The 1902 monument honors Hoosiers who gave their lives in each of the nation’s wars. The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum on the lower level explores the effect of the Civil War on citizens.

    Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial A glass wall in White River State Park honors recipients of the nation's highest military tribute. Each day at dusk, the memorial's sound system plays recorded stories of medal winners and the conflicts in which they fought.

    Indiana State Capitol A stained-glass dome in striking shades of blue adorn the rotunda of the 1888 Renaissance Revival building.

    Sun King Brewing Company Free half-hour tours of one of the city’s finest craft brewers run Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2, 3 or 4 p.m. Sign up in person, first-come, first-served.

  • The Indiana University Art Museum

    Indiana University stops

    The Indiana University Art Museum (pictured) shows off some of its 45,000 artworks in an I.M. Pei-designed building.

    Lilly Library contains one of the world’s 14 original Gutenberg Bibles, Ian Fleming’s James Bond manuscripts and 30,000 mechanical puzzles.

  • First Presbyterian Church
    Photo courtesy of Richmond Stained Glass Trail.

    Richmond trails

    Stained Glass Trail A five-block area in Richmond features nearly 70 stained-glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Pick up a map from the Richmond Welcome Center. The trail visits the Morrisson-Reeves Library and three churches including First Presbyterian Church (pictured).

    Chocolate Trail A delicious way to explore the region; grab your Chocolate Trail Passport at the Richmond Welcome Center and receive free chocolate samples at nine different chocolatiers around the city.

    Whitewater Gorge Park Trail A popular 3.5-mile hiking trail goes through downtown Richmond to Thistlewaite Falls, a bird sanctuary, nearly vertical cliffs, Weir Dam and an old flour mill.

  • Photo courtesy of Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

    University of Notre Dame sites

    Campus Tours Guides lead visitors from the Eck Visitors Center past the Golden Dome, Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes.

    Snite Museum of Art Religious works dominate this collection; the nearly 28,000 works include pieces by old masters, Native Americans, African groups, and modern and contemporary artists.

  • Photo:

    For fossil lovers

    Falls of the Ohio State Park, Clarksville See one of the largest naturally exposed fossil beds along the Ohio River in Clarksville (about 100 miles southwest of Cincinnati, just across the river north of Louisville, Kentucky).

    Explore up to 220 acres of fossil beds (although collecting is not allowed). Naturalists lead hikers across the beds from June through October, when the river is low, to see the imprints of creatures from more than 380 million years ago.

    Also visit the Blufftop Interpretive Center, which (for a fee) shows a movie recounting the area's history.


  • Clabber Girl Museum
    Photo courtesy of Clabber Girl.

    More in Indiana

    Clabber Girl Museum, Terre Haute (pictured) A Clabber Girl delivery wagon and an antique race car from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are just two of the vintage items at this museum touching on the history of Clabber Girl baking products, Terre Haute and American baking.

    Get to Know Columbus Smartphone Tour, Columbus Discover Columbus' art and architecture through a self-guided tour. The smartphone app includes maps, images and audio descriptions. (The visitors center also offers a variety of paid tours guided by volunteers.)

    Parke County Tour, Rockville Explore an area known for the nation’s highest concentration of covered bridges (31) after picking up a self-guided tour brochure at the Parke County Tourist Information Center or online at

    Santa Claus Museum and Village, Santa Claus Learn about how this town got its famous name, page through children’s letters to Santa and explore its vast collection of antique toys and Santa Clauses. Then, stop by the Original Santa Claus Post Office where children can sit in antique school desks and write their own letters to Old Saint Nick.


Comments (1)

mkkb52hotmail wrote:
Not coming across as sour grapes, but there's more to Indiana than Indianapolis, Bloomington, etc. Fort Wayne and surrounding communities offer free activities. Our neighborhoods offer historic walking tours. West Central Neighborhood comes to mind. During the summer, there are free concerts that are family friendly so parents can take their kids with them and listen to some really good music. We have the river greenway. There is also much going on downtown towards riverfront improvement. Take an interpretive ride in a pontoon down the St. Mary's River. Enjoy the numerous festivals held in town. Headwaters Park is active nearly every weekend of the summer season. You can spend nothing or as much as you like while enjoying Germanfest, Greekfest, The 3 Rivers Festival, and many other events. Visit some of the other communities and lakes in the area. Hamilton Lake has a public beach, as does Wall Lake in Orland and a few other places. Visit the Amish Community of Grabill. It hasn't really become a tourist trap. I feel like we are the "forgotten" corner of Indiana.

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