As summer approaches and the temperatures rise, many people are itching to get out of the city. Although a weeklong vacation may not be an option, a day trip to one of Indiana’s finest parks can easily satisfy the desire to get out and reconnect with nature.
Nicknamed the “Little Smokies” for the area’s resemblance to the Smoky Mountains, Brown County State Park provides visitors with a beautiful escape from life in Indy. The park features nearly 16,000 acres of rugged hills, ridges, and ravines, as well as 20 miles of tree-lined roads, a rustic lodge, a large campground, hiking and mountain biking trails, and a saddle barn. About an hour’s drive from the city, this park is an excellent destination for a day trip. Plus, the nearby town of Nashville has a wide array of shopping, dining, art, and entertainment opportunities.
Located on the northeast side of Indianapolis just 20 minutes from downtown, Fort Harrison is a popular year-round destination for Indy residents. Described as “an oasis of green in an urban landscape,” Fort Harrison is the last forested area in Marion County. Features of this 1,700-acre park include jogging trails, fishing access, a creek for canoeing, and two national historic sites. Visitors can also view exhibits about the lives and soldiers of Fort Harrison in the park’s Museum of 20th Century Warfare. Visitors can easily spend just an hour or the whole day in the park.
One of the largest city parks in the nation, Eagle Creek Park offers visitors numerous opportunities for recreation, enjoyment, and discovery just 15 minutes from downtown. Featuring an Earth Discovery Center, Ornithology Center, space to canoe and paddleboat, hiking and biking paths, swimming areas, art shows, fitness classes, and daily activities, the park is a fun, nearby destination for children and adults alike.
Featuring several interpretive facilities, Spring Mill State Park enables visitors to gain a fuller appreciation for the link between the natural and cultural worlds. Founded in 1814, Pioneer Village is a restored village that contains 20 historic buildings, including a three-story gristmill. Visitors should also be sure to visit the Grissom Memorial honoring Hoosier astronaut Virgil Grissom, America’s second man in space. The Twin Caves Boat Tour, Nature Center, and miles of hiking trails are also must-sees. Located south of Bloomington, it’s about an hour and 45 minute drive from Indy to the park.
Found just a little over an hour west of Indy, Turkey Run State Park is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. Home to some of Indiana’s best-known hiking trails, the park offers the chance to explore deep ravines, walk through aged forests, and enjoy beautiful views of Sugar Creek. The park also includes a large nature center and planetarium, fishing opportunities, a cozy inn, a large campground, a saddle barn, and multiple areas for swimming.