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Indulge in Tranquility in the Best Small Towns in Indiana

From the Amish simplicity of Shipshewana to the historic downtown of Madison to French Lick’s scenic railway, the best small towns in Indiana offer a chance to disappear into tranquility. Whether you’re set on attending a long-running festival, checking each and every store in an historic downtown, or exploring waterfalls and nature trails, each small town in Indiana has something special to offer.

Nashville | photo via jackeharden_photos


Known as the Gateway to Brown County State Park, Nashville is a thriving arts community, with numerous art galleries and entertainment venues in the downtown area.

It’s also home to the Steele Historic Site — once the home of Theodore C. Steele, a Hoosier Group impressionist painter — and is open for regular tours. Visitors can also explore Brown County State Park, located just outside of town — described as every Hoosier’s favorite playground — or peruse specialty shops for hidden treasures.


Some of the most unique small towns in the Midwest are places where time seems to stand still, unchanged by the changing world around it. Sitting on the banks of the Ohio River, Madison is one such place.

Its historic downtown, known as the Madison Historic Landmark District, is a National Historic Landmark and features more than 130 blocks brimming with 19th-century architecture, unique shops, and cozy eateries. Apart from its historic downtown, visitors can get further glimpses into Madison’s fascinating history at the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.


Get off the beaten path and venture deep into Amish country in Shipshewana. Visitors of all ages can get a deep appreciation for Amish culture as they explore more than 50 barn quilts, and more than 100 Amish shops — including a leather shop, a toy store, and a beekeeping shop. 

Travelers who love countryside views and backroad traveling can also take an audio driving tour that lasts more than 2 hours and guides visitors through more than 100 miles of scenic countryside in LaGrange County.

Roanoke | photo via dennypdm


Located just 20 minutes from Indianapolis, Zionsville has been called one of the most desirable places to live in the Midwest because it retains small-town charm while blending history with modern times.

For travelers who like to explore parks, Zionsville has over 500 acres of parkland and more than 20 parks, which include playgrounds, a splash park, a sledding hill, picnic areas, and nature trails, making Zionsville a perfect all-seasons destination in Central Indiana.


The little town on Lake Maxinkuckee invites visitors to unwind in a place that combines the charm of a small town with the hustle and bustle of a lakeside resort. In some circles, Culver is known as the ” Cape Cod of the Midwest” and visitors can find a little bit of everything including fishing opportunities, cozy B&Bs, unique shopping, and more.


One of the friendliest towns in Northeast Indiana invites visitors to come and soak up small-town charm in a place that’s all about providing a warm welcome. Visitors can enjoy quaint shops, and fun events such as the Roanoke Farmers Market, Roanoke First Fridays, and the Vintage and Handmade Market.

New Harmony

Once a utopian community, New Harmony invites residents and visitors alike to explore its fascinating history on the banks of the Wabash River.

Visitors won’t want to miss a chance to explore the New Harmony State Historic Site, which contains the remains of the town’s Utopian communities. The Harmonist Labyrinth remains a symbol of New Harmony’s aspirations to be a Utopia and the Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden provides relaxation and a small slice of tranquility for visitors as well.


A trip to Aurora is the perfect place to get away from the everyday as visitors can relax and explore this vibrant and historic city on the Ohio River. That history is best seen downtown — an area known as Main Street Aurora — which features unique shops and local eateries — and at the historic Hillforest House Museum.

After a meal, visitors can spend time relaxing and strolling along the river. Lesko Park offers playgrounds, trails, and picnic areas while the Dearborn Trails and Hillforest Nature Trail provide space to enjoy the beautiful serenity of nature.

French Lick

The famous home of Larry Bird near the Hoosier National Forest has excitement waiting around every corner. Fans of the NBA legend can take a self-guided Larry Bird Tour, where they can see his childhood home, visit his high school, and even try on his warm-up jacket at 33 Brick Street Bar and Grill.

Elsewhere, visitors can stay at the historic West Baden Springs Hotel, try their luck at the French Lick Casino, enjoy the town’s famous mineral springs, or take a ride on the French Look Scenic Railway, which offers fun seasonal rides.

Corydon | photo via my_imag3s


The home of Indiana’s first state capital — and the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site — is also a shopper’s delight with a historic downtown filled with cozy restaurants and shops filled with treasures. The town square is the sight of numerous festivals, including the Corydon Extravaganza each fall. Whether you’re an Indiana resident or an out-of-town visitor, Corydon is one small town that’ll have you coming back to explore.

Rising Sun

Situated on the banks of the Ohio River, it may be argued that there’s no better riverfront in Indiana. This thriving community is home to a quaint downtown along with one of the only harp manufacturers in the world.

Along the river, visitors can take sightseeing tours or even take flying lessons. Wind down your visit with a meal from a local restaurant and dessert as you enjoy scenic views of the river.


This small northern Indiana town is steeped in Amish history and culture. Visitors can meander through Nappanee’s historic downtown or explore The Barnes at  Nappanee to admire quality Amish craftsmanship, visit local eateries, and watch performances in a thriving event space.

Art enthusiasts can stroll along the Art Path on CR 7, which features distinct sculptures that lead walkers on a vibrant journey of discovery.

Wabash | photo via


Pendleton is one spot you’ll definitely want to add to your Indiana bucket list. A visit to Pendleton-Falls Park treats visitors to beautiful waterfalls, scenic walking trails, and perfect picnic spots.

Travelers can stroll through downtown Pendleton to explore unique shops and cozy cafes. History buffs can enjoy the Pendleton Historical Museum and festival-goers can make a fall trip to experience the thrills of the Pendleton Round-Up, a must-see annual rodeo event.


The first electrically lit city in the world just so happens to be in northern Indiana and is a thriving hub of arts and culture. Art enthusiasts can visit the Honeywell Center, which includes the Ford Theater, to enjoy theater productions, concerts, and art galleries.

History buffs will enjoy sites like the Wabash County Historical Museum, which dives into the area’s Native American history, and Paradise Spring Historical Park, which commemorates the signing of the Treaty of 1826 between the United States and local tribes.

Wabash has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts too with fishing opportunities abound in the Wabash River. Nearby Charley Creek Gardens is a peaceful retreat with walking paths, ponds, and diverse plant collections.


With Indiana Dunes National Park nearby and a vibrant scene, Chesterton offers the best of all worlds and one of the state’s most unique shopping opportunities. Each Saturday from May to October, residents and travelers can visit the Chesterton European Market to peruse the best in produce, handcrafted items, and local foods.

Chesterton sits just minutes from Indiana Dunes National Park, allowing outdoor enthusiasts of all types to explore miles of sandy beaches, hiking trails, and much more on the Lake Michigan lakeshore. The Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve offers another escape into nature, offering boardwalks, picnic areas, and natural beauty.

Berne | photo via garrettsilvers05


Known for its strong Swiss heritage, a trip to Berne makes visitors feel like they’re in the middle of Europe. Berne’s homages to its history can be seen throughout town, including the 160-foot Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower, the outdoor Swiss Heritage Village and Museum, and 19th-century Swiss architecture.

Berne’s Swiss heritage also extends to local eateries, which offer a taste of mouthwatering Swiss and American foods. Visitors can also attend the annual Swiss Days Festival each July, which features a parade, traditional Swiss music and dance, craft vendors, and delicious Swiss food.


While Paoli can count a 19th-century courthouse and architecture among its famous landmarks, it’s an outdoor paradise brimming with activity for visitors of all ages. 

In the winter, visitors won’t want to miss a trip to Paoli Peaks for snowboarding, skiing, and tubing. In the warmer months, the surrounding Hoosier National Forest offers opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife photography. Wilstem Wildlife Park is a fun family spot where visitors can enjoy unique animal encounters, such as elephant and giraffe experiences.

Santa Claus

Yes, there is a Santa Claus, and this festive small town is located near the Kentucky border. Every day is a holiday here and visitors of all ages can get into the Christmas spirit as they explore the town’s iconic landmarks.

Santa Claus’ famous post office allows visitors to write letters to the Man in Red, Holiday World & Splashin Safari is a fun amusement park, and Santa’s Candy Castle is heaven for those with a sweet tooth.

Rockville | photo via parkecountyin


The town seat of Parke County, the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World.” Travelers can travel around Rockville and the surrounding area to see nearly three dozen covered bridges — some of which date back to the 1800s.

Rockville and Parke County pay homage to these famous bridges each year during the Parke County Bridge Festival. It has been a mainstay each October since 1957 and draws more than 2 million visitors each year.


Art enthusiasts will be in heaven while exploring the “City of Murals.” Ligonier’s downtown features dozens of colorful larger-than-life murals, which provide links to the city’s past. Visitors can dive further into history at Stone’s Trace Historical Society, which houses historic artifacts and hosts the annual Pioneer Festival.

Travelers who like novelty shops can visit, Annie Oakley, the nation’s only perfumery, and make their own fragrance. A trip to Kearney Park is worth it too with offerings that include a splash pad, sports facilities, pickleball courts, a walking path, and a rec center.


The friendly atmosphere and strong sense of community are hard to ignore in Midwest small towns and Hope’s strong community bonds are evident in everything from architecture to festivals. Hope’s town square showcases historic architecture and a serene atmosphere. Hope Heritage Days in September is a fun annual community showcase of live music, food vendors, a parade, and more.

Hope | photo via willow_leaves_of_hope


Situated on I-74 in central Indiana between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Batesville is a manufacturing hub — and known as one of the world’s largest casket manufacturers.

Travelers looking for small-town charm will find it in spades. RomWeber Marketplace features a variety of shops and antiques in a historic setting. The nearby village of Oldenburg, known as the “Village of Spires,” is one of Indiana’s oldest communities, and is worth a visit for its architecture and quaint shops.

Explore the Best Small Towns in Indiana

Indiana’s small towns have something to offer everyone — from history buffs to antique hounds to nature lovers to enthusiastic travelers. Residents looking to explore more of their state and visitors wanting to explore more of the Midwest won’t want to pass up the chance to explore the tranquil side of the Hoosier State.