Underrated Indiana – 18 Reasons To Add This Midwestern State To Your Bucket List

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I’ve spent a lot of my life wanderlusting for adventure abroad, often times without appreciating the adventure that lies in my own back yard. The older I get and more I explore the world, the more I realize how much Indiana has to offer. As a celebration of my home state and all its offerings, here are 18 reasons why Indiana is underrated and should be on more travelers bucket lists.

1 .  In Indiana, we experience all 4 seasons of the year fully. 

Fall time is truly magical. The leaves usually turn vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows around late October and last for a few weeks as they fall before winter. Winter can be pretty nice too when the snow accumulates enough, though I’m much more a fan of the warmth. Springtime brings beautiful budding flowers throughout the state that give way to shaded forests full of wildlife. Seeing the seasons come and go gives a beautiful rhythm to the year and helps you to appreciate each of mother nature’s phases. 

There are great comics about the poor Indiana locals who sometimes experience what feels like all four seasons in a day. I kid you not – I’ve seen days where its sunny it the morning, raining in the afternoon, and snowing by evening. 

Indiana during spring, summer, and fall.

2. Indiana is one of the most affordable states in the USA.

At a lot of bars, you can get a drink for $4-6 USD where it might cost you $15 in New York. In Bloomington, they have lots of $2 Tuesday nights at bars throughout town where you can save a lot of money by ordering the specials. Local diners offer breakfast for $7-15 on average, and everything is noticeably more affordable than major cities on the coast. For residents, you can find one and two bedroom apartments for less than $1000. 

There are plenty of places where you can spend a ton of money on food and rent if you’re looking for something more lavish, not to worry. But if you’re here to save some pennies, this might be a safe state to explore. 

3. Indiana people (lovingly called Hoosiers) are known for being super friendly and polite, often referred to as our “Midwest Hospitality”.

Obviously this is a blanket statement and there are exceptions to every rule. But by and large, Hoosiers are super approachable, friendly, and happy to help any tourists we might encounter. 

4. We may be landlocked but we still have beautiful beaches!

Head north in the summer for the Indiana Dunes on the shoreline of Lake Michigan – newly included as a national park. It’s such a large lake that you can easily pretend it’s the ocean. The Dunes are so much fun to explore throughout the year, though it can get quite cold on the water if you visit outside of the summer months. Plan accordingly with some layers. You’ll warm up soon enough trying to run up and down the sand dunes.

5. Indiana is the perfect place for day trips to major cities around the Midwest USA.

While you’d probably want a car, you can get to Chicago, Nashville, Cincinnati, Detroit, and tons of other can’t-miss spots within 5 hours driving or so. Flights are around an hour – you’d likely spend more time in the airport than in the actual plane if you flew to one of these cities. They don’t call us the crossroads of America for nothing!

Photos from a day-trip to Chicago, when I was applying for Global Entry.

6. Though we may never admit we have one, you’ll have a chance to hear our Midwest accents.

It’s quite different from other major cities in the US like Boston or Dallas. I’ve grown to appreciate our slang and dialect a lot more now that I’ve traveled a bit. 

7. Love a good view? Indy has plenty of great lookout points like the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower, or Merom Point, where you can see over the city, sometimes even into other states. 

Also lots of state parks and camp grounds. Check out some of my favorites.

8. We have all the deep-fried munchies if you’re looking to blow your diet. 

Interested in deep-fried oreos? Add the Indiana State Fair to your itinerary. You can find great the best mozzarella sticks at Opie Taylors in Bloomington, and quality tenderloins at restaurants throughout the state. If it’s edible, it’s deep-fryable. 

9. Idyllic, red-barn and cow specked pastures are a regular site.

Typical fall-time views driving through the state of Indiana!

10. We’re fanatics about basketball, but we make watching any sport a good time.

Just watch the movie Hoosiers.

11. If you’re looking for local diners, we have them.

Just Judy’s, Twisted Sisters, The Port…I could go on and on and on… Indiana is also truly a great spot for food. There are so many hidden restaurants in small towns, exciting food experiences in our bigger cities, and international food galore. Whatever type of food you like, whether a home-cooked, Indiana meal, or something from another culture, you’ll find it. 

12. While we’re no Swiss Alps, we do have skiing and lots of sledding in the winter! 

Perfect North, Pokagan State Park, and Fort Ben have great snow-time options.

13. We’re full of history, with lots of great towns that highlight it. 

Madison, Indiana and French Lick, Indiana are two must-hit spots. Connor Prarie is perfect if you have kids. Friendship, Indiana even has living history events! I could go on an on but suffice it to say that history buffs won’t be bored. 

14. Our airport has been ranked #1 in North America by the Airports Council International six years straight.

It’s the sixth year in a  row we’ve won for a midsize airport in North America. Why? It’s efficient, easy to navigate, provides high-quality service, and has lots of offerings for services (restaurants, shopping, etc.) that you might need before your flight. I might be biased, but its definitely been one of the easiest airports to navigate that I’ve experienced.

15. Beer is plentiful and made for all palettes.

Take your pick from dozens of breweries throughout the state. I’m a big fan of Three Floyds Brewery, especially for their IPAs, but there are tons of top-notch spots on this map.

This interactive map shows all the breweries in Indiana, courtesy of Indiana on Tap.  

16. Prefer wine? Me too. Thankfully, Indiana has a lot of great wineries too.

Even better, we finally got rid of our law prohibiting alcohol on Sundays. This was a real kicker that disappointed a lot of unsuspecting tourists (and forgetful locals) in grocery stores across the state each week. Now, you never have to worry about running out of wine. Just make sure you make your purchases before 8pm on Sunday. (The rest of the days, you’re good to get your booze on 24/7.)

17. We’re the home of corn, which is an ingredient in some form in just about any processed food you’ll eat in the states. Or just about anything else you buy.

Here’s just a short list of items you wouldn’t think have corn in them but do:

  • Fast food hamburger patties
  • French fries
  • Soda/Pop
  • Ketchup
  • Pudding
  • Peanut Butter
  • Varnish
  • Gas & Oil
  • Adhesives
  • Cosmetics (powders, conditioners, cleansers)
  • Wax paper
  • Hand Soap
  • Windex

You get the idea. And you’re welcome, from all the Indiana corn farmers to you, purchasers of corn-goods. 

18. We’re also the home of Orville Redenbacher popcorn, which you can’t tell me you don’t love!


Photo by Alex Munsell

I hope you’ll consider visiting Indiana if you’re ever nearby. This list contains just some of the many reasons I love this state. Come discover some of the rest for yourself.


Want to read more on Indiana, or looking for other Suitcase Six travel guides? Try these next:

Indiana Travel Guide

6 Stops to Make in Central Park

Navigating Portugal: A Helpful Guide for Female Travelers

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