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Indiana – The Crossroads of America

The State of Indiana has been traditionally regarded as the gateway to the United States. In the times of westward settlement most pioneers traveled through here. Indiana borders with four important states: Michigan in the north, Ohio in the east, Kentucky in the south, and Illinois in the west. In fact, northern Indiana is dominated by the metropolitan region of Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest. Indiana is world-famous for the annual “Indy 500” auto race and many other major sporting events. The “Indy 500” attract more than a quarter of a million people every year.

Sports, especially basketball, is very popular throughout the state. The University of Notre Dame near South Bend in northern Indiana has one of the most successful college football teams in the nation. High school basketball has its roots in Indiana.

History & Climate

Historically, the region has been inhabited by the Hopewell and Mississippian cultures. After French and British rule, Indiana became part of the Northwest and later Indiana Territories following the American Revolution. In 1816, Indiana became the 19th state to be admitted to the Union. Today, the State of Indiana has an estimated population of 6.3 million.

Indiana, like the majority of the adjacent Midwestern states, has a humid continental climate. Summers are hot and humid, winters cool or cold. Summer day highs are on average over 80 degrees, while winter lows can regularly fall under 20 degrees. Parts of northern Indiana are affected by lake effect snow due to the proximity to Lake Michigan.

Northern Indiana

The very northwest of Indiana is essentially a part of the Chicago metropolitan region with industrial cities such as Gary. South Bend is another major city of the north, boasting several attractions. Located at the southernmost bend of the St. Joseph River (hence the name), the city is traditionally known for its auto production. The Studebaker National Museum and other museums inform about this past. South Bend houses the oldest zoo in Indiana, the Potawatomi Zoo. The nearby campus of the University of Notre Dame with its characteristic golden dome is a landmark one should not miss.

But there is also another, more quiet and rural side to northern Indiana. Amish Country is where visitors can experience first-hand the traditional lifestyle of the Mennonite sects who still live a pre-modern life. Shipshewana, Middlebury, and Nappanee are only a few of the many Amish settlements and farmsteads you can find in the region. Northern Indiana is also where Lakes Country lies with its many lakes and waterways and its many regional wineries. Places like Angola are the ideal “base camp” for an exploration of this beautiful region.

Along Lake Michigan’s shoreline one find beautiful beaches, steep sand dunes, and great accommodation and many activities for summer vacations. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a protected site. Ogden Dunes or the larger Michigan City are two prime targets.

Further south, off Interstate 65, Indiana Beach is one of the most popular tourist destinations. Located at Lake Shafer, Indiana Beach and nearby Monticello offer any kind of water sports and other recreational activity one can imagine. Great golf courses, relaxing resorts, and a lot of water fun are guaranteed.

Central Indiana

New Castle is the epicenter of Indiana’s basketball enthusiasm. Here, the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is located. Also, the famous movie “Hoosiers” was shot here. From New Castle to the state capital Indianapolis one goes down scenic national road 40. Indianapolis is no less sports-feverish as the home of the NCAA. But also non-sports fans are well entertained, for instance in the Indiana State Museum. Indianapolis has six designated cultural districts such as the Broad Ripple Village with its bohemian atmosphere or the Wholesale District, housing landmarks like the RCA Dome or the Conseco Fieldhouse.

Around Indianapolis, one can follow the Indy Wine Trail that leads to numerous outstanding wineries and vineyards around the capital. Families have a lot to do around Indianapolis too. The Children’s Museum or the Caribbean Cove Indoor Water Park are two major activities in the state capital. The Indianapolis Zoo is another one.

Southern Indiana

In Brown County, one can find the Village of Nashville. Be not deceived: This is no small place at all! Shopping, gallery, and dining options abound. The village is said to have over 300 shops, galleries, restaurants and lodging options. Brown County State Park is the largest of Indiana’s parks. Rent a cozy cabin and explore the surrounding nature!

The south offers many romantic retreats. Saint Meinrad Archabbey is one of them. Winzerwald Winery in Bristow is where one can taste the southern Indiana wine blends. Many bed & breakfasts and other lodging options are available in the region. New Harmony, on the banks of the Wabash, was founded by the “Harmonists,” a religious sect, in the 19th century.

Visitors looking for some gambling fun can visit the Argosy Casino at Lawrenceburg. The Tri-State Antique Market at the Lawrenceburg Fairgrounds is open every first Sunday of the month. Many golf courses are located in the region. Near Lawrenceburg you can also enjoy some winter fun at Perfect North Slopes. Both ski and snowboard slopes as well as a 750-foot tubing run are available here.

Indiana has an ideal blend of urban attractions and rural getaways, of great summer fun on the beaches and lakes and wine tastings in fall as well as even skiing in winter. Whether you are a sports enthusiast and want to visit one of the many amateur and professional events hosted at America’s Crossroad or looking for a memorable family vacation: Indiana is the place to go!

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