Over the centuries, residents have made many changes to Indiana—building skyscrapers, erecting museums, opening casinos—but the natural beauty of the land remains. So whether you're munching on a chili dog amid the bustle of downtown Indianapolis or hiking through the wetlands of the Bock Nature Preserve, there's a lot to see and do in Indiana.
Indianapolis, with its glimmering buildings, elegant gardens, and sculpture exhibitions, bears little trace of Indiana's early farming days. The city's famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a colossal monument to modern motorsports, with a 16-turn racetrack and a museum showcasing 75 gleaming racecars. The town of Columbus (pop. 44,000) is only about one-twentieth the size of Indianapolis, yet its architecture eclipses that of the state capital. Roam the streets and you'll soon encounter Beaux Arts and modernist buildings by innovators such as I.M. Pei and Eliel and Eero Saarinen.
But other areas of Indiana aren't so used to modern living—most obviously northern Indiana's Amish country, which is one of the biggest of its kind in the nation. Horse-drawn buggies zigzag down the streets of small towns like Shipshewana, Elkhart, and Bristol, where visitors peruse country markets, woodworking shops, and dairy farms. Many residents even welcome these curious tourists into their homes for traditional Amish dinners of tender country-fried chicken, garden-picked salads, and crusty rolls topped in homemade apple butter.
Indiana's 24 state parks, 13 state forests, and 14 nature preserves make it particularly appealing to nature enthusiasts. Cross-country skiers glide across the snowy trails of the Indiana Dunes State Park, and fishermen plunder Lake Monroe for its bluegill and striped bass. In Michigan City and other towns that hug the Lake Michigan shoreline, day-trippers swim, sunbathe, and sail.