Cultural road tripping

April 22, 2009
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I spent a fair amount of yesterday at a meeting with representatives of tourism departments from around the state. Each touted his or her region's attractions--from Lincoln Amphitheatre (back in action this year) to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, from riverboat casinos to the new quilt gardens in Amish country. While some struggled to make a compelling case for even a day trip, much of what I learned yesterday has me looking forward to this summer's excursions.

My question, as we head into the better-weather months: What are some of your favorite places to visit in the state? Where have you found culture, cuisine, canoeing...or anything worth leaving home for?

Further, how far afield are you willing to go for a promising arts experience? I often write about activities in Bloomington and West Lafayette, but what would prompt you to go even further? For the right concert, would you go to the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville (don't bother checking-- there's not much is on the lineup right now)? Which headliners would inspire a trip south to the Horseshoe Casino? ("30 Rock"/"SNL" star Tracy Morgan is coming in May.) Is there a favorite play you'd be willing to trek to see at Theatre at the Centre in Munster or the New Harmony Theatre?

Your thoughts?
  • I wonder if anyone from Vincennes was at your meeting. The big thing here is the history of Indiana's first city. We are getting ready for the Rendezvous. Reenactors of the Revolutionary War come here. The other event is a celebration of Vincennes favorite son and one of American's clowns, Red Skelton. There is a big clown parade here and events to raise money for a future museum for Red Skelton. I would be interested if this was brought up in your meeting.
  • I like to make an annual summer day trip from Indianapolis to see an IU Theatre Department production at the Brown County Playhouse in Nashville, IN. Beautiful scenery to and fro, shopping, dining, a great show well-done by a talented cast, and an ice cream cone before the ride home!
  • I'm lucky ... I live in Spencer County, so I'm just a few minutes from the magnificence of the Saint Meinrad Archabbey, the ancient beauty of the Ohio River, the excitement of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (okay, I work there; but it's exciting!) and the Broadway-in-the-country production of LINCOLN at Lincoln Amphitheatre.

    What's not to love?
  • I am shocked and amazed that no one mentioned the Gennett Records Walk of Fame. Gennett Recording Studio is literally known over the entire world as the Cradle of Recorded Jazz. In the 1920's, such people as Louis Armstrong, Thomas A. Dorsey, Bix Beiderbech, Jelly Roll Morton, Gene Autry, Hoagy Carmichael, Uncle Dave Macon - the list goes on - recorded here. The Walk of Fame music festival is always the weekend after Labor Day and grows bigger every year.

    When you walk along the river and the Walk of Fame you can feel the presence of the music. The history of this site has never been duplicated anywhere else. You owe it to yourself to visit!
  • Perry County has a Celtic Croxx carved form a solid stone that is 23 feet tall. You must see to believe. A young and evloving artist Greg Harris spent 23 months carving this. You must see to understand the impact it has up close. This is located at Blue Heron Winery at Rocky Poing along Ohio River Senic Byway Rt 66. The other must see is Bear Hollow at ex 79 on I-64. Jason Emmons is a nationallley renound chain saw carver for the Ehco Carving Team. His show room is located at the Bear Hollow Mulch facillity on hwy37. The show room also offers wood art from artist in surrounding areas. They are open 7 days a week and would love for you to stop by.
  • If you're looking for vacation deals, visit for more than 20 coupons for attractions, dining, hotels, shopping and more in Spencer County, Indiana - Home of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Lincoln State Park, Lincoln Amphitheatre (Debuting a new theatrical experience LINCOLN June 12), and Saint Meinrad Archabbey just to name a few.
  • Just this weekend the Richmond Civic Theater is showing Sleeping Beauty a wonderful theatrical experience. Apart from visiting the Gennett Walk of Fame here in Richmond, there are so many other activities to do here, visit the Cope Environmental Center, the Art museum, Richmond even has it's own Symphony. There is even a Model T Ford museum and the Warm Glow candle factory. The museum and art at Earlham College is outstanding and well worth a visit too. The community is also friendly and vibrant and the town has lots of wonderful history to explore at the Wayne County Museum. While you are here also take a visit to the historic depot district for some shopping, eating and entertainment. Richmond may be a way from somewhere but the trip is well worth it.
  • Evansville is a terrific family destination city. The new Amazonia exhibit is a walk through a South American rainforest in an enclosed climate controlled environment complete with trees, plants, animals(including 2 jaguars) and even rain showers necessary to keep the jungle alive. It is located in Mesker Park Zoo that has over 500 species of animals. Downtown you can tour an authentic WWII warship, visit Indiana's newest Children's museum or take a walk along a lovely paved Greenway on the Riverfront. Angel Mounds State Historic Site where Middle Mississippian Indians lived a thousand years ago has excavations each summer. Or to cool off, take a plunge in one of several pools at Burdette Aquatic Center. Lots to do for a weekend or longer.
  • In the A&E avenue, Fort Wayne is full of razzle and dazzle! Our local arts organizations, such as Arts United, are encore worthy! They support a thriving arts community and bring in high caliber artists from around the world! We're also proud of the stellar venues - both new and old - here in Fort Wayne. A few must-see spaces and places are: The Historic Embassy Theatre, Arts United Center (a Louis Kahn building), Memorial Coliseum, The John and Ruth Rhinehart Music Center (at IPFW), NEW Parkview Field downtown and much more!

    As mentioned in Lou's post: the award-winning Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is open and welcoming visitors. Don't miss the NEW African Journey and Sky Safari ride opening June 6.

    Visit Fort Wayne!
  • I grew up in Perry County, which is right next to Spencer County and the Lincoln State Park. No summer would be complete without a trip to the Lincoln Amphitheatre for a production of Young Abe Lincoln. They used to alternate a show with that one too--and it's where I fell in love with Big River. (Mom, how is that raft moving around???)

    I haven't been to the amphitheatre in years, but your post is just the push I needed to get me back there, Lou. Thanks!
  • Glad to see some of the tourism commission reps chiming in, I just wish all would identify themselves when representing clients.

    Feel free to chime in on future blog posts. But please let us know if you are affiliated with the group you are talking about.


    Lou Harry
  • Richmond has an amazing wealth of historic buildings, new restaurants and unique shops, and the Cardinal Greenway hiking/biking trail all within a few blocks of the downtown parking structure. Main Street looks like a film backdrop, and with a population of 35,000 visitors do not have to fight crowds or traffic to get to all the cool stuff. The short list from a local:
    The Depot District has
    One of the most beautiful historic train depots with a striking, giant Abe Lincoln peering out of one of the windows, and across the street
    Mama Mitrione's Italian Market on one corner and Joe's Pizza on the other.
    A block away is Paullee's counter where you can get one of the best traditional breakfasts in America and actually meet some of the locals.
    Across the street is the Historic Furniture Gallery where the owner, Roger Richert might be firing up his 1924 fire truck, and has three stories of furniture and displays of jazz murals and his collection of political memorabilia that makes you think you are in an historic museum created by the folks at Disney. He has way too much fun with the trains on his third floor, and kids who visit will too.
    Across the street from the Furniture Gallery are a whole line of great shops and even an edgy skateboard shop.
    Little Sheba's has a banquet room, but I took one of my best customers there with his wife, and he had the bison burger. He had never eaten bison before and said it was the best burger he had ever had in his life.
    For dessert or a gelato this summer, around the corner is Ghyslain Bistro = hand made chocolates and cakes that are like sculpture, and great meals from a master chef and all reasonably priced.
    On Main Street there is Tom's NY Deli for a home cooked meal, and Readmore for Chai teas and coffees and one of the best mocha expressos, and Tony's mom makes all the pies from scratch. Norma will bake a pie for you if you order in advance, and on Sunday mornings there is nothing better than picking up a Can't Leave it Alone bar (half brownie and half chocolate chip cookie dough) warm just out of the oven to enjoy over the Sunday NY Times. There is a lot more, and we welcome you to come and enjoy it and discover your own favorites.
  • Great to see the interest in Spencer County! It is a wonderful area ... and economical too!

    I may be prejudiced because I work at Lincoln Amphitheatre, but Spencer County is an ideal family getaway. There's Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Lincoln State Park, Lincoln Pioneer Village, Buffalo Run and the Colonel Jones Home. Plus, adding Lincoln Amphitheatre back into the mix can't hurt!

    Of course we have Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa's Candy Castle and the Santa Claus Museum.

    Lincoln meets Santa Claus ... what more can you ask for?

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  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

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