Five Obscure Things to See in Indiana

Updated on November 3, 2019
Luca Pacioli profile image

Luca is a long-time resident of Indianapolis and continual seeker of obscure Indiana facts.

Visit the Indiana of Parks and Recreation

Have you ever wondered why so many small, quirky towns in TV shows are set in Indiana? Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Parks and Recreation all depict towns in the great state of Indiana—generally in a rather unfavorable light. Often we laugh at the outrageous, exaggerated depictions of small-town (or small-state) life. However, the longer you live in a state like Indiana, the more you realize these shows actually may not go far enough.

Indianapolis Skyline
Indianapolis Skyline | Source

When I first started watching the TV show Parks and Recreation, I have to admit that I was a little offended. As a long-time Indianapolis resident myself, the depiction of the backwards and outrageous behaviors of people who live in the Midwest was a little offensive.

I understand that Indiana might not be the next vacation destination on your bucket list, but I felt good about the state I lived in. I liked living in Indiana. Indianapolis may not be a huge city, but I felt protective of my home. Like any other huge nerd and loyal resident of a misunderstood state, I subconsciously began to research Indiana in order to collect information about the cool side of the Hoosier State. Instead, I think I found some material that the producers could have added to their show.

Today, I don't love Indiana because it is a cool, hip place to be (though some parts of Indiana can be cool and hip). I love the state because it is incredibly quirky and backwards but full of genuine people.

8 Obscure Things to See in Indiana

1. The Bicentennial Bison

To celebrate Indiana's bicentennial, every county in Indiana put up at least one bison in a public location. Get it? Bison-tennial? Yep, it's pretty cringeworthy. Just know that Marion County/Indianapolis alone has six of them, but if you are anywhere in Indiana, you should look them up!

2. Decatur County Courthouse

Courthouses are pretty cool, right? No, you've never actually said or thought that before? They are usually proper, boring buildings, symbolic of the communities they serve. The Decatur County Courthouse in Greensburg is all that, but it also has a tree growing out of its roof. I don't think anyone is really sure how a tree started growing in the building, but the best part is that the county just went with it and allowed the tree to grow through the tower roof and into the sun. As an added bonus, there is a Decatur County bicentennial bison on the front lawn of the courthouse.

3. Giant Cheese Sculpture

Redesigned and sculpted for the Indiana State Fair every year, this "attraction" is a little less permanent. Sponsored by the American Dairy Association, this sculpture usually stands for about two weeks during the fair. I am not really sure what the greater purposes is besides promoting our culture's unhealthy obsession with cheese, but it is definitely worth a look.

4. Not Just Popcorn

Continuing along the food theme, if you have ever wanted to try ketchup-, dill pickle-, or Kahlua-flavored popcorn, Not Just Popcorn, Etc. in Edinburgh is the place to go. This place probably has every popcorn flavor you have ever wanted to try, plus plenty of others that you maybe never wanted to know existed.

Note: The flavors mentioned above were in existence 10+ years ago, and some may have since been discontinued.

5. The Idle Park

Located in Indianapolis, The Idle Park consists of a handful of old, recycled stadium bleachers installed next to the city's major interstate. Visitors can sit and enjoy the view of highway traffic. No, there is nothing more to this park. Yes, there is officially a "the" at the beginning of the park's name.

The Idle Park (c) 2019 Luca Pacioli
The Idle Park (c) 2019 Luca Pacioli

6. Old Ben

The Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is home to the Indianapolis Colts and was most famously host to Super Bowl XLVI. It is understandable that people would want to see this landmark, but you could alternatively pay a visit to Old Ben, the world's largest steer, now stuffed and available to be enjoyed by generations (if stuffed steers even last that long) of visitors to the visitor's center in Kokomo, IN.

7. For Bare Feet Factory

And while Indianapolis may be home to the world's largest children's museum, why would you take your children there when you could instead take them to visit For Bare Feet, which, yes, is a sock factory.

8. War Memorials and Monuments

Any regular visitor to Indianapolis might want to visit Speedway, home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Racing Capital of the World. But did you know that Indianapolis has more war memorials and monuments than any other city in the United States besides Washington DC?

An Indiana Sunset
An Indiana Sunset | Source

Become Passionate About Your Home

My friends and I had a friend from out of the country visit Indiana for a long weekend once and got incredibly excited to show him all of Indiana. In just two days, we drove him down to southern Indiana to experience a state park, took him to a bonfire in small-town Indiana, and dragged him through downtown Indianapolis to see all the free things.

At one point over the weekend, our exhausted, jet-lagged friend was falling asleep in the passenger seat as we were driving through some cornfields. The sun was setting, and if you are from Indiana you know that "there is nothing like an Indiana sunset." This could be because there is actually nothing else to see in Indiana, but regardless, we yelled to our friend. "Wake up! Look at the beautiful sunset!" Jose drowsily lifted his head and nodded before falling back asleep, unimpressed. He didn't get it because Indiana wasn't his home.

Even if Indiana is not your home state, I encourage you to become passionate about where you live. As Dorothy taught us all, "There is no place like home."

I am new to WanderWisdom, and it seems fitting that my first article be about my home. Sure, a courthouse with a tree growing through the roof and a giant cheese sculpture may not be at the top of everyone's bucket list. They aren't even at the top of my bucket list. However, these are places that have meaning because of shared experiences and memories that I associate with home. I enjoy visiting obscure locations in Indiana and making fun of the quirky things that Hoosiers do because they are a part of me and my story.

What are parts of your story? Are there quirky/obscure locations where you live? Are there places you would like to visit to make memories of? If so, I'd love to hear about them! Leave a comment and tell me all about them!

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© 2019 Luca Pacioli


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