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Brown County, Indiana
Brown County, Indiana | © Trail Seeds / Flickr
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The Best Day Trips from Bloomington, Indiana

Picture of Courtney Johnston
Updated: 9 April 2018
Bloomington is an incredible college city bursting with activities, shops, and restaurants worth exploring. It’s also within driving distance of many unique and incredible attractions within Indiana. If you’re looking to take a day trip from Bloomington, Indiana, you’ll love these five amazing options.

Brown County State Park

This delightful state park is arguably the most scenic in all of Indiana and is home to a variety of outdoor attractions. This outdoor paradise is often referred to as the “Little Smokies” because of its strong resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. The park offers some of the best hills in an otherwise flat state, with over 16,000 acres of ridges, gullies, ravines, and hills to explore.

Visitors can climb the 90-foot-tall (27.4 meters) Fire Tower for a unique look at this gorgeous park, which also offers a nature center, lodging (cabins and campgrounds), an indoor water park, horseback riding, and miles of beautiful trails. It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life in Bloomington and enjoy a tranquil day surrounded by nature.

Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East, Nashville, IN, USA, +1 812 988 6406

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Brown County State Park | © Trail Seeds / Flickr

Columbus, Indiana

This city retreat is full of incredible places to explore, from award-winning architecture to must-visit restaurants. Columbus is a mecca for some of the most fascinating examples of modern architecture in the country, such as the North Christian Church, First Baptist Church, Miller House and Garden, and the Republic building. You can take an unforgettable self-guided tour of these structures any time of year.

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North Christian Church | © Holly Higgins / Flickr

Columbus is also filled with outdoor sculptures and artwork, as well as the kidscommons: Columbus’ Community Children’s Museum. This museum is packed full of interactive exhibits that kids will love, as well as a rock climbing wall and nearby indoor playground.

When it comes to food, you can’t leave Columbus without trying Zaharakos, the historic ice cream parlor and soda shoppe that’s famous in this historic city. Enjoy classic American food (such as burgers and sandwiches) and decadent ice cream, milkshakes, and fountain sodas. You should also explore the incredible soda fountain museum on the second floor.

Columbus, IN, USA

Marengo Cave

Nestled in the small town of Marengo, this incredible cave system is one of the most visited spots in Indiana. Marengo Cave offers two scenic tours of this five-mile-long (eight kilometers) cave: the Dripstone Trail (roughly one mile [1.6 kilometers] and 60 minutes long) and the Crystal Palace Tour (approximately .33 miles [0.5 kilometers] and 40 minutes long). This attraction also houses a crawl simulator, gemstone mining attraction, and personalized cave-exploring adventures (with reservations).

Marengo Cave, 400 East State Rd 64, Marengo, IN, USA, +1 812 365 2705

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Marengo Cave | © daveynin / Flickr

Nashville, Indiana

This artistic community offers a unique adventure in southern Indiana. Stay and dine at the historic Story Inn, a restaurant and inn rumored to be haunted and filled with quaint charm. Spend the day exploring Nashville’s many treasures, from tiny shops to historic buildings, by hopping aboard the Nashville Express tour train.

Or walk around by foot to get a real sense of this eclectic community. You’ll find antique stores, home décor shops, quaint restaurants and eateries, a fudge shop, ice cream store, wineries, and much more. There’s even a small theatre located in the downtown area where you’re likely to catch an exciting show or performance.

Nashville, IN, USA

Wilstem Ranch

This beautiful ranch offers a scenic getaway from city life. Enjoy a quiet stay in the on-site lodge to take advantage of their numerous outdoor activities. Enjoy thrills while zip-lining and experiencing ATV adventures.

Animal lovers are in for even more of a treat. Wilstem Ranch is home to one-of-a-kind elephant encounters, where guests can pet and even bathe these exotic creatures. Wilstem also now offers giraffe and kangaroo experiences, as well as a small petting area featuring other incredible animals.

Wilstem Ranch, 4237 W Us Highway 150, Paoli, IN, USA, +1 812 936 4484