Summer is free and easy in the Mississinewa River Valley in East Central Indiana. The Mississinewa River is a swift flowing tributary that visits several friendly communities on its journey to meet the Wabash River about seventy miles due north of Indianapolis. A host of free activities and attractions in the Mississinewa River Valley represent the best of the Midwest for a fun and affordable family get-away.
Indianapolis, home of the 2012 Super Bowl, is the 14th largest city in the U.S. and one of the Midwest's famously friendly cities. The capitol of Indiana, it plays host to many conventions and sporting events--in non Super Bowl years, the most famous of those would be the Indianapolis 500--and has enough fun and free things to do make it an affordable family vacation destination.
Porter County, Indiana, is nestled along the south shore of Lake Michigan and home to a variety of free attractions that help you have an affordable family vacation. Outdoor opportunities abound, including hiking, cycling, and every sort of water-related activity one would expect to find among the Great Lakes.
The eastern Indiana area around Richmond offers a wealth of historical, educational and outdoors activities. Check out these 12 free and family-friendly things to do on your next Indiana family vacation.
1. Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History, Richmond This museum has a real Egyptian mummy, live snakes you can hold and a 15,000-year-old Mastodon
2. Hayes Arboretum, Richmond Wander amid woods, wildflowers and wildlife at the 300-acre Hayes Arboretum. The Nature Center offers a bird viewing room with a speaker so you can hear the birds. There are hands-on exhibits for kids and an enclosed beehive. Sporadic free weekend activities include night hikes, owl prowls and workshops.
3. Cope Environmental Center, Centerville. Nearly 100 pristine acres featuring a variety of natural and developed wildlife habitats including wetland areas, ponds, a prairie, grasslands, hardwood forests, wooded ravines, and more than 110 species of conifers, and a nut tree collection. An extensive trail system weaves through the many habitats on the property.
4. Huddleston Farm House Inn Museum, Cambridge City. Learn about the way of life of an early Indiana pioneer family and the story of pioneers trekking westward along the National Road in the 1830s -1860s.
5. Thistlethwaite Falls, Richmond Skip rocks and enjoy the scenery.
6. Cardinal Greenway & The Whitewater River Gorge Trails, Richmond. The terrain is gentle, with hikers, joggers, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. The Cardinal Greenway is a 2.5 mile trail that meanders along the Whitewater River on an abandoned railroad route then winds through wooded areas and fields. The Whitewater River Gorge Trail is a 1.6 mile wooded trail following the Whitewater River with vertical cliffs along the way.
7. Gennett Records Walk of Fame, Richmond. Musical artists who recorded at Gennett Records between World War I and the Great Depression are honored at the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in Whitewater Gorge Park, once the home of the Gennett Studio. A brief biography of each honoree is included with the image of the artists on the markers in the form of 78 rpm phonograph records. The markers feature the classic Gennett record label design and a mosaic rendering of the represented musicians. A small, bronze plaque next to each medallion recognizes the accomplishments of each inductee.
8. Veach's Toy Store, Richmond. This family owned toy store has been in business since 1938. Check out the incredible model train collection or browse the aisles filled with toys you won't find in your local department stores.
9. Outdoor Skate Park, Richmond. This park is for skateboards and in-line skates.
10. Richmond Art Museum. Founded in 1898, the Richmond Art Museum features Indiana artists and American impressionists including T.C. Steele, John E. Bundy, William Merritt Chase, Wayman Adams and others. Temporary exhibits feature regional, national and international artists.
11. Museum of Overbeck Art Pottery, Cambridge City. This museum showcases pottery produced between 1911 and 1955. The museum preserves the creative art of six Overbeck sisters, who lived and worked in Cambridge City.
12. Richmond Murals. These murals are located throughout Richmond and provide an historical timeline of the city over the last 150 years, including the Underground Railroad and Gennett Recordings.