Indiana is a Midwest state home to excellent universities and nicknamed “The Crossroads of America” because it’s sandwiched between some of the most influential states and cities in the United States. It borders Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.
The state’s home to several large urban centres and plenty of smaller cities, providing a healthy balance between busy city life and slower-paced rural areas. From Indianapolis, the state’s populous capital, to the seemingly endless beaches of Michigan City, there are so many unique cities in Indiana to discover, each with its own history and attractions. And did you know one of the cities in Indiana is called Santa Claus?
- Cities in Indiana
- 20 Best Cities in Indiana To Visit
Cities in Indiana
- Indy Walking Tour – see the sights
- Fort Wayne Scavenger Hunt – fun in Fort Wayne
- Skip the Line: Admission Ticket RV Hall of Fame Museum
- Fountain Square Food Tour – delicious Indianapolis
20 Best Cities in Indiana To Visit
Home to the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indiana State Capitol, Indianapolis is the largest and most visited city in Indiana and one of the largest inland cities in the United States.
Due to its immense size and importance, you can expect to find world-class attractions and landmarks to explore in and around Indy. Check them out on this guided walking tour or download a self-guided walking tour app.
The city is a popular road trip stopping point since several major highways end up in Indianapolis.
Apart from being a central hub for sporting events, Indianapolis also teems with historical significance, which can be experienced at attractions such as the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site and the Conner Prairie.
2- Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne is Indiana’s second-largest city and the Midwest’s significant cultural, historical and educational hub.
The city was founded in 1794 as a strategic military fort, hence the name, and is home to old and new attractions.
The city is the home of Purdue University’s Fort Wayne campus, a global leader in STEM fields.
Other significant Fort Wayne landmarks include the soaring Lincoln Bank Tower, the award-winning Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and the impressive Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Download this self-guided app and explore at your own pace.
A hip and bustling college town in the geographic centre of Indiana, Bloomington is a youthful city with many art galleries, music venues and cosy cafes to visit.
Nicknamed ‘B-Town’, the city is home to the University of Indiana’s main campus and enjoys the reputation as the “Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana”.
Bloomington is within a short drive from the Hoosier National Forest and Lake Monroe, ensuring that nature lovers visiting Bloomington are catered for too.
The city is home to many unique attractions to explore, such as the sprawling Eskenazi Museum of Art, the historic Buskirk-Chumley Theater and the easy-to-navigate B-Line Trail, making Bloomington an enviable Indiana city to visit.
4- South Bend
Situated right next to the Indiana-Michigan state border in far north Indiana, South Bend is a unique Midwest city synonymous with football, basketball, and any other sport that the local University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish partake in.
While the university overshadows virtually every other attraction in the region, it’s not the only thing to keep you busy in South Bend.
The historic Morris Performing Arts Center, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Studebaker National Museum are all excellent cultural and historical attractions in South Bend.
No trip to South Bend is complete without catching a game at the Notre Dame Stadium, an 80,000-seat stadium that comes to life when the 11-time National Champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team take to the field.
Straddling the shores of the Ohio River and forming part of a Tri-State urban area that spills over into Kentucky and Illinois, Evansville is Indiana’s third-largest city and one of the significant medical science hubs in the Midwest.
The city is one of Indiana’s best places to live and work and is home to art galleries and museums.
From the last operational World War II landing ship to the oldest state zoo in Indiana, Evansville is a vibrant city rife with unique landmarks to explore and packed with history and culture to discover.
Elkhart is a charming and slow-paced city in Indiana’s far north near South Bend and the Michigan state border.
The city is home to several big attractions, including a popular Jazz Festival and one of the largest county fairs in America.
The city features a bustling downtown area with great shops and restaurants surrounded by one of the world’s largest Amish communities.
With tons to discover in and around Elkhart, it’s a delightful Indiana city that’s always worth visiting when travelling around Indiana.
Carmel is a mid-sized Indiana city a couple of miles north of Downtown Indianapolis, the state’s capital and largest city.
Carmel is home to one of Indiana’s most thriving arts and outdoor scenes and several places to visit on the doorstep of Downtown Indianapolis.
This city in Indiana is home to the oldest continuously operating community theatre in the United States, the Booth Tarkington Theatre.
It also has a scenic Central Park.
From the city’s state-of-the-art Center for the Performing Arts to its delightful Arts and Design District, Carmel has more than enough world-class activities to keep you entertained throughout your stay in this eclectic mecca for the arts in the Midwest.
Straddling the shores of the Ohio River and situated just across Downtown Louisville, Jeffersonville, or ‘Jeff’ as most locals call it, is an immensely historic Indiana city home to quite a few fantastic landmarks to visit.
The city was founded in 1797 and named Jeffersonville four years later, in 1801, after President Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration.
Jeffersonville served as a significant hub for the production of steamboats throughout the 19th century before the influx of casinos and gambling dens earned the city the title of ‘Little Las Vegas’ during the early 1900s.
Today, the city is a fantastic destination for travellers who prefer a slower pace of life, with museums, public parks and trendy restaurants.
Kokomo is a peaceful, mid-sized city in central Indiana that was once at the forefront of significant technological achievements during the 19th century.
Nicknamed the ‘City of Firsts’, Kokomo is where some of the world’s most prominent engineers and scientists developed everything from horseless carriages to bombs, making Kokomo one of the most exciting cities in the Midwest.
Attractions include the historic Seiberling Mansion, the Elwood Haynes Museum and the Kokomo Downtown Farmers’ Market.
With a rich history and tons of things to see and do throughout Kokomo, it’s one of the best destinations to visit in Indiana.
10- Terre Haute
Terre Haute, located in the heart of Indiana’s Wabash Valley, is a bustling metropolitan hub known for its diverse outdoor recreation opportunities and craft brewing scene.
The city is a popular destination for motorsports enthusiasts and history buffs, with attractions ranging from the Crossroads Dragway to the Spirit of Terre Haute.
This miniature train runs through Terre Haute’s Deming Park.
There’s something for everyone in Terre Haute, so don’t miss out on this entertaining Indiana city when travelling through the state.
The city of Gary is a scenic coastal town on the shores of Lake Michigan that’s a popular weekend destination due to the city’s convenient location near Chicago and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Gary has several attractions, such as Buffington Harbor and Marquette Park.
The city’s also home to beaches and nature trails.
Shipshewana is a unique Indiana city in the heart of Indiana’s Amish country.
The city treats visitors to Hoosier hospitality and low-key attractions and is a popular destination for people interested in learning more about Amish culture.
The city is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts and foodies, with farm-fresh produce and unblemished Indiana countryside around the city.
From Shipshewana’s Blue Gate Theatre to the Menno-Hof, the region’s official Mennonite – Amish visitor centre, you’ll enjoy exploring this city in Indiana.
A college town and mid-sized cosmopolitan city rolled into one, Valparaiso is a charming city in Indiana’s northwest corner near the Indiana Dunes National Seashore and Chicago.
Valparaiso is named after Valparaíso in Chile and means ‘Vail of Paradise’ in Spanish.
Home to the University of Valparaiso, the city hosts several exciting festivals throughout the year.
Nicknamed ‘Vapo’, Valparaiso is filled with historic theatres and beautiful botanical gardens, perfect for visiting when travelling through Indiana.
The seat of power in Indiana’s Tippecanoe County, Lafayette, is an immensely historic and culturally significant city in the state’s northwest corner.
Lafayette’s population swells by the thousands during school semesters when students pile into the city to attend classes at the main campus of Purdue University, which ensures Lafayette enjoys a general youthfulness year after year.
Lafayette is home to more than just one of the top STEM universities in the United States, such as the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Samara House and the Prophetstown State Park commemorating a Native American village discovered in 1808.
There’s a lot to do in Lafayette, cementing the city’s reputation as one of the best cities to visit in Indiana.
15- French Lick
Established as a French trading post during the early 19th century, French Lick was officially founded as a city in 1857 and named after the nearby sulphur spring.
French Lick’s springs were first used for medicinal purposes by settlers during the 1840s and are today one of the most popular ‘spa towns’ in the United States.
Once used by the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs for spring training, French Lick remains one of Indiana’s most exciting cities to visit and features many unique attractions and landmarks to experience.
16- Santa Claus
In Indiana’s southwest corner, Santa Claus is a charming Midwest city that comes to life every year during Christmas.
The entire area gets decorated in blankets of snow, colourful light displays and the odd Santa spotting.
Established as Santa Fe in 1854, it wasn’t until 1856 that the city officially became known as Santa Claus, and today several landmarks celebrate the city’s famous namesake from the North Pole.
Stop by the Santa Claus statue in front of Town Hall, the Santa Claus Museum and Santa’s Candy Castle to learn more about the town and experience the city’s festive atmosphere.
Founded as “Coffee Creek” in 1833, Chesterton is a relatively small city in the far northwest corner of Indiana that is regarded as the unofficial gateway to the Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Park.
The city is less than an hour’s drive from Downtown Chicago and is a popular residential area for families desiring a more peaceful life outside Indianapolis and Chicago.
While the two large parks are the biggest attractions in Chesterton, it’s the city’s central location, small-town charm and a laundry list of budget-friendly attractions that makes it one of Indiana’s standout cities to visit.
Columbus, not to be mistaken with Ohio’s more famous capital, is a peaceful mid-sized city roughly 40 miles (64 km) south of Downtown Indianapolis.
The city is known throughout Indiana and the entire Midwest for its mid-century Modernist architecture.
The brainchild behind the city’s affinity toward mid-century Modernist architecture was local industrialist J. Irwin Miller, who, during the 1950s, decided to pay architects’ fees to design Columbus’ public buildings.
Today, the city is an absolute delight to visit if you’re a fan of that particular style, featuring buildings designed by Eero Saarinen, the architect behind the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
19- Michigan City
As its name suggests, Michigan City is situated near the Michigan-Indiana state border along the shores of scenic Lake Michigan.
The city is a popular summertime destination, attracting visitors from states across the Midwest with its shipwreck museums and lake cruises.
The city is home to Indiana’s only functional lighthouse and some of the best beaches in the Midwest and is situated near the Indiana Dunes National Park and Downtown Chicago.
The seat of power in Jefferson County and neatly nestled along the banks of the mighty Ohio River, Madison is as charming and historic a city as you’re likely to find in Indiana.
Madison enjoys the reputation of being the largest contiguous National Historic Landmark District in the United States and is situated right on the doorstep of the breathtakingly beautiful Cliffy Falls State Park.
From the picturesque Jefferson County Courthouse to the historic buildings along Madison’s Main Street, this is one Indiana city you wouldn’t want to miss.
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