Indiana is mostly known for its bustling capital city, sprawling farmlands, and world-famous Indy 500 auto race – but tucked in between, are some incredibly beautiful small towns. Those who only visit Indiana’s most popular attractions will be missing out on some of the state’s best hidden gems.
Take a break from the big city life and check out our picks for the most beautiful small towns in Indiana.
Table of Contents
- 1. Madison
- 2. Nashville
- 3. Dune Acres
- 4. Goshen
- 5. Spencer
- 6. Corydon
- 7. Vincennes
- 8. Shipshewana
- 9. Franklin
- 10. Angola
- 11. Crown Point
- 12. Winona Lake
- 13. Bridgeton
- 14. Mansfield
- 15. Aurora
- 16. French Lick
- 17. Syracuse
- 18. Wabash
- 19. Pendleton
- 20. Williamsport
- 21. Jasper
- 22. Richmond
- 23. Chesterton
- 24. Whiting
- 25. Bedford
- 26. Greencastle
- 27. Monterey
- 28. Auburn
- 29. Santa Claus
- 30. Mecca
One of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana (and really, the whole Midwest) can be found along the Ohio River on the Indiana-Kentucky border. Madison is as beautiful as it is historic, and you can still see the influence of its past in the architecture of the old homes and some of the buildings in the downtown area.
Get up close and personal with a tour of the Lanier Mansion, or simply peruse the 133 full blocks that have made it onto the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll also find lots of antique shops, wineries, and a beautiful river promenade.
For more views of nature, you could also spend some time in Clifty Falls State Park, located on the west side of town. Spend the day hiking miles of trails, chasing waterfalls, or hunting down fossil remnants from Clifty Creek – just be sure not to take anything with you, as it’s prohibited to collect anything from the park.
Madison may be small, but there’s so much to do here that you’ll want to consider staying at one of the cozy bed and breakfasts that this area is known for.
Not to be confused with Tennessee’s capital city, Nashville is actually one of Indiana’s most beautiful small towns.
There are a mind-boggling amount of eclectic shops in the charming downtown area, numerous art galleries, incredible architecture, and even some tasting rooms serving up local wines.
Nashville got its start as an artist’s colony, which you’ll definitely notice once you spend even a minute in the downtown area.
No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Nashville; from handmade pottery and jewelry to clothing and home décor, you’ll find it hard to leave empty-handed.
Foodies will find Nashville especially appealing, as there are tons of shops selling sweet treats, homemade bread, jams, and so much more. There are also lots of amazing restaurants around town, and you may have a hard time picking just one!
Brown County State Park is a stunning nature area, nicknamed “Little Smokies” after another Tennessee treasure, and is full of trails, scenic vistas, and plenty of campsites.
You may want to consider pitching a tent here for a night or two so you can enjoy all that this charming town has to offer.
3. Dune Acres
Situated on the banks of Lake Michigan, Dune Acres is without a doubt one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana. The town is located on the western edge of Indiana Dunes National Park, atop one of the largest sand dunes in the area (hence, the name).
This resort town boasts breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline across the bay – along with beautiful sandy beaches, lots of hiking trails, and a relaxed atmosphere that may have you wanting to stay here permanently.
Dune Acres is located less than an hour away from Chicago, depending on the traffic, and you can even get there with public transportation via the South Shore Line.
If a small town is what you are after, you’ll be happy to learn that Dune Acres has a population of less than 200!
Foodies looking for the most beautiful small town in Indiana should make a beeline for Goshen. This picturesque town is full of artisan shops and mouth-watering eateries, and the colorful downtown area will satisfy the eyes as well.
Whether you’re looking for woodfired pizza, authentic taquerias, or just a good old-fashioned cheeseburger, you’ll find anything your heart desires in at least one of the eclectic restaurants in town.
There’s also a brewery and a craft cocktail bar, and you can also head to Constant Spring, a local joint serving up some elevated bar food.
After all, the best way to experience a new place is with your taste buds, right?
Located just about 1 hour from Indianapolis, Spencer is one of Indiana’s most beautiful small towns. It’s got everything you could hope for in a small town, including lovely old buildings, colorful murals, outdoor recreation areas, and even a winery!
You’ll also find a series of waterfalls in the nearby McCormick Creek State Park, along with over 10 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding.
Once you’ve had enough of the wilderness, head back into town for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants or brewpubs – or stop in for a refreshing glass of wine at the Owen Valley Winery.
Corydon was Indiana’s first capital city, and today it’s one of the most beautiful small towns in the state.
You can see the original capitol building at the Corydon Capitol Historic Site, which has since been turned into a museum, along with many other historical buildings in the downtown area.
Foodies will find plenty of great restaurants, cafes, and a couple of wineries in Corydon – and if all that isn’t enough to entice you to visit this lovely city, there’s even more to see on the outskirts of town.
One of the main draws to Corydon is its proximity to two different cave systems. Both Squire Boone Caverns and Indiana Caves offer tours of these mysterious underground areas – and if you’d like to stay above ground, you can opt for whitewater rafting, kayaking, or zip lining.
Corydon may be Indiana’s first state capital, but Vincennes is the state’s oldest town. Needless to say, history buffs and architecture enthusiasts should put Vincennes at the top of their bucket lists.
This beautiful small town has been through a lot in its long lifetime. It’s been a French trading post and military center, and there are plenty of museums where you can learn about these bygone eras.
If you only have time for one, head to the Indiana Military Museum where you’ll find the state’s largest collection of military artifacts, reenactments, a mock bunker, and other fascinating war memorabilia.
The George Rogers Clark National Historic Park also shouldn’t be missed, as this monument is second only to the ones in Washington D.C. in terms of size.
You could also check out the collection of historical buildings in the downtown area, either by yourself or on a guided walking tour.
Head into the heart of Amish Country to discover one of Indiana’s most beautiful small towns. Shipshewana is a small village that packs a big punch, and anyone interested in learning more about Amish culture and history would be hard-pressed to find a better place to visit.
Shipshewana draws visitors by the thousands between May and September each year while hosting the largest flea market in the Midwest. With nearly 30 aisles of vendors, you’re almost guaranteed to find something you didn’t know you needed!
No matter what brings you to town, don’t miss your chance to take a horse and buggy ride or to sample some authentic Amish cuisine.
Just south of Indianapolis you’ll find the charming city of Franklin, voted the home of Indiana’s best Main Street.
Its picture-perfect downtown is full of historic buildings. You could definitely spend some time admiring the old architecture, specifically that of the courthouse.
Inside the historic buildings of the downtown area, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy – including cute shops, charming cafes, restaurants, and breweries.
Franklin also hosts a variety of events throughout the year including farmers markets, art festivals, winter markets, and beer and wine tastings.
Angola is often considered one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana – and even in the whole country -and it’s not hard to see why.
The stunning red-brick buildings of the downtown area look like they belong in a postcard, and you could easily spend hours perusing the small shops and cute cafes housed in these buildings.
Antique lovers will be thrilled to learn that Angola has 7 different antique stores, many of which can be found downtown. One of the largest, is the antique mall – and you’ll want to allocate at least a couple of hours here if you’re hoping to get through all the stalls.
Angola is a charming city to spend some time in even if you’re not a fan of antiques. If you’re in need of some fresh air after spending the day in the old shops, Pokagon State Park is also located nearby.
11. Crown Point
Tucked away in the northwestern part of the state, Crown Point is one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana, and is truly a hidden gem. Although there’s not a ton to do in terms of awe-inspiring activities, you could easily spend the whole day wandering around the historic downtown area and admiring the architecture.
Crown Point does have a few historical museums, an antique mall, and some nature trails for those who are interested in doing more than just gawking at the buildings. Once you work up an appetite, you’ll find a variety of restaurants that are sure to please every palate.
12. Winona Lake
The picturesque city of Winona Lake is one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana, and is also one of the most popular boutique shopping destinations in the state.
You won’t find just any old shopping experience awaiting you. Most of the shops and eateries are located in charming historic cottages along the town’s picture-perfect canal.
The beach is just a few blocks down from this trendy area if you find the need to cool off during the hot summer months. Boating and kayaking are also popular lake activities.
If you find yourself wanting to plan a weekend getaway in this beautiful area, there’s a large collection of cozy guest houses and bed and breakfasts around town.
Aptly named after its lovely, covered bridge, the city of Bridgeton is one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana. Obviously, the bridge is the star of the show here. Although it’s not the original, it has been reconstructed to look nearly exactly the same.
This structure is one of the most famous of its kind, and is also beautifully perched over a millpond and waterfall. The mill is one of the oldest in continual operation, and when combined with the bridge over the river, makes for one heck of a photo shoot.
If you enjoyed Bridgeton’s bridge, then you should definitely check out the small town of Mansfield, located in western Indiana. “Town” might be a bit of an overstatement, as this unincorporated area is really more of a village.
Still, it’s one of the most beautiful in the state – and the old covered bridge is one of the longest. There’s even a festival for the bridge every October, so you may want to plan your visit around this popular event and enjoy some local food, music, and vendors.
If you’re not in town during the festival, you can enjoy the peace and quiet that the area provides and take a gander at the historic buildings in the town’s center.
If you’re driving along the Ohio River Scenic Highway, don’t hesitate to stop in the small town of Aurora. This city is one of the most beautiful in Indiana, and also boasts a long and rich history.
To get a sense of what life was like back in the 1800s, take a tour of the gorgeous Hillforest Mansion. It is indeed perched on a hilltop high above the city, and offers incredible views of the river below.
After your tour, spend some time downtown admiring one of the state’s top 10 main streets, or hit up the Great Crescent Brewery – which has also made it onto one of the state’s top 10 lists.
16. French Lick
Although the name may not suggest it, French Lick is actually one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana. This city offers luxury in spades thanks to the mineral springs that have been a big draw to the area for years.
You can spend your time frequenting one of the spas, playing golf at the state’s best course, or taking in the splendor of the 100-year-old French Lick Resort. The town also boasts a gorgeous casino on the resort grounds, along with plenty of boutique shopping opportunities.
If you’re not looking for a ritzy retreat, you can spend your time in French Lick riding on the scenic railway, checking out the historical museum, or taking the kids to the indoor water park.
While you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out West Baden Springs, French Lick’s sister city, located just minutes to the north.
Situated on the shores of two beautiful lakes, Syracuse is a quintessential Indiana lake town. Not only are the lakes a stunning backdrop to the town, but they also provide endless hours of fun in all 4 seasons.
Soak up some sun at the Oakwood Resort Beach, put your boat in the water and cruise around Syracuse Lake or the larger Lake Wawasee.
There are also numerous walking trails around the lakes that are sure to be a hit year-round, and a large assortment of open-air dining options.
Wabash is a charming city with an interesting past located about an hour outside of Fort Wayne. This small town earned the important title of the first electrically lit city in the whole world – but you wouldn’t see it at first glance.
Wabash is the epitome of a small town in Indiana, complete with old historic buildings, small local shops, and plenty of good dining options. Learn more about the town on a trolley tour, or spend some time in nature at one of the nearby state parks.
A self-proclaimed small town with big ideas, Pendleton is a beautiful town with inviting residents. The city is absolutely oozing with small-town charm, and whether you’re there for an hour or a weekend, you’ll receive a warm welcome.
The downtown area looks like it belongs in a storybook, and you could easily spend hours popping in and out of the local shops and cafes.
Pendleton also boasts tons of green space – so feel free to pack a lunch, and enjoy a scenic picnic.
The historic city of Williamsport is one of Indiana’s most beautiful small towns.
Its downtown area is full to the brim with historic buildings, the most noteworthy of which include:
- The Tower House
- The courthouse
- The Presbyterian Church
You’ll also find lots of cute cafes and shops in the downtown area and plenty of restaurants to choose from.
The town’s location along the Wabash River only adds to the beautiful scenery, and there’s even a 90-foot waterfall downtown.
If you’d like to see even more falls, you can head to the nearby Falls Creek Gorge for a stellar photo-op. If at all possible, try to visit Williamsport in the autumn when fall foliage is at its peak.
Besides being one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana, Jasper is also one of the most interesting. This river town boasts immense German heritage, and the best way to experience this is with your stomach.
The Schnitzelbank Restaurant is the place to go for some classic German fair – not to mention the massive mugs of beer – and a stop at the gift shop after your meal is basically compulsory.
Even if you’re not interested in the heritage of Jasper, there’s still plenty to see and do. The town’s river walk is a beautiful place to take a stroll or bike ride, but for a more unique tour of the town and surrounding area you can hop on the Spirit of Jasper Train. There are a few different excursions you can choose from, but all trains leave from the train depot.
The St. Joseph Catholic Church is also worth a visit, as is the Jasper City Mill and the Dubois County Courthouse, which has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Part of what makes Richmond one of the most beautiful small towns in Indiana is the sheer amount of things there are to do. It’s probably one of the most family-friendly cities in the state, and people of all ages will find plenty of fun attractions.
From candy stores to apple orchards and bike rentals to interactive museums, you might need more than a few hours in Richmond to even scratch the surface. Adults will find plenty of activities geared towards them as well, including an antique trail and wine and ale trail nearby.
You’ll also find lots of great dining options around town and some great natural areas in and around the city. If you do want to stretch out your trip, Richmond has a nice collection of hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts.
Often considered to be the best place to live in Indiana, Chesterton is also one of the most beautiful small towns in the state. Located on the edge of the Indiana Dunes National Park in the northwest part of the state, its proximity to Chicago and the beach make this place hard to beat.
The old downtown area is one of the most picturesque spots in town. The classic ambiance combined with the verdant tree-lined streets make Chesterton an ideal spot to spend a day or two.
You’ll find unique shops along the main street, including an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, an antique bookshop, and an outdoor market (every Saturday in the months May-October).
Located just outside of the Chicago metropolitan area, the town of Whiting is one of Indiana’s most beautiful. Like most small towns in the state, you’ll find a rich history and some beautiful buildings – but Whiting has some interesting attractions that make it one of a kind.
The city is home to the National Mascot Hall of Fame, and kids of all ages will find this museum alone to be worth a trip to Whiting. You could also spend your time at one of its beaches or plan your trip around the tantalizing Pierogi Fest held every July.
The main draw to Bedford is not actually the town itself, but rather the incredible Bluespring Caverns located nearby. The caverns are home to the longest underground river in the country, and many of albino critters living in these waters.
The caverns are fascinating to explore, and after taking a boat tour, you can take a walk around Canyon Hall, mine for gemstones, or take a hike on the Karst Natural Area Trail.
Of course, the quaint town of Bedford is also worth a visit – and you’ll find beautiful old buildings, a charming downtown area, and even a brewery!
What Greencastle lacks in size it makes up for in charm – so don’t miss this beautiful small town in Indiana, located on the outskirts of Indianapolis. This little city is a great option for a day trip for those visiting the state’s capital.
Head straight to Franklin Street for the best small-town vibes. From there, you can take in views of the beautiful post office or pop into one of the restaurants or antique shops that line the square.
Greencastle also has a few museums for those interested in history, a brewery for those interested in drinking, and a gorgeous nature park on the west side of town.
Those looking for some peace and quiet during their time in Indiana will love the small town of Monterey. Although there are some impressive historical buildings still standing, the main draw to Monterey is the nature.
Both Hartz Lake and the Tippecanoe River offer water lovers tons of fun pastimes, and those looking to put some miles on a bike can spend a few hours on the scenic Panhandle Pathway.
Car lovers from around the world flock to Auburn, mainly to check out the 4 car museums in town – but it’s not only the museums that Auburn is famous for. There’s also an auction park, and a few different car shows and festivals held annually.
Even if you’re not a big car fan, Auburn is worth a visit. You can spend the day imbibing at the local winery or brewery (or both!), take a stroll through the lovely Eckhart Park, or do some shopping at the charming boutiques.
29. Santa Claus
If you thought Christmas in July was bonkers, just wait until you visit the city where it’s Christmas every day! The city of Santa Claus is located in southwest Indiana, and brings Christmas cheer 24/7- 365 days a year.
This adorable town has Christmas shops galore, a Santa Claus museum and village, and even a Santa Claus post office. You’ll have to see it to believe it, folks!
While you’re in town, a trip to Holiday World is a must. It’s both a theme park and a water park, and kids of all ages could stay entertained here for hours!
One last covered bridge has made it onto our list, and even if you’re just passing through the beautiful small town of Mecca, you should at least stop for a look at this ancient monument.
If you have time, the town itself is a fun place to visit as well. Measuring just 10 blocks, it won’t take you long to see all its main attractions.
Stop in for a drink at the local Mecca Tavern, or check out the old church and school before leaving this little town in the rear view mirror.