Indiana is often passed through as part of longer cross-country road trips, but a lot of travelers don’t realize just how many scenic drives Indiana has to offer! Idyllic roads along winding rivers and quaint historic towns await for you to explore.
Planning driving routes can be a bit tedious when you’re not sure what you’re looking out for, which is why we’ve put together this list of Indiana’s best scenic drives. We’ve got something included for everyone, ranging from outdoor exploration to downtown attractions and charming local restaurants.
Whether you’re in Indiana for an extended period or just passing through, these drives are great ways to see some of the best landscapes in the central United States.
1. Indiana Scenic Drives: Indiana Road 62 (SR 62)
- Distance: 223 miles
- Time needed: 4 hours to 1 day
Crossing almost the entire state, this scenic drive in Indiana passes through a diverse landscape of forests, historic towns, Amish communities, and rivers.
Beginning on the border of Illinois to Dearborn County near Cincinnati, Ohio, it’s a perfect drive for travelers crossing through Indiana, or you can break it into segments for shorter trips.
The route will take you through several historic towns, such as Boonville, Mount Vernon, and Corydon. In Corydon, you’ll find the first state capitol building of Indiana, and you can visit the site of the historic Battle of Corydon, where a battle during the Civil War took place.
Although Indiana is a relatively flat state, this route does experience more change in elevation than you might expect, so you’ll come across some nice lookouts throughout your drive.
When to visit: Any time of year is good, but autumn is good if you want to see the fall foliage along this Indiana scenic route.
2. Indiana Scenic Drives: Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway
- Distance: 76 miles
- Time needed: 3-6 hours depending on stops
When traveling along this scenic drive in Alabama, we’d recommend planning to set some time aside to visit the historic attractions at the Whitewater Canal.
At the canal, you’ll have the chance to see the original locks built on the Whitewater River, tour historic homes, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
If you have a bit more time and enjoy exploring the outdoors, then hiking along the Whitewater River Canal trail is a must. This easily accessible trail is a great outdoor activity for families looking for a chance to stretch their legs during a road trip in Indiana!
The rest of the route crosses between the historic National Road of Indiana and the Ohio River Valley, along which you’ll be treated to idyllic river scenes and rolling countryside.
When to go: Spring through fall are the best times of year for enjoying the outdoor activities around Whitewater Canal.
3. Indiana Scenic Drives: Lincoln Highway
- Distance: 155 miles
- Time needed: 3 hours to 1 day, depending on stops
The actual length of this highway spans from New York to California, making it one of the most traversed roads in the United States. It’s an excellent route to take when driving in Indiana, both for the views and historic significance.
This was the first highway to cross across the entire length of the United States, and many of the towns it passes through have interesting historic attractions.
If you have to pick and choose where to stop, we’d definitely recommend planning to visit the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. This 86-acre park has a replica of the cabin home of Abraham Lincoln’s father, as well as pleasant pathways and picnic areas.
History enthusiasts traveling this Indiana scenic route can add another level of discovery by finding the historic mile markers, each bearing a carving of President Lincoln. These can be found in some of the major stops, such as Fort Wayne.
There’s also a Visitor Center in Fort Wayne with more information about the highway and some awesome historic diners which make for great spots to grab a meal or snack during your road trip in Indiana.
When to go: Any time of year is good to travel the Lincoln Highway, but keep in mind that during the summer, it can be more difficult to get hotel reservations directly on the route since it’s a popular travel time.
4. Indiana Scenic Drives: Ohio River Scenic Byway
- Distance: 303 miles
- Time needed: 1-2 days, depending on stops
Following the Ohio River through southeastern Indiana, this route combines the natural beauty of the river with a charming historic vibe thanks to the numerous quaint towns along the way.
The Ohio River Scenic Byway is a particularly great drive in Indiana for families, thanks to the numerous attractions and family-friendly stops along the way.
There are plenty of places to visit for outdoor adventures. Some of the best stopping points are Harmonie State Park where there are excellent swimming areas and trails for hiking and biking, and the Indiana Caverns which are Indiana’s longest cavern, where you can take a boat ride for a surreal experience through the caves.
In addition to the natural scenery, there are also spots to learn about the history of Indiana. At the Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum in Rockport, you can see hundreds of artifacts housed in Lincoln-era-style replica cabins.
Especially in the summer, many of the towns along the Ohio River Scenic Byway will have art and craft festivals, antique shops, and local farmer markets. There are also lots of options for local bed & breakfasts as alternatives to chain hotels.
When to go: Spring and summer are the best times of year to travel the Ohio River Scenic Byway.
5. Indiana Scenic Drives: Historic National Road
- Distance: 620 miles in total, about 140 miles in Indiana
- Time needed: 4 hours to 1 day, depending on stops
As you might be able to guess from the name, the Historic National Road marks an important point in the construction of highways in the United States. Being the first federally funded highway in America, traveling this scenic drive in Indiana is like taking a step back in history.
There are 32 designated National Register sites along the way, which mark important historic landmarks or natural formations. These make great stopping points to explore some of Indiana’s history.
Many of the towns along the road have preserved their historic charm with old diners, gas stations, and elegant Victorian-style homes lining leafy streets. Some of the historic mansions offer tours, and in summer, it’s common to spot craft and artisan fairs.
Golf is also a popular recreational activity, with numerous courses along the route set within the picturesque green landscape of southern Indiana. For families, there are multiple parks for hiking, biking, and swimming.
Thanks to all the activities and attractions, this scenic drive in Indiana could easily be split into multiple days. Or if you’re just passing through the state, the National Road continues into Ohio and Illinois, making it a great scenic route for road trips through Indiana.
When to go: Summer is the best time for outdoor activities, but any time of year is good for traveling the National Road.
6. Indiana Scenic Drives: Heritage Trail
- Distance: 90 miles
- Time needed: 4 hours to 1 day
This gently winding scenic drive takes you through six charming towns, including Elkhart, Goshen, Bristol, and Wakarusa, known for their Amish communities and local shops full of character.
Throughout the year, you’ll find various attractions like art fairs, holiday shopping and Christmas light displays, seasonal festivals, and musical events.
There are lots of kid-friendly entertainment options for families on road trips in Indiana, like skiing or hiking on trails, mini golf, carriage rides, and local candy shops selling homemade treats.
Many of the stores and restaurants sell food items, furniture, and beautifully handmade items made by local Amish community members. The route is also known for its excellent antique shops, where you can pick up a unique souvenir from your trip.
The pleasant country lanes make this Indiana scenic drive great to include on your travel itinerary as a great way to experience some of the local culture and history that a lot of travelers miss.
When to go: This drive is excellent year-round.
More Scenic Drives in the Midwest
Want to keep exploring through the best of the Midwest? Next up, you’ll want to bookmark:
- Unmissable Ohio Scenic Drives
- Make the most of these Magical Michigan Scenic Drives and take a break at the best Michigan Beach Towns
- Try one of these 9 Fun & Interesting Chicago Day Trips
- Explore these brilliant beautiful Kansas Scenic Drives
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