Explore the outdoors at Brown County, Indiana

Brown County is one of America’s original art colonies, with artists being drawn to the area because of the natural views.
two people overlooking Brown County State Park
Courtesy of Brown County BCVB
Brown County State Park

About the Area: Wisconsin has Door County, and Indiana has Brown County. While you won’t find views of Lake Michigan in Brown County, you will discover a combination of natural areas, small shops and artists, similar to what you’ll find in Door County. Brown County is one of America’s original art colonies, with artists being drawn to the area because of the natural views. The area boasts more than 30 galleries, studios and art stores, plus a few interesting public art installations.

What to Do: One of the biggest draws is Brown County State Park. The state’s largest park is nicknamed “The Little Smokies” because the views are reminiscent of the Smoky Mountains. Brown County State Park has options for canoeing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. There are 16,000 acres to explore, countless vistas and 20 miles of drivable roads where you can see the sights without leaving the car.

Where to Stay: If you want to stay close to the park, try Abe Martin Lodge. The hotel is one of seven located within Indiana’s state parks. It’s a great spot for kids: It has an indoor waterpark and private cabin options if you want to be one with nature. If the creative scene is what you’re looking for, opt for Artists Colony Inn located in the heart of Nashville, Brown County’s largest town. You’ll find a lot of restaurants and shops within walking distance.

Where to Eat: There are plenty of sweet shops with old-fashioned fudge, candy, taffy and caramels. Many businesses have been staples in the community for years, including The Candy Dish since 1977, Heritage Candy Store since 1973 and The Candy Emporium since 1996. Some mealtime options include The Nashville House, Story Inn, The Original, Brown Bike Eatery & Drinkery, Gatesville Country Store and Nashville General Store & Bakery. Almost all have interesting backstories and comforting cuisine.

Must-See Events: Music lovers will not want to miss The Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in June, one of the longest-running bluegrass festivals. Brown County is known for its fall colors, so the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour throughout October provides a good excuse to watch the leaves change and meet artisans in their studios.

Find more Midwest travel ideas here.

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