Indiana Entertainment and Recreation

Tour curated by: Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology

At the end of the nineteenth century, Hoosiers found themselves with more free time than ever before. Technological advances in industry allowed increased efficiency in manufacturing and farming while transportation innovations connected farmers and city dwellers, easing travel between work, home, and play. This innovation allowed ample time for something else in Indiana: having fun.

This tour highlights a wide swath of sites in the state that Indiana residents have utilized in some form or fashion for leisurely activities. For even more sites, Discover Indiana users are encouraged to check out the State Parks, State Fair, Historic Theaters, and Resorts and Camps tours. However, for now, Discover Indiana invites you to take a journey across the 19th state and learn about the variety of ways that Hoosiers like to have a good time!

Please keep in mind that each tour is by no means a comprehensive list of sites in Indiana related to each theme. Please be respectful of private property lines when visiting each of these sites.

Locations for Tour

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium is an architectural blend of the Neoclassical and Prairie styles. This two-story, cast concrete and reinforced steel building was designed by Chicago architect George Maher in…

In 1933-1934 Chicago hosted the Century of Progress Exposition. The Home and Industrial Arts group consisted of 13 state-of-the-art homes thought to represent what residential design of the future would look like. Innovative engineering and…

Washington Park started in 1891 as a greenspace along Lake Michigan. The Park was a recreation destination and popular place for company picnics out of Chicago. In 1913 the South Shore Amusement Company operated a dance floor, skating rink, bath…

In 1926, Studebaker Corporation purchased several farmsteads to construct a proving ground. They built a clubhouse, 8 miles of roadway, and engineering building, and garages on the property. Studebaker also started a major reforestation project with…

Battell Park is an 11-acre parcel that runs along the north bank of the Saint Joseph River. Previously known as Riverside Park, it was formally dedicated as a city park in 1881 and the name was changed to Battell Park (after the family that donated…

In 1859, the first Board of Trustees for Lindenwood Cemetery purchased 175 acres outside of Fort Wayne. They hired Englishman John Chislett, then superintendent and landscape gardener of Allegheny Park Cemetery in Pittsburgh, to plat the grounds.…

Sometime between 1914-1920, the Keefer and Bailey Lime, Brick, Tile, and Cement Company abandoned their quarry in Huntington. The quarry became quite an eyesore until 1923 when the proposal was made to convert it into a sunken garden. The Chicago…

Traveling circuses flourished in the years between the Civil War and the Great Depression. Few people may realize that Peru, Indiana, served as the winter headquarters from 1892-1938 for what would become the second largest circus in the country.…

German immigrant Gustav Dentzel began a carousel manufacturing business in Philadelphia in 1867. His father also created carousels in Kreuznach, Germany. The Dentzel family created over 100 hand-carved wood carousels during the 62-years they were in…

Collett Park is a 21-acre park that dates back to the 19th century. Designed by local architect J. Merrill Sherman, it was dedicated in 1890 although construction was not completed until 1894. It is the oldest park in Terre Haute. Several of the…

Deming Park, located on the east side of Terre Haute, is the work of landscape architect George Kessler. He created this park and adjacent Ohio Boulevard as one component of a parks and boulevard system for Terre Haute. Unfortunately Deming Park was…

The Martinsville High School Gymnasium served as the prototype for many 1920-1930s high school gyms. Designed by Indianapolis architects D.A. Bohlen and Son, the building was the first free–standing gym in the state. It was created specifically for…

The Porter Pool Bathhouse is one of several examples of Art Deco architecture in Shelbyville. Designed by D.A. Bohlen in 1930, the bathhouse was paired with a public pool that was managed by the American Legion from 1930-1955. At that point the…

One of the four original diagonal streets of the 1821 plan for Indianapolis, Indiana Avenue tells an important part of the story of African American life in Indianapolis, much of which was centered here on the near northwest side of the downtown…

Crown Hill Cemetery has served the Indianapolis area for more than 150 years as both a place of interment and a peaceful green space within the city. The burial ground sees more than 25,000 visitors annually; beyond those attending services, many use…

A second National Historic Landmark Dentzel carousel is located in Indiana (the other is in Logansport). Formerly a part of Broad Ripple Park, the carousel is now housed at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. It is one of three of the earliest…

Hinkle Fieldhouse, formerly known as Butler Fieldhouse, is one of the oldest and best known basketball arenas in the world and has remained in continuous use since it opened in 1928. Few places represent the Hoosier obsession with the sport of…

It took Ray Harroun 6 hours and 42 minutes to win the first Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911. Speeding past the checkered flag in his bright yellow Marmon “Wasp,” Harroun had driven the five hundred miles at an average speed of 74.6 mph.…

Black Hoosiers in the 1900’s enjoyed the same leisure activities embraced by their white counterparts, but were systematically denied access to many of the venues associated with recreation. The Great Migration of African Americans from the south…

Early History Bush Stadium was constructed in 1931 by the Osborn Engineering Company, the firm responsible for several famous ballparks including Cleveland’s League Park, Boston’s Fenway Park, and New York’s Yankee Stadium. Local architects…

This 123-acre park southeast of downtown Indianapolis was originally a horse-racing track. This venture failed and the property was sold to the City of Indianapolis in 1873 and became known as Southern Park. Upon President Garfield’s assassination…

The Crystal Beach Pool and Bathhouse were constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1937-1939. The pool has a half circle form designed by a Mr. Hunter. Shallow water starts at the curved outer edge and plunges to 9-feet deep at the…

Otis Park began as a farm in the 1860s. The original 1865 Italianate house is still located on the grounds. After the farm failed, there were a series of owners. Local newspaperman Fred Otis acquired the property and in 1915 he donated it to the City…

The Lincoln Pioneer Village was created in 1935 to promote the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lived in southern Indiana during his childhood and adolescence. George Honig, a Lincoln expert in Rockport, suggested the idea of recreating a…

The Chautauqua Movement spread across the United States in the late 1800’s. By 1900, around 200 independent chautauquas existed in the United States, ten of which were in Indiana. Lecturers and entertainers were booked across the country for…