Roaring race cars, sunny beaches, mouth-watering cuisine, and natural beauty are just a few of things that make Indiana a great state for summer travel. If you’re looking for Indiana vacation rentals in proximity to exciting attractions and activities, then check out the Hoosier State’s big cities and small lakeside towns. This Midwestern state offers great activities ideal for visitors of all ages. Take at look at the 10 best places to take a summer vacation in Indiana.

1. Indianapolis

indianapolis city park

Indianapolis is full of fun events in the summer, making it a great choice for your next vacation rental. In this city you are never really far from the action, including the state’s iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Check out the speedway’s summer races, or visit the on-site museum to view old race cars from past IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One, and other series. For a fun family getaway, visit the Indianapolis Zoo. Cheetahs, lions, and orangutans are among the many creatures that await your visit.

Indianapolis is a great place for food and drinks. Especially notable is the city’s Indy Beer Mile, which takes visitors on a guided tour to various beer establishments and allows them to sample different beers from around the world. For fine dining, try St. Elmo Steak House, a stable of the city since 1902.

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2. Gary

miller beach
Source: Flickr / Steve Johnson

A vacation home in Gary puts you right on the shores of Lake Michigan, meaning summer beach fun right at your doorstep. Miller Beach is a popular stop in this town. The long stretch of sandy beaches is a great place to relax, and the waters of the lake is an inviting way to stay cool. Another beach, Lake Street Beach, has a jet ski launch for those who really want to get out on the water. Stop by the Miller Beach Farmer’s Market and grab a fresh snack for your vacation home.

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3. Monticello

indiana beach overview from the skyride
Source: Flickr / Jeremy Thompson

Do not let this town’s small size fool you. Monticello is home to Indiana Beach, a large amusement park with rides for all ages. Climb aboard the Cornball Express coaster for crazy twists and plunges, or ride the Giant Gondola Wheel for scenic views of the town. The park also has a water park, making it a great place to go on a hot summer’s day. Slide down the large water slides or relax on the tube river. The park also hosts periodic live shows during the summer months.

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4. Fort Wayne

a serval at fort wayne children's zoo
Source: Flickr / Becker1999

A highlight of this large city is the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. In addition to being home to giraffes, lemurs, servals, and other exotic creatures, the zoo provides special animal-themed events during the summer. The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is another outdoor family adventure. Stroll past gorgeous seasonal and tropical gardens, and be sure to stop by the conservatory’s live butterfly event held during part of the summer. For relaxing indoor ventures, visit the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to see an impressive collection of American paintings, photographs, and sculptures.

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5. Evansville

watkins f. nisbet home
Source: Flickr / raschau

Grab a vacation home in Evansville to experience summer fun in the southern part of the state. Kids will love the Children’s Museum of Evansville, which houses several interactive exhibits that help children develop creative and thinking skills while also having fun. Evansville is also home to historic houses, including the Victorian Reitz Home Museum. Food options include Amish, Asian, German, and barbecue, along with many other ethnic and regional varieties.

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6. Columbus

outdoor art in columbus
Source: Flickr / Ryan Brunner

If you are fascinated by art and architecture, but prefer a small town setting to the big city, then visit Columbus. This town is full of interesting modern architecture that gives the community its own unique flavor. Summer is the perfect time for an evening stroll down the “Avenue of the Architects,” so called because the street passes by unique modern statues, green spaces, and buildings. Summer also means ice cream, and in Columbus that means Zaharakos Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor. Enter into this restored 1900-style ice cream parlor to step back in time while also enjoying a delicious treat.

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7. Santa Claus

hallowswings at splashin' safari
Source: Flickr / Thomas_Jung

At first glance a town with the name “Santa Claus” may not strike you as a summer getaway, but this fun-filled town is actually big on summer activities. Visit Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari for water rides and roller coasters to beat the summer heat. Live events such as music festivals and summer fireworks also take place here. While Christmas may be far away, kids can still write letters to Santa at the Santa Claus Post Office. A short drive away is the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, where the famous president spent much of his boyhood.

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8. South Bend

the university of notre dame

White water rafting in the city? That’s just one of the many unique summer ventures in South Bend, Indiana. East Race Waterway is a man-made waterway that offers exciting rapids for kayaking. Rock climbing is also available onsite. Notre Dame is the pride of South Bend, and you will want to be sure to visit this scenic, iconic campus during your stay. While South Bend is famous for many great eateries, they are really big on tacos. Cinco 5, Taste of Mexico, and Fiesta Tapatia are just a few of the many places to get tacos of all kinds.

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9. Bloomington

bloomington fourth street fair
Source: Flickr / Jeff Hart

If you are looking to combine outdoor recreation with arts and culture, then check out vacation homes in Bloomington. This southern Indiana town is a short drive from state parks and forests that offer opportunities for hiking, biking, and viewing wildlife. Bike rentals are even available at the bicycle garage. Attractions within the city include local works on display at the Blueline Gallery, as well as historic fashion displays at the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection.

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10. Lafayette

moses fowler house
Source: Flickr / Jim Hammer

Several art museums make their home in Lafayette. The Haan Mansion Museum is an impressive structure that moved to Lafayette from the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair. Today, it houses art, furniture, and porcelain, and includes a valuable collection of art by Indiana artists. The grounds around the mansion are wooded and include hiking and even mountain biking trails. The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette is another great stop. Several historic houses still stand in this town, and are a pleasure to walk by. Take the kids to Columbian Park Zoo for a summer afternoon of fun with nearly 100 species of animals.

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