Drive one tire into Hendricks County, Indiana, and you’ll know you’ve traveled to someplace special. The county, just Northwest of Indianapolis proper, is not only filled with the booming sprawl of Indiana’s capital city, but it refuses to move forward without looking at its rich past. Here’s nine adorably modern ways Hendricks County, Indiana embraces its past- and why you need to visit to check them out!
Pink House Promenade
Every year, the residents of North Salem join together to celebrate Old Fashioned Days. Filled with local crafters (we saw the coolest blacksmithing demonstration!), the city practically closes all of its main streets to house the visitors and fans of the annual event- this year was the 41st.
A parade filled with old-fashioned cars and tractors, local government officials parading and chatting with parade watchers, and more delicious food than our stomachs could take, we were in quintessential Midwest town heaven. All that was missing was John Cougar Mellencamp.
When Is a Car More than a Car?
When it’s a piece of moving, shiny, pristine history, of course! On the first Friday of every month during warmer weather, antique and muscle car enthusiasts gather around the Court House Square in Danville to check out each other’s “wheels” at the First Friday Cruise-In.
Lively music and fans of gorgeous autos (trucks, too. Man, there were at least three that I’d have loved to have taken home with me!), the dinner time event is a fun way to gain a little exercise by walking from car to car and chatting with the owners who are more than happy to relive their restoration tales. As for the old truck above, I’d drive it in a hot minute.
A Beatles Song Quote Turned B&B
Beatles Fan? Whether you are or aren’t, The Marmalade Sky B&B in Danville will have you sing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” every time you see its sign in the front yard.
Four separate guest rooms (a couple share a bathroom while a couple have private baths) are filled with antique touches and the owners really go all out on the weekends with full breakfast offerings. We had the pleasure of staying at Marmalade Sky and had the entire house pretty much to ourselves.
Compliments of our recent visit I now want to own a Victorian-style home.
A Cup of Tea, a Cookie, and a Gorgeous View of the Court House
I have a new favorite coffee house/restaurant in my life and its name is Court House Grounds. Owners Bill & Tracy turned an old building in Danville into a super cool coffee house with a creative and delicious menu.
I’m a fan of quiche, but I seriously have never had a spinach version that was so delicate and tasty.
While, yes, Court House Grounds is a local hang for breakfast (they have bottomless Mimosas!), the lunch and dinner menus offer a Soup of the Day (we went back for the Chicken Leek Soup for lunch and it was the best off-the-cuff decision we’d made that day), scones, muffins, and cookies that make me want to rethink my baking skills, and the friendliest atmosphere you’ve ever seen.
For the Love of Mayberry!
Have you ever been so passionate about a television show that you dedicated your restaurant to it? Ok, the answer is probably no, but it happened in Danville. Mayberry Cafe is a big deal when it comes to restaurants in Hendricks county.
A replica police car from “The Andy Griffith Show” sits outside, but inside it’s all about homemade meals and friendly service. While we waited for our orders of Chicken Fried Steak and Fried Chicken and pie, we watched old episodes of the show on several televisions throughout the restaurant. As for the appetizers, the Macaroni and Cheese Wedges are so good I want to try to make them at home.
Chat with the employees and you’ll find they have just as much passion for the cafe as its owner.
We ditched our car for a couple of hours and headed through the woods in Hendricks County on horseback compliments of Natural Valley Ranch. The ranch/farm will happily guide you on easy paths through and around White Lick Creek no matter what your riding skill is (we were definite newbies!) and we learned a ton about the property and the well-loved animals that make it up.
If you have younger kids that can’t/don’t want to ride, there’s a small petting zoo for them. I have to admit, I spent more than a few moments inside of it kissing up to the pigs and goats.
Otis Campbell Sleeps Here
The Hendricks County Historical Museum is filled with history. Fun, quirky, cool, and even disturbing, we took a guided tour and checked out the jail cells, the sheriff’s family home (the same building!), learned how inmates channeled their creative sides by painting and drawing, and heard all about how during once a year during Mayberry in the Midwest an Otis (the town drunk from “The Andy Griffith Show”) impersonator hangs out in the jail cell his famous jail cell.
There’s also room after room of Hendricks County history including artifacts and cool facts, an entire room dedicated to pop culture and games, and a restored kitchen to show you how families lived 100 years ago.
Shake and Bake
Head out into the country and you’ll discover Lisa’s Hot Blown Glass. Owner and lead artist, Lisa, has a studio in her back yard and dedicates hours everyday to teaching class on the fascinating art, creating massive pieces to be showcased in the Indiana State Museum in Indy proper, and even demonstrate how she and her team make the art look so easy when it’s actually far from the fact.
We watched melted glass turn into Halloween pieces with what looked like very little effort and learned it’s all about perfecting skills and applications. Of course, it definitely helps that she has vision, talent, and passion, too. As for the shake and bake parts, Lisa and staff are constantly moving, twirling, and lightly shaking the melted glass to stretch and turn it into exactly what they want. We were lucky to see it turned into autumn designs including a ghost.
When Did Indiana Become a Southern State?
The second Pit Stop BBQ & Grill opened its doors in 2009. Sure, the restaurant has a racing theme (Lucas Oil Raceway is not very far away!) that makes the ambiance super fun for kids and adults, but it’s the food that I would make a return visit for. Fresh fried catfish with the famous recipe from another local restaurant that closed its doors, a Brunch Buffet filled with breakfast and lunch menu items (Chocolate pudding with Oreos!), and super friendly service were the trifecta that we adored.
As for the BBQ? Perfection.
Hendricks County, Indiana not only appreciates its history, it embraces it to encourage younger generations to do the same. It’s a love of each town and city that sprawl throughout the county and a love of its history that will make me keep going back.
Disclosure: I was hosted by all of these fine spots in Hendricks County, along with Visit Hendricks County, to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes it so amazing for visitors. All opinions are my own!