Anderson, Indiana is one of those fun, quintessential Midwest cities that you may not have heard about but will be delighted once you have. Its Indiana charm resonates throughout the city and its residents and there’s plenty to offer visitors including shopping, dining, and unique activities. Here are the hotspots and the best things to do in Anderson, Indiana and Madison County!
The Best Things to Do in Anderson Indiana and Vicinity
In the past couple of years, I’ve spent a ton of time in the state of Indiana. And with each additional visit, the more I fall in love with it. Living in Ohio (but right on the Pennsylvania border, so Pittsburgh is my big city), it feels like the Buckeye state but even more homier.
I’m honored that Molly and I had the chance to visit Anderson and Madison County this summer and are able to share with you fun things to do in the area. Here are my top picks.
Catch a Show at Paramount Theater
The first word that comes to mind when I think of the Paramount Theater in Anderson is, “Wow!” If you love historical theaters, this one will definitely be up your street. The interior is one of only a few “atmospheric theaters” in the country. Its ceiling looks like the night sky and was created to give a feeling of being outdoors.
And whether you’re catching a Broadway-style show or play or a live concert (we saw Little River Band), the prices are affordable and there’s not a bad seat in the house.
Make Time for Simple Goodness
The more research on chemicals I do, the more I’ve been swaying toward natural cleaning products, both for home and myself. And when it comes to using all natural beauty products, I’m all about “clean” cleaning.
Simple Goodness Soaps offers everything from laundry & body soaps that smell amazing, moisturizers & lotions, and even bath bombs. The company is literally on a goat farm in the middle of nowhere (and I write that in the kindest way) and was started 10 years ago when the owner wondered if she could make natural laundry soap.
Visit a Shop Filled with Crystal Light
If you dig handmade glass shops, make sure you make a pit stop at Carol’s Legacy Crystal. Created by owners Jeff and Carol, the shop comes from generations of glass makers. What you’ll find when you enter the quaint shop is everything from paper weights that sparkle in the light to pumpkins and larger pieces worthy of the spotlight.
Watch a City Grand Prix
Molly and I had the absolute pleasure of actually driving in the Alexandria Grand Prix as guest drivers and it was a hoot! The city blocks off its streets for both amateurs and pro racers and the path swerves and weaves around its buildings.
The cars are souped-up carts, but it doesn’t lower the level of fun. If anything, it makes it more enjoyable for families to attend.
Taste Test the Best Fudge in Uranus
Never one to not tell a good dad joke or pun, so a visit to Uranus Fudge Factory was a must! Not only does it have really delicious fudge, head onto social media and you’ll find out why the shop is so popular.
Part general store, part chocolate lover’s paradise, you can buy everything from pint glasses to sweatshirts to stickers and silly gifts.
Learn about Midwest Life Centuries Ago
I love learning about American history, so making a trip to Conner Prairie to find out what life was like centuries ago through live storytellers and actual, historical buildings was a dream. The Prairie has tethered hot air balloon rides on fine weather days, an adorable barn with farm animals, dining options, and tons of hands-on activities.
If I had to name a favorite part during our visit, it was simply walking the grounds and going through the buildings, all while talking to the “inhabitants”. Called a living history museum, it’s so much more than that. This year, new exhibits have been opened including a Smithsonian Spark Lab and Habitat with larger-than-life insect displays.
Tour the Indiana State Fair
Not in Madison County, but only a few-minutes’ drive away, if you’re in town during the Indiana State Fair, put it on your short list. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Ohio State Fair and thought it was huge at the time, but Indiana’s is absolutely massive.
When you visit, make a beeline for the animal barns (especially if you have kiddos), try some food at the countless food trucks and booths, and take a ride on the tram – not only is it an easy way to get from one part to the other, it’s a fun way to people watch.
Where to Eat in Anderson
Anderson has plenty of Midwestern-style big food, but these restaurants made our short list:
Alexandria Bakery – In the former home of the Gaithers Museum, Alexandria is a must stop for great coffee and homemade donuts. If you’re on the fence, get the chocolate glazed and cream filled with powdered sugar.
1925 PubHouse – Located on the grounds of the Grandview Public Golf Course, the restaurant is an ideal place for cleaning up and going to dinner with friends, relatives, or even for a girl’s night out. My pick for a great appetizer are the loaded Potato Skins, hands down. And never one to resist fried chicken, its tenders with a side of rice certainly hit the spot.
Oakley Brothers Distillery – If you want a cool spot to grab a brew and have a really good meal, head to Oakley Brothers distillery in downtown Anderson. Creating rye, whiskey, rum, and other fun blends, the property is perfect for pretty summer nights thanks to its pub-style menu (try the tacos – delish!)
Taylor’s Dairy – An Elwood staple, Taylor’s is a no frill restaurant serving huge servings of scooped ice cream and light bites like hot dogs, nachos, and chips.