Hendricks County’s Danville offers small town charm

Hendricks County

The Mayberry Cafe pays homage to a simpler time.

Danville, Indiana, celebrates its small town charm annually with “Mayberry in the Midwest” festival. It’s based on the old “Andy Griffith Show.” The owners of the Mayberry Café were the catalysts for the celebration. But, Danville could pass for Mayberry every day of the year.

The county seat of Hendricks County, Danville has about 9,000 residents. Its main attraction is the town square. The county courthouse sits in the middle of the square. The older building provides an outstanding back drop for other attractions and events.

Hendricks County

The Hendricks County courthouse is the centerpiece of the town square.

We enjoyed a nice walk about in Danville during our visit to Hendricks County, about a 45-minute drive west of Indianapolis. The square was our focus point, but – as we often do – we also colored outside the lines with checking out the area.

We caught the farmers market while in town. It had a nice selection of vendors – from folks selling fruit and vegetables to some unique handmade products. A vendor was selling wooden furniture and accessories. We had no idea that maple syrup could be made in Indiana, but we saw homemade syrup sold in little log cabin-style containers. Another vendor sold handmade African items.

Hendricks County

Indiana maple syrup was among the items being sold at a local farmers market.

Restaurants and stores dot the square. We loved an art coop. The artwork – all Indiana produced – was beautiful and ran a gamut of tastes. Photos, food and ornaments were among the items sold.

Hendricks County

Handmade ornaments were my favorite art at Danville’s Gallery on the Square.

The Royal Theater shows new releases. We are fans of the older theaters. They have a nostalgic feel, despite showing digital films.

Hendricks County

Lisa and I are fans of older movie houses.

A couple blocks from the square is the Hendricks County Historical Museum. The museum is situated in an old sheriff’s house and jail. It was an interesting visit. One the main floor, you can take in local history, including items from a former college. Normal College called Danville home in the early 1900s. It no longer exists in town.

Hendricks County

Danville was once home Normal College.

A handmade exhibit highlighting “Hoosier Stars” was interesting. Several celebrities, politicians and writers were among the hundreds listed.

Hendricks County

Several celebrities and other famous people have called Indiana home.

The basement was the best part of the museum – and a bit scary. The old jail cells are on display. You can walk inside them, they were separated by sex. The men’s cells were much larger than the women’s. I wonder why. LOL

Hendricks County

The jail cells at the county museum gave an eerie vibe when we toured them. The history behind them was impressive.

Original graffiti on the walls and ceilings still exist. It could be some people’s only proof that they existed. It was also a bit eerie to see comments, initials or names scratched into the steel.

Since the sheriff was responsible for caring for the inmates, his family lived in the house. The sheriff’s wife would often prepare meals. There was a window (with bars at the time) separating her from the inmates as she served the meals.

Hendricks County

The sheriff’s wife was responsible for cooking for the prisoners.

The family could entertain guests in a parlor a few feet from the jail’s door. The museum decorates each room to represent a time period, such as the 1940s or ‘50s.

Hendricks County

The parlor reflects an earlier era in Hendricks County history.

The sheriff’s office reflects law enforcement attire and equipment through the years.

Hendricks County

The sheriff’s office.

Another room in the museum recognizes county residents’ roles during the various wars in our history. From the Civil War to the recent Persian Gulf conflicts, the museum pays tribute to those who served the nation.

Hendricks County

Uniforms were among the items on display the museum’s military gallery.

Danville’s main street is a busy highway that runs through town. What better place to start a countywide mural project? A mural that recognizes the county’s history is painted on the side of the county tourism office.

Hendricks County

Danville is the first in the county to have its mural completed. The project aims at having a mural in each of Hendricks County’s communities.

You’d be hard pressed not to find a great place to dine. We enjoyed three meals during our weekend visit. The Bread Basket Café is located a couple blocks off the main street in a refurbished house. The fresh fruit and vegetables used in preparing meals is impressive. I could taste the freshness in a tomato in an omelette.

Hendricks County

The Bread Basket Cafe uses fresh and local ingredients in its meals.

Oh, the desserts! Bread Basket bakers are a talented group.

Hendricks County

Homemade pies. Yes, please.

Mayberry Café pays homage to the “Andy Griffith Show.” The restaurant’s décor uses pictures and other items reflective of the fictional Mayberry. Clips from the show run on a loop. The owners are fans of the show.

Hendricks County

The Mayberry Cafe pays homage to the old “Andy Griffith Show.”

The food is amazing and is just like Aunt Bea would make, the restaurant says in menu descriptions.

Hendricks County

Homemade meatloaf and mashed potatoes, just like Aunt Bea would make.

Diesel is a good spot to catch sports. The grill and bar features the front of a truck in its bar.

Hendricks County

A truck front is featured at Diesel’s Sports Grille.

Just outside Danville is Beasleys Orchard. It was a fun visit. The orchard has about two dozen apple varieties. The orchard also has pumpkins available. It’s one of a few officially approved mazes honoring the 50th year of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The maze was designed to represent the Peanuts cartoon.

Hendricks County

Beasley’s Orchard grows more than 20 varieties of apples.

Hendricks County has about 150,000 residents, with its communities ranging from a few hundred to several thousand. Danville’s size fits its personality well. As you visit Danville, you do get the small town feel. A visit does feel like you’re in Mayberry. And it’s a fun feeling. We recommend that when visiting Hendricks County, take a walk around Danville and enjoy the sights.

For more information on Danville and its attractions, please visit www.visithendrickscounty.com.

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