Travels 2016: History, racing, food, art top Indiana visit

The sun sets on the Lucas Oil Speedway in Brownsburg. Watching the nitro dragsters is a must at night during the Nationals over Labor Day weekend.

Our visit to Indiana was a jam-packed five days of auto racing, horseback riding and football mixed with a lot of small town activities. Lisa and I each felt like we needed a vacation after the trip to rest up. We had a great time visiting Indiana.

Our visit started with a delicious lunch at a classic Hoosier State diner. The Oasis Diner in Plainfield – a city in Hendricks County – opened in the mid-1950s and has enjoyed a strong popularity for many of the ensuing years. After being closed for a couple of years, the diner was resurrected a few years ago. The original dining car was moved to its current spot and an addition was built.

The Oasis Diner has been in business for most of the time since the mid-1950s.

Besides outstanding food, Oasis Diner features a look back at its history. Diners can view old pictures of the restaurant and its resurrection. A uniform from its early days is on display, along with Indiana license plates and old metal lunch boxes. The Oasis Diner’s ambiance brings back a great dose of nostalgia.

Hopalong Cassidy was one of the old western repeats I watched as a kid.

Hendricks County – about a 45-minute drive from downtown Indianapolis – is home to North America’s only store dedicated to Doctor Who and his adventures. The owners have long been fans of the show that originally aired on British Broadcasting Company before making it across the pond via public television and then BBC America.

Doesn’t everyone have a TARDIS in their living room?

The store, in Camby, has just about anything fans would want. We picked up some souvenirs and gifts for family. The store should be on the bucket list of “Whovians” and anyone who likes good science fiction.

We had a fun introduction to drag racing. Hendricks County is home to THE drag racing competition for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). The Lucas Oil Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg is affectionately known as “The Show.” This is the race everyone wants to win.

A Funny car.

Watching the nitro dragsters race is a lesson is ear protection and focus. You hear an explosion as the flamers shoot out from the dragster’s sides. The sound reverberates in your chest. The cars storm down the track’s strip in a few seconds. Seeing the cars race at night is a beautiful sight.

Hendricks County
A Top Fuel dragster.

If offered, I’m not sure I would have taken a ride in a dragster or a Funny Car. However, one ride I gladly accepted was a horseback ride. We enjoyed an hourlong tour of Brownsburg’s rural area with a few other tourists.

Riding Hawkeye, a 20-year-old horse, was a treat. He no longer cared for galloping or running, which made me happy. We brought up the rear in the group, which made it easy for photography opportunities. The ride took us along a creek and through a wooded area. It was an enjoyable ride because we got to across rougher terrain than we’ve ridden before.

Horseback riding in Indiana.

After our horseback ride, it was off to get more nostalgia. We visited Mayberry Café in Danville. The town itself reminds people of the fictional Mayberry from “The Andy Griffith Show.” The owners of the café have been fans of the show for years. When they decided to open a restaurant, they knew exactly what they wanted for a theme. It’s worked, as the place seems to be packed daily.

Danville’s Mayberry Cafe tosses in a side of nostalgia with your comfort food.

Diners –besides episode clips playing on a loop – can take in photos of cast members who have visited the area, check out show-themed souvenirs AND enjoy some of the best food they’ll have. You can enjoy comfort meals featuring “Aunt Bea’s” favorites, such as fried chicken and meatloaf, with homemade mashed potatoes.

Danville is home to an outstanding apple orchard and pumpkin farm. Beasley’s has been in business for decades, shortly after the founders bought a farm some 70 years ago. The farm grew from a dream home to a garden before morphing into its present-day operation.

Beasley’s Orchard in Danville raises more than 20 types of apples, along with having one of the nation’s best corn mazes.

Hendricks County is home to some outstanding artistry. Hot Blown Glass calls Clayton home, and its owner creates some of the most beautiful glass art in the Midwest. Lisa Pelo has works on display in galleries and museums throughout Indiana.

Hot Blown Glass creates some of the best glass art we’ve seen.

Hendricks County has a ton of attractions and restaurants (including Bread Basket Café) to visit and enjoy. We understand why it’s a popular tourist attraction.

Indianapolis – the “Crossroads City” – is the capital of Indiana. The city is the center of a metropolitan area of about 2 million people. The capitol building offers a look into some of the state’s history and a civics lesson in government.

The state capitol in Indianapolis.

Home to the world’s largest children’s museum, Lisa and I agree that it needs to change its name to include “Children of all ages,” as several of its exhibits appeal to adults. Dinosaurs and fossils? Check. A space collection? Who wouldn’t like that?

The cool front exterior is only the beginning of a great adventure at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

It also had a few serious exhibits on the power of children. It featured three key exhibits that featured societal-changing stories. From Anne Frank to young Ryan White, the exhibit explores the challenges these young children faced. One display examines the hatred that Anne and her fellow Jewish people faced during the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II. A second focuses on the issues that Ruby Bridges faced as one of the first children to attend an integrated school in the South during the early 1960s. Ryan White suffered from AIDS/HIV due to a blood transfusion. He and his family had to overcome discrimination in their Indiana hometown.

The Children’s Museum has several interesting exhibits.

Indy is also home to an outstanding football stadium. Lucas Oil Stadium is home to the Indianapolis Colts. The team has won a Super Bowl championship, as well as appearing in a second National Football league championship game. The stadium also hosted the 2012 Super Bowl. The tour we took was outstanding. Our group was allowed to walk on the field. I felt like a kid getting to stand on the team’s logo at the 50-yard line, as well as the end zone.

Lucas Oil Stadium is home to the NFL’s Colts.

Indianapolis has a beautiful Canal Walk. It starts along the White River State Park, which is an impressive area itself. Visitors walking along the Canal Walk can check out several museums, such as the state history and the NCAA Hall of Champions.

The Indianapolis Canal Walk offers access to great parks and museums, as well as views.

The city is home to several monuments, including Monument Circle. A memorial to the men who served aboard the USS Indianapolis is located along the Canal Walk. The ship carried the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima toward the end of World War II. After dropping off its cargo, the ship was struck and sank by a Japanese torpedo. Survivors were attacked by sharks while they waited to be rescued. About 320 men survived of the nearly 1,200 who served on the ship.

The USS Indianapolis played a major role toward the end of World War II. Its crew suffered a horrible experience after being torpedoed.

Almost everyone has heard of the Indianapolis 500. The 500-mile race is run on the Indy Speedway every Memorial Day weekend. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is located in the middle of the oval track. It houses an amazing collection of race cars and their history. A visit to the museum has to top everyone’s Indianapolis vacation list.

The Indianapolis 500 Museum is a must-see.

We enjoyed our visit to Indiana. We are planning a couple more trips to the state in 2017. Indiana offers a great variety of attractions around the state, and we need to check them out. We recommend visiting Indiana. Enjoy your travels in 2017, and if you have the opportunity, please include Indiana in them.

For more information on Indiana attractions, please visit