With good road conditions, the trip from Louisville to Indianapolis on Indiana’s stretch of I-65 takes less than 3 hours, but those 3 hours seem to last forever… Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Just more acreage in one of the “flyover states.” What if we told you there was actually one of the most architecturally significant cities right off the highway or that you could see art made by a famous rock star right in the town where he grew up (that also happened to inspire some of his most popular songs)? There’s a whole lot of fun to be had right off southern Indiana’s I-65 with great history, architecture, pop culture, shopping, food, and even beer all around. Here’s where to exit the highway for the most fun trip possible…
After surviving the traffic and construction on Louisville’s Spaghetti Junction (where I-64/I-65/I071 meet) and crossing the Ohio River, the scenery quickly begins to take a rural turn, and that’s about when we come to our first stop...
13576 Blue Lick Rd, Memphis, IN, US
Gateway Classic Cars has locations across the US, each offering visitors the chance to see beautiful collector cars from the comfort of an indoor space. Their “Louisville” location is actually right off the highway in Memphis, IN and consistently boasts at least 70 cars on the showroom floor. While their bread and butter is the buying and selling of classics, they understand sometimes people just want to gawk and some classic beauties. For this very reason, a couple bucks will get you in the door to wander their ever-changing collection of cars for sale. (Maybe a good start to your road trip is just buying that vintage convertible you always wanted…)
Each Gateway Motors location also hosts special events, often for charity, so check their website to see if you can time your trip to coincide with one of their big shin-digs like their upcoming 16th anniversary “Spring Fling.” Last year’s event raised nearly $12,000 for the Shriners, and they’re expecting to raise $15,000 in 2015.
1050 S. Main St., Scottsburg, IN, US
Once the county’s “Poor Farm,” today this old brick home serves as Scott County’s quaint museum, but apparently the place has some leftover guests from the Poor Farm that make the nighttime a little less quaint. If you’re passing through on a Friday or Saturday night you can learn all about the ghosts like flannel-wearing Bubba or the cat-lover Mary and her accompanying smell of sewer gas. A ghost tour is just $10. A small price to pay to potentially have the bejeezus scared out of you.
2001 N Ewing St, Seymour, IN, US
“No I cannot forget where it is that I come from…” Well, John Mellencamp hasn’t. His boyhood hometown of Seymour, IN has an art center thanks to John… When his childhood buddy’s house was put up for sale, Mellencamp bought it, used the pre-Civil War house during the filming of “Falling from Grace,” and then used it to establish the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. The place has become Mecca for “Mellenheads,” according to the SICA, and it is pretty much the only place you’ll find rare art created by John Mellencamp himself (and THE only place you can buy John Mellencamp prints).
100 N Broadway St, Seymour, IN, US
If you’re one of those “Mellenheads,” stop by the Jackson County Visitor Center as soon as you hit town for a special CD & map for touring his old stomping grounds. (To find out more about any special events in town, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.)
Despite being a city of just 44,000, Columbus, Indiana consistently ranks right behind big cities like Chicago, NYC, San Francisco, Boston, and DC for its architectural design, and that’s just one of the many things that make this small city such a perfect pit-stop on your I-65 journey.
At the end of the day, Columbus is the one city stop you have to make between Louisville and Indianapolis. Erin Hawkins, Director of Marketing for the Columbus Area Visitors Center, tells us why, despite the city’s small size, it’s a popular tourist stop:
People love to visit Columbus because it has the traditional charm of a small Midwestern town, but our world-class Modern Architecture is something unexpected that everyone interested in design should check out. The story of how and why the architecture came to be is really fascinating and inspiring and people come from all over the world to learn about it.
400 Brown Street, Columbus, IN, US
While the trip from Louisville to Indianapolis (and vice-versa) isn’t normally an overnight trip, maybe you’re coming from further away or you just want to spend more time in town. For overnight road trippers, we recommend the Hotel Indigo Columbus. Of course, it’s an architectural and design gem itself with posh and beautiful accommodations. See more photos or book a night directly here.
329 Washington St, Columbus, IN, US
Start by heading straight to Zaharakos. For 115 years this ice cream parlor has been a destination for both locals and ice cream lovers abroad. With a beautiful 50 ft. mahogany bar, stained-glass, and antiques from the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, the vibe of the interior is nostalgic perfection. Jill Anderson from Zaharakos shows us just how diverse and delicious their menu is:
"Famous for the Gom Cheese-brr-grr and classic Orangeade drink, the menu rounds out with soups, salads, sandwiches, sodas and fountain delights, sundaes, shakes, malts, blended ice cream sodas, brownie sundaes, banana splits and fresh-made waffle bowls and cones."
From here you can plan how you want to tackle the entire city while you enjoy one of the antique music machines providing classic background noise. Your options after filling up a Zaharakos are remarkable given the size of the city.
309 Washington Street, Columbus, IN, US
If you’re traveling with kids (or you’re just a big kid at heart) then Columbus offers you kidscommons, Columbus’ children’s museum, with 3 floors of interactive exhibits. The highlight? Flushing your kids down “World’s Largest Toilet.” (Psss…. Word on the street is they’ll let you in for free if you just want a picture with the giant john.)
506 5th Street, Columbus, IN, US
If you’re an architecture buff, your next stop is the Miller House and Garden Tour…
If you love Modernist architecture with open, flowing layouts, flat roofs and lots of stone and glass, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven in the Miller House. Now owned and lovingly cared for by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the museum elaborates on the house and grounds:
In 2000, the Miller House became the first National Historic Landmark to receive its designation while one of its designers, Dan Kiley, was still living and while still occupied by its original owners. The house showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers: Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley.
Today, the property offers visitors the opportunity to experience one of the finest expressions of American modernism, an integration of house and landscape that draws upon historical precedents without repeating them, enfolding them in a compelling composition of forms and spaces that captures the genius of its designers, the aspirations of its owners, and the spirit of their time.
Tours of the property are $25 and last about an hour and a half.
11622 NE Executive Dr, Edinburgh, IN, US
Ok, so stopping by an outlet mall doesn’t sound like the sort of thing we normally promote, but sometimes you just need some new shoes. Sometimes I forget my suitcase at home and have to stop at an outlet to buy a whole new wardrobe. It happens. The Edinburg Premium Outlets are exactly what you’d expect at a nice outlet mall. Enough said?
12595 N Executive Dr, Edinburgh, IN, US
For more interesting shopping, hop across the street to Exit 76 Antique Mall. Here you’ll find over 600 booths covering a whopping 72,000 sq. ft. with everything from antique furniture to automobilia...
6844 E 400 S, Franklin, IN, US
After leaving the antique store and outlet mall, just take a right turn and stay on US 31 for about 9 miles until you turn right onto East 400 S. After you cross a creek you’ll notice the road splits around a little mound of earth. Well, that’s actually a grave. Despite originally planning to relocate the remains, the officials in charge were too afraid, so they just paved around it. It’s a unique photo op, for sure. (Read the full story of the Grave in the Middle of the Road)
From the grave you’ll drive on up to Franklin, IN and get back on I-65 for what’s left of your journey to Indianapolis. Congratulations, you’ve just made a normally mundane drive one heck of a good time.