Indiana is known for growing corn, basketball, and the most significant event in professional racing, the Indianapolis 500. Owing to its central location, Indiana is a place where people from various regions unite, representing the best of what the Midwest has to offer in terms of culture and history. The state has a reputation for being friendly and welcoming. People from Indiana are known as Hoosiers and take great pride in the motto “there’s nothing like Hoosier hospitality.”
Tippecanoe County, located in western-central Indiana and famous for its Native American battle of the same name, is a central part of Indiana. Its seat, the city of Lafayette, is built on the banks of the Wabash River. It is home to a little more than 72,000 people who enjoy affordable real estate and some of the best amenities in the state.
Lafayette is considered a great place to live, located within an easy drive of the larger cities of Chicago and Indianapolis and offering some terrific things to do for its citizens. Purdue University calls Lafayette home and, like many college towns, has plenty of fun options for students and permanent residents alike.
Whether you’re planning to attend Purdue, move to the city, or visit the area on a short trip, here are 21 of the top-rated fun things to do in Lafayette, Indiana.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Lafayette’s Downtown Area
- 2. Purdue University Sports
- 3. Columbian Park Zoo
- 4. Haan Museum of Art
- 5. Malibu Jack’s Indoor Arcade
- 6. Monster Mini Golf
- 7. Wildcat Creek Winery
- 8. Clegg Memorial Garden
- 9. Wea Creek Orchard
- 10. People’s Brewing Company
- 11. Wolf Park
- 12. Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
- 13. Breakout Rooms
- 14. Tropicanoe Cove Water Park
- 15. Wabash Heritage Trail
- 16. Architecture of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse
- 17. Tippecanoe Battlefield and Museum
- 18. Murdock Park
- 19. Imagination Station
- 20. Prophetstown State Park
- 21. Nearby Big Cities
1. Lafayette’s Downtown Area
Lafayette’s entire downtown, and Main Street, in particular, is home to many different restaurants, bars, shops, boutiques, art installations, or anything else one might expect from a quaint midwestern downtown. The area is perfect for walking and exploration, especially when the weather is nice. Go on a shopping spree, meet some townies, take in some local art, or grab some lunch, all within the confines of central Lafayette.
2. Purdue University Sports
Midwesterners tend to go crazy for their regional collegiate sports, especially the schools that play in the highest and most competitive divisions. The Purdue Boilermakers got their name from a local news report of a lopsided football victory in the late 1800s. A sportswriter used the tongue-in-cheek moniker to reference the steam engine kept on campus and the abundance of rail workers nearby. The name stuck. Today, the university has a terrific athletics program, with programs in dozens of sports for the public to come and enjoy.
3. Columbian Park Zoo
Since 1908, the Columbian Park Zoo has worked to uphold its mission of preserving, protecting, and educating about wildlife in the safest and most humane ways possible. Today, Lafayette’s families come here to admire the animals among the many exhibits in the facility. The zoo has habitats for animals from all over the world, with sections dedicated to the Americas and Australia, a butterfly garden, and even an area dedicated entirely to sculptures. It’s a family favorite for all animal lovers.
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4. Haan Museum of Art
The Haan Museum boasts that it has the best art scene Indiana has to offer, within a stunning turn-of-the-century mansion that was a big part of the World’s Fair in 1904. The museum has a quirky history in that the Haan family, who lived in the mansion starting in 1984, realized they had amassed an art collection worthy of presentation and began offering tours back in 2013. A few years later, they moved out of the building, and it became the state’s top art display. For a small fee, anyone can admire the beautiful Indiana art scene.
5. Malibu Jack’s Indoor Arcade
Many people think of arcades as venues exclusively for children and teens, but Malibu Jack’s provides enjoyment for all ages. This building is enormous. It offers go-karts, laser tag, a children’s play area, video games, bowling, a mini golf course, and even indoor rides. With so many attractions, Malibu Jack’s is suitable for an entire day of fun. Even then, people still may not get to take part in all the excitement.
6. Monster Mini Golf
Another option for mini golf and arcade games, Monster focuses on theming and keeping their facility updated for seasonal events. They have many of the same attractions as Malibu Jack’s, so they’re an excellent alternative option for people who like these things but want to avoid falling into a rut. The mini golf course is also unique in that it is entirely built under a black light area, so there’s the extra challenge of seeing where your ball ends up.
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7. Wildcat Creek Winery
Founded by a husband and wife entrepreneurial team in 2008, Wildcat Creek serves some award-winning local wines to patrons from near and far. The wine lovers of Lafayette will testify that Wildcat has all the reds, whites, and anything in between. The business has a tasting room perfect for a date or even a small private party. Here you can really get a taste of what the Indiana grapes can become.
8. Clegg Memorial Garden
Don’t let the name fool you; Clegg is far more than just a garden. The area is filled with various types of natural landscapes, including oak forests and prairies, impressively wide beds of native wildflowers, and a walking trail, all overlooking the scenic Wildcat Creek. Kids love Clegg for the wide natural spaces open for exploration and play, and adults love it for the peaceful natural exposure.
9. Wea Creek Orchard
The same family has owned the farmland property known as Wea Creek for seven generations, so the people here understand the fabric of the community and how to serve it best. The staff takes great pride in their fresh produce, which is known around the area as some of the best available. The farm also hosts events such as field trips and private parties and is a popular spot for weddings as well.
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10. People’s Brewing Company
The craft beer industry has seen explosive growth in recent years—seemingly every moderately-sized city (and more and more small towns) has its own small-batch brewer. Beer tourism has become popular, too, with local brew pubs being prioritized as destinations on people’s vacations. People’s Brewing, established in 2009, has been providing the people of Lafayette with some fan-favorite suds ranging from IPAs to light brews. Stopping in here will allow you to sample the Hoosier hospitality along with your beer.
11. Wolf Park
Dedicated to the behavioral study of the local wolf population and the preservation of its local habitat, Wolf Park is now celebrating its 50th year in existence. The park aims to educate and inform the public while protecting the region’s wildlife. The nonprofit group that maintains the park offers inexpensive wolf tours, where the public can get up close look at the everyday behaviors of these fascinating pack animals.
12. Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
According to its website, Greater Lafayette’s art museum opened in 1909 during a general surge in artistic interest from people around the state of Indiana and the rest of the country. It began as a modest collection of paintings. Still, in the decades since, it has expanded to include sculptures, artifacts, and even clothing as art. Admission is always free, but the museum also hosts classes of various lengths and costs.
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13. Breakout Rooms
Solving a puzzle or cracking an intriguing mystery is always a thrill. People who like this activity will love visiting one of Lafayette’s breakout rooms. It’s when you and your group are locked together in a room and must follow a series of clues or solve a series of puzzles in order to earn your release. Escape Room Lafayette and Rugged Xscape are the two main breakout rooms in town, and each offers a creative twist on this unique trend.
14. Tropicanoe Cove Water Park
Located within Columbia Park, Tropicanoe is a local water park that’s sure to help anyone beat the summer heat. They offer a plethora of water slides, so anyone from young children to the most daring thrill-seekers can find what they’re looking for on a hot summer’s day. There’s also a lazy river for floating and concessions offered. There’s no better way to cool down with the community on a hot day.
15. Wabash Heritage Trail
The Wabash Trail is a 13-mile-long series of paths that runs from the Tippecanoe Battlefield, following the Wabash River all the way into downtown Lafayette. It’s a way for anyone to explore the county in an up close and personal way while learning a lot of facts about the local history and the natural landscape. Just know before you set out that the trail is linear and not a loop, so those walking the entire path or even just sections of it will need to make travel arrangements in advance.
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16. Architecture of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse
Back in 1885, the residents of Lafayette got together to demand that the proposed new courthouse be built to reflect the pride of the community. The structure was to be made with durability and permanence, and the citizens even submitted a 45-page document on how the courthouse should look and the features that would be included. The building stands to this day and is an architectural treasure in the downtown area of Lafayette. Anyone can walk around the outside of the structure to admire the detailed work, and a self-guided tour brochure is even available online.
17. Tippecanoe Battlefield and Museum
All young Americans learn about the battle at Tippecanoe in history class. Today, the battlefield is a national historic landmark, complete with an 85-foot obelisk monument, walking trails, picnic areas, and the museum. The museum teaches guests about the site’s details, the historical context for the famous battle, and how it influenced the area’s development. Anyone looking to enrich their knowledge of American history will love visiting this attraction.
18. Murdock Park
If you want a taste of the great outdoors without leaving Lafayette, Murdock Park is a convenient option. With 39 acres and a half-mile walking trail, this park ensures that all the locals can access a clean, outdoor public space. Along with the usual park amenities, including playgrounds, basketball courts, and public restrooms, Murdock’s best feature is its designated sled run area.
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19. Imagination Station
The Imagination Station is a community stalwart in Lafayette. It’s a science center dedicated to teaching children and adults about science and technology, with a particular focus on outer space. The nonprofit group ASSET (The Association for Science, Space, Engineering, and Technology) founded the center in 1999 and has been running a rotating lineup of impressive exhibits ever since. Children will love to explore the two full floors of hands-on experimentation.
20. Prophetstown State Park
Just a short 15-minute drive from downtown Lafayette will bring you to Prophetstown State Park. It’s an area of naturally-formed prairies that is now conserved and maintained by the state. The property has five separate trails ranging from easy to moderate hikes, a special biking route, a children’s playground, sports fields, an aquatic center, and camping areas. There’s no better place in the state for Indiana residents who enjoy the outdoors.
21. Nearby Big Cities
Lafayette is within an hour’s driving distance of Indianapolis and about two hours away from Chicago, Illinois. Both of these cities are midwestern icons and are known around the country for various reasons. If you are craving the excitement of a larger city within a day’s trip to Lafayette, those options are available.
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