Indianapolis Day Trip — Brown County

Brown County (for artsy, country living) & Brown County State Park (a.k.a. Nashville)


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Why Go: Brown County is a rural tourist destination that offers the day tripper a touch of Mother Nature. Enjoy the hills and forests of southern Indiana and the joy of visiting a small town famous for shops, art and antiques. This four season destination is a great get-a-way for a leisurely excursion from Indianapolis. The clock will tick a notch slower and you'll return with rural Hoosier pride. Remember that this destination, with its beautiful colors in autumn, is an Indiana favorite. It will be more crowded this time of year, but worth any inconvenience.

What you can do: A tour of the scenic vistas and a hike in the Brown County State Park will occupy part of your day trip. The other half will focus on Nashville, IN where shops and galleries are plentiful.

To start the trip, you will croon with Mother Nature. The scenic part of your journey starts with a drive by Lake LemonYellowwood State Forest and Yellowwood Lake. The scenic tour continues with a trek to Brown County State Park. After a short drive on IN 46, prepare to enter the west entrance of the park. Make sure to obtain a park map. Stop for a view at the West Lookout Tower before proceeding to the parking lot at Ogle Lake. Trail 8 is a nice 90 minute hike with a lot of character. You can extend it by adding a quick jaunt into Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve via Trails 7, 4 and 5. In either case, the hike will be a perfect distance and timeframe for the morning. Once you complete your hike, head to Nashville for lunch via the north entrance of the park. On your way out you can visit the Abe Martin Lodge and stop at the North Lookout Tower.

In Nashville, walk the streets and visit the many shops in town. There are over 300 shops, galleries and restaurants in this town of 800 people.  Main Street and Van Buren Street is the town hub. You can branch out from there and meander your way to all of them. In the evening, you can head back to Indianapolis for the night or stay for a little entertainment. Remember, it is only about 75 minutes back to Indianapolis.

Nashville is home to the Melchior Marionette Theatre, the Brown County Playhouse and the RedBarn Jamboree for live performances of plays, musicals and shows. If you are interested in a little country line dancing, ballroom dancing and live country music, visit Mike's Music and Dance Barn. All of these venues are in little Nashville, Indiana.

Travel portion: Brown County and the Nashville, IN area are just over an hour to an hour and a half south of Indianapolis. On the journey down the focus is on more of a scenic trip. On the journey back to Indianapolis, the focus is to take the faster Interstate highway.

Specific Directions: From any of the recommended hotels, go to Maryland St, a block south of Washington St. Follow Maryland east to Pennsylvania St. and go right (south). Pennsylvania merges with Madison. Go 1.5 miles on Madison St, turn right on E. Pleasant Run Parkway for a few blocks to S. Madison St. Take a left on S. Madison St. which becomes IN-135. You will follow IN-135 for about 34 miles. When you go through the town of Morgantown, you are about 5.5 miles from N. Railroad Rd. Take N. Railroad Rd to IN-45. Take a right on IN-45 through Helmsburg, IN. and around to S. Shore Dr. Go about 3.5 to 3 3/4 miles and take a right on S. Shore drive.  Drive just under three miles on S. Shore Drive to Richardson Rd. You will soon see Lake Lemon on your right. Take a left on Richardson Rd. This road will connect you back on IN-45 where you will turn left for just over 2 miles. Winding around on IN-45, pass Tulip Tree Road on your right (gravel road) and notice the sign for Yellowwood State Forest.  In a few hundred feet, veer right on Lanam Ridge Rd off of IN-45. Wind around Lanam Ridge Road for about .3 to .4 miles and take Yellowwood Lake Rd. right. This road will travel in and out of Yellowwood State Forest as you head to Yellowwood Lake, about 2 ¾ miles south. Take in the views of the lake before heading south to a junction (1500 feet beyond the lake). At the junction, turn right on Jackson Creek Road. This road will dead end into IN-46 which takes you to Brown County State Park.  Take a left on IN-46 and travel about 5 1.4 miles to West Gate Entrance Road. There are a couple of road signs to let you know you are about to take a right off I-46.

Follow West Gate Entrance Road for about 2.9 miles. Take a right on Ogle Lake Road and travel about 1.5 miles to the lake. From the lake, trek back down Ogle Lake Road where it dead-ends at the junction of Horseman Camp Road. The Park Office is just a couple of hundred feet to the right or you can turn left heading back to Nashville. If you head left, going north, towards the North Entrance of the Park, take a left at the fork in the Horseman Camp Road, just past Aynes House.  The North Entrance to the park is about another 1.5 miles, just past the covered bridge. Take a left on IN-46/IN135 to Nashville. At the junction of IN-46 and IN-135, take a right to Nashville, IN.

The quick route from Nashville, IN to Indianapolis, IN is taking IN-135/IN-46 directly east for 15 miles to I-65, the Interstate Highway. Take I-65 42.9 miles north to Indianapolis. Take Exit 111 to Washington St. and take a left towards the hotel.

Food options: Enjoy breakfast in Indianapolis. Consider sandwiches for lunch at the Daily Grind Coffee House or the Hobnob Corner. If you are staying in Nashville for some entertainment, the Nashville House is your option for dinner.