The air has shifted from humid to crisp and it won’t be long until reds, oranges, and yellows paint the parks and outdoor spaces in and around the city. While I am always a bit sad to see summer fade into the rearview, there is something comforting about fall weather. Bring on the sweatshirts, bonfires, and beauty of the seasonal transition.
The time will come to hunker down for winter, but until then I plan on being outdoors as much as humanly possible. This is a great time of year for festivals and events, but I personally like the peace that accompanies a walk in the woods. If you share my passion here are a few recommendations for soaking in fall color in Indy.
Fort Harrison State Park
Located 15 minutes east of downtown, Fort Harrison is the closest state park to Indy. “The Fort” offers the usual state park amenities, from shelters and playgrounds to horseback riding and fishing. The golf course is also my favorite in the city, but that’s another article. For enjoying fall color you can opt for the ease of the paved Harrison Trace Trail that makes an undulating loop through the park. More adventurous types will enjoy the Fall Creek Trail with its elevated boardwalks and views of the waterway.
TIP: Reward your workout with a craft beer from nearby Triton Brewery.
Eagle Creek Park
Eagle Creek, located on the city's northwest side, is one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S. The reservoir offers opportunities to enjoy fall color from a kayak, canoe, or sailboat (available for rent). With Go Ape you’ll be surrounded by fall foliage while navigating a ropes course and zip lining through the canopy. An expansive trail system also offers hikers miles of exploration that cut through a renowned bird sanctuary and offer lake views.
TIP: When your hike is over head to Rick's Cafe Boatyard for a meal overlooking the water.
Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres
Looking for more than a walk in the woods? Make your hunt for color an artful experience at Newfields' outdoor oasis that combines lakeside scenery with site-specific artworks. The work that you’ll encounter at 100 Acres is intended to work with the woodlands and wetlands that they occupy. Take a swing on Chop Stick, climb and hop your way around Funky Bones.
TIP: For free access park in the lot of 38th Street or do what my family does and park at Butler University and ride your bike along the Canal Towpath.
The beauty of Conner Prairie is that it combines the educational aspects of a museum with a park setting. You can choose to maximize either aspect depending on your mood. Tour Prairie Town or the Civil War Journey and learn about the past. Or, stroll the nature walk, take a ride in the Balloon Voyage, and simply enjoy the view. For a fall family outing with a bit of everything, it’s hard to beat the beauty of Conner Prairie.
TIP: Get a carmel apple from the The Apple Store and thank me later.
Crown Hill Cemetery
If you have kids, as I do, the fall season is a slow buildup to Halloween. In that spirit, why not take in the color of the season from a cemetery? The nations third largest cemetery, Crown Hill, is actually quite breathtaking (get it?) this time of year. With scheduled guided walking tours available, you’ll take in the beauty of the season while learning about local notables including President Benjamin Harrison, Colonial Eli Lilly, and infamous bank robber John Dillinger.
TIP: Famed poet James Whitcomb Riley’s tomb sits atop the highest point in Indy and offer a picturesque view of the city skyline.
More Ideas for Fall Color in (and around) Indy
• Check out the ruins at Holliday Park and hike along the White River
• Ride, run, walk, skate or dance your way along the Monon Trail
• Enjoy flowers in the conservatory and hang in the formal gardens at Garfield Park
• Road trip to Brown County State Park (pictured) or Turkey Run/Shades State Parks
We’re on the clock so get out and enjoy fall before old man winter settles in.