The Midwest Road Trip Travel Guide – Indiana’s Weird Museums – Indiana, Midwest, USA

Indiana’s Weird Museums

Indiana, USA

There’s something about the obscure and unusual that makes Hoosiers proud. You won’t find the World’s Largest Ketchup bottle anywhere else, for example. Celebrities who were born around here, whether they have since forsaken their homelands or not, as many have, are made into excuses to sell souvenirs and draw tourists. Natural landmarks are surrounded by colorful plaster animals, knick knackeries, and miniature golf facilities. The collections, though, are the deal-sealer. Anybody who passes through Indiana, or near Indiana, or is looking for a trip that won’t put a lot of strain on their mental capacities, should check out our assortment of weird museums – with more than 150 to choose from, there’s not a better place to say, “What? Are you serious? They made that a museum?”

John Dillinger Museum
Hammond, IN
Ever wonder what the beginning of the 20th century was like? According to the website, walking through this museum will be just like seeing it through the legendary bank robber’s eyes. From Babe Ruth to Prohibition…it’s something else.

The Dan Quayle Center
Huntington, IN
You say ‘potato’, Dan Quayle says ‘potatoe’. And he’s the pride of Huntington, Indiana, as evidenced by the country’s only vice presidential museum, which features “Indiana’s Five”. Apparently, we’ve had five, count ’em, five vice presidents from Indiana. In celebration of America’s second bananas, the Dan Quayle Center is a big collection of vice president-related artifacts. Seriously.

The Grissom Air Museum
Peru, IN
$3 (Veterans $2)
This one is actually pretty cool. A history of this country told by the evolution of aircrafts for less than $5 – how can you beat that? Peru, Indiana is definitely way out in the middle of nowhere, but you can’t miss the museum, even from the highway – it’s a bunch of big planes. Grissom is closed December through January-ish, but they give group tours the rest of the year. Don’t miss the view from the top of the observation tower. While I don’t doubt the existence of air museums in other parts of the country, this one is definitely an interesting anomaly on the Indiana skyline.

Freetown Village
Indianapolis, IN
$ Free (donations accepted)
If you’ve never been to a ‘living history’ museum, you are sorely missing out. Visiting Freetown is a trip back in time – to 1870, to a “symbolic community representing many of the predominantly African American settlements scattered throughout Indiana during the post-Civil War years”, according to the website. So what it is, then, is a set up town where people are in character all the time, acting as people might have acted in 1870. What a learning experience.

Greentown Glass Museum
Greentown, IN
$ Free (donations accepted)
(From the website)

“The Greentown Glass Museum was dedicated on the 67th anniversary of the burning of the Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Company. This brought to a reality the dream of several local citizens. They wanted a place to properly display over 700 pieces of the precious “Greentown Glass” so that visitors from all over the United States could see the colors and patterns in a tasteful setting reminiscent of the days when Greentown was in its glory.” Enough said.

Angel Mounds
Evansville, IN
$ Free (donations accepted)
The Middle Mississippian Native American culture from 1100-1500 is preserved really, really well at this state historic site. Not only is there an “interpretive center” to give you the background on the property, but you can actually go and check out the actual mounds the Native Americans used for various ritual purposes. When it’s quiet, which is often, it’s quite easy to imagine what things were like so long ago for these people who no longer exist. It’s surreal.

Hesston Steam Museum

LaPorte, IN
$ Free
Everything you never wanted to know about steam locomotion. There are a bunch of restored trains on display here in this little northern Indiana town, and you can even take a ride on one if you want. Learn all about the inception of steam power and how amazing it is!

Fairmount Historical Museum
Fairmount, IN
If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it: the water tower in this tiny Indiana town has the name, Fairmount, capped on one side by a portrait of late idol James Dean and on the other side of Garfield, the fat cartoon cat whose empire just released a crappy movie. What relationship could these two possibly have? James Dean and Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, were both born here! I think it’s hysterically funny that, while Fairmount claims to honor the natives among them who have made a ‘mark’ on the world, it’s Garfield whose face is pasted up for the world to see instead of Davis’. In any case, a visit to the museum will fill you in on every eensy weensy fact about either Dean or Davis that you ever cared to know.

Falls of the Ohio
Clarksville, IN
Like fossils? What about rocks and artifacts? The interpretive center here overlooks one of the largest exposed fossil beds in the world. You can’t pick them up and take them with you, but you sure can bird watch or launch a boat into the Ohio River. Old stuff abounds, and you can even learn something. In fact, you’d be hard pressed not to learn something.