Fort Harrison State Park
Fort Harrison State Park, also known as Fort Ben, after ex-President Benjamin Harrison, is located just nine miles (14 kilometers) northeast of downtown Indianapolis. On this site, which once belonged to the U.S. Army, you can sled down snow-covered slopes in winter, hike through fields of wildflowers in spring, and canoe down Fall Creek in summer. You’ll find plenty to do in this 1,700-acre (690-hectare) woodland year-round.
Stroll along one of the trails that meander through the park and range in length from half a mile to 2.5 miles (0.8 to 4 kilometers). Bikes are allowed only on paved roads and the Harrison Trace Trail, which takes you around Delaware Lake and Duck Pond. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars: you might spot blue heron and songbirds among the park’s plentiful bird life. Keep a look out also for deer, beavers, frogs, squirrels, and turtles amongst the ever-changing foliage.
To see the park from a different perspective, rent a horse at the Saddle Barns or go on a hayride. Lessons are also available, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced equestrian.
Fishing enthusiasts will find Fall Creek the perfect place to drop a line in, although in winter months you may have to cut a hole in the ice. Collect a fishing permit from the park office.
If golf is your thing, tee off on the 18-hole course at the Fort Harrison State Park Inn and Golf Resort.
History buffs should head to the Museum of 20th Century Warfare. Located in former military buildings, what the collection lacks in size is made up for by its knowledgeable volunteers and free admission. The museum’s collection of military uniforms is particularly good.
Fort Harrison State Park is open year-round and there’s a small entry fee. This is a great day-trip, but be aware that overnight camping is not permitted.