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Traveler's Guide To Quirky Indiana
Follow The Tenderloin Trail
Indiana is famous for deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches. In fact, they have a food trail that winds through the state called the Tenderloin Trail. The route hits the restaurants serving the best tenderloin sandwiches in Indiana. For example, The Mayberry Cafe in Danville offers a flavorful pork tenderloin sandwich the size of your head. Additionally, the eatery immerses guests in quirky nostalgia, as it used to be featured on the old Andy Griffith TV show. You'll see a vintage squad car outside, while re-runs of the show play on a continuous loop inside. For a full list of Tenderloin Trail eateries, click here.
Located in the small, rural Indiana community of Roanoke, Joseph Decuis is a fine dining establishment surrounded by cornfields. The only 5-star restaurant in the area, their mission is to retain the quality of food and company during the times when people only ate what they "hunted, raised, bartered for, or bought from someone nearby." This restaurant provides a true farm-to-fork experience, as you'll be served foods fresh from their farm while sitting in an upscale dining area. While Jospeh Decuis focuses on locally-sourced, organic ingredients, it also boasts being the only restaurant in the United States to raise their own Wagyu Beef in an all-natural, humane way.
Make Your Mark On The World's Largest Ball Of Paint
Located in Alexandria, this Guinness Book of World Records holder has sat since 2004. Today, visitors can still go and paint a layer on the ball. It's not hollow like a normal paintball, but a complete mass of paint from the inside out. The birth of the giant oddity was an accident, as owner Mike Carmichael dropped a baseball into a bucket of paint in the 1960s. Intrigued, he continually dipped the ball until it was the size of a football, and donated it to the "Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home Museum." Unable to get the idea out of his brain, he started a new ball with his son, which is the one you can see, and paint, today. As of now, the ball of paint is at 24,400 coats of paint and weighs about 4,000 pounds.
Get Into The Holiday Spirit Every Day of The Year
While it's not uncommon to see Christmas-themed shops once in awhile, Indiana is home to a Christmas-themed town, aptly called "Santa Claus." In the town, you'll find the world's only post office with the name Santa Claus, so you can imagine how many letters to Santa it receives each year. As not to disappoint, a group of volunteers known as "Santa's Elves" works to answer these letters and keep the world's children smiling. When in Santa Claus, you can visit holiday attractions all year long, including Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa's Candy Castle, Santa's Stables, Frosty's Fun Center, the Santa Claus Museum and more.
Eat Lots Of Candy
The town of Merrillville is home to the largest producer of gummy bears on the planet, Albanese Candy Factory. Here, you'll not only be able to sample the colorful bears, but also chocolates, retro candy, jelly beans and a chocolate fountain. If you like fluffier treats, the town of Ligonier is the marshmallow capital of the world. In fact, the annual Ligonier Marshmallow Festival has been a destination for lovers of everything marshmallow for more than 60 years. Visitors can take part in marshmallow roasts, live music, marshmallow games, talent shows, marshmallow bake-offs, eating contests and more.
Experience The Phenomenon Of "Mystery Spots"
For those who've never heard of mystery spots, they're areas all over the country that defy the laws of nature and physics. Water may flow up an incline, people are able to stand on walls and balls roll uphill. You can experience this in Indiana with a trip to Gravity Hill in Mooresville. While driving in your car you may want to go downhill; however, the vehicle will actually be pulled uphill. To test it out, put your car in neutral and see what happens. The hill is not marked, so you may need to ask a local for help. To get there, you'll get off at Exit 59 from I-70. You'll drive about a mile heading south before turning left onto Keller Hill Road. Head east about 4 and a half miles until it ends, and near here is where you'll find Gravity Hill.
Scuba Diva Off Indiana's Coast
While scuba diving itself may not be quirky, it's usually not on most people's itineraries for Indiana. Many picture Indiana to be landlocked, although the coastal waters of Lake Michigan in northern Indiana are becoming a scuba diving destination and hub for archaeologist's. In fact, in the Indiana coastal waters of Lake Michigan 14 shipwrecks can be found. From East Chicago, Indiana, divers can take a charter boat to visit the wrecks, many of which happened due to winter storms. On Lake Michigan, it's not uncommon for 2-foot waves to become 20-foot waves when bad weather hits.
Visit An Unusual Grave
Nancy Kerlin Barnett's grave is often touted as the most unusual in the country. Located on Country Road 400 just over a mile east of U.S. 31 in Amity, her grave sits smack in the middle of the road. While officials have tried to move it many times, her family has been adamant about keeping it put. Her grandson once even camping out near it with a shotgun to prevent it from being moved.
See A Tree Growing Out Of A Clock Tower
On the courthouse roof in Greensburg, Indiana, is a tree that never seems to die. It is said there is never a new one planted, but that this one just keeps growing and regrowing. It is for this reason Greensburg is know as the "Tree City."
Watch A Calf Being Born
About 80 calves are born every day at Fair Oaks Farms. Sit back and relax in their state-of-the-art Birthing Barn, where a Fair Oaks expert will explain the birthing process and assist when needed. After you've witness the miracle of life, you can go enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich and milkshake in the café.
[Images via Glane23, Ball Of Paint, Lennart Tange, Jessie on a Journey, Dopey9928]