[Editor's note: This week's cover story features one-tank trips to various locations around Indiana and neighboring states. Find the southern destinations here.]
Now let's set our wagons east. We'll start with a quick, easy trip. Just point them, there oxen toward I-69 and stop in 39 miles when you reach Perkinsville.
Why the hell am I sending you to Perkinsville? For one reason, Bonge's Tavern
. It's in the middle of nowhere, but it's the best little place you've never heard of. Get a DD to drive you and your friends and bring plenty of local beer, the waiting line is actually a tailgate party in the parking lot. There ain't no party like a tailgate party, especially when it's over and you get to go into the tavern for an unforgettable meal.
The place has been there since 1934 and it has a one-of-a-kind ambience of high class food in a down home setting. The menu continually changes, but there are some solid fixtures on the menu, including a mouthwatering NY Strip with bleu cheese, but seasonal items like skatewing, quail and duck are always just as delicious. If you forgot to bring booze, or aren't much of a tailgater, don't worry they have an impressive wine list, as well. This is more than a meal, it's an experience.
Just a little further along I-69, our next stop is another college town. So grab some ramen noodles and a brick of Keystone and let's hit the road for a 63-mile trek to Muncie.
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A town full of chain restaurants and communications majors, Muncie may not seem like the ideal stop. However, there are a few hidden gems in this town and the best place to start is with a nice, easy bike ride along the Cardinal Greenway. The bike trail is 60 miles long, and runs from Richmond to Marion, but there are plenty of stops in Muncie and it is just nice to start the day outdoors. Once you're ready for a break, make your way to the Minnetrista Center.
The Minnetrista Center is pretty much a Leslie Knope dreamscape, where 40-acres of outdoor gardens surround a 10,000 square foot building that is dedicated to preserving historical artifacts of Central Indiana. It is the perfect place to relax outside, walk through the gardens or nature area, and take in a little local history. I'd suggest bringing a picnic, but what do I know.
If you don't have the forethought to bring a lunch, a place most any Hoosier should checkout is the original Pizza King and get a taste of the ever-popular local chain pizza in the place it all started. If getting food you can't get in Indy is more up your alley, and you like food that is amazing, stop in Amazing Joe's. Order pickle chips, I repeat, order pickle chips, followed by a Ba-da-Bing basket of Fugedaboudit wings. Oh, you'll want a beer with that, and don't worry they've got plenty.
Now it's either time for art or music, the choice is yours. You could be there to see a Cardinals football game, but unless your an alum (you already know all of these places) or your kid's on the team, it's doubtful. So you can either journey through the centuries at one of the state's nicest art museums, the David Owsley Museum of Art
. Or, you could go support a local band at Be Here Now
If you choose the latter, make a quick stop by one of the most original bars and a bar that may have the best beer selection in the state, Heorot
. The name is a reference to Beowulf and can be as fun as the stories told of Hrothgar's mead hall. Oh, and there is a dragon here too. If you can't find a beer in this place you don't love, well then dammit, you don't like beer.
If it's night and you've had your fill of beer and local music, the best remedy is a — maybe world famous — Carter's Hot Dog
. To find it, stumble down the street to the long line of drunk people standing by a cart and you're there. Then find a house party to crash or something.
Further East, 67 miles straight out I-74, you'll find the perfect place for a nice outdoor day of kayaking and taking a step back in time.
There's not much to do in Brookville except spending the day out on the Whitewater River
or the Brookville Reservoir
. I always go the river route with a kayak, but you can canoe, or the seemingly most popular choice, go by tube and make it a real, wild, lazy river. Choose your adventure and get the necessary gear from Whitewater Canoe Rental
, they will pick you up at designated spots and bring you back to your car at the end of your trip.
A day spent floating slowly down the river is one of my absolute favorite activities. Laying back in the kayak, listening to the birds and the water flowing beneath me while the sun keeps me warm is the best feeling in the world. Don't forget to pack a little lunch and maybe a pint of rum or tequila to enjoy on your stops along the river.
Once you're back to your car, it is worth making the quick drive over to Metamora
. It touts itself as an authentic 1838 Canal Town, and though it's definitely seen its better days, it is nice to saunter around the town stopping in the eclectic shops and ordering an old-fashioned soda at Mr. Fudge's Confectionery
112 miles east of Indy is our next city, and it's the second out-of-stater on the list.
This city was at one point in time a bustling, industrial city. Over the years it has lost much of its industry, but there are still quite a few exciting places to visit while you're in the area. The best time to pull into Cincy is when the Reds are playing at the Great American Ball Park
. The Reds are the closest MLB team to Indy and the ball park is stunning. It's always nice to spend the day in the sun with some peanuts and Cracker Jack. If a beer and a hot dog slip in there, I won't cry foul.
Before or after the game, depending on the time, it's always nice to stop in Newport
, Kentucky for a trip through the Newport Aquarium
, or you can always make a day of spending time with our animal friends at the Cincinnati Zoo
If you're feeling more like eating some local grub instead of ballpark food, there is no better place to go than the Over-The-Rhine
neighborhood. Get to Vine Street
and pick a place to eat, they all have worthwhile offerings. My go to is Quan Hapa
for some Tiger Beer and a savory bowl of tonkotsu ramen. While you're there don't miss out on the chance to get some of the best macarons in this country at Macaron Bar
Another option for the night is to see a show at Bogart's
, a great little music venue that pulls in middle of the road artists. Grab a pre-show beer down the road at Dive Bar
and don't miss out on the chance to stop in the hole-in-the-wall BBQ place, Alabama-Que
for some turkey tips.
Just outside of the city is a place many of us have made annual summer trips to, King's Island
. It's an amusement park, you can ride rides and stuff. But, in my opinion there is one real reason to go to the park and that is for a cone or two of their blue ice cream. It's like icy (insert addictive substance).
Oh, and there's an IKEA
That's about as far East as we can go on one tank. Set your coordinates to take us to the wild, wild West. 69 miles out I-74, and a few backroads, you will find Marshall and there is just about one thing to do there.
Turkey Run State Park
Offering some of the best scenic hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and canoeing in the state is this wonderful little gem. It is easy to spend an entire weekend completely outdoors and immersed with nature.
The hiking trails are beautiful and cut through sandstone cliffs, which will leave you feeling like you've left the state of Indiana. Kayaking and canoeing through the park is fun and easy, the best place to rent is from Sugar Valley Canoe Trips
, they bus you to and from the launch and ending spots and offer equipment at a reasonable price.
While camping is an option, there is a beautiful little lodge inside the park aptly named the Turkey Run Inn
. It's a simple trip where all you'll do is enjoy the great outdoors!
For more one tank trips, check out Nuvo.net/food
, next we will be heading up North.