Looking for the best things to do in Evansville Indiana? Evansville, Indiana is more than just a bustling economic hub with towering buildings and dazzling city lights. Referred to as the Pocket City, it also boasts a prime location along the 900-mile-long Ohio River, where you can unwind and appreciate nature’s beauty. The city’s charm is further enhanced by its hidden natural treasures and well-preserved historical landmarks that showcase its rich culture and traditions.
Don’t forget to taste the local cuisine by visiting its various restaurants. Evansville, IN, is a popular destination located in the Tri-State area of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, and is the third-largest city in Indiana. It offers a balanced mix of cultural, historic, and outdoor attractions that make it one of southern Indiana’s most sought-after places to visit. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance even recognized it as the “best city in the country to live, work, and play.”
If you’re looking for a guide to Evansville, Indiana, you’ve come to the right place. Despite being known as a midwestern business town, Evansville has a lot to offer for those seeking a cultural, historical, and relaxing vacation. The city boasts incredible museums, breathtaking gardens, and beautiful historical landmarks that are just waiting to be explored.
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Here are the 28 best things to do in Evansville Indiana:
1. Take a Wildlife Detour at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana is to visit Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, which offers a fantastic day out for families. Situated in northwest Evansville, the expansive 45-acre area is home to over 700 species of flora and fauna from around the world, with a particular emphasis on those found in tropical regions. Additionally, the zoo has several themed botanical gardens located in different areas, showcasing other geographical regions.
Engelbrecht Carousel, paddle boats, and bumper boats are just a few of the highlights that tourists should not miss out on. Guests will have the opportunity to experience wildlife and greenery up close. As the zoo entails a lot of walking, wearing comfortable shoes is highly recommended.
2. Spend a Relaxing Day at Burdette Park
When it comes to the best things to do in Evansville, Indiana, Burdette Park is a must-visit destination. Spanning 170 acres, this recreational park is located just outside the city center and is a nature lover’s paradise. It offers a myriad of activities that allow travelers to experience the beauty of every season. Among its attractions is a large public swimming pool that hosts refreshing events all year round.
Whether you’re into jogging, hiking, biking, or fishing, Burdette Park has something for everyone. This vast space is a great place to unwind and connect with nature while engaging in various activities. With its diverse range of fun activities and beautiful natural surroundings, a visit to Burdette Park is sure to provide a wholesome and enjoyable experience for all.
3. Enjoy Family Time in the Children’s Museum of Evansville
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Evansville Indiana with your family, make sure to add the Children’s Museum of Evansville to your list. This downtown museum offers an exciting mix of exhibits, galleries, programs, and activities that are perfect for young children. Among the many fun things to do at the museum are climbing Moe, the two-story Duck, playing a laser harp, enjoying water-based activities at the Wet Deck, and even chatting with a talking bust of Mark Twain. It’s a must-visit attraction for families, as the museum’s programs offer interesting and educational experiences for kids. Be sure to check the museum’s schedule in advance and plan your visit accordingly.
4. Get to Know the History Behind the USS LST Ship Memorial
If you have an interest in military history, be sure not to miss the USS LST-325. This World War II vessel is the last of its kind that is fully operational. The best tours guided is a must-see for tourists, as it provides a detailed narration of the ship’s role in the war, its history, and its workings. During the tour, you will get the chance to see artifacts, documents, and photos of the ship, and explore areas such as the main deck, the mess deck, the sleeping quarters, the tank deck, the stern, and the officers’ quarters.
In August and September, the USS LST-325 sets sail to neighboring cities, so if you happen to be traveling during that time, make sure to reserve your spot well in advance. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to experience an important piece of military history.
5. Visit the Hartman Arboretum, Indiana’s Master Garden
Located on private property owned by Grant and Jean Hartman, the Hartman Arboretum is a beautiful garden that was first designed and planted by Grant Hartman in 2001. Today, the garden is maintained by the Hartman family and a group of master gardeners, and boasts over five hundred trees, shrubs, and other plants that create a visually stunning landscape. Visitors can enjoy a range of events held at the arboretum between spring and autumn, including Butterfly Day, Moth Night, and Spring at Arboretum, which are not to be missed.
The Hartman Arboretum is divided into various sections, such as the Fall Color Grove, where tourists can experience the vibrant colors of autumn, the Native Vine Arbor, which showcases oriental vines, and the Blueberry Patch, where visitors can pick different fruits depending on the season. The arboretum is open for public visitation every day, so make sure to plan a visit to experience the beauty of this special place.
6. Enjoy a Grand Evening at the Victory Theatre
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana is to visit the Victory Theatre, which has been restored to its original grandeur from 1921. This downtown theater exudes an early 1900s vibe with its chic furnishings and decor. The Victory Theatre is home to the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and hosts a variety of cultural events including ballet performances, theatrical productions, concerts, and children’s programs.
For those seeking a taste of culture, this theater is a hub of activity that should not be missed. Be sure to check their annual schedule and make reservations to experience the mesmerizing ambiance that makes the Victory Theatre one of the top attractions in Evansville.
7. Catch a Baseball Game at Bosse Field
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana for baseball enthusiasts is to visit Bosse Field. This historic ballpark, built in 1915, is one of the oldest in the country and is home to the Frontier Minor League baseball team, the Evansville Otters.
Watching a game here is a must-do activity, as the sweeping stands, old-fashioned architecture, and electrifying atmosphere make for a nostalgic experience. Additionally, visitors can enjoy a pre-game picnic or attend events in the Bud Lite Lime Patio. All of these elements combined make Bosse Field a standout attraction that should definitely be included in your Evansville itinerary.
8. Try Your Luck at Tropicana Evansville Casino
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana for those seeking a fun and casual evening of gambling is to visit Tropicana Evansville Casino. This lively casino has classy decor, bright lights, and jazzy music that set the perfect atmosphere for a night out. Visitors can try their luck at penny slots, blackjack, roulette, and poker at the exciting game machines and tables. If gambling isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of options available.
You can enjoy live music or dine at one of the several restaurants on-site. The casino is conveniently located in downtown Evansville, near the riverside. This makes it a great spot for couples to enjoy a nice stroll by the river after dinner. With so much to offer, Tropicana Evansville Casino is definitely one of the top attractions in Evansville.
9. Visit the Reitz Home Museum
One of the top things to do in Evansville Indiana is to visit the Reitz Home Museum, once the residence of John Augustus Reitz and his family. This magnificent house was built in 1871 by Reitz, a wealthy lumberman, and is a prime example of French Second Empire-style architecture.
It’s considered one of the most impressive buildings from the Victorian era, thanks to its stunning features like gorgeous chandeliers, stained glass windows, white onyx fireplaces, hand-painted ceilings, Moorish doorway screens, and intricate wood floor designs. Visitors to the museum can take a guided tour and revel in the old-world charm of French architecture, making it a must-see attraction in Evansville.
10. Know the History of Angel Mounds
One of the must-visit attractions in Evansville Indiana is the Angel Mounds State Historic Site. Spanning 100 acres along the Ohio River, this site is a National Historic Landmark that preserves the prehistoric Native American culture. It was built by the Middle Mississippian Native Americans who lived between 1000 to 1450 AD.
Visitors to Angel Mounds can learn about this fascinating civilization that thrived for centuries before ultimately disappearing long before European settlers arrived. History buffs will particularly enjoy exploring this significant site, making it a must-see destination in Evansville.
11. Find Some Solace at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana is to visit St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, a stunning 100-year-old church built in the Gothic Revival style. This is a great place for those seeking to connect with their spiritual side or simply admire the architectural beauty of the building. Visitors can explore the history of the church and appreciate its intricate design, making it a must-see attraction in Evansville. Whether you’re a religious person or simply a lover of history and architecture, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is definitely worth a visit.
12. Admire Nature at the Howell Wetlands
The Howell Wetlands is one of the top attractions in Evansville Indiana, spanning 35 acres of land and one of the state’s five popular urban wetlands. Managed by the Wesselman Nature Society, it boasts a unique ecosystem with various natural habitats such as sloughs, marshes, and river oxbows.
Visitors can explore the wetland’s beauty by hiking along the two-mile-long walking trail that features wooden bridges and walkways. Adventure seekers and nature lovers will particularly enjoy this exciting destination in Evansville, making it a must-visit spot for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the great outdoors.
13. Go for Retail Therapy at Eastland Mall
Looking for a fun and engaging activity in Evansville Indiana? Look no further than the Eastland Mall, the perfect destination for retail therapy. With over 120 stores, including popular names like Macy’s and JCPenney, shoppers can find everything they need under one roof. The mall also boasts a diverse food court, offering a wide range of cuisines to satisfy any cravings. A popular hangout spot for locals, the Eastland Mall is known to get crowded on weekends and holidays, making it a lively and bustling destination for anyone looking to enjoy a day of shopping and dining.
14. Hang Out at Lamasco Bar and Grill
For those looking for a lively and entertaining spot in Evansville, Lamasco Bar and Grill is the place to be. This iconic bar and grill is famous for its delicious food and hosting various events such as concerts, trivia nights, karaoke nights, open mic sessions, and comedy shows. Lamasco Bar and Grill is also known for its all-day breakfast menu, which includes must-try items like the Breakfast Burrito. The bar also features an outdoor patio, where visitors can relax and unwind, especially during pleasant weather.
15. Get Caffeinated at Penny Lane Coffeehouse
Penny Lane Coffeehouse is a cozy and inviting café that caters to coffee enthusiasts. This neighborhood coffee spot attracts a diverse range of customers and is perfect for taking a break and enjoying the moment. The café is renowned for its extensive selection of coffee, as well as its mouth-watering sandwiches and create-your-own breakfast or lunch options. With its relaxed atmosphere, Penny Lane Coffeehouse is a popular spot for locals, and you may even spot a celebrity or sports icon while you’re there.
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16. Enjoy Amazing Seafood at Bonefish Grill
For seafood enthusiasts, Bonefish Grill is an exceptional restaurant choice. A part of a renowned national chain of restaurants, it offers an extensive variety of seafood dishes, along with steak and chicken options. Don’t miss out on their signature Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer. It’s advisable to make a reservation or book online beforehand, as this popular restaurant can get crowded during dinner hours.
17. Check Out Willard Library
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Evansville Indiana and love books, then Willard Library is a must-visit. Housed in a stunning Victorian Gothic-style building, it’s not only a great place to admire the architecture but also provides access to historical collections and online databases for research purposes. The library also offers excellent genealogical research facilities. And, if you’re up for an adventure, you might even encounter the resident ghost, known as the Grey Lady.
18. Visit the Willard Carpenter House
The Willard Carpenter House is a historical site dedicated to honoring the legacy of Willard Carpenter, a prominent figure in public charity and an agent of the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War. The house, built in 1848 and completed the following year, features a stunning two-story Greek Revival Style architecture crafted by local carpenters and artisans. It is a beautiful location and a must-visit for history enthusiasts interested in the life and times of Willard Carpenter.
19. Make Your Way to the Marker, aka the Origin of Evansville
The Birthplace of Evansville sculpture is a must-see attraction in downtown Evansville. The sculpture is a map pin-shaped structure with a four-foot sphere atop a 10-foot-long post, marking the spot where the city was founded by the riverside. It’s an excellent photo opportunity and a significant landmark for visitors who are interested in the history of the city.
20. Stop by the Four Freedoms Monument
The Four Freedoms Monument, located in Evansville, is a symbol of the cherished freedoms of the United States and is widely recognized as the city’s most iconic landmark. It features a staircase of 13 steps representing the original colonies, leading up to four columns and 50 pedestals. Each pedestal is engraved with the name and seal of a state, while the columns are historical artifacts from 1882. This site is sure to evoke a sense of American pride in any visitor.
21. Explore Eagle Slough Natural Area
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana is to explore the Eagle Slough Natural Area, a captivating wetland oasis that offers a glimpse into the beauty of nature. With over a hundred species of birds to spot, you can stroll along the walking trail and immerse yourself in the serene surroundings. To help you fully appreciate the experience, interpretive signs are placed along the path, providing useful information about the area.
As you make your way through the natural area, you’ll also come across several observation decks that offer stunning views of the wetlands and lake. It’s an excellent opportunity to admire the various natural features and appreciate the majesty of the great outdoors.
22. See the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse
If you’re visiting Vanderburgh County, be sure to visit the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse, which served as the county’s focal point after its construction in 1888. The stunning architecture and rich historical significance of the courthouse make it a must-see attraction. Don’t miss the opportunity to snap some photos and marvel at the intricate stonework.
The main tower of the courthouse, standing at 216 feet, is particularly impressive, with its windows allowing natural light to illuminate the interior. You can also request a guided tour from the knowledgeable courthouse staff to learn more about the building’s fascinating history and unique features.
23.Tour the Evansville African American Museum
Located in one of the original apartments that depict African-American life during the 1930s, the Evansville African American Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into a lesser-known aspect of local history. The museum features permanent exhibits and displays the works of local artists, including contributions from both past and present residents. Beyond its educational value, the museum also serves as a hub for community engagement and celebration.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the rich culture and history of Evansville and Indiana, a visit to this museum is highly recommended. You’ll be able to discover unique perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of the area’s past and present.
24. Go for an Arcade Date at Walther’s Golf & Fun
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana with your family is to visit Walther’s Golf & Fun, an amusement park that offers a range of exciting activities for all ages. You can challenge each other to a game of mini-golf on one of the park’s two courses or try your hand at the 32-hole layout. In addition to golf, the park features a laser tag arena and a variety of arcade games, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment.
After working up an appetite, head to the park’s café and savor some of their delicious handmade pizzas. Located at the corner of North First Avenue and Avon Avenue, Walther’s Golf & Fun is the perfect destination for a fun-filled day with your loved ones.
25. Stimulate Your Senses Outdoors with a Visit to Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve
Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, situated along North Boeke Road, offers a captivating glimpse into the original forests of Southern Indiana. This 200-acre tract was once inhabited by indigenous people before being acquired by the McCallister family in the 19th century. Today, a portion of the preserve has been transformed into a Nature Playscape, providing a fun and educational experience for children.
The preserve’s 4-mile trails wind through dense forests that serve as a habitat for various native bird species, such as Great-Horned Owls and Wood Ducks. The westside of the property is home to Howell Wetlands, which adds to the preserve’s natural splendor. Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an immersive nature experience in the heart of Indiana.
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26. Learn About War History at Evansville Wartime Museum
Evansville Wartime Museum, established in 2017, is a one-of-a-kind city museum that highlights the area’s contributions during times of war. The museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts, including engines, war vehicles, and weaponry, that provide a glimpse into the past. Visitors can learn about life during wartime from veterans and survivors, making for a truly immersive experience.
In addition to its extensive collection, the museum hosts interactive events such as testimonial talks and live music performances, offering visitors a chance to engage with the exhibits on a deeper level. If you’re interested in visiting, the Evansville Wartime Museum is located on Petersburg Road and is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in history and wartime contributions.
27. Breathe in the Fresh Air while Biking Along Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage
If you’re looking for a great spot to bike, jog, or take a leisurely stroll, look no further than Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage. This 10-foot-wide urban multi-use trail runs through the heart of Evansville and is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The greenway’s ultimate plan is to encircle the entire city, but for now, it remains a fantastic wildlife corridor and historical site.
Along the way, you’ll find storyboards that showcase Evansville’s rich history, and the trail passes by the banks and creek of the city, offering stunning views. You can access Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage from either end, with one located at the Canoe Launch & Trailhead on North Heidelbach Avenue and the other at Sunrise Park. So come on out and explore this fantastic urban trail for yourself!
28. Meet Playful Kittens While Snacking at River Kitty Cat Cafe
One of the best things to do in Evansville Indiana is to visit River Kitty Cat Cafe. This cafe, which opened in 2017, is a must-see for cat and coffee lovers. Its goal is to provide shelter for homeless cats until they find their forever homes. The cafe was bought by the Vanderburgh Humane Society in 2019, and it has since become a popular destination for animal and cat enthusiasts visiting Evansville.
While enjoying a delicious Meowcchiato or Hot Chococat with a feline-themed twist, you can interact with some of the friendly resident cats. Who knows, you might even find your forever companion among them. River Kitty Cat Cafe is located on Main Street and is definitely worth a visit.
How to Plan for a Trip to Evansville Indiana
Are you planning a trip to Evansville, Indiana? This bustling city, located in the Tri-State area of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, offers a balanced mix of cultural, historic, and outdoor attractions that make it one of southern Indiana’s most sought-after places to visit. Here are some tips to help you get started:
• Determine your travel dates and budget
The first step in planning your trip is to determine your travel dates and budget. Take into account the cost of transportation, lodging, food, and activities. Evansville is an affordable destination, but it’s important to set a realistic budget for your trip.
• Book your accommodations
Once you have determined your travel dates and budget, it’s time to book your accommodations. Evansville offers a range of lodging options, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. Be sure to book early, especially during peak travel seasons.
• Research the best things to do
Evansville has plenty of attractions to keep you busy during your trip. Research the best things to do in Evansville, including museums, historical landmarks, outdoor activities, and local cuisine. Make a list of your must-see attractions and plan your itinerary accordingly.
• Plan your transportation
Depending on how you plan to travel to Evansville, you’ll need to plan your transportation once you arrive. If you’re flying into the area, you can rent a car or take a taxi to your accommodations. If you’re driving, be sure to plan your route and any stops along the way.
• Pack accordingly
Make sure you pack appropriately for your trip. Depending on the time of year, you may need to pack warm clothing or rain gear. If you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, be sure to pack comfortable shoes and sunscreen.
• Enjoy your trip
Once you arrive in Evansville, it’s time to enjoy your trip. Follow your itinerary, but also allow some flexibility for spontaneity. Don’t forget to taste the local cuisine and take in the natural beauty of the Ohio River.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best things to do in Evansville, Indiana?
Evansville offers a mix of cultural, historic, and outdoor attractions. Some of the best things to do include exploring museums, visiting historical landmarks, enjoying the natural beauty of the Ohio River, and trying out local cuisine at various restaurants.
Why is Evansville, Indiana called the Pocket City?
Evansville is called the Pocket City because it is situated in a horseshoe bend of the Ohio River, giving it a pocket-like appearance on maps.
What is the Tri-State area that Evansville, Indiana is a part of?
Evansville is part of the Tri-State area, which includes parts of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.
What makes Evansville, Indiana a popular tourist destination?
Evansville is a popular tourist destination because of its rich cultural heritage, well-preserved historical landmarks, natural beauty, and local cuisine. The city offers a balanced mix of cultural, historic, and outdoor attractions.
QWhat recognition has Evansville, Indiana received?
Evansville, Indiana was recognized as the “best city in the country to live, work, and play” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
What are some of the outdoor attractions in Evansville, Indiana?
Evansville has a lot of outdoor attractions, including the Ohio River Greenway, Burdette Park, and Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve.
What are some of the historical landmarks to visit in Evansville, Indiana?
There are several historical landmarks to visit in Evansville, including the Reitz Home Museum, the Willard Library, and the Evansville African American Museum.
What is the local cuisine of Evansville, Indiana?
The local cuisine of Evansville, Indiana includes dishes like fried chicken, brain sandwiches, and German-style bratwurst.
Why is the Ohio River an important part of Evansville, Indiana?
The Ohio River is an important part of Evansville, Indiana because it provides a source of recreation and tourism, as well as a means of transportation for goods and services.
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Evansville, Indiana is a destination that has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to experience the natural beauty of the Ohio River, immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural heritage, or simply relax and enjoy the local cuisine, Evansville has it all. From the hidden natural treasures to the well-preserved historical landmarks, this city is full of surprises and experiences that will leave you with unforgettable memories. So, if you’re planning a trip to southern Indiana, be sure to check out the best things to do in Evansville Indiana and discover what makes this city so special.
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