I have to admit that even though I’ve lived in our current area for over twenty years, and driven through Kokomo dozens of times, I’ve never stopped to explore this charming Indiana town that’s only 30 minutes from my home. Thank goodness I finally came to my senses and we decided to check it out.
Kokomo, Indiana has some wonderful adventures to offer!
We started our day in Kokomo with a tour of the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory. This tour was phenomenal. Kokomo Opalescent Glass is 1 of only 4 factories left in the US that specialize in art glass. They are the oldest having begun operation in 1888 – that makes them 130 years old this November.
During the tour, we got to walk through the entire factory and learn the process of making art glass from start to finish. I’ve never been on a factory tour where we were able to get so close to the action. Our first stop was the ovens where they melt the glass – look at this! These ovens last about 25 years and run continuously at over 2000 degrees. Needless to say, it was HOT in this room.
We got to watch the employees running the molten glass to a machine where another employee mixed it and pushed it through to be flattened. Then it goes through a cooling process and you’ll end up with a beautiful sheet of glass. It was really amazing. Here’s a short clip where you can see a tiny bit of how it’s done:
After watching that, we walked through the rest of the factory including the areas where glass is blown, art objects are made and the warehouses where finished products are stored and shipped. Super interesting. Our tour guide even made a glass bead right in front of us – it didn’t look that difficult believe it or not.
The factory has a lovely little gift store and they also offer classes on bead making, mosaics, glass blowing, and more. Tours are offered Monday – Friday at 10:00 and cost $6 for general admission and $3 for students. You must be wearing closed-toe shoes, and it is a lot of walking.
After walking and learning for a few hours it was time for lunch. We headed to Martino’s Italian Villa, a Kokomo staple. They have been serving authentic Italian food and delicious pizza since 1962. They were even inducted into the Pizza Hall of Fame in 2017.
We ordered a few Italian dishes and a pizza to share so that we could sample as much as possible. The red sauce was fabulous, a little spicy, and very hearty. The pizza was a good one – covered with cheese and toppings and perfectly cooked – had a nice bite to the crust but wasn’t crisp. We left full and happy to have found a tasty new Italian restaurant as Italian is my daughter’s favorite.
Being so stuffed it was necessary to walk off some of the food, so we headed to downtown Kokomo. Kokomo is working hard to revitalize its downtown area and it’s really starting to come together.
Several of the alleys were wonderfully spruced up and looked like terrific places to have a cup of coffee with a friend, or sit and enjoy the sunshine. We discovered a few really unique stores – a collectibles toy store, game shop, and comic book shop to name a few. The coffee shop also held a pottery painting studio – a perfect combination.
Just a few blocks from the main downtown is another very interesting area that seems to be really taking off. In and nearby an old train depot are several delicious-looking restaurants, a bakery, and a brewery. It was a bit early for the brewery, but as we love local breweries we will check it out on a future trip.
2022 Update: Unfortunately The Refinery has closed …
After all the walking around, we headed to the edge of downtown to The Refinery. This place is one of the coolest concepts I’ve encountered in a long time. The Refinery is located at the front of a dance studio and it is called a healthy drink station.
They serve kombucha, smoothies, and nitro coffee. What is really fun is that they also create mocktails using healthy ingredients. We spent a good hour chatting with the manager, Katie, and trying some of her amazing concoctions.
A few favorites included The Mermaid and the Bucha-Rita (both kombucha drinks), the key lime smoothie (matcha tea and lime – tasted just like a key lime pie), a cup of real pumpkin spice bullet coffee and the drink that’s “taking Kokomo by storm” – the lavender lemonade. Look at how beautiful these drinks are:
The atmosphere was also fantastic. It is set up like a standard bar (but of course kids are welcome), and there are two garage doors that open for outdoor bar seating. There is also a small courtyard out front that opens out onto a lovely city park. The Refinery has been open since June and it is a must-visit if you are in the area. I would love to see this concept expand as it’s truly wonderful.
We made a quick stop at Highland Park to check out another iconic Kokomo attraction, the World’s Largest Steer. I love these World’s Largest displays – we always stop to check them out when traveling. This guy was quite large – he clocked in at 4000 pounds. Yikes! He’s stuffed and on display in a building at the park. We also found a cute little-covered bridge perfect for a family picture!
Our final stop for the afternoon was Crown Haven Center. If you like off-road riding, archery, and/or horses, definitely check it out!
On our way home, we picked up a variety of interesting candy and popcorn at the Popcorn Cafe – a tasty treat for the short drive.
Kokomo, you surprised me! We had a delightful day and now that I know how much there is to do, we’ll be heading back again soon.
Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory, 1310 S. Market St.; 765-457-1829; https://www.kog.com/
Martino’s Italian Villa, 1929 N. Washington St.; 765-457-9181; http://martinositalianvilla.net/
Crown Haven Center; 5282 West, 250 South, Russiaville, Indiana; 765-480-3930; http://www.crownhavencenter.com/
Popcorn Cafe; 1108 E. Markland Ave.; 765-252-3745
Thanks to the Kokomo Visitors Center, Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory, and Crown Haven Center for sponsoring parts of our adventures. We had a wonderful time and we will be back! All opinions expressed are my own.