It’s time for another Explore Indiana adventure. This time, I grabbed my son (he’s a great travel partner) and we took off for Hartford City. Hartford City is the largest city in Blackford County. I have to admit, this adventure made me a little nervous as I couldn’t find much on the area online. Would this be my first “fail” in proving there is something to do wherever you are?
As we made our way to Blackford, we drove by numerous cornfields and farmhouses. It was an absolutely beautiful day – low 80’s, blue skies and no humidity. I couldn’t ask for better exploring weather.
As we tend to do, our first stop was downtown. The courthouse in Hartford City was beautiful in a very different way than most of the ones I’ve recently seen. This one was built in 1893 – 1895. It’s called a Richardsonian Romanesque style. To get a feel for the size, the clock tower is 165 feet – so it definitely towered over the rest of downtown.
Sadly, this downtown area was pretty deserted. There weren’t really any shops and only one local restaurant that we could see. Many boarded-up buildings. It’s really too bad as the architecture of the buildings was beautiful – I imagine it was a lovely downtown square at one time.
Just a block from the square is a very interesting building that houses the Old Blackford County Jail and a speakeasy. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we visited. Supposedly it’s haunted! If I’m passing back through I’ll make a point to stop if it’s open as it looked worth checking out.
We left the downtown feeling a little worried about what else we’d find to do. Luckily our next stop started turning this visit around.
The Wilderness Park just outside of downtown is truly a local gem. This lovely nature area had a fun little dog park, some picnic tables (I think I’d pack a picnic and enjoy it here if I ever visit again) and best of all, some enjoyable hiking trails. One of the paths to take is connected to a fitness trail. Just like most tween boys, my son immediately started playing on the equipment. We then ventured further into the wooded area and discovered a wonderful set of trails. They weren’t well marked, but they were definite paths, so we just paid attention to which way we went so we could get back. We spent a good half an hour or so exploring the trails and were ready for a treat when we made it back to the car.
Next on our list was the local ice cream shop. Ice cream is always on the agenda when the kids are with me, so this trip was no exception. This afternoon we checked out the Tasty Spoon. I’m always amazed at the prices at these little local ice cream stands. We enjoyed a slushie as well as a cookies and cream blizzard for just $4.04. Pretty incredible.
We were starting to get hungry and Yelp wasn’t suggesting anything in Hartford City that wasn’t a chain, so we made one last stop at Tori’s Butterfly Garden before heading back south.
This butterfly garden was built by over 50 volunteers in 2012 in memory of Tori, a six-year-old girl who was taken too soon from her family. She loved the outdoors and had her own small butterfly garden. It was the sweetest little garden I’ve ever seen. There is a little path that takes you through the garden and shoots off into several little enclaves. It was well worth the quick stop.
On our way home, we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal at the Mill Street Inn in Gaston, IN. Technically this spot is located in Delaware county, but I’m making it part of this day as it’s just a short 20-minute drive from Hartford City, and I’ll be visiting Delaware soon with a whole day’s worth of things to do. The Mill Street Inn serves an interesting mix of Pizza King (if you’re from Indiana, you know Pizza King) and traditional home-cooked comfort food. I had to give the tenderloin a try (and it didn’t disappoint) and my son decided upon chopped sirloin – something he had never had before. I don’t think it was what he was expecting, but he’s game to try anything and really enjoyed it.
So while this wasn’t the most exciting of our Indiana adventures, it was still a lovely way to spend a beautiful day and we enjoyed exploring a new area of the state. Sometimes that’s exactly what is needed when life is crazy busy.
Old Blackford County Jail, 120 E. Main St. Hartford City, (765) 808-8730
Wilderness Park 901 S. West Street, Hartford City
Tasty Spoon 1425 N. Walnut Street, Hartford City, (765) 329-4119
Tori’s Butterfly Garden 407 E. Conger St. Hartford City
Mill Street Inn 200 S. Main Street, Gaston, IN
Other counties near this one that would be a good addition to this afternoon include: Grant, Delaware or Madison
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