Exploring Adams County, Indiana

Art, History & Books in Adams County

With a warm and sunny day in the forecast, I decided it was a perfect time to create an extended weekend and head out to a new county as part of my Explore Indiana project. As no one was free to explore with me, I decided upon a day trip that was more interesting for me than the rest of the family.

And I have to say, they all missed out!

So on this gorgeous day, I headed Northeast to explore Adams County – right next to the Indiana/Ohio state line.

As always, start with coffee

I decided to start the trip at the furthest point north and work my way south. So I headed straight to downtown Decatur.

As always, I started my day with coffee. I found a darling coffee shop called Java Bean Cafe. I enjoyed a coffee and bagel with cream cheese for $3.56. Can’t beat small town prices. I also loved this “pay it forward” board. I’ve seen these in a few coffee shops lately and love the idea. Warms my heart.

Stop by the Java Bean Cafe for a coffee and bagel to start your day.

Explore the sculpture tour

A really cool feature of Decatur is their annual sculpture tour. Decatur is the birthplace of David Smith, a highly regarded American sculptor. Another sculptor also called Decatur home – Ralph Hurst.

So, for the past 10 years, Decatur has hosted an annual sculpture tour featuring a variety of artists. It’s unveiled every year in June. I was able to check out many of the new and returning sculptures from 2020 as I walked around downtown.

downtown Decatur

I picked up a guide to the sculptures with their location and the name of the artist at the coffee shop, but you can also check out an audio walking tour by downloading the app Otocast.

Decatur sculpture tour

It was fairly early in the morning, so downtown wasn’t terribly busy, but I was thrilled to see a few restaurants and shops that appeared to be open as well as a wonderful book store.

Bookstore in downtown Decatur, Indiana

The courthouse was also lovely, and I found the bison nearby too! Overall, Decatur has a lovely downtown and it’s well worth a stroll!

Related post: If you love sculptures, check out the Sculpture Trail in Greene County, Indiana

Head south to Berne

A few miles south of Decatur is the town of Berne, Indiana. I really enjoyed the drive down US27 (one of the Historic State Road Highways from 1926. US 27 runs from Ft. Wayne all the way to Miami, FL) where I passed many farms – almost all of them with laundry hanging out to dry! I also noticed many horses as well as a few horses and buggies. It was lovely and peaceful.

Berne is a small town of about 4000, and is well known as the furniture capital of Indiana. With multiple furniture makers and showrooms, if you are in the market for solid, well-made furniture, head over to Berne.

Berne was founded by Swiss Mennonite immigrants in 1852 (hence all the horses and buggies I saw), and to this day proudly proclaims its Swiss heritage. I loved all the swiss inspired buildings throughout the town.

Downtown Berne, Indiana

Right off of 27 is a beautiful 160 foot tall Clock Tower in the lovely Muensterberg Plaza. It was constructed in 2010 and can play over 1000 different tunes. To get a feel for its size, the clock hands are 15 feet long, and the bell ringer in the belfry is 7 feet tall!

Clock Tower in Berne, Indiana

Also in the plaza is a lovely bear statue. According to lore, the bear has always been the symbol representing Berne, IN. The Swiss immigrants would have often seen it on flags, coats of arms, and more while living in Switzerland. And, bears used to be found in this area of Indiana. With all this history and beauty, the Muensterberg Plaza was a perfect place to wander for a bit and soak up the sun.

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Get lost in history at Limberlost

My last stop was my favorite of the day. And the reason I didn’t force my family along – I wasn’t sure they would be interested. Now that I have visited – I’m positive I was wrong and plan on bringing them back to check it out in the future.

Gene Stratton Porter was an incredibly talented author and naturalist during the late 1800s until her untimely death in 1924. Her books were known worldwide and have inspired many famous authors as well as educating future generations on the day-to-day lives of people and the nature around her.

I was excited to visit Limberlost, her home for many years in Geneva, Indiana, and where she began writing, seriously studying nature, AND learning how to take incredible photographs. As a child, I often read her books when I visited my Grandparents as my Grandmother was a fan and loved birds and nature as much as Gene did. I inherited the books for my own library and after visiting Limberlost plan to not only read them again but also encourage my daughter to read them – I’m confident she’ll enjoy them.

Gene Stratton-Porter books

The cabin is gorgeous and has been meticulously restored to look just as it did when Gene and her family lived there. I was lucky to have a wonderful guide, Jeanne, who knew so much about Gene, her life, and tons of interesting little tidbits. We spent an hour and a half chatting about the land, Gene, and her life. Jeanne was fabulous and I learned so much during our time together.

Picture of Limberlost

The surrounding swamps are gone today, but there are a few within driving distance that I plan on checking out on a future trip.

After my time at Limberlost, I took a quick drive through downtown Geneva and then headed home.

What a terrific day I had exploring Adams County – my day trip just hit the highlights of the county, it would be easy to spend a weekend enjoying the area!

Related Post: Looking for more fun day trips on the Eastern Part of Indiana? Check out A Day Trip to Muncie and A Perfect Day in Henry County


If you love art, books and history, Adams County has you covered. With an outdoor sculpture tour, Swiss heritage and even Limberlost (Gene Stratton-Porter's cabin), you are all set for a perfect Midwestern day trip! #daytrips #indiana #localtravel
If you love art, books and history, Adams County has you covered. With an outdoor sculpture tour, Swiss heritage and even Limberlost (Gene Stratton-Porter's cabin), you are all set for a perfect Midwestern day trip! #daytrips #indiana #localtravel

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  1. The Gene Stratton Porter site hosted great homeschool days when my kids were little. Freckles is our favorite of all the books. My father-in-law grew up in Decatur.

  2. Great photos and information. I never thought about visiting Indiana and now you have captured my interest. Thanks for mentioning Gene Stratton Porter, I will make a point to read Freckles and re-read A Girl from the Limberlost.

  3. Small towns are so underrated! It’s amazing the amazing hidden gems you can find just exploring these towns. Loved the Brew it Forward board and the sculptures!

  4. I love fun explorations like these…we haven’t been to Indiana much but definitely would welcome the opportunity to go. Looks like something right out of Europe!

  5. I love trips like this that are not just fun but have a bit of education mixed in for the kiddos also. Helps us leave any place richer than we arrived!

  6. Small towns hold so much charm and history! Thank you for sharing a part of Adams County!

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