Ready for another fun day trip from Indianapolis? We ventured north to check out Wabash County and the town of Wabash a few weeks ago and were delighted with what we discovered.
With a beautiful botanical garden, plenty of unique boutiques, interesting history (a runaway elephant, anyone?), yummy food, and more, it’s an ideal getaway from the hustle of day-to-day life.
Ready for a perfect day trip to Wabash, Indiana?
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Begin with nature
As summer can be HOT in Indiana, we chose to start our day outdoors. I figured it would be cooler in the morning, and it was, although I was delighted to discover that the Charley Creek Gardens were quite shaded and would probably be lovely any time of the day.
This garden is tucked away just a few blocks from downtown and is truly a treasure trove of secluded spots and hidden treasures.
Right next to a parking lot with ample spaces is a maze. What fun for kids to explore and find the statue and many paths. We wandered through it for a bit and ended up on the other side where we headed down a path to a lovely waterfall.
This garden also boasts a labyrinth, wildflower garden, and many benches to sit and just enjoy a gorgeous day.
Performing art and delicious food
After easily finding a parking spot on the street, we began exploring downtown Wabash. The first building we encountered appeared to be an old theater. The door was unlocked so of course, we went in to see what we would discover.
The Eagles Theatre is a beautifully restored theater which along with the nearby Ford theater hosts nationally known concerts throughout the year. We spoke to several of the employees who were getting the theater ready for the next show and learned that months of work had been put into getting it back to its former glory and it had opened right before COVID lockdown in March of 2020. Luckily, they were able to open it back up this summer.
I see a show in our future for sure!
Insider tip: if you decide to enjoy a show at the Eagles Theatre, right across the street is a fantastic local inn, Charley Creek Inn. With a wine bar, restaurant, and candy shop inside the building, everyone in your party will be thrilled. The location is ideal for spending a day exploring Wabash and then capping off the evening with a concert.
Based on recommendations from two different locals we headed over to Market Street Grill for lunch. It’s housed in a building that was built in 1898 so the woodwork is stunning. The decor inside is full of train and railroad memorabilia and the restaurant serves tasty, typical Indiana fare.
We split a tenderloin for lunch knowing that we’d be grabbing a sweet treat later in the day, and it did not disappoint. Full of flavor and generous in size, it was precisely what an Indiana tenderloin should be!
The unique history of Wabash
After browsing a few shops (and picking up a few gifts), we wandered over to the Wabash County Museum. For a bargain price of $5 (only $3 for Seniors), we were treated to several short historical films along with dozens of interesting displays.
While there, we learned that the reason we kept seeing elephants all around town (a large one across from the high school, a coffee shop with an elephant theme, etc.) was that in 1942 while the Great American Circus was in town, an elephant named Modoc escaped and had quite the adventure in downtown Wabash and the surrounding area.
It took them 5 days to capture him, and so his escapades have become a local legend. One of the short films even described the event. All these elephants made a lot more sense after learning Modoc’s story.
Aside from Modoc, we also learned the rich history of the area, a bit about the early days when canal boats brought and distributed goods throughout the region, and how the town changed when the railroads were built.
Ending the day with a treat
After an hour or so in the museum, we headed over to Modoc’s Market (yes, named after the famous elephant) to refresh ourselves with an iced coffee.
This place is everything a coffee shop should be. Plenty of seating, lots of drink choices, and a variety of tasty treats to round things out.
We picked up our coffees and indulged in a fresh donut brought in from nearby Peru, and headed over to enjoy them while checking out the Paradise Springs Cabins at the Paradise Springs Historical Park. It was a perfect end to a lovely day exploring Wabash.
Related post: not too many months ago, my daughter and I also enjoyed a donut from Aroma Coffee Shop on our day trip to Peru in Miami County. Check out our adventures exploring that area for another terrific day trip from Indianapolis!
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