Located on the far East side of Indiana, near Ohio is Franklin county. Although small in size, Franklin County Indiana is big on fun. On a recent day trip from Indianapolis, we headed East to see what Franklin County had to offer.
Franklin County Indiana Fun Starts in Metamora
Metamora was the first town we stopped at in our quest for Franklin County Indiana fun. I’d visited Metamora many years ago so had a vague idea of what to expect.
History of Metamora, Indiana
Metamora (derived from a Native American term meaning “among the hills”), is a small and very unique Indiana town. Built around the only wood aqueduct still in service in the US, it’s more of a tourist town than a typical Indiana small town.
Metamora was founded in 1838 along the Whitewater Canal and depended upon that canal for most of its livelihood, as well as multiple water-powered mills for grinding flour, making paper, etc. Now that we don’t use canals to transport goods, or water-powered mills, the town has converted itself into a tourist destination.
Things to do in Metamora, Indiana today
The best place to start your visit to Metamora is at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site. One of the Indiana State Museum’s historic sites, it’s an interesting way to experience how a Grist Mill would have originally operated. The site is open Wednesday through Sunday and there are regular demonstrations as well as exhibits to explore.
Check out the wooden aqueduct which was originally used to carry boats above Duck Creek. Today it’s hard to imagine the canal boats transporting goods – it’s just such a different mode of transportation than we experience today.
Surrounding the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site are dozens of small local shops and restaurants. Many are only open seasonally, but if the weather is nice it’s still interesting to get out of the car and explore the town on foot – it’s very walkable. Overall the town feels a bit like a ghost town if you aren’t visiting on a festival day.
Continue the Franklin County Indiana Fun in Oldenburg
Just a few miles down the road is the town of Oldenburg, Indiana. That was our next stop during our day trip to Franklin County.
History of Oldenburg, Indiana
Oldenburg was founded in 1817, making it one of the oldest settled towns in the state of Indiana. Today Oldenburg is often referred to as the “Village of Spires” due to the multiple church spires throughout the town. With heavy German influences, Oldenburg is a charming and attractive town perfect for walking and admiring the architecture.
Related post: Batesville, Indiana just across I-74 in Ripley County also has a heavy German influence and is another fun day trip from Indianapolis or Cincinnati. Check out Batesville Indiana Fun and combine it with this Franklin County Fun post for a terrific weekend getaway!
Things to do in Oldenburg, Indiana
The best place to start a visit to Oldenburg is to stop by the Oldenburg Maibaum (Maypole). These maypoles are fairly common in Germany, so the Indiana town felt they should have one. Everything about the maypole from the colors to the pictures on the shields represents important places or events related to Oldenburg.
Next head over to town and pick up a map (found in many shops) that shares a walking tour throughout historic Oldenburg. I’ve long been a fan of walking tours as a way to acclimate myself to a new town, and with this pamphlet in hand, you’ll enjoy learning some interesting facts about Oldenburg and be able to explore the historic and unique architecture of the town.
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There are a few shops worth checking out while you are walking downtown. My favorite is the Carriage House Antiques. It’s a combination antique store, historical building and ice cream parlor. How’s that for a variety? It was a fun place to poke around.
Finish up the day with a delightful meal
Based on my research on Yelp, Oldenburg is the place to enjoy a late lunch (or early dinner) in Franklin County. There were several delicious-sounding places, but as the weather was fantastic, I picked The Brau Haus because they had outdoor seating.
The menu has a variety of typical Indiana lunch options with a bit of a German flair. The patio out back was the perfect setting to relax over a glass of wine and a tasty meal. Based on the recommendation of the server we split the tenderloin (which Brau Haus is known for) and the German potato pancakes.
I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio and it was quite a generous pour. The entire lunch was delicious and super affordable – $20 for it all – including the wine! As Oldenburg is located right off of I-74 and we travel to Cincinnati often from Indianapolis, I’m positive I’ll be back to try more of the dishes at Brau Haus.
Franklin County Indiana is a lovely day trip from Indianapolis. There are plenty of things to do, see, eat and enjoy. Its location near Ohio would also make it a fantastic day trip from Cincinnati – even closer than the hour and a half it took us from Indy.
Related post: Interested in more Indiana Day trips? Check out my Explore Indiana project where I’m tacking the state one county at a time!
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