Birds, Beer, and Beauty!
Ready for some fun things to do in Jasper County, Indiana? The weather app showed the last Thursday of Fall Break to be in the 70s, and since it’s mid-October in Indiana, that could easily be the last warm day until Spring! So, we hopped in the car to cross off another county for my Explore Indiana series.
Stroll downtown Rensselear
Just a few hours north of Indianapolis is the cute little town of Rensselear, located in Jasper County. With a beautiful courthouse and a downtown in the midst of revitalization it was a perfect start to our afternoon of adventure.
Lunch was a hard choice as there were two terrific looking restaurants right downtown. We ended up picking Fenwick Farms Brewing Company, mostly because we had heard good things about their beer. Lucky for us, the reviews didn’t lie, we enjoyed a terrific visit. As the sun was shining, we sat outside on the patio enjoying a tasty cocktail, flight of beers, and siracha chicken tacos. Yum! The prices were reasonable and the atmosphere both inside and outside comfortable and relaxed.
After filling our tummies, we strolled downtown, popped in a few stores, and then checked out the murals. A few years ago, Rensselear created the #RenArtWalk showcasing a dozen or so colorful murals around the downtown area. It was fun to look for them and they definitely add to the charm of downtown.
Just a few blocks from downtown in a small park we discovered a Scarecrow Trail. Local businesses had created themed scarecrows to showcase their business and creativity. We took tons of pictures and soaked up the sunshine.
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Amazing Nature in Action
Hopping back into the car, we headed North to the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Refuge. After about a half-hour drive (including a gravel road!), we pulled into the Sandhill Crane Observation Tower parking lot.
Every year, thousands (up to 20K) of Sandhill Cranes stop in this area to rest as they migrate from Wisconsin/Michigan to Florida. Starting in early October through the end of November you can stop to check them out. They are large and noisy birds, so it’s definitely something to see and hear!
We saw several thousand and decided that we’d be bringing the kids back in a few weeks when the numbers have increased. To get a feel for how many will be there, the DNR site reports a number each week. It’s looking like the largest amount this year will be in about 2-3 weeks.
Relax with a glass of wine
It was time to head home, but we did detour for one last stop at Carpenter Creek Cellars. I’m always a sucker for a local winery and this one didn’t disappoint. Ed (one of the owners) walked us through a tasting of a variety of their wines, sharing quite a bit of information as to how they were made, grapes used and other interesting tidbits as we enjoyed each one.
The winery has been there since 2013 and is easily accessible from I-65 (so a perfect stop if you are heading to Chicago from Indy). In addition to a cozy tasting room, there are several lovely outdoor seating areas, so after our tasting, we selected a glass of wine to enjoy and headed to the upstairs deck to enjoy the sun and reminisce over our day of adventure.
Looking for more fun day trips in the Midwest? Check out A Perfect Day in Spencer and Fall Fun in Miami County.
It always amazes me how much there is to do in even the most remote areas of the state – exactly why I am pursuing my goal of finding fun in every county in Indiana!
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