Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to get back to my Explore Indiana project! This week I visited Bluffton, Indiana in Wells County, and came up with a day full of fun things to do.
Wells County is a perfect day trip from Indianapolis just under two hours away. If you are in Ft. Wayne, it’s even closer, so from either location it’s well worth the drive to spend a day in Bluffton Indiana.
👉 It’s nothing fancy, but if you want a base to explore Bluffton and have some lakefront fun, check out the highly-rated Oasis Lake Buchanan
Explore downtown Bluffton
The largest city in the county is Bluffton, which was founded in 1838. I started the day with a cup of delicious coffee and a breakfast sandwich from Hugh’s Bakery & Coffeehouse. Located just off the main square on Market Street, this coffee shop was hopping.
With a bright, airy location (loved the sun streaming in the front windows), it is a delightful place to begin your day exploring Bluffton. The coffee was good and the prices were affordable. As busy as it was, I could tell it is a local favorite.
Coffee in hand, I spent the next half hour strolling the downtown area. I popped into a few boutiques and peeked in the windows of a few businesses that were closed due to the early time of the day (Axe Throwing and a local Brewery).
Wells County Courthouse
Set up as a traditional town square with the courthouse in the middle, Bluffton is an easy downtown to navigate. The courthouse is quite striking, with a tall clock tower built in the Romanesque style. It’s covered with a lovely sandstone which gives it a soft tan color – especially in the sunlight.
In front of the courthouse is the Wells County Bison – I always look for these when I explore a new county so was happy that this one was so easy to find! These Bison were a part of the “Bison-tennial” in 2016 to celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday. Every Indiana county created one that represents their county.
Hiking at Oubache State Park
Sticking with the Bison theme, I headed to Oubache State Park next. Pronounced “Wabash”, Oubache State Park is a short drive from downtown Bluffton and was high on my list of things to do in the area.
As a state park I hadn’t visited yet, I was excited to check it out. Although it was a weekday when I visited, it was a gorgeous spring day so the park was fairly busy. I picked up a map at the gate office and headed in to see what I could find.
I picked two trails to enjoy – both of which took me near the highlights of the park, so a perfect combination to get to see just about everything this state park has to offer.
Trail 1 is a must-do if you are visiting Oubache State Park. It’s really more of an easy walk than a trail as it’s a flat 1-mile loop around a large enclosure where the park houses its small herd of Bison. The trail is gravel, so not terribly stroller friendly, but such an easy walk that small children could manage it. I got a kick out of seeing the Bison pretty close, but my pup wasn’t at all interested!
💥 Related Post: Visit Your State Park
Near the entrance to this trail was also a fire tower – the only one remaining in Northern Indiana. Thanks to the informative sign, I learned a bit about how these were used years ago to spot fires from a distance. I decided against climbing to the top and just enjoyed the views from the ground!
The other trail I enjoyed was Trail 4. It’s a 3-mile loop around Kunkle Lake. Part of the path is gravel and very easy to walk, but a few portions wind through the trees and were a bit muddy and slippery due to recent rains.
Along the lake is a small beach with a boat rental station as well as several docks for fishing and viewing the water. It would be a lovely place to picnic or spend a sunny summer afternoon!
💥 Insider tip: I was very happy I had changed into my hiking shoes as Trail 4 had some very muddy spots, and even Trail 1 had some areas with large water puddles. I have this excellent pair of hiking shoes that feel like tennis shoes but have a strong grip and decent water repellency!
Indulge in a good old-fashioned rootbeer stand
After working up an appetite hiking, I made one last stop in Bluffton at Bummies Rootbeer stand. Bummies has been around since 1962 and after my visit, I can see why.
The rootbeer is homemade, the tenderloins hand-breaded, and the burgers delicious! I ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and homemade root beer. It definitely hit the spot – and my hiking companion was a huge fan too! They even brought him a bowl of water.
Although not one of the more populated counties I’ve visited in my quest to find something fun to do in every Indiana county, I enjoyed my day in Wells County. With an excellent state park, walkable downtown, and several fun spots for tasty treats, Bluffton, Indiana is a perfect spot for an enjoyable Indiana day trip!
FAQs Bluffton Indiana
What is Bluffton Indiana known for?
Bluffton, Indiana is known for its charming small-town atmosphere and rich history. It is home to the Kehoe Park, Bluffton Free Street Fair, and Wells County Historical Museum, which showcase the town’s cultural heritage.
The town is also known for the Bluffton Motor Works, which produced some of the first automobile engines in the US. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the Salamonie River State Forest and Ouabache State Park.
Why is Bluffton Indiana called “Parlor City”?
Years ago, Bluffton was one of the few cities with a lot of paved streets. The paved streets were considered “as clean as your parlor”.
What are some fun facts about Bluffton?
A few fun facts about Bluffton are that it is the birthplace of legendary baseball player and manager, Miller Huggins, who led the New York Yankees to their first six World Series titles. The Bluffton Free Street Fair, which has been held annually since 1908, is one of the largest street fairs in Indiana.
The town was home to the Bluffton Motor Works, which produced some of the first automobile engines in the United States. The famous children’s book author, Gene Stratton-Porter, lived in a cabin near Bluffton and wrote many of her most popular books there.