Are you looking for a fun day trip from the Indianapolis area? Let me tell you about my latest jaunt to Rush County. You would not believe all the fun things to do in Rushville Indiana. My son and I discovered that this small town packs a punch in terms of fun things to do and scrumptious places to eat.
As it’s just an hour from Indy, it makes for a lovely day trip – you could start out like we did late morning and be back in plenty of time for dinner. Or, if you like a full day, that’s possible too. Get up early, grab coffee for the road, and start your journey. Spend the day exploring the covered bridges and antique stores and end your day with a tasty dinner at Sakura.
Covered bridges in Indiana? If you are from the Hoosier state, I bet the first place you think of is Parke County. I know I do. But, imagine my surprise when I discovered that less than an hour from Indianapolis, Rush County has a long history of covered bridges. However long you choose to make your trip, follow my lead and you’ll have a wonderful adventure!
1. Hunt for Covered Bridges
Originally there were 23 covered bridges, but today only six remain. As part of my Explore Indiana project, Rush County was on my list of places to visit. With a free afternoon, my 12-year-old son and I took off to see if we could find those remaining six bridges. We found four and had a delightful time looking for them and enjoying Rushville, IN.
The first bridge we found is called the Moscow Bridge. It’s located in Milroy, Indiana, and was one of two we were able to get out and walk around. It is very nicely preserved and at 334 feet the third longest one in Indiana. It was originally built in 1886 but was destroyed by a tornado in 2008. Luckily it was rebuilt in 2010 using as many of the original materials as possible.
Our next covered bridge was a bust. Although we followed the directions on Google Maps when we “arrived” there was no bridge to be found.
There are two bridges just outside of Rushville. Both of these (the Smith Covered Bridge and the Norris Ford Covered Bridge) were easy to find but impossible to stop and walk around. There really wasn’t a place to safely put the car, so we just drove through them and looked at what we could.
The afternoon was fading and with two more bridges to find, we decided to knock one off the list as it would take us further away from home, so we set off to find Offutt’s Ford Covered Bridge. I enjoyed this bridge as we were able to park the car and get out to walk around a bit. It was built in 1884 by the Kennedy Bros (as all of the bridges we found were), and it is currently closed to traffic as it’s being restored.
💥Pam’s Insider Tip: This was such an unusual way for us to spend the day that when I got home I looked to see if there were more covered bridges in Indiana and I discovered a great resource on Amazon: Indiana’s Covered Bridges. If this sounds like a fun afternoon, I suggest you check that book out or just search on Amazon “Covered Bridges of xxx” to see if there are books highlighting them in your state.
2. Rushville Riverside Park
The Rushville Riverside Park is truly a hidden gem in Rush County. This park is jam-packed with activities. They have playground equipment that little ones can not get enough of. There’s also an eighteen-hole disc golf course. Have you ever tried disc golf? So fun! Plus there are walking trails and a prairie ground to explore.
Rushville Riverside Park also has an amphitheater that hosts a free concert series here every year, and it’s the epitome of a good time. Imagine this: A warm summer evening, the sun setting, and live music filling the air as you and your loved ones dance or simply relax on the lawn. One of my favorite ways to spend a summer night.
Finally, the Overlook Gateway is a new area that is a stellar addition to the park. It’s home to a splash pad that’s perfect for those sizzling summer days. There is a sculpture garden to add an artsy flair, and you’ll find an accessible walking trail and shaded sitting areas to catch your breath. It’s all so thoughtfully designed. It’s open from May to early fall, so you’ve got plenty of time to make the most of it.
3. Learn something new at the Historical Society Museum
I’ve discovered through the years, that my kids will happily indulge me in exploring historical sites, hiking, etc. as long as I break them up with things they enjoy. So on our last visit after a bit of bridge hunting, we headed back to Rushville to check out the downtown. Sadly, on this trip, the Historical Society Museum was closed (its open hours are Monday and Thursday from 9-11), but it looked quite interesting.
Historical Society Museum, 619 N. Perkins St. Rushville, IN
4. Check out the downtown murals
I really love how so many small towns in Indiana are creating larger-than-life murals. It’s become one of the first things I look for when I check out a new downtown. Rushville had a nice little collection.
My son was a fan of the large mural of Wendell Lewis Willkie on the side of the drugstore building (also a cool place to stop). Wendell Lewis Willkie was the 1940 Republican nominee for President – a new fact for both of us. I really liked the mural at the Farmer’s Market location.
5. Shop the downtown boutiques
Downtown Rushville has quite a few nice boutiques and antique stores. We enjoyed poking around several while we were checking out the impressive murals. As usual, I was able to find a few little fun things to pick up while we were shopping. I like to do this to support local businesses and help keep our downtowns thriving.
6. Have fun at a Rushville Festival
In addition to the live music at Riverside Park in the summer, Rushville is home to quite a few other fun festivals. Every year, the town hosts several fun festivals including Libations by the Levee (craft beer, wineries, and spirits all from Indiana), a 4th of July Car Show, and many more!
One of the largest festivals is called Willkie Days and it’s hosted in September each year. As part of Willkie Days, there is the Five in 50 which starts in Rushville and includes a variety of routes of different lengths. The longest route is 50 miles and takes bicycle riders through five of the remaining historic covered bridges.
7. Enjoy a game at Rushville Bowl
Bowling is always a fun family activity – and it’s especially nice as the weather starts to get colder. Rushville Bowl has a variety of leagues, open bowling, and fun events.
In addition to bowling, you can enjoy appetizers or sandwiches at Karen’s Snack Bar, so don’t worry if your free time is around mealtime. We’ve always liked to visit local bowling alleys when we travel, and Rushville Bowl was a fun one.
🎳 Pam’s insider tip: Sometimes they offer 1/2 price Friday which is a FANTASTIC deal!
Rushville Bowl, 1124-3, Rushville, IN
Places to Eat in Rushville Indiana
8. Stagg’s Dairy Treats & Restaurant
If I have a kid with me on a day trip, a stop at a coffee shop or ice cream stand is a must. So, in Rushville, my son and I decided to give Stagg’s Dairy Treats & Restaurant a try. This restaurant is exactly the kind of place I enjoy finding in small Midwestern towns.
With an affordable and fun menu and delicious ice cream treats, it was a perfect little pick-me-up. We only tried the ice cream, but looking at the food coming out of the kitchen I imagine the burgers and sandwiches are delicious!
9. Sakura Japanese Hibachi & Sushi
Our last stop in Rush County was a delightful surprise – a delicious stop for sushi. Located just around the corner from the Historical Society Museum, Sakura Japanese Hibachi & Sushi has a wide variety of Japanese, Chinese, and Thai-inspired dishes.
We shared a few sushi rolls and savored freshly brewed green tea. The sushi was fresh and beautifully presented and hit the spot before we began the easy drive home. Sakura Rushville is a pleasant and enjoyable surprise for a small town like Rushville.
Where to Stay in Rushville Indiana
Since Rushville is a pretty small town in a pretty small county, there aren’t really a lot of places to stay – and none that I can recommend. Luckily, it’s also a fantastic distance for a day trip from Indianapolis, so my suggestion is to stay in the city and just drive over for the day.
Indy is full of fantastic hotels, but a few favorites of mine include the Bottleworks Hotel and the JW Marriott. As long as there isn’t a major sporting event happening, it shouldn’t be too hard to get an affordable room at either of those choices.
Rushville Attractions Map
FAQs: Things to Do in Rushville Indiana
What is Rushville Indiana famous for?
It was the campaign headquarters for Wendell Willkie’s presidential run against Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940.
How far is Rushville from Indianapolis?
46 miles – should take you around an hour or less.
What is there to do at night in Rushville Indiana?
Bowling at Rushville Lanes is a fun nighttime activity, as would be any of the summer series concerts at Riverside Park.
On our way home, we picked up some fresh Indiana sweet corn to enjoy later this week. Our latest obsession is making Mexican Street corn – we’ve been enjoying it for a few weeks now and Indiana sweet corn makes it extra tasty.
Conclusion: Fun Things to Do in Rushville Indiana
For a small county that I’m not sure I’ve ever even driven through and had definitely never heard of, I was pleasantly surprised at how much there is to do. It was a perfect summer afternoon full of everyday adventures and fun.
So, whether you are on the hunt for covered bridges, or want to shop the adorable boutiques in downtown Rushville, you’re in for a treat when you visit this lovely little Indiana town.