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Uniquely American

Cincinnati
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Uniquely American

My German relatives are visiting next week and I would like suggestions about places or attractions or events that are uniquely American for them. Food suggestions would be good too--one of them is a vegetarian. Thanks so much!

Bloomington, Indiana
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1. Re: Uniquely American

This isn't quite a direct answer (I'll try to give one later), but one thing to consider is to get them out of larger cities. I'm always amazed at people that visit other countries, limit themselves to the major cities and think they've "seen it all."

Long story, but I have a wonderful tale of a women from Australia who had been to NYC, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, LA & SF and (truly) thought she had "seen the entire USA." I didn't have the heart to tell what she had seen was a short list of major US cities and it would the same as going to Sydney, Perth & Brisbane and claiming to have "seen Australia."

Anyway, here is a short list of southern Indiana things that I came up with for another posting (someone wanting suggestions for day trips from St. Louis). Think a most of these would include plenty of "only in America" stuff.

1) Bloomington (surprise, surprise), too many things to mention, check it out on the Indiana forum sometime (that said, briefly, small university town with: culture & arts; vibrant downtown w/shopping, restaurants, galleries, etc; lots of lakes, parks, etc. nearby; bike paths & trails; and much, much more).

2) French Lick/West Baden yes, there is a casino here, but in my mind the "stars" are the beautifully restored old hotels. The "dome" (built circa 1905) was the largest free span roof until the Astrodome was built in the 1960s - they did a wonderful restoration on it. Also lost of nature stuff nearby.

3) Indianapolis, yes it's a "big city" - but really it's a small big city. Lots of museums, zoo, restaurants, etc. in the downtown area (all walkable).

4) Nashville (Indiana) small artist community near Bloomington and Brown County State Park (the "little smoky") the park has one of the highest visitor counts in the USA (and consider its "competition is Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Smokies, etc.). Be aware, however, fall is the peak season; but beginning of October *might* be early enough to avoid the full "crush."

5) Columbus (Indiana) - world class architecture in a small midwestern town (long story, but you might research some of the stuff on the web).

6) Madison - little river town down on the Ohio.

7) Vincennes - has the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.

8) Numerous State Parks, Forests, Lakes, etc. Too many to mention individually.

9) Holiday World (might be closed by then), Smaller, but well recognized theme park. Has a handful of nationally recognized roller coasters.

That's all I've got time for, but there's certainly a whole bunch more stuff to do.

Hope this helps and don't hesitate to ask form more information if you're interested.

hlo

Indianapolis...
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2. Re: Uniquely American

A few years ago someone from Europe mentioned a "classic Americana" tour that he put together which included the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, James Dean's hometown of Fairmount, Indiana and the Auburn Duesenberg Cord Museum in Auburn, Indiana along with a few other places that I don't remember right now.

I would add a drive-in movie theater, a drive-in restaurant, an old-fashioned soda fountain and either baseball, basketball or (American) football depending on the season. A year-round basketball attraction is Hoosier Gym where Hoosiers was filmed. (Recently named the #1 Sports Movie Destination by ESPN.) The real town of Milan isn't that far from Cincinnati, but it's very small so it wouldn't take long to see it.

Apart from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, of course, you can find links to almost all of these attractions on www.visiteasternindiana.org and

www.indiana500tour.com

My suggested itinerary....

From Cincinnati you can take Highway 27 north. It will pass through the quaint town of Liberty, which, on Friday nights, often has a classic car cruise-in at the local gas station with 50's music playing. You can continue on up Highway 27 to Richmond where it intersects with Old National Road/Highway 40, the main road that pioneers used to settle the west. On Hwy 40 at the corner of Glen Miller Park is a Madonna of the Trail statue which is one of 12 across the country dedicated to pioneer women. The "Birthplace of Recorded Jazz" is marked by the Gennett Records Walk of Fame just off Old National Road by an old RR bridge and the Star Gennett factory shell/ruins. (Very close to the pretty courthouse, but easy to miss if you don't expect it to the left right after the railroad bridge.) The mosaic Walk of Fame markers are pretty and it is amazing the number of musical greats that made history in this humble location. (For example, Hoagy Carmichael finished and recorded "Stardust" here. Others include Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, and many more.) The timing might just be right for you to make it to the Walk of Fame celebration. http://www.starrgennett.org/about/walk.htm (Year-round special occasion gourmet dinners are served at the Gennett Mansion as well which is across town not far from Glen Miller park.)

Anyone who likes antiques needs to explore the historic little towns in this area known as Antique Alley.

Back on Historic Highway 27 heading north, you'll enter Indiana's newest Amish settlement. (There is an Amish store on the right. Watch for a few buggies, scooters, etc. on the highway.) In Fountain City is the (red) Levi Coffin House, "Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad." Historic Highway 27 was a a very important route on the Underground Railroad. (There are many ties to Cincinnati. Levi Coffin later moved to Cincy. The lady who Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about in Uncle Tom's Cabin who crossed the Ohio River with her baby on a piece of ice is said to have passed through here. BTW: There's an overlook at one of the Hamilton County Parks which shows the exact spot. Also, I have never been able to go when it's open, but the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati would be very interesting.)

Keep heading north on 27 and you'll get to Winchester. In Winchester is a drive-in theater which is open in the summer and MIGHT still be open through next week. www.roamrandolph.org. From Winchester you can head about 10 miles west to Historic Farmland for an old-fashioned soda fountain and a quaint general store. If you head east on 32 about 1/2 hour from Winchester (back into Ohio) you can go to Greenville, the hometown of Annie Oakley and where the Treaty of Greenville was signed . (Your German relatives might be interested to know that she had such good aim that, at his request, she knocked the ashes off a cigarette held by Kaiser Wilhelm II!)

Okay, back in Winchester (where you can eat the Indiana state pie and sample "all-American" apple as well as well as pecan and a number of other delicious kinds at Mrs. Wicks) you can continue north on 27. Eventually you'll come to larger Amish settlements. Just off 27, the Swiss Heritage Village just outside of Berne is a very interesting place to see what an early Indiana village looked like, complete with one-room schoolhouse, classic Indiana homesteads and more.

In Decatur on 27 is a great 50's drive-in diner called Arnold's with carhops on rollerskates!

Highway 27 will take you into Fort Wayne. In Fort Wayne along 27 is the fort, which they might find interesting.

North of Fort Wayne is Auburn with the ACD museum and other transportation museums. The ACD Festival is going on right now, so it will probably be over when they're here.

Then head southwest into Fairmount. (I can't think right now which road you take. It might just be an exit off of I-69, the interstate that will take you too Indy.) The James Dean Festival is Friday, Sept. 25th and ends Sunday, Sept. 27th. The museum has items from James Dean's life as well as some from Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield.

While you're in the state, I'd hate to have you anyone miss racing! Two of the most historic tracks in the world are located in Indy and Winchester (Fastest 1/2 mile track in the World and 2nd oldest only to Indy.) There is a great museum at the Indy track and you might be able to catch a race in Winchester.

East of Indy is Knightstown where you can visit Hoosier Gym. I believe that you can take Old National Road/Highway 40 back from there to Richmond and then head south again to Cincinnati.

If you don't already use it www.cincinnatiusa.com is a great site. (I think riding a riverboat is a must while they're here!)

Obviously from HuntLawOffice's post and mine there is PLENTY to keep you all busy!

I hope you all have a great time!

Indianapolis...
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3. Re: Uniquely American

A Wild West Train seems like it would be a great experience for them, and it looks like there is one while they're here. http://www.whitewatervalleyrr.org/excursions/

Wilbur Wright's Birthplace and Museum is a very interesting small museum worth a visit near Hagarstown, Indiana, open April through the end of October. (Of course, Dayton has some great Wright Brother's attractions as well as the air force museum.)

For food suggestions, I really like this site www.indianafoodways.com which lists culinary trails and authentic local foods. Also, not far from Cincinnati in southeastern Indiana there is the Fried Chicken Trail. They might still have the painted chickens up along the way, which are fun. www.chickentrail.com

There aren't a ton of vegetarian restaurant options in Indiana, but this site is helpful for finding vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. http://www.happycow.net/ Most restaurants at least have the option of pasta or salad without meat.

The Marshmallow Festival goes through September 6th. That's vegetarian, right? :-) This is a great site for festivals which always have plenty of food! (Hey, there's no meat in a deep fried Twinkie either, but you might have to explain to them about Elephant Ears!)

www.indianafestivals.org

I hope you have a great time!

Indianapolis...
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4. Re: Uniquely American

If the timing is right, they would probably find the National Center for Great Lakes Native American Culture interesting. (Check the schedule for events and class times.) It is in Portland, along Historic Highway 27.

http://www.ncglnac.org/

BTW: If anyone noticed that I mentioned Gene Autry under the "Birthplace of Recorded Jazz" and thought that was strange, I forgot to mention that site was also very important for early recordings of country and blues too!

This is a great site for information about the Indiana Glass Trail. http://www.indianaglasstrail.com/

Also, I forgot to mention Conner Prairie, a very interesting interactive history park near Indianapolis. http://www.connerprairie.org/

Bloomington, Indiana
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5. Re: Uniquely American

I'd say you have a "few" suggestions here already, here's a few others. This batch focuses on Indy.

1) Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art - don't know if you can get any more American than "cowboys & indians." (Sorry couldn't pass it up, but believe me that's not what the museum is about).

2) Indianapolis Speedway Hall of Fame - 'nuff said.

3) MInor League Baseball, it's American's Pastime (and yes, I know about the Reds, hope they're on your list of possibilities) and, personally I think the minor leagues are more "home town" than the majors. Victory Field is a wonderful (fairly) new minor league ballpark located in downtown Indy.

4) A few other (downtown) ideas: Sailors & Soldiers Monument, War Memorial, Indiana State Museum, NCAA Hall of Champions,

That's all for now,

hlo

Indianapolis
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6. Re: Uniquely American

The phrase "Uniquely American" made me think immediately of Conner Prarie.

7. Re: Uniquely American

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