Blake Walsh

17 Best Things to Do in Bartholomew County, IN

  • Published 2023/03/27

Bartholomew County boasts many fascinating attractions over 409 square miles, from the architectural wonders to its state and national parks.

With Columbus as its county seat, this southeastern US county comprises six towns sure to draw in vacationers from all around.

Bartholomew County offers many opportunities for travelers to explore its myriad architectural styles, revel in its state and national parks, and much more.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or want to take in some culture and history, Bartholomew County has something for everyone.

With so many captivating attractions, it’s no wonder why Bartholomew County is such a popular destination!

Here are the best things to do in Bartholomew County, Indiana:

Behold the Stunning Waterfall at Anderson Falls

Front view of Anderson Falls

Lost Shoe Studios /

Anderson Falls is a 44-acre park in Hartsville operated and owned by the Bartholomew County Parks Department.

With a height of 12 feet and a width of 100 feet, this waterfall is one of Indiana’s larger and most reliable falls.

This fall features low, wide cascading waterfalls, steep-walled valleys, and two hiking trails that are 1.75 and 2.25 miles long.

Close view of Anderson Falls

Kenneth Keifer /

Anderson Falls also has accessible fishing areas, parking lots, pit toilets, shelters, and a barbeque area all visitors can use.

Visitors will undoubtedly enjoy their stay in this location due to the breathtaking views and peaceful ambiance it can provide.

Aerial view of Anderson Falls

Kenneth Keifer /

Catch Fish at Eco Lake Park

Eco Lake Park is a nine-acre lake and 127-acre parkland that can be visited in Sand Creek Township, Elizabethtown.

This park is considered one of the top spots for fishing in the area, but it’s also a great place to relax and enjoy quality time with your family.

Enjoy breathtaking scenery and plenty of recreational amenities like open shelters, playgrounds, baseball fields, sand volleyball courts, and basketball courts.

Eco Lake Park is an idyllic destination, from spending the day with your family to enjoying a weekend outing with friends.

Whether you’re looking for an exciting day outdoors or want to unwind from daily life stressors, this park has something for everyone.

Admire the 20th Century at the Miller House and Garden

The Miller House and Garden is a contemporary mid-century house built in 1953 and has become a tourist attraction in Columbus.

This house, which took four years to build, was owned by American philanthropist and industrialist Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia Simons.

Its magnificent architectural design combined the artistic talents of Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, landscape architect Dan Kiley, and designer Alexander Girard.

In 2000, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Miller House has four rooms for parents, children, visitors, and servants, with a flat roof and walls made of glass and stone.

Aside from that, the home is enticingly landscaped with 13.5 acres of beautiful honey locust trees.

Meanwhile, its warm interiors display attractive colors, artwork, and family emblems.

This grand old house captures the essence of the 20th century—experience it for yourself!

Hunt and Fish at Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area

Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area is a park in Edinburgh established in 1942 and is always accessible to the general public.

The area features 4,950 acres of well-maintained wildlife habitat, wetlands, and rushing creeks, allowing visitors to enjoy nature while engaging in outdoor activities.

This Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area allows hunting and fishing, among other high-quality outdoor recreational opportunities.

When you visit this location, you will marvel at its surroundings, which abound in flowers, plants, and wildlife.

Have a grand time bonding with family and friends as you participate in the recreational activities of fishing, hunting, and target shooting at this park.

All rental equipment, such as rifles and pistols, are available for visitors to use during their stay.

Read Books at the Bartholomew County Public Library

Top part of the Bartholomew County Public Library

Stephanie L Sanchez /

The Bartholomew County Public Library is a public library that has served thousands of residents of Bartholomew County since 1899.

It operates primarily in the city of Columbus and the town of Hope.

It is a two-room library with 172,126 volume collections, and over 1,065,291 items are circulated here annually.

This public library contains various books recommended for adults, teens, and children.

It also has the Library of Things, where visitors can explore books about games, music, tech devices, hardware, and other topics.

Books on learning microscopes, telescopes, and science kits, as well as making sewing machines and woodburning pens, are also available in the library.

Bartholomew County Public Library has a digital library where everyone can access eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and stream videos.

This library is more than just a building full of books; it’s a place to foster lifelong learning for people of all ages.

With its many programs and events, this library promises to be part of your journey to discovering new knowledge.

Hone Your Artistry at 411 Gallery

411 Gallery is an art gallery in downtown Columbus under the management of the Columbus Area Arts Council.

This art gallery brings the community closer by offering a wide variety of activities in which everyone can participate.

Whether you’re an artist or someone who loves admiring different art forms, 411 Gallery has something for you!

You’ll find visual arts like sculptures, paintings, and drawings.

Moreover, you can watch performances such as theatre plays, films, poetry readings, and live music.

See Historical Artifacts at the Yellow Trail Museum

The modest town of Hope, described by locals as a “surprising little town,” welcomes tourists to its local museum, the Yellow Trail Museum.

This museum is in the northwest corner of Town Square and displays collections of artifacts contributed by Hope residents.

Inside this museum is a permanent exhibit called “Living History,” which will transport you to the town’s past and present.

Among the museum’s featured exhibits are the Cloud Family Wagon, Interactive Model from the 1930s to 1940s built by Ikea Wasson, Soda Fountain, New Timeline Wallpaper, and many more.

Yellow Trail Museum also offers a research center that houses written collections such as Local Family History Genealogies, Genealogy Reference Books, Record Books, Documents, Magazines, and many more.

Roam the Bartholomew County Courthouse

Exterior of the Bartholomew County Courthouse

Roberto Galan /

The Bartholomew County Courthouse, known as “the finest in the West,” is a historical landmark in Columbus built in 1874.

Indiana architect Isaac Hodgson designed this three-story building, part of the Columbus Historic District.

Visitors will leave in awe of the building’s second-empire French architectural style, which features a mansard roof, a corinthian portico, corner pavilions, and red-brick walls with limestone trim.

Facade of the Bartholomew County Courthouse

carroteater /

The stunning Bartholomew County Courthouse was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The 154-foot-tall level 6 clock tower and the eye-catching six-inch thick 1875 clock are two features that make it a spectacular sight.

Experience this picturesque building for yourself today!

Fly a Kite at Clifford Park

Clifford Park is one of the newest parks owned by Bartholomew County.

It is located in the small town of Clifford.

This park was once the site of an old Clifford Elementary school, making it one of the attractions most children visit.

Clifford Park features playgrounds, trails, a picnic shelter, half a basketball court, and an informal soccer field.

With its wide field, the park is also ideal for kite-flying, especially on windy days.

Having few amenities will make you think this park is only intended for youngsters, but it’s also a great place to spend time with friends and family.

Hit the Links at Otter Creek Golf Course

Otter Creek Golf Course is a golf course in Columbus established in 1964.

It is known as the home to 26 Indiana Amateur Championships.

British American golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr designed this golf course.

He established an original 18-hole layout that blends in with the rolling hills of Southern Indiana.

Otter Creek offers a variety of amenities, such as a practice area where you can improve your golfing strategy, a pro shop to buy golf gear and apparel, and a top-notch driving range.

The historic clubhouse, which modernist architect Harry Weese built, now houses a restaurant where guests can taste various tasty dishes and refreshing drinks.

This golf course isn’t just a location to play golf but also an ideal venue for special events like birthday parties, wedding receptions, business meetings, and many more.

Otter Creek Golf Course offers visitors a great golfing experience.

It was ranked as one of the top public golf courses in the United States.

See the Majestic Crump Theatre

Exterior of the Crump Theatre

James Kirkikis /

The Crump Theatre is a theater in the heart of Columbus, owned by the Columbus Capital Foundation and part of the Columbus Historic District.

Constructed in 1889, the theater served as Charles Franklin Sparrell’s answer to a longstanding call for an opera house.

Since its establishment, it has hosted various activities, from theatrical performances and county musicals to comedic shows and paranormal explorations.

The theater was renovated several times, notably in 1941, when architect Alden Meranda redesigned it in the Art Moderne style.

Meranda added a two-story vertical marquee with chaser lights.

Despite its permanent closure in 2010, people continued to visit this location to see the magnificent building and some vintage artifacts that remained inside.

The Crump Theatre is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Taste Various Flavors of Ice Cream at Zaharakos

Zaharakos is a charming place in Columbus that will take you back to 1900.

You can taste various flavors of ice cream while exploring the classic American museum.

This attraction was made possible when three Greek brothers named Pete, James, and Pete decided to open a candy store in the city.

Later, it became one of America’s finest ice cream parlors.

Zaharakos offers a wide selection of mouthwatering, homemade premium ice cream flavors, such as vanilla, mint chocolate, cookies, and cream, chocolate, raspberry, and strawberry.

The menu also offers sandwiches, hamburgers made in the style of a diner, fish fillets, salads, french fries, and many more.

Zaharakos also offers collections of preserved artifacts from the 1800s and 1900s.

See soda fountains, syrup dispensers, a soda fountain library, mechanical music, a crystal parlor, and a mechanical music library.

Inside Zaharakos is a shop where you can purchase unique items such as wooden toys, yo-yos, coloring books, coffee mugs, and aprons.

Keep Active at Heflin Park

The park and a campground, often described as hilly and heavily forested, are in Edinburgh.

The 35-acre Heflin Park is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a place to hike, have a picnic with your loved ones, and play different sports.

This park has shelters, picnic tables, a barbeque area, drinking fountains, a fishing area, and restrooms.

It also has playgrounds for kids, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a softball field, horseshoe courts, campgrounds, and a walking trail.

Heflin Park is a well-kept pet-friendly park that has a peaceful ambiance.

It offers the opportunity to see wildlife and animals, so visit this place when you’re in town.

Enjoy the Stunning Scenery at Mill Race Park

A covered bridge at Mill Race Park

PhotoTrippingAmerica /

Mill Race Park is an 85-acre city park located in downtown Columbus.

People thought the confluence of the Flat Rock and Driftwood rivers formed it.

Landscape Management named this park one of the Top 100 parks regarding reputation, design, and accessibility.

Designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and structured by Stanley Saitowitz, the park features a gorgeous setting with an 84-foot observation tower, two fishing lakes, and a covered bridge.

The grounds of Mill Race Park

Stickman42, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from these, visitors to this park could enjoy various amenities such as people trails, picnic shelters, basketball courts, a playground, and an amphitheater used for events such as concerts.

Once an industrial area, Mill Race Park is one of the best attractions.

It offers recreational activities and a lovely setting that you will undoubtedly enjoy.

A dog at Mill Race Park

Elizabeth Nicodemus, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Test Your Puzzle-Solving Skills at Escape 812

Escape 812 is one of the tourist attractions in the city of Columbus that will put your puzzle-solving skills to the test.

This attraction is in a historic building on Franklin Street.

It offers escape games with 175 brain-twisting puzzles that you, including your family and friends, will undoubtedly enjoy.

About four to eight members are free to enter any room they want.

Once inside, they are locked for 60 minutes with only clues and puzzles to help them escape.

Escape 812 has two rooms.

One is Granny’s Basement, which tells the story of a Granny who has developed a gambling addiction and is about to lose everything.

Your group’s task is to find Granny’s golden ice cube recipe and escape the room.

The second room is Dr. Evilquirk’s Science Lab.

You will be trapped in a room with other people, one of whom is in danger as the doctor poisoned one of you.

Your group’s task is to find the antidote and the poisoned person.

Escape 812 is excellent for thrills and mental exercise.

Spend Time with Your Loved Ones at Grammer Park

Grammer Park is one of the parks in Grammer.

This park had been donated by the Bartholomew County School Corporation and is also the former location of the Grammer school building.

People frequently visit this park to bond with their family and friends, as it has a picnic shelter and playgrounds that they can use.

It also has various sports amenities in an open area, such as a soccer field and a basketball court, which visitors are welcome to use.

If you’re seeking a tranquil refuge or an escape route from your everyday life, Grammer Park should be at the top of your list!

Check Out Public Art at the Commons

Exterior of the Commons

James Kirkikis /

The Commons is a playground, event venue, and community resource owned by the city of Columbus and run by the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department and the Commons Board.

This facility was built in 1973 by the Koetter Kim firm, who based their design on the work of an architect named Cesar Pelli.

The James A. Henderson Playground at the Commons is an indoor playground for kids that features two-story Luckey Climbers, tunnels, slides, and amenities for toddlers, preschool, and school age.

Interior of the Commons

Nagel Photography /

The Commons also has public art, such as Chaos I, a 30-foot-high kinetic sculpture by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, the Red C by Bernar Venet, and the steel sculpture Flamenco by Ruth Aizuss Migdal.

The Commons also has a staging area, modern event spaces, and various dining options.

It is also used for special events in the county.

A sculpture in front of the Commons

James Kirkikis /

Final Thoughts

Bartholomew County honors its history by preserving historical buildings and artifacts and recognizing those who have made it what it is today.

From heritage parks to an entertainment facility that divulges the stories of its citizens, this county is proud of where they come from and widely showcases its culture.

Explore the best things to do in Bartholomew County, Indiana!

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