Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Terre Haute, IN

  • Published 2023/03/15

Nicknamed the Queen City of the Wabash, Terre Haute is one of the biggest cities in Indiana’s Wabash Valley.

The name Terre Haute is actually French for “highland,” as the city is located high above the Wabash River.

Terre Haute is a favorite destination among tourists, especially students and those traveling with families.

Tour the city and fall in love with its excellent museums and heritage houses, parks, and nature centers.

It’s also a great place to go shopping, watch live performances, sample craft beers, and get your adrenaline pumping at a sports match.

Many exciting attractions and activities await you in this bustling city.

Here are the best things to do in Terre Haute, Indiana:

Visit the Sheldon Swope Art Museum

Exterior of Sheldon Swope Art Museum

Colin Pizarek, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Sheldon Swope Art Museum was founded by Michael Sheldon Swope, a famous jeweler and Civil War veteran.

This museum is dedicated to American art and preserving the rich heritage of American art.

Collections by famous artists like Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, and Charles Burchfield are featured here.

It primarily focuses on art forms from the 20th and 21st centuries, featuring works by artists like Eva Hesse, Robert Rauschenberg, and Alexander Calder.

Rotating art exhibits are hosted, wherein local artists like John Laska are also honored.

The museum hosts various educational programs, including summer classes for the youth.

Learn about the Holocaust at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Exhibits at CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Christina Blust from Terre Haute, Indiana, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded by Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, this museum is a reminder of the atrocities faced by children during the Holocaust.

Eva herself, along with her twin sister, Miriam, was one of the subjects used in human experimentation by Dr. Josef Mengele.

The museum tells the story of the Holocaust genocide from a survivor’s perspective.

Tour the Eugene V. Debs Museum

Distant view of Eugene V. Debs Home

Dharbigt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The former home of union leader Eugene V. Debs, this property is located on the Indiana State University campus.

The antique walls and the blue porcelain tile fireplace are among its prominent features.

The mahogany dining and parlor furniture and other small artifacts are also present.

The Eugene V. Debs Museum showcases artifacts and memorabilia dedicated to the life of Eugene V. Debs, including many of his personal collections and his library.

It’s a beautiful two-story home furnished with affluent and outstanding furniture from all over the world, thus making it an architectural marvel.

Have a Beer at Terre Haute Brewing Company

Terre Haute Brewing Company is the oldest brewery in Indiana and the second oldest in the United States of America.

They make some of the tasted beer and have been amazing their customers since 1837.

The beers are all locally produced and always go through a complete quality check to ensure that they retain their original tastes.

Try one of the four core beers, including the velvet cream milk stout, Americana lager, and the stiffy green IPA.

For those interested in learning about the processes of beer making, there are guided tours available here.

Spend a Relaxing Day at Collett Park

Spread over a sprawling 21 acres, this park in downtown Terre Haute is peppered with green trees and lush green lawns.

The park is built on a piece of donated land and has been around since 1883.

Due to its rich history, Collett Park has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.

The pavilion at this park is lovely and set in a Roman theme.

An indoor rental area is available, where locals host various events, like marriages and birthdays.

There’s also a football and soccer field where you can exercise your muscles and play some heated games.

The playground is fun for the kids and has horseshoe pits as well.

Watch a Show at the Indiana Theatre

Night view of Indiana Theater

Jud McCranie, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What makes the Indiana Theatre unique is its atmospheric style of design, which ensures that all the viewers get a great experience.

Designed by famous architect John Eberson, the theater still stands tall since its inception in 1922.

It is set in a 17th-century Spanish theme, and in accordance, there are various colorful motifs and other stylized patterns built onto its walls.

The lobby is stylish and opulent and has a ceiling with colorful frescos.

The theater is also very tech-savvy and uses many new technologies such as the latest sound system and LED lighting.

It’s packed with performances all around the year, so make sure you catch one when you are in town.

Shop at Haute City Center

This vast mall and shopping center was earlier called the Honey Creek Mall.

Haute City Center has many famous brands and stores where you can shop till you drop.

These include brands like J.C. Penney, Carson’s, Sears, and Macy’s.

After shopping, dine at one of the many restaurants or cafes here.

You can also check out the bars if you’re out with friends.

Attend an Event at the Terre Haute Action Track

A racing car at Terre Haute Action Track

john j. klaiber jr /

A half-mile dirt track is where the action takes place at the Terre Haute Action Track.

One of the hot favorites among adventure enthusiasts, the action track is located at the Wabash Valley fairgrounds and hosts various events throughout the year.

Some special events include the silver crown events, sprint car events, and the annual event of the Automobile Club midget car.

A blue muddy car racing the wind at Terre Haute Action Track

Carey Akin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s fun to watch from the side stands as the cars race along the dirt track leading to an exciting finale.

There are various amenities included as well, including parking spaces, camping areas, tents, and other seating areas.

Run the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course

Cross country courses are exciting events to join with your family or friends.

Spread over 240 acres, the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course was specially built for popular competitions.

The venue hosts many championships meets throughout the year.

Since the track is built on land that initially housed a coal mine, the area is vast, and the terrain is good.

The entire track is 1.8 miles long, with various internal loops.

This huge ground is the home turf of the Indiana State University cross country team.

Try attending one of the competitions if you are in town when they are held.

See a Concert at Hatfield Hall

Gorgeous view of Hatfield Hall

User:Yipdw~commonswiki, RHIT Millennium Flame Hatfield Hall, CC BY-SA 2.0

Hatfield Hall is one of the prime halls at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology campus.

It is very famous in Terre Haute and hosts many world-class performing artists.

The venue is a must-visit if you love watching concerts, as various musicals and dance recital performances are conducted here.

It is primarily known for the student ensembles performed here and is very popular among the youth.

Various performers book it throughout the year, and you can secure seats for several events by booking tickets in advance.

The ranges include classical to up-and-coming genres focusing on New Age problems and themes.

World-class artists and other emerging local artists are also encouraged to showcase their works here.

Pray at St. Benedict Catholic Church

Interior of St. Benedict Catholic Church

Nheyob, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1864, St. Benedict Catholic Church was initially dedicated to St. Benedict and was founded at the end of the war.

In 1872, the church was rebuilt into a bigger premise and was handled by the Franciscans.

It was redesigned by the architect Adolph Druiding and set in a Roman theme.

Exterior of St. Benedict Catholic Church

Nheyob, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The church itself is an architectural marvel since it is built in the form of a crucifix and has two massive towers.

A vast nave alongside a foot transept also adorns this church.

There are three bells inside the church dedicated to St. Benedict, St. Francis, and the Blessed Virgin.

Watch a Football Match at Memorial Stadium

The most remarkable feature of this vast stadium is its horseshoe-shaped grandstand that can house as many as 16,000 visitors at a time.

Memorial Stadium is the home turf of the Indiana State Sycamores professional football team.

The venue hosts many competitions and championship events throughout the year.

An arch built at the facility’s entrance, dedicated to the lives lost during the First World War, is one of the last reminders of the old stadium since it was rebuilt and renovated.

Baseball games, soccer matches, and Fourth of July celebrations used to be conducted on its lush green lawns.

Today, it hosts only football matches.

Sample Italian Cuisine at Piloni’s Italian Restaurant

Italian cuisine is not just about pasta or wood-fired pizzas.

It boasts many other beautiful and traditional dishes that you should try at least once in your life.

Piloni’s Italian Restaurant is a family-owned business that brings you authentic Italian flavors.

The menu is exclusive and curated by the chefs, using recipes passed down for generations.

Some of the significant features of the menu are the seafood and meat, along with the salad.

There is also the typical pizza, and the sauces are all homemade to serve you an authentic taste.

Pair it up with a cocktail or a craft beer from the long list of cocktails available.

Golf at Deming Park

Disc golf at Deming Park

Lora Taylor /

Deming Park is one of the few parks in Terre Haute with a golfing course.

Most visitors love playing golf at the 18-hole course located here.

Spread over a vast area, it also features various adult sporting courts that you can enjoy.

There’s also a great place to have fun with kids, especially younger ones.

Since the play areas are restricted to different age groups, the kids can play without worries.

There is also a seasonal train ride available.

Another feature is the swimming pool, where you can have a lazy day by yourself.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Grand Traverse Pie Company

A favorite among the locals, this quaint pie company sells fresh pies that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

They offer savory pies, too.

The cafe also serves various menu items like muffins, sandwiches, salads, and egg dishes.

Pair any of these with an espresso or some freshly brewed coffee, and you’re good to go.

Teach Your Kids about Nature at Dobbs Park Nature Center

There’s a small local museum situated inside Dobbs Park Nature Center, where you can teach your kids about nature and its incredible impact on human life.

The hiking and mountain biking trails are fantastic and provide a great way to enjoy outdoor fun.

You can also walk among the tall trees and find some peace with nature.

Pack a picnic lunch, and find a nice shady spot to lay out a blanket.

There’s also a cute little pond inside the park where you can go fishing.

See the Loyal Pup Stiffy Green the Bulldog

The statue of Indiana’s most adored bulldog, Stiffy Green, honors him.

It may be seen at the museum of the Vigo County Historical Society.

According to lore, Stiffy Green refused to leave the side of his owner’s side when he died in 1921 and fleed away to return to Highland Lawn Cemetery.

He died on the mausoleum steps and was buried with his master in the grave.

Once Stiffy’s tomb was vandalized, he was transferred to the Historical Society, where he may be seen by the public.

Grab a Good Read at Vigo County Public Library

This public library was established in 1882.

In this library, you’ll find a broad range of fiction and nonfiction books, periodicals, newspapers, and other scholarly resources.

Among the library’s many offerings are storytimes for kids, computer labs open to the general public, and interlibrary loans.

Access to thousands of titles is available to all members, regardless of their subscription to the service.

During the legislative session, the library organizes ‘cracker-barrel’ talks with state senators and representatives, as well as community gatherings.

Pay a Visit to Terre Haute Masonic Temple

Exterior of the Masonic Temple in Terre Haute

Kylie Clark/

At Indiana State University, the Terre Haute Masonic Temple, a superbly maintained Classical Revival-style Masonic structure, was completed in 1916.

One of the building’s four stories is dedicated to a vast ballroom and parlor, an executive boardroom and offices, and a fully-stocked library.

Interior of Terre Haute Masonic Temple

Jordan.bayles, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Blue Lodge and the Order of the Eastern Star have their own section on the second level, including three lodge rooms and a lounge.

However, the Council of Royal & Secret Masters, the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and the Commandery of the Knights Templar occupy the third level.

Fourth-floor amenities include a choir loft and organ storage.

Stained glasses at Terre Haute Masonic Temple

Jordan.bayles, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catch a Musical at Crossroads Repertory Theatre

Located in Terre Haute, Indiana, the Crossroads Repertory Theatre is a non-profit community theater.

In a single year, the company puts on five mainstage plays and musicals and six Oakley Stage performances for a more intimate audience.

The ISU Summer Theatre was founded in 1965 and started staging plays that summer.

It has attracted graduate students who want to obtain significant experience and be a part of high-quality theatrical production.

Produced and performed by the theater include well-known plays and up-and-coming performances by rising performers.

Experience Irish Cuisine and Beer at Sonka Irish Pub

Sonka Irish Pub is a long-standing neighborhood bar located at the northwest intersection of Wabash Avenue and 14th Street in Chicago, Illinois.

It offers traditional Irish meals and artisan beers on tap and in bottles.

Some of the most popular items on the menu include a variety of Irish-inspired meals with American influences, such as cheese boards and fish and chips, and more traditional fare like hamburgers and fries.

The complete bar has a large variety of craft beers on tap and in bottles, a wide selection of wines from around the globe, and traditional cocktails crafted with imported spirits.

It is open for breakfast, lunch, and supper every day.

Visit the Heirloom Garden at Native American Museum

Located within Dobbs Memorial Park, Native American Museum is an ethnographic museum detailing the history of the native people within the area.

It houses a variety of memorabilia, plaques, and other artifacts within seasonal and rotating exhibits.

It’s also the only one of its kind within Terre Haute.

While most museums have work in a separate city department, this one relies on the city park it sits on.

Despite its small size, it has an accompanying library and an heirloom garden worth checking out.

Native American Museum is on Poplar Street if you’re interested in visiting.

Sift through Coca-Cola Memorabilia at Vigo County Historical Museum

Your Terre Haute historical excursion is not complete without a drop by Vigo County Historical Museum.

Spanning 34,000 square feet, this museum takes you back centuries during Vigo County’s incorporation and major events.

From preserved historic transportation devices and true-to-life statues, its archival collection is both diverse and informative.

Sift through documents, newspaper articles, and high school yearbooks at the museum’s Education and Research Center.

But one of its famous exhibits revolves around the iconic Coca-Cola bottle history.

Learn about how one Terre Haute company won against many national competitors to design the first Coca-Cola bottle.

The museum also comes with an event space that seats up to 100 people.

Vigo County Historical Museum is on Wabash Avenue.

Join Courses and Events at Griffin Bike Park

Griffin Bike Park is a must-visit for those looking to have a fun time within Terre Haute’s wooded areas.

This 22-mile trail follows a progression-based route, ideal not only for bikers but also for adventurous hikers.

Its technical features offer pullouts, enhanced terrain, and designated trail loops for bikers of all skill levels.

During major bike competitions, these trails transform into critical passing zones with areas for first aid stations.

Pass by scenic overlooks of lakes at the 1.5-mile Stryker Lake Loop Trail.

Or choose to see the park for its entirety when you pass by Freedom Loop Trail and its 4.5-mile route.

Griffin Bike Park is on the outskirts of Terre Haute right along Bono Road.

Bond with the Whole Family at Bogey’s Family Fun Center

Looking for an indoor facility to spend time with your whole family?

Bogey’s Family Fun Center is your best bet.

This entertainment facility houses both indoor and outdoor attractions for everyone of all ages.

If car racing is your family’s go-to game, try out the go-kart tracks and the bumper cars course.

Take in the refreshing Terre Haute air while you try to hit a hole-in-one at the center’s mini-golf course.

There’s also an arcade center, a site for water wars, and batting cages.

Bogey’s Family Fun Center is on Union Road, ready to offer you a day’s worth of fun.

Follow the Coca-Cola Trail All Over Terre Haute

Not everyone knows that one of Terre Haute’s remarkable achievements is being the birthplace of the original Coca-Cola bottle.

And if you didn’t know, the Coca-Cola Trail can remind you of this fact.

This trail follows 39 6-foot-tall Coca-Cola bottle sculptures in a dizzying array of painted designs.

On Walnut Street, the Bill Wolfe-designed sculpture tells of Abraham Lincoln’s origins in a series of portraits.

On North 7th Street, there are autumn-themed and unity-inspired sculptures.

And all throughout the streets of Terre Haute, there are still many bottle pieces within the Coca-Cola Trail for you to uncover.

Make sure you spot all of them!

Final Thoughts

Terre Haute may not be as well-known as other cities in the United States, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing what the city has to offer.

Smaller yet more attractive, Terre Haute is an up-and-coming Midwest tourism destination.

You’ll be astonished by the variety of activities and places to visit at this hidden gem.

See also: Best Restaurants in Terre Haute

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