West Lafayette sits directly on the eastern banks of the Wabash River, and its sister city, Lafayette, is spread just across the waterway.
This city in Wabash Township, Tippecanoe County, boasts many points of interest in and around its 13.82-square-mile riverfront location.
The establishment of Purdue University has much to do with the incorporation of West Lafayette in 1888.
Now ranked among the top public universities in the U.S., Purdue set up its main campus in the town of Chauncey in 1869.
Following the university’s growth, Chauncey has renamed West Lafayette and incorporated two other suburban towns—Kingston and Oakwood—into the new city.
It wasn’t just Purdue University, though, which has brought allure to visitors of West Lafayette.
Learn more about this city's attractions through this list of the best things to do in West Lafayette.
Appreciate the Arts at Purdue University
Purdue University offers visitors of West Lafayette venues for art appreciation and enjoyment.
The Pao (Yue-Kong) Hall of Visual and Performing Arts on West Wood Street is one event-centric destination for various art exhibits and performances.
Over the course of a year, the Purdue Galleries here feature rotating art exhibits featuring international, national, and local artists.
There are two galleries at Pao Hall, both of which also hold permanent exhibits.
Another art gallery is at Purdue’s Stewart Center on Memorial Mall Drive.
This hall is also home to the Loeb Playhouse, an auditorium popular for its musical and cultural shows.
Most theatrical performances here are homegrown productions of the university, notably in the country’s top 10 for theater education.
For more events on the performing arts, check out the schedule at Purdue’s Elliott Hall of Music on 3rd Street.
Join the Fun at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater
Located on North River Road (State Route 43), the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater was built near the Wabash River.
This venue for outdoor events can sit an audience of about 1,500 people and is the centerpiece of a 166-acre park.
The amphitheater was originally intended as the home of the Battle of Tippecanoe Outdoor Drama, but it was repurposed when the production folded up in 1991.
The venue now hosts several regular events in West Lafayette, such as the “Annual Party at the Park.”
This event is typically held around mid-August, featuring free food and games for visitors.
The amphitheater also hosts the annual musical concert, “Field Day,” held sometime in July, with several bands in its lineup.
The amphitheater’s park grounds include soccer fields, open turf grass areas, and hiking and biking trails.
Another West Lafayette attraction is about three miles northeast of the amphitheater: the 96-acre Tippecanoe Battlefield Park.
Another local point of interest, the Tecumseh Trail Historical Marker, is within walking distance southwest of the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater.
Take a Stroll at Tapawingo Park
Approximately 20 acres in size, the Tapawingo Park does justice to its name, which means “place of joy” among the Miami Native Americans.
The visitors of this park off Tapawingo Drive can enjoy a refreshing walk across the brick-paved John Myers Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Wabash River.
This bridge features a plaza with a fountain and directly links West Lafayette to the Main Street downtown area of its sister city Lafayette.
In addition, the park features the Brown Street Overlook on its north end, where you can enjoy scenic views of the river and the Lafayette skyline across it.
The park is also home to the Riverside Skating Center, a 120×70-foot oval open from late November to early March.
This facility provides rental lockers, public restrooms, and a food/drink vending area.
Other attractions in the Tapawingo Park include a playground for kids aged two to 12 and access to the Wabash Heritage Trail, which cuts through it.
Paddle on the Wabash River
West Lafayette provides a boat ramp at Mascouten Park on North River Road for boating access to the Wabash River.
This park, which also features picnic facilities, spreads over 15 acres.
Mascouten Park is named after one of the Woodland tribes that inhabited Indiana, whose name means people of the prairie.
Wabash River offers more than 30 miles of paddling, providing opportunities to immerse in beautiful countryside sceneries and historic sites.
Many paddlers also join the summer Wabash Riverfest which starts from the city of Lafayette’s Davis Ferry Park upriver and winds up at Tapawingo Park downriver in West Lafayette.
Discover a Free Treat at the Lilly Nature Center
Lilly Nature Center is tucked north of Lindberg Road amid lush woodlands and a former farm.
This charming facility is open and free for the public to enjoy and learn about West Lafayette’s natural environment.
The facility offers exhibits and programs on natural history.
Lilly Nature Center also has a birdwatching area with large glass windows providing views of its bird feeders in the embrace of the nearby forest.
This feature enables visitors, especially children, to relish the natural environment, even if it’s too cold to venture outside.
Take the Family to the West Lafayette Municipal Pool
Family fun awaits you at the West Lafayette Municipal Pool behind Happy Hollow School off Kingston Drive and Salisbury Street.
This facility provides three heated pools, each with a unique design for visitors to enjoy.
These features include a baby pool less than a foot deep and a kids’ intermediate pool with a depth of 1.5–3 feet.
Visitors also have a choice in the large pool that's 3.5–12.5 feet deep, featuring two low diving boards and supervising lifeguards.
Every Friday and Saturday, the West Lafayette Municipal Pool features inflatable obstacle courses Wibit in its large pool.
Other features of this facility include three shade structures, picnic areas, and lessons on swimming and diving.
Hike and Picnic at Happy Hollow Park
Explore one of the largest parks in West Lafayette with a visit to Happy Hollow Park.
This park spreads over about 81 acres on the west flank of Happy Hollow Road.
You can hike along its Trolley Line Trail and walk more miles on its footpaths traversing Rose, Garden, and Salisbury Streets.
Happy Hollow Park provides five picnic shelters with tables and a grill.
It also has a volleyball facility, a dog park, and two playgrounds for kids ages two to five and five to 12.
Explore Neil Armstrong Hall in Purdue’s College of Engineering
The flagship of Purdue’s College of Engineering, Neil Armstrong Hall, is on the corner of Northwestern and Stadium Avenues.
It features a soaring atrium highlighting Purdue’s engineering achievements, including the first steps on the moon by its alumni Neil Armstrong.
A statue of Neil Armstrong is also located here as a part of the West Lafayette Public Art Trail.
The city’s public art trail also notably celebrates famous aviatrix Emelia Earhart who served as a Purdue counselor in the 1930s.
Earhart’s eight-foot statue holding a propeller stands outside the Purdue dorm and dining court bearing her name on 1st Street.
Pick a Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex
Purdue University runs the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, accessible from Cherry Lane.
This complex features two exciting 18-hole golf courses, one of which is the par 72 Ackerman-Allen Course.
This layout with tree-lined fairways and rolling hills has five sets of tees with the forward placements playing at 5,300 yards.
Its farthest championship tees play at more than 7,500 yards.
The other layout in the complex also plays at par 72 and offers a choice from five tee placements.
Other Purdue University sports facilities are located along the Cherry Lane corridor of the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, including ballfields, tennis courts, and a cross-country race course.
Test Your Shooting Skills at Purdue Trap and Skeet Club
The Purdue Trap and Skeet shooting facilities on South River Road are open to the general public.
This official club of Purdue University provides five stations on its trap shooting range where you can fire 25 shots from 15 yards per game.
The Purdue Trap and Skeet Club also offers a skeet field in a semi-circle with eight shooting stations where you can shoot at two or four targets.
Visitors of these facilities can shoot recreationally or competitively in events that the club hosts.
For non-shooters, Purdue’s Slayter Hill Disc Golf Course, a short distance up north on West Stadium Avenue, offers an alternative.
Shop at the West Lafayette Farmers' Market
Over 50 vendors set up shop at the West Lafayette Farmers' Market held Wednesdays from May to October at Cumberland Park on Salisbury Street.
Local vineyards serve wine by the glass in this market, where fresh produce, homemade food, and handicraft are mainstays.
The selection of goods changes weekly, so there’s always something new in this farmers’ market which opens around mid-afternoon.
Arriving early here is ideal, as it allows you to enjoy the 14-acre Cumberland Park facilities, such as ballfields, footpaths, and nature preserve.
Triple XXX Family Restaurant
The Triple XXX Family Restaurant is an inviting old-school diner on a hill in Chauncey Village.
Serving customers since 1929, this restaurant on North Salisbury Street draws locals and visitors with its all-day breakfast.
Its quintessential servings include soda-fountain treats like burgers and root beer.
A stop at this restaurant will take you to its winding countertop, where you can order its All-American Duane Purvis burger.
Enjoy fries and milkshakes with your Breakfast Special when you dine at Triple XXX Family Restaurant.
Watch a Boilermakers’ Match at Ross-Ade Stadium
The venerable Ross-Ade Stadium is home to the Purdue University Boilermakers football team.
This stadium is on John R. Wooden Drive at the northern edge of the campus and can accommodate more than 60,000 football fans.
The facility takes pride in its Bermuda grass turf and 68×31 feet Daktronics video board.
Sports action can be as exciting as the nearby Mackey Arena, where the men’s and women’s Boilermakers basketball squad play.
Ross-Ade Stadium has a total capacity of nearly 15,000 spectators.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Visit the Wah-ba-shik-a Nature Center
The Wah-ba-shik-a Nature Center is located on Battle Ground Avenue off North 9th Street in the town of Battle Ground, a 13-minute drive from West Lafayette.
It's a quaint facility amid the lush woodlands near Burnett Creek just north of the Tippecanoe Battlefield Park.
The Wah-ba-shik-a Nature Center features small animal taxidermy displays and a wildlife observation window where sightings of eagles are common.
Friendly community volunteers man the nature center to make sure that visitors can enjoy the most in the facility.
You can have a picnic on the nature center’s grounds and easily access the trailhead of the 13-mile Wabash Heritage Trail from here.
In addition, a souvenir store is located in the nearby Tippecanoe Battlefield & Museum, where you can buy collectible replicas of historic items and clothing.
Listen to Traditional Music at Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering
Visit West Lafayette sometime in late June to enjoy listening to traditional music in the three-day festival “Indiana Fiddlers' Gathering.”
A non-profit eponymous with this festival has been holding it since the summer of 1972 at Battle Ground Avenue off North 9th Street near the historic Battlefield Park.
The music genres featured in this festival include Bluegrass, Creole, Irish, Metis, Mexican folk fiddle, and Old-Time.
This festival draws thousands from across the country, including musicians and fans of traditional music.
Besides its regular musical performances, Indiana Fiddlers' Gathering also features improvised jam sessions, workshops, and an open stage.
The many things to do in West Lafayette easily provide an exciting and enlightening experience.
Visits to the various points of interest at Purdue University and stops in city parks are more than enough for a fulfilling trip on the city’s side of the Wabash River.
Try these best things to do in West Lafayette, Indiana, to make the most of your trip!