Near Indianapolis, this county in Indiana is a great Midwest road trip destination. We have a few ideas of things to do in Hendricks County during a visit. ”
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Driving along I-70, I caught a glimpse of the sun as it began to rise over the horizon. I’d been on the road for over an hour, excited to reach my destination in Hendricks County, Indiana.
This was the first solo trip I’d taken since my husband had suffered life-threatening injuries after tumbling off a ladder in May.
I was a mix of nerves. Excited to attend a writing workshop on one hand and on the other, feeling a bit nervous and guilty to leave my husband to fend for himself at home even if our grown kids would be checking in with him in my absence.
I reconciled my feelings by opting to leave early on the final morning. I needn’t have bothered. To my relief, my husband was alive and well upon my arrival home, albeit a bit bored, and happy to see me.
As soon as I arrived in Hendricks County, I knew this was a destination I needed to return to. Everything about it spoke to me as a traveler. From the historic diner where we grabbed lunch to the winery where I sampled award-winning wines (and bought some to take home), to the orchard whose gift shop is housed in a Civil War-era barn.
Everyone I met was so friendly, I felt as though I’d returned home and was being welcomed by long-time friends.
Where is Hendricks County, Indiana?
You’ll find Hendricks County bordering Indianapolis with busy suburb-like communities and a mix of small, rural and historic towns. With light traffic, it took me just over four hours to reach my accommodations at Natural Valley Ranch from my home in Northcentral Ohio.
Where to Stay in Hendricks County
I stayed in the cabin at Natural Valley Ranch during the writers retreat. The cabin features six bedrooms, five and a half baths and large open spaces for a group of 20 to spread out. Peering out the windows at the wooded setting and three-acre lake, I couldn’t help but think how fun it would be to stay and play here with my husband and grown kids.
With abundant space to spread out during the retreat and work, my favorite spot was the wrap-around front porch. From this vantage point, I could enjoy a light breeze, a view of the sun rising on the lake and catch a glimpse of the resident potbelly pig as he freely roamed the property.
For nature and animal lovers, the best part of the property may not even be the luxurious cabin, but that the ranch serves as an equestrian center. While I left before the trail rides began, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to stop and meet the animals in the on-site petting zoo that is accessible to guests.
Natural Valley Ranch provides an ideal getaway location for those seeking relaxation and solitude while conveniently a short drive from many of the top Hendricks County attractions.
Natural Valley Ranch can be rented via VRBO. You can find out more and view the listing here.
Unique Things to Do in Hendricks County, Indiana
The Oasis Diner
405 West Main Street Plainfield, IN
Our visit began at the Oasis Diner in Plainfield. Known as having one of the best tenderloins in Indiana, this historic 1954 diner is the only remaining diner on Indiana’s portion of the National Road. In addition to plate-size tenderloins, you’ll find menu options that include entrees named after major cities located along the National Road, hand-crafted soda (you must try the Butterscotch Root beer) and fresh baked goods.
No need to worry about portion sizes because, after dining, you can hop on Plainfield’s impressive trail system right beside the diner to walk off some of the calories you’ve consumed.
Hot Blown Glass
My group opted to skip the walk and instead headed to Hot Blown Glass, where former Buckeye and glass artist, Lisa Pelo, opened up her private studio so we could learn to make glass pumpkins.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that even though I do consider myself a creative person, I had little faith that my pumpkin would even resemble one.
Lisa walked me through the process than patiently assisted me as I made my own piece. And when I say assist, I don’t mean that she took over and made the piece for me.
Nope. Not Lisa. She walked me through every step, so the final piece was probably 90% created completely by my own hand. And believe it or not, my piece was recognizable and definitely something to be proud of.
In addition to private lessons, Lisa also hosts community events where people can learn about the process and make their own glass-pulled flowers. You can commission Lisa to make custom pieces and her artwork can be purchased at these retail stores throughout Indiana.
Country Heritage Winery
6291 Cambridge Way Plainfield, IN
Our next stop led us to Country Heritage Winery for a tasting. Country Heritage offers two complimentary wine tastings and each additional tasting is $1 each. The Nashville and Plainfield locations are tasting rooms while the vineyard can be found in LaOtto. Country Heritage boasts more than two dozen award-winning wines, including Indiana Wine of the Year.
I’m not a wine connoisseur, but I did enjoy the wines I tasted and even bought a couple of bottles to enjoy at home during my next wine night, including the Fall Harvest wine and Ice Age White dessert wine which was selected as the Gold Medal 2019 Indy International Wine Competition.
The winery is comfortable with plenty of space indoor and out to spread out and get comfortable during special events that are hosted weekly at each location. You can view a calendar of events on their events page.
Beasley’s Orchard & Old Barn Market
2304 E Main St, Danville, IN
My fall visit to this family-owned and operated orchard consisted of a tour through the Civil-War era barn, learning about the apple picking and manufacturing process, taking a hayride through the pumpkin patch and an unforgettable round of shooting Sasquatch with the apple cannons.
I couldn’t help but think how much fun families must have when they visit and it brought back memories from when my own kids were young.
In December, the barn is transformed into a winter wonderland. Early in the month, visitors can get their photos taken with Santa, purchase fruit baskets, and shop from a selection of locally made products.
78 W Main St, Danville, IN
Perhaps the venue I was most excited to explore in Hendricks County was the Mayberry Café. A couple of years ago, I’d visited Mt. Airy, NC with my mom and dad so when I heard about this destination restaurant and the annual Mayberry in the Midwest festival that has grown out of its popularity, I knew this was an attraction that I would need to revisit with my parent’s.
This unique theme restaurant draws crowds from around the world to sample their down-home cooking while watching re-runs of The Andy Griffith Show playing on the TVs stationed strategically around the dining room. Not only is it a nostalgic step back in time for Baby Boomers and GenXers who may have grown up watching reruns of the popular show, but it’s also a fun stop for families with younger kids who can choose a trinket from the gift shop once they’ve cleaned their plate.
In addition to Andy’s Tenderloin which you can order grilled or breaded, you can order from other menu favorites that include Aunt Bee’s Fried Chicken and Opie’s Prized Catch – Blue Gill or take my word for it and fill up on the deliciously addicting Fried Biscuits served with Apple Butter.
After a good night’s sleep, I awoke to a breakfast of Coffee and Bagels to fuel the writing session.
I enjoyed my coffee on the deck of the cabin while resting my feet on the banister and sipping from a Hendricks County coffee mug that would accompany me home to serve as a reminder to return for another visit with each subsequent use.
For the next few hours, I learned the do’s and don’ts of travel writing from Theresa Goodrich, owner of The Local Tourist and author of two best-selling books who led the workshop offered through the Midwest Travel Network.
We discussed how to use our voice, avoid clichés, the difference between active voice vs. passive voice, using rhythm in writing and so many other things that I need to put into practice.
Bread Basket Café & Bakery
46 South Tennessee St. Danville, IN
After several hours we took a break to enjoy the salads and sandwiches that were provided by The Bread Basket Café and Bakery. I loved hearing the story of the small faith-based business that aims to serve the body and soul through good food and kind service. I found myself wishing that I could stick around longer to visit their bakery, but I’ll add it to my list of things to do on a return visit.
After lunch, I began the trek home to my anxiously awaiting husband while the other participants enjoyed a massage, before venturing out for dinner at Charbono’s and enjoying a visit to Red Curb Comedy Club.
I also missed the horse ride and lunch at the Rusted Silo BBQ which made me a bit sad since I do love a great BBQ.
I may still need to master what I learned during the writers workshop, but I did walk away knowing that Hendricks County is a destination that I must visit again (and again). And next time around, I’ll make sure my husband travels with me so I can relax, eat me some barbeque, explore some of the unique shops and antique stores, stroll through the historic downtowns and visit Who North America- the only store in the U.S. dedicated to Whovians everywhere.
Who would have thought I’d find all this and more in Hendricks County? Are you ready to plan your own visit? Find all the things to do in Hendricks County here.
Have you been to Hendricks County? What should I see and do on my next visit?
© 2019, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.