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Indiana, situated in the Midwest, is known as the 'Crossroads of America', with multiple national highways intersecting within its borders. This makes it easy to travel through the state's scenic stretches of rural land. Northern Indiana is particularly beautiful, bordering Lake Michigan and encompassing the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore with sandy beaches and expanse of wildflowers. Other scenic routes include the lanes of the Amish country in the northeast, the alleys of Wayne County, the historic covered bridges of Parke County, or the picturesque Ohio River byway in the south.
Perhaps because of its long history of settlers and their clashes with Native Americans, or its strength in corn and soybean production, the state's name tends to conjure images of endless farmland and the pastoral lifestyle. In fact, the nickname for Indiana residents, 'Hoosiers', may derive from the pioneers' shout of 'Who's here?' when travellers knocked on remote cabin doors. The origin remains a subject of debate, but Hoosiers are proud of the nickname regardless.
The Hoosier state is a powerhouse in the sports world. It is home to the Indianapolis 500, one of the world's premier racing events, and to the Indianapolis Colts, one of the most competitive teams in the NFL. And, of course there is Indiana basketball, immortalized in the film 'Hoosiers', which approaches a religion. The state has a professional NBA team, the Indiana Pacers, but Hoosiers are equally enthusiastic about college basketball, including the Indiana University team. In education, too, Indiana is at the forefront. Top institutions like the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University and DePauw University, and their sports teams, are located here.
The Indianapolis 500 takes place each May, but the iconic Speedway remains an exciting attraction all year round. In addition to hosting other racing events, including motorcycle racing, it is the home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, which has a huge collection of memorabilia and racing, classic and antique cars, as well as Brickyard Crossing, a Pete Dye-designed golf course with four holes inside the raceway oval. Visitors can explore the museum, or join a tour of the entire grounds. Buses offer the chance to take a lap on the track, and the Indy Racing Experience allows people to experience the track as a passenger in a real Indy racing car.
Americans follow university athletics with as much passion as they do professional sports. The Hall of Champions' 25,000-square-feet of exhibit space capture the traditions, historic moments, student athletes, and coaches of the 23 sports administered by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and 88 national championships. The museum has two levels of exhibits and offers interactive areas for visitors to compete both digitally and hands-on. It even has a 1930s retro basketball gymnasium. The Campus Corner gift shop offers all the NCAA logo merchandise a college sports fan could imagine. Though perhaps not an exciting attraction for the uninitiated, fans of American college sport will be enthralled by the NCAA Hall of Champions.
The only museum of its kind in the Midwest, the Eiteljorg Museum contains one of the best Native American and Western art collections in the world. Designed to encourage appreciation and understanding of the cultures of the indigenous peoples of North America, the museum showcases work by contemporary artists like N.C. Wyeth and Georgia O'Keeffe. It also displays art and artefacts including pottery, woodcarvings and apparel, of the Delaware, Miami, Potawatomi and many other Native American cultures. A great attraction for families visiting Indianapolis, the museum also has a number of interactive exhibits children will love, including a stagecoach, totem pole, and wigwam. In addition, a number of events are hosted throughout the year, including storytelling on Saturdays, outdoor markets and concerts, and social dances.
Indianapolis has a humid subtropical climate, experiencing hot, humid summers (June to August) with average temperatures ranging from 64°F (18°C) to 89°F (32°C). Winters are cold, dipping down to 24°F (-4°C) in January, and occasionally getting as cold as -15°F (-26°C), although this is rare. Snowfall is unpredictable; while some years receive almost no snow, occasional blizzards can bring as much as 19 inches (48cm) in a 24-hour period. Spring is the wettest time of year, with May receiving up to 12.5 inches (32cm) of rain. The best time of year to visit Indianapolis is late summer and early autumn (August to October).
Indiana generally has cold winters and hot, humid summers with higher temperatures towards the south. Lake Michigan modifies the northern temperatures and also creates higher precipitation than in the rest of the state, with more snowfall in winter. Autumn is a pleasant time to travel to Indiana with lower humidity and sunny skies, while spring is often unstable and has high incidences of thunderstorms and tornadoes.
In the capital, Indianapolis, summers (June to August) see average temperatures ranging between 64°F (18°C) and 89°F (32°C), and the winters (December to February) are cold, with temperatures dipping down to 24°F (-4°C) in January, and occasionally getting as cold as -15°F (-26°C).
The best time to visit Indiana is summer and autumn, between June and October.
Indianapolis' multitude of major highways makes the self-drive option quite convenient. Traffic congestion, however, can be a problem. Public transportation is provided by IndyGo at $1.75 per single ride and $4 per all-day pass. The red and green lines service downtown attractions, hotels, restaurants and shopping and nightlife spots.
Indianapolis is a major Midwestern metropolis, with no end of attractions for curious visitors. A walking tour of the city includes major landmarks such as the Indiana State Capitol building, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Indiana War Memorial, and the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
On pleasant days, Indianapolis has a number of parks and gardens to enjoy, including the White River Gardens, Garfield Park Conservatory, the Oldfields-Lilly Estate, and of course the Indianapolis Zoo.
There are plenty of cultural attractions in Indianapolis, as the city boasts more than a dozen excellent museums. Families will want to visit the Holbomb Observatory and Planetarium and the Children's Museum of Indianapolis; while history buffs can enjoy the Conner Prairie Living History Museum, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
The city also offers a number of art galleries and performing arts venues, and is home to fun summer events like the Indiana State Fair, the Rib America Fest, Bands of America Grand Nationals, and the Indy Fringe Festival.
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