Home to popular TV show Parks and Recreation, the Indy 500, former presidents Harrison and Lincoln, and some incredible natural landmarks, Indiana is a must-visit state on anyone's USA bucket list. Indiana means 'Land of the Indians' as it was originally part of the Northwest Territories. Residents of Indiana are called Hoosiers, although it is unclear as to why that is. Many believe it was once a term used for people who lived in the forests as woodsmen.
As well as significant historical landmarks, Indiana is home to some breathtaking natural landmarks. The South Shore of Lake Michigan is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike to spend some time in a diverse natural landscape of tranquil waters, dessert-like dunes and marshy swampland. There are numerous national parks in the state which make for pleasant hikes and camping stays.
INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore stretches for 15 miles (24km) along the southern edge of Lake Michigan. The park itself covers 15000 acres (6070 ha) and features more than 50 miles (80km) of hiking trails. The park's famous dunes are formed from ancient glacial sand that the waters and wind had manoeuvred into tall dunes, some of which are 250ft (60m) high. The dunes are particularly popular with bird watchers as migrating birds frequent the parkland. More than 350 species of birds live or migrate to the dunes, including Sandhill Cranes and hawks.
THE QUILT GARDENS. The Quilt Gardens in Elkhart County are a seasonal wonder and must-visit landmark when in Indiana. The Quilt Gardens traditionally run from May to September and feature a combination of artwork, quilting and gardening to create a spectacular series of vibrant and gigantic floral murals. Each garden is designed around a unique pattern and story significant to its location and community. The 16 gardens are filled yearly with more than 1 million flowering plants. It takes more than 200 volunteers, approximately 2000 hours, to plant the blooms in intricate patterns.
JUG ROCK. An unusual natural landmark in Indiana is Jug Rock. The rock is a freestanding table rock formation surrounded by woodland and was given its name because it resembles a jug. It is the largest freestanding rock formation east of the Mississippi River which flows close by. The rock is famous within the local community and is even the school mascot of a local high school.
LAVENDER LANE. A hidden yet magical location in Indiana is the Lavender Lane lavender farm. The farm grows 21 different species of lavender, totalling more than 700 plants. The farm offers visitors the opportunity to walk through the purple lanes surrounded by the comforting scent of lavender floating on the wind. Lavender Lane sells its lavender as fresh cut or dried and in several products such as teas, honey, and soothing natural sleep aids.