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Indiana the self proclaimed cross roads of America is a state that you must go through in order to go east or west. Many interstates and railroads cross the states and have fueled its economy for over a hundred years. That being said this is a state that is more then a drive through. The northern part of Indiana borders Lake Michigan and is home to stunning sand dunes and great beaches. The center of the state is home to Indianapolis and major city with a great night life and home to the Indy 500 auto race. In the south the scenery changes from flat plains to rolling hills and river valley's that offer cute towns with great bed breakfasts with plenty of country side to explore by foot or horse.
With a total area (land and water) of 94,320 km2, Indiana ranks as the 38th largest state in size. The state has a maximum dimension north to south of 400 kilometres and a maximum east to west dimension of 233 kilometres. The state’s geographic center (39° 53.7’N, 86° 16.0W) is in Marion County. Indiana is a state that stretches from the coast of the Great Lakes to the hills of the Ohio River Valley. The northern part of the state washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan and is mainly a flat topography, home to farm fields. Indiana is bordered on the north by Michigan, on the east by Ohio, and on the west by Illinois, while Lake Michigan borders Indiana on the northwest and the Ohio River separates Indiana from Kentucky on the southThe topography changes south of Indianapolis and becomes undulating hills on top of limestone deposits. The limestone mined from this area went all over the country ranging from Chicago to Washington, D.C.. The beauty of southern Indiana is peaked by the orange fall leaves and explored in the underground caves.
The average altitude of Indiana is about 230 metres above sea level. The highest point in the state is Hoosier Hill in Wayne County at 383 metres) above sea level. The lowest point at 98 metres above sea level is located in Posey County, where the Wabash River flows into the Ohio River. Major river systems in Indiana include the Whitewater, White, Blue, Wabash, St. Joseph, and Maumee rivers
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is run by the USA Park Service and is a nice wilderness and beach area near Chicago in North Eastern Indiana. These large sand dunes drastically enter the lake and can be great fun for the whole family, especially if you need to escape the hot midwestern summer.
Blue Springs Caverns is an amazing cavern located in southern Indiana that can only be toured by boat! On the tour adventurers can see Blind Cave Crayfish and Bling fish. The boat is only guided by a small lantern giving the same feel that early explorers had of the caves. Phone: (812) 279-9471.
Indiana has a humid continental climate, with cool winters and warm, irriguous summers. The extreme southern portion of the state is within the humid subtropical climate area and receives more precipitation than other parts of Indiana. Temperatures generally diverge from the north and south sections of the state. In the middle of the winter, average high/low temperatures range from around -1 °C/-10 °C in the far north to 4 °C/-6 °C in the far south. In the middle of summer there is generally a little less variation across the state, as average high/low temperatures range from around 29 °C/18 °C in the far north to 32 °C/21 °C in the far south. The record high temperature for the state was 47 °C set on July 14, 1936 at Collegeville. The record low was -38 °C on January 19, 1994 at New Whiteland.
While droughts occasionally occur in the state, rainfall totals are distributed relatively equally throughout the year. Annual snowfall in Indiana varies widely across the state, ranging from 200 centimetres in the northwest along Lake Michigan to 36 centimetres in the far south. Lake effect snow accounts for roughly half of the snowfall in northwest and north central Indiana due to the effects of the moisture and relative warmth of Lake Michigan upwind.
In a 2012 report, Indiana was ranked eighth in a list of the top 20 tornado-prone states based on National Weather Service data from 1950 through 2011. Despite its vulnerability, Indiana is not a part of tornado alley.
Indianapolis International Airport (ND) is about 7 miles (11 kilometres) from the central business district of Indianapolis. It has a range of flight with destinations including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cancun, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto and Washington, D.C..
To/from the airport
Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo) operates the Green Line Downtown/Airport Express daily from 5:00am to 9:00pm. From 5:00am to 9:00am and noon to 9pm the service runs every 15 minutes. From 9:00am to noon the service runs every 20 minutes. The express service costs US$7 per passenger. The boarding/debarking point is located at the the Ground Transportation Center, which is found on level 1 of the parking garage. IndyGo Route 8 bus also connects the airport with downtown Indianapolis. Unlike the Green Line Express, Route 8 bus is a slower & cheaper bus route that makes frequent stops along Washington St. The fare for Route 8 is currently US$1.75 for single ride.
At the Ground Transportation Center there are also services like taxis, limousines, car rental facilities and shuttles.
Several Amtrak trains operate to and from Indiana:
Numerous interstate highways enter and leave the state. Interstates 80 and 90 form the Indiana Toll Road in northern Indiana, linking Gary, South Bend and Ohio. Interstate 94 hugs most of Lake Michigan from Illinois to Michigan. Interstate 65 is the major north-south route from Gary south to Indianapolis then entering Kentucky at Louisville. Interstate 70 is the busiest east-west route linking Illinois (at Terre Haute) with Ohio (at Richmond), passing through Indianapolis midway. Interstate 74 does the same thing, except it enters near Danville, Illinois and leaves near Cincinnati. Interstate 64 crosses southern Indiana from Illinois (25 miles northwest of Evansville) to New Albany. Interstate 69 runs from northeast Indiana, out of Michigan, through Fort Wayne to Indianapolis, where it ends (there are plans to extend it to Evansville and eventually to Texas). Interstate 275 (the Cincinnati bypass) briefly enters Indiana for about five miles. US 41 extends from Gary to Evansville and is the major north-south route through western Indiana.
Greyhound has buses throughout the US.
Amtrak offers a daily train service from Indianapolis to Chicago and vice versa. The fare is reasonable (about 15-25 dollars each way). The train also passes through Lafayette as well as a few other towns along its way to Chicago. The time of travel is roughly about 4.5 hours as compared to about 3-3.5 hours by car.
South Shore Line links Northern Indiana to Chicago, stopping at Hammond, East Chicago, Gary, Ogden Dunes, Beverly Shore, Michigan City, Hudson Lake and South Bend. It terminates at Chicago's Millennium Station. The overall travel time from South Bend to Chicago (and vice versa) 2.5 hours. The line utilizes a zone-based fare system, with prices rising based on the distance, and the prices drop slightly on the weekends.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Indiana has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.
Besides Greyhound, Miller Trailways (aka Hoosier Ride) operates intercity bus service throughout Indiana.
Several shuttle bus companies connect Indianapolis Airport with other cities in central Indiana (Terre Haute, Bloomington, West Lafayette, Muncie), making the airport a hub of ground transportation of sorts as well; some of them also have occasional bus service on non-airport routes (to Chicago, shopping malls, etc). GoExpress also runs regular shuttle service between Bloomington and downtown Indianapolis/IUPUI.
Cuisine throughout much of the state is typical Mid-western, with the occasional odd dish like Corn Casserole. Outside of the main cities most of the restaurants are diners or family-style, while in the bigger cities you can find all sorts of varied cuisine. Indianapolis, in particular, has a very cosmopolitan selection of ethnic restaurants from around the world, as do major campus towns (Bloomington, West Lafayette). Lake County, as in most everything, diverges from the norm in Indiana, and is a better place to find Chicago-style food like hot dogs and pizza.
Wherever you are, you would be hard pressed to not find a bar. The trendiest part of the state for a drink is probably Broad Ripple in Indianapolis, but you will find streets packed with bars and pubs throughout the cities of the state, especially near major universities in Bloomington, West Lafayette, and South Bend. Micro-breweries are present in all the major cities, Upland from Bloomington is especially popular and available throughout the state. Note too, that drink prices can be very low in Indiana—especially out of the Nine-County Region. It's not uncommon to find domestic bottled beer for $1 during the week, with other varying specials.
For dancing and nightlife, the main options are in and around Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, as well as by the major universities.
By law, liquor stores are closed on Sundays throughout the state. Depending on what part of the state you are in, a short jaunt across state lines can solve this problem. Along many major routes in and out of the state, one can often find "state line" liquor stores that cater to Sunday customers from Indiana.
Bars and restaurants are allowed to serve beer, wine, and liquor seven days a week, between the hours of 7:00am and 3:00am (the following morning), local time. Hours for bars can vary by population density and owner preference, but the vast majority of full-service "chain" restaurants with alcohol sales will not remain open beyond 11:00pm or midnight. In most localities however, one can always find a neighborhood bar or nightclub that will serve drinks right up to 3:00am. In all substantial cities, almost all bars will remain open until this time.
There have been many rumors about a liquor law in Indiana that prohibits the "take home" sale of cold beer. This is absolutely false. Throughout the state in any liquor store, Village Pantry service stations, and some grocery stores it can be purchased cold. Liquor stores that sell hard alcohol cannot sell pop or soda cold, rather it must be at room temperature.
There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:
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