14 Fun & Best Things to Do in Lafayette, Indiana
Located 125 miles southeast of Chicago, Lafayette, Indiana, is a bustling city that is rich in national history and a wide array of cultures. Named for the famous French general and revolutionary war hero Marquis de Lafayette, the city was founded in 1825 on the bank of the Wabash River.
Lafayette is the birthplace of Guns N’ Roses lead vocalist Axl Rose and was the city where the chicken nugget was invented in 1963. Nearby West Lafayette is the location of Purdue University, which is home to nearly 35,000 undergraduate students.
From historical culture to education, music, and American foods, Lafayette is a city worth visiting for these reasons and many more.
As you set out to plan your trip, be sure to refer to this post with all the best things to do in Lafayette, Indiana. From historic parks, the Indiana art scene, hiking trails, and an exciting downtown area, here’s what to do in Lafayette.
- Most significant landmark – Tippecanoe Battlefield Park
- Best park – Columbian Park
- Best free activity – Clegg Memorial Garden
- Best activity for kids – Tropicanoe Cove
- Best activity for adults – Climb Lafayette
- Best food – People’s Brewing Co.
- Best nightlife – Wildcat Creek Winery
- Best all-around accommodation – The Whittaker Inn
Best & Fun Things to do in Lafayette, IN
From fun attractions to nature trails, the historic Wabash River, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, the sights in Lafayette offer both a scenic natural space and a busy downtown area. Here are the best things to do in Lafayette, Indiana.
1. Columbian Park Zoo
Address: 1915 Scott St, Lafayette, IN 47904
Founded in 1908, the Columbian Park Zoo is home to a large number of animals and city history. What began as a public park in the 1870s has become an important landmark in Lafayette, Indiana.
Explore the various exhibits at the zoo based on the animals’ location; the Americas feature wildlife like bald eagles, river otters, a tortoise, and prairie dogs. Visit the Australian outback and interact with wallabies, emus, kookaburra, and singing dogs.
Walk through the Butterfly Garden Party (open Memorial Day through Labor Day) and experience the beauty and wonder of all the different species in one place. Hop aboard the Columbia Park Zoo Express and enjoy a ride through Columbian Park! The train runs from mid-April through mid-October, and tickets are $2 per rider. Want to stay near Columbian Park, the zoo, trails, and more? The Whittaker Inn is close by and convenient for visitors to see all the sights!
2. Clegg Memorial Garden
Address: 1782 N 400 E, Lafayette, IN 47905
Located on a hillside overlooking a state scenic waterway, Wildcat Creek, the Clegg Memorial Garden is a nature preserve with hiking trails that is open from dawn to dusk every day. Also known as the Clegg Botanical Gardens, the looping trails will take you through oak woodland, gravel hill prairie, riparian corridor, and savanna. Hikers have enjoyed the trails here for over 50 years.
Featuring hilly terrain with lots of stairs, you’ll certainly get a workout while visiting Clegg Memorial Garden for a hike. During your exploration, watch for birding opportunities, fishing, mushroom harvesting, a journaling station, and some breathtaking wildflowers around the garden.
For the kids, the garden has junior ranger activities and a natural play area where they can climb and explore. With stunning views of Wildcat Creek valley and great activities for kids, Clegg Memorial Garden is a must-see and one of the best things to do in Lafayette with kids.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Greenwood, Indiana
3. The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
Address: 102 South 10th Street Lafayette, IN 47905
The mission of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette is to celebrate the power of art to inspire, instruct, challenge, and build community through its unique collections, exhibits, events, and programs. Located in the heart of downtown Lafayette, the museum was founded by the Lafayette Art Association in 1909.
The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette has a vast collection of over 1,300 objects that are cared for in an environmentally controlled space on 10th Street. The museum’s building has seen several additions over the years; many of the sculptures are created by Indiana natives, including the Resting Dancer sculpture by Indiana artist Tuck Langland.
From art classes to pottery and live model open studio sessions, there’s an activity for everyone at the museum. The museum also hosts community events; the Art, Bark + Brew event takes place in September, a family and dog-friendly community event with live music, food trucks, and craft beer.
Don’t miss Friday Night Live, with live musical performances every month. Art on the Wabash is an annual regional juried art show at Tapawingo Park. The museum is open 7 days a week from 11 am to 4 pm and is one of the best free things to do in Lafayette, Indiana.
4. People’s Brewing Company
Address: 2006 North 9th Street Lafayette, IN 47904
Craving a craft beer during your stay in Lafayette, Indiana? Plan a stop at People’s Brewing Company for some of the best beers in the area. Established in 2009, People’s Brewing Co. produces hand-crafted beers to satisfy a wide variety of tastes and palettes. They offer year-round, seasonal, and specialty beers that are unique and thoughtfully crafted in-house.
Specializing in American, Belgian, and English ales and German lagers, their wide array of options is made possible with a 20-barrel brewhouse located in the heart of Lafayette. Some of their most iconic sips are the Farmer’s Daughter Wheat Ale, People’s Pilsner, People’s IPA, and Mr. Brown Imperial Ale.
With other tasty beers like the Blood Orange Space Cowboy IPA, Boiler Gold Ale, and the Space Pilot Porter, it’s safe to say People’s Brewing Company has something for every taste bud. They also offer an impressive menu with tasty bar food, including a soft pretzel, flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, and a charcuterie board. We’re confident that People’s Brewing Company will serve you well; it’s one of the best things to do in Lafayette for adults, so if you can, leave the kids at home for this outing.
See Related: Tourist-Friendly Native Indian Reservations to Visit
5. Tropicanoe Cove
Address: 1915 Scott St, Lafayette, IN 47904
If you’re heading to Lafayette in the summer months, Tropicanoe Cove is a great spot to visit for the day. With a lazy river, slides, a kiddie pool, lawn chairs, and a large deck to enjoy all day, Tropicanoe Cove is a great way to enjoy some sunshine and warm weather with the family.
With lifeguards on duty, you won’t have to worry about the safety of your kids, and you can fully relax and enjoy time with your family and friends. Get snacks at the concession stand, float on the lazy river, and get your younger kids involved in the toddler lily pad area.
The park offers Family Night one Wednesday a month, with discounted prices and a Water Walking fitness class on the lazy river. Tropicanoe Cove is open 7 days a week in the summer months, weather permitting. Quality Inn and Suites is a great accommodation to consider if you spend the night in Lafayette.
6. Columbian Park
Address: 20 N 6th Street Lafayette, IN 47901
One of the most historic sites in Lafayette, Columbian Park is a large, 40-acre recreational public park that houses the Columbian Park Zoo, Tropicanoe Cove, and other activities for the whole family. Columbian Park is one of the top places for outdoor things to do in Lafayette, Indiana.
To honor the brave souls from Tippecanoe County who gave their lives defending our freedom, Memorial Island was constructed in 1949. There’s a stage, pedestrian bridges, a boardwalk on the water with swings and fishing nodes, pedal boats, geyser fountains, and much more.
Columbian Park also features hiking, biking, and walking trails for all fitness types. Take your kids to the playground for entertainment in a state-of-the-art playground. Columbian Park is a great place to take the kids, go for a solo hike or trail run, enjoy the water from the pedal boats, or enjoy lunch at one of the picnic areas.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Warsaw, Indiana
7. Climb Lafayette
Address: 4650 DALE DRIVE LAFAYETTE, IN 47905
Feed your adventurous side with a fun day at Climb Lafayette, an indoor rock climbing facility that features 4,000 square feet of climbing.
Test your strength and sense of adventure with some challenging climbs and big heights! With owners born and raised in Lafayette, Climb Lafayette uses locally sourced materials and products, including steel studs.
They offer day passes, which begin at $15 and give you access to the top rope wall and the bouldering wall. Climbing shoes are required and can be rented for $5.
Climb Lafayette also hosts birthday parties, yoga classes, and other community events. There are great climbing options for children as well, including a bouldering wall and a timed wall. It’s a great spot for date nights, solo climbs, or families. If you’re looking for active things to do in Lafayette, Indiana, we highly recommend adding Climb Lafayette to your itinerary.
8. Lafayette Farmer’s Market
Address: 5th Street Columbia to Ferry Street in Downtown Lafayette
Every Saturday from May to October, the Lafayette Farmer’s Market is one of the best things to do in Lafayette, Indiana, on Saturday mornings. Beginning on 5th Street in downtown Lafayette, visitors and locals alike have come to the famous farmer’s market for over 150 years, beginning in 1839.
Vendors at the market include local artisans, bakers, farmers, and artists. You’ll find foot items including fruit and vegetables, freshly baked bread and pastries, organic sauces, coffee and tea, and more.
As for gifts and unique items, local artists and creators in the area offer incredible items for purchase, like candles and dog treats, jewelry, wood signage, and seasonal decor. Lafayette Farmers Market is a great way to get to know local vendors and spend time in the heart of Lafayette.
See related: Fun & Best Things to do in Phoenix, Arizona
9. Wildcat Creek Winery
Address: 3233 East 200 North Lafayette, IN 47905
A local rustic winery in Lafayette, Wildcat Creek Winery is a local gem known for its delicious wines, fantastic customer service, and relaxing atmosphere. Owned by Indiana entrepreneurs Rick and Kathy Black, Wildcat Creek Winery opened in 2008 and has been drawing in great crowds ever since.
The Blacks make it their mission to serve visitors and locals like friends and take great pride in their wines. Offering dry reds, Riesling, a Lafayette blush, and even some seasonal wines, including a Harvest Cranberry and Bicentennial blueberry, there’s truly a wine for every palette at Wildcat Creek Winery. Wildcat Creek Winery is open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm.
10. Happy Hollow Park
Address: 1301 Happy Hollow Rd, West Lafayette, IN 47906
Located in West Lafayette, Happy Hollow Park offers visitors 81 acres of a public park. Happy Hollow Park offers one mile of paved hiking on the Trolley Line and one mile of footpaths on the Salisbury St. Garden and Rose Street Trails. Explore the footpaths or the hiking trail on a solo stroll or with the whole family.
Bring the kids and enjoy the 2 playgrounds on-site designed for children ages 2-5 and 5-12. There’s an open turf area for running and playing, along with picnic areas where you can pack a lunch and spend the day. Happy Hollow Park also offers grills for big groups and restrooms, so you can spend the whole day if you choose.
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11. The Haan Museum of Indiana Art
Address: 920 State Street, Lafayette, IN 47905
Located in Lafayette’s historic 9th Street district, the Haan Mansion Museum is a historical landmark for Hoosiers who know its rich history. As one of the original mansions for the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, the Haan Mansion was auctioned off, dismantled, and moved to Lafayette by train for new owners, Mr. and Mrs. William Potter, who lived there for many years.
In 1992, the Haan Mansion underwent a large restoration project while its owners began building an impressive collection of art by Indiana artists. The Haan Mansion Museum is home to an impressive array of paintings, ceramics, vintage furniture, and exhibits, making it one of the greatest history museums in the state. Be sure to visit the Haan Museum sculpture garden to admire its many beautiful pieces.
12. Prophetstown State Park
Address: 5545 Swisher Rd, West Lafayette, IN 47906
Where the Tippecanoe River meets the Wabash River, near Battle Ground, lies Lafayette’s newest state park, Prophetstown State Park. The park is home to the Farm at Prophetstown, a working farm that harvests grain, hay, and straw for the animals who live there. The farm is home to a variety of horses, cattle, chickens, sheep, hogs, and more.
Visitors who want to get a taste of the 1920s farm lifestyle are in luck! The Farm at Prophetstown offers homestead tours, where you can visit some of the animals in their natural habitat and interact with beekeepers, gardeners, and farm experts.
Prophetstown State Park also features an Aquatic Center for a day filled with swimming and splashing for the family. The whole family can have a great summertime with a 30-foot tube slide, body flume, lazy river, adventure channel, and pool with play features. Holiday Inn Express and Suites is a luxurious hotel you can get at an affordable fee around Lafayette.
See related: Best Road Trip Games For Couples
13. Tippecanoe Battlefield Park
Address: Tippecanoe Battlefield Park, Battle Ground, IN 47920
Tippecanoe Battlefield is a national historic landmark in Lafayette, Indiana. On November 7, 1811, the Battle of Tippecanoe took place on the battleground between U.S. Forces, led by William Henry Harrison, and representatives of Tecumseh’s Native American Confederation.
This national historic landmark invites visitors from all over the world to walk the paths where white settlers and Native Americans clashed on ideals but ultimately found peace. The Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum focuses on the battle, early settlement, and 19th-century Native American lifestyles, along with information about the War of 1812.
The iconic Wabash Heritage Trail begins at Battlefield Park, with stunning views and a walking trail fit for the whole family. It extends 13 miles and covers downtown Lafayette, the Wabash River, and leads south to Fort Ouiatenon. Tippecanoe Battlefield Park is a must-see for those seeking historical and fun things to do in Lafayette, Indiana.
14. Wolf Park
Address: 4004 E 800 N, Battle Ground, IN 47920
Located in Battle Ground, Wolf Park is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the research and conservation of wolves and educating the general public on the value they provide to the environment. Home to gray wolves, red and gray foxes, bison, and coyotes, Wolf Park sits on 75 acres of historic farmland and offers a variety of tours and programs for visitors.
Enjoy a docent-led tour of the park and see the wolves in their natural habitat, learn about their place in the ecosystem, and watch a live feeding. Wolf Park also offers a variety of special events, including their special Howl Night program which invites visitors to see the wolves and other animals in the evening, and other seasonal events in the autumn months.
See related: Best National Parks in the Midwest (+ NPS Sites)
Getting Around Lafayette, IN
As you plan your visit to Lafayette, here are the best ways to get around the busy city.
Travel by Car
Lafayette is a large city, so if you are flying here with a big party or family, renting a car is essential to explore West Lafayette and Purdue University, downtown Lafayette, and scenic spots like the Wabash River and local trails.
Book a rental car here.
If you aren’t renting a car, no sweat. Uber recently set up a shop in Lafayette, so you’ll have no issue finding a ride around the city. Book an Uber here.
As a solo traveler, or if your lodging is in close proximity to where you plan to visit, cycling or walking are also viable options.
What is the best thing to do with kids in Lafayette?
If you’re traveling with kids, the best things to do in Lafayette, Indiana, include Prophetstown State Park, the Columbian Park Zoo, and Tropicanoe Cove.
What are some fun things to do in Lafayette?
For fun things to do with booze, People’s Brewing Company is a must-see. Climb Lafayette is a great workout, or explore Purdue University in West Lafayette. For outdoor enthusiasts, explore the Wabash Heritage Trail.
What are some things to do in Lafayette when it’s raining?
Pop into Wildcat Creek Winery for a glass of wine or get a dose of history and Indiana art at the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art.
What are the best tourist attractions in Lafayette?
If you’re a tourist and are wondering what to see in Lafayette, you can’t miss the historical park, Tippecanoe Battlefield Park. This is one of the best cultural attractions in the state and is home to the popular hiking trail, Wabash Heritage Trail.
We highly recommend you visit Tippecanoe Battlefield Park during your stay in Lafayette.
Prophetstown State Park is also a must-see for a dose of Indiana history, farming, and fun at the water park. Wolf Park offers a unique adventure for animal lovers.
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