Looking for the best and most fun things to do on your next trip to Terre Haute? The term Terre Haute is a translation of the French word terre haute, which means “Highland.” Early 18th-century French explorers in the region are thought to have given it that name to designate the region’s distinctive location above the Wabash River.
The most recent round of surveys conducted by the Terre Haute-Vigo County Place Census revealed that 61% of respondents agreed partially or entirely that Terre Haute is a safe place, so whether you’re planning a trip or visiting with family, you have nothing to be worried about.
On your next visit to Terre Haute, Indiana, try out some of these enjoyable activities.
Things to Do in Terre Haute, IN
1. Wabash Valley Railroad Museum (WVRM)
This museum is housed in an ancient Terre Haute & Indianapolis freight depot, and as Terre Haute once served as a significant rail center, you may learn a lot about the city’s past there.
Here, you may read about the history of the railroad industry going all the way back to the 1880s while also getting a bird’s-eye view of mainline operations in the present day.
The WVRM’s level of involvement is fantastic; you can use a telegraph to practice your morse code, fill out a train order at the operator’s desk, and even align a train in one of the switching towers.
You will learn about the background of the depot’s facilities and vintage rolling equipment from a trained volunteer guide.
Address: 1316 Plum St, Terre Haute, IN 47804, United States
2. Hulman Center (Larry Bird)
The cube-like shape of this multifunctional arena, which was completed in 1973, is a prominent feature on the ISU campus, just a few steps from downtown Terre Haute.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams (Sycamores) play their home games in the 10,200-seat Hulman Center, which just underwent a $50 million renovation.
It may come as no surprise that the men’s team’s most notable season was 1978–79 when Larry Bird led an undefeated team to its first tournament appearance and the AP and UPI national championships. The men’s team last advanced to the NCAA Division I tournament in 2011.
By the entryway is a statue of Bird that was unveiled in 2013. Large-scale events like WWE matches and concerts are also held at the Hulman Center. A few famous people who have performed here include Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra, Shania Twain, and Elvis Presley.
Address: Cherry St, Terre Haute, IN 47807, United States
3. Fowler Park
Vigo County Parks & Recreation oversees more than 450 acres of natural space ten miles south of Terre Haute’s downtown.
Fowler Park comprises woodlands, two lakes, pathways, a campground, two picnic shelters, and a historical village attraction. It was bought in pieces between 1967 and 1995. Fowler Lake, which covers over 25 acres and has a boat launch and a beach for swimming in the summer, is the largest body of water nearby.
This lake is also stocked with channel catfish, red-ear sunfish, bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass for fishing excursions. An operational gristmill from the 1800s powered by water from a sluice off the lake is the focal point of the instructive Pioneer Village.
Address: 3000 E Oregon Church Rd, Terre Haute, IN 47802, United States
4. National Road Heritage Trail
Terre Haute is located along the National Road, which connects Vandalia, Illinois, to Cumberland, Maryland, and was the first national highway in the country to be funded by the federal government.
This 620-mile road was built between 1811 and 1837, and it was the second road in the nation to have the ground-breaking Macadam method used to cover it. The National Road, in large part, is now U.S. Route 40.
The original National Road route can be followed via a 6-mile greenway from the Twigg Rest Area, located just east of Terre Haute on US 40, all the way to the Indiana State University campus downtown.
The route is on a serene green corridor protected by lawns and trees and includes several intriguing interpretative signs.
5. Dobbs Memorial Park
Another great outdoor area is located on the outskirts of Terre Haute to the east of Deming Park. Dobbs Memorial Park serves a variety of attractions thanks to its Nature Center, Native American Museum, 25-acre State Nature Preserve, and three-acre pond.
Three miles of trails lead you through pine forests, old-growth and second-growth forests, and restored wetlands to the park.
The Nature Center features exhibitions of native live animals and interesting exhibits on regional wildlife, tracking, plants, the environment, and general science subjects.
A wildlife viewing area with one-way glass allows visitors to see all kinds of birds and animals up close, and the center hosts a wide range of public events throughout the year.
The Native American Museum, which offers insight into the lifestyles and traditions of the peoples of the Northeast Woodlands and has an heirloom garden outside, is the only museum of its kind operated by a parks and recreation department in the Midwest.
Address: 5170 E Poplar St, Terre Haute, IN 47803, United States
6. Indiana Theatre
The majestic Spanish Revival façade of the Indiana Theater, which debuted as a movie palace in 1922, is located across Ohio Street from the Swope Block. This structure was one of the first examples of John Eberson’s “atmospheric theater” designs. Eberson (1875–1954).
The lighting for the exterior rotunda and the grand interior lobby ballroom was designed to be a transition from day to evening. At the same time, the auditorium suggests an Andalusian garden at dusk.
Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, and the Marx Brothers were among the artists from the early decades when vaudeville and film coexisted on this stage.
The Indiana Theater has been undergoing a protracted repair since 2013 and is rented out as a venue for events. There are three tour options, with durations ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, if you want to see the interior.
Address: 683 Ohio St, Terre Haute, IN 47807, United States
7. Tilson Auditorium
This performing arts theater at the opulent Tirey Hall is another reason to visit the lush ISU campus.
The Tilson Auditorium, a classic proscenium arch theater with seating for 1,450, was finished in a Collegiate Gothic design in 1940. It is the home of the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra and the ISU Symphony Orchestra.
A calendar with a spectacular roster of recitals, concerts, and special performances, from dance to circus shows, is available on ISU’s School of Music website.
Address: Terre Haute, IN 47809, United States
8. Downtown Terre Haute
This major business district, which Wabash Avenue bisects, depicts the well-known tale of neglect and collapse beginning in the mid-1960s and a remarkable resurrection in the twenty-first century.
The Vigo County Courthouse (1888), with its tiny mansard roof and French Second Empire lines, lives up to its moniker as the “Crossroads of America” and offers enough breathtaking examples of antique architecture to be awed by.
More than 20 independently owned restaurants, two galleries, more than ten bars and live music venues, and a scattering of specialty shops are all concentrated into a small area along Wabash Avenue, Cherry Street, and Poplar Street.
9. Swope Block
The Swope Block, built in 1901 in an Italian Renaissance Revival style, is one of the biggest structures in the downtown area that welcomes you. It is located at 7th and Ohio Street.
The namesake, Civil War soldier, and successful jeweler Michael Sheldon Swope (1843–1929), spent most of his life in Terre Haute.
His contribution paved the way for constructing a world-class museum in the Swope Block, which eventually opened in 1942 and is still open to the public for free today.
The founding collection is extensive, with works by the Hoosier Group of Impressionists, Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, and Zoltan Sepeshy.
Several well-known artists from the Terre Haute region, including Alexander Calder, Warhol, Eva Hesse, and Robert Indiana, have contributed modern and contemporary pieces to the museum’s collection throughout the past 80 years.
The Student Art Exhibition, which has been held every year since 1967, is another yearly tradition. It features artwork from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
10. Terre Haute Children’s Museum
This renowned children’s museum located downtown on Wabash Avenue is full of engaging, interactive exhibits that help children learn and grow through play.
The museum offers specialized attractions for several age groups and is geared toward kids up to the age of twelve. The Toddler Zone and interactive areas like The Kitchen and Ag-Citing, where children may pretend to go grocery shopping and operate a tractor, are popular with toddlers and young children under the age of four.
In contrast, Health Zone uses cutting-edge multimedia to teach older kids how our bodies function. Fiddling with Physics is an exciting, hands-on introduction to ideas like air pressure, electric circuits, and electromagnetism.
A Fit Gym and an indoor ropes challenge course are also available; these amenities emphasize the value of leading active lives.
Address: 727 Wabash Ave, Terre Haute, IN 47807, United States
11. Vigo County History Museum
The Vigo County Historical Society’s administrative offices are located in a lovely four-story manufacturing structure that dates back to 1895, making it the third museum in the triangle-shaped downtown area.
Since it was founded in 1922, the group has amassed a sizable collection of antiquities. These displayed in-depth displays cover subjects including travel, business & industry, spooky legends, and historical Hauteans.
One exhibit explores a portion of local history that could surprise you. The Root Glass Company in Terre Haute created the classic contour bottle for Coca-Cola in 1915, which is where it all began.
The Coca-Cola Company hired Root, one of eleven other competing glass businesses nationwide, to design a distinctive bottle. Root was selected as the winner in 1916.
Address: 929 Wabash Ave, Terre Haute, IN 47807, United States
12. Candles Holocaust Museum
The only Holocaust museum in Indiana is located in Terre Haute. This was established in 1995 and is located about a mile south of the city center on US 41.
Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors is the abbreviation for this group.
In an effort to track out more Mengele twin survivors, human experimentation survivor Eva Mozes Kor (1934–2019) and her twin sister Miriam Mozes Zieger founded the nonprofit organization that would later become the museum in 1985.
CANDLES Holocaust Museum is a deeply personal and heartbreaking account of the holocaust and the subject of eugenics from Kor’s perspective.
The museum challenges you with the idea that she adopted the unusual and contentious attitude of forgiving the Nazis to resolve the situation.
Address: 1532 S 3rd St, Terre Haute, IN 47802, United States
13. Deming Park
The grand Ohio Boulevard, which runs east from Terre Haute’s downtown, ends at this vast 177-acre park.
Early residents of the city and owners of a sizable amount of land in the area were the Deming family. The Demings constructed that opulent boulevard, paying for it by transferring ownership of Deming Park to the city.
With an arboretum, 18-hole disc golf course, playground, community pool, and a host of additional amenities like fishing, picnics, tennis, and basketball, the park is a beautiful place.
The Spirit of Terre Haute miniature railway, which operates every day during the school summer break and on weekends from April through September, is one unique feature.
Address: 500 S Fruitridge Ave, Terre Haute, IN 47803, United States
14. Eugene V. Deb’s
The trade unionist and five-time Socialist Party of America candidate for President of the United States, Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926), was born in Terre Haute and lived here for much of his life.
Debs’s two-story house, built in 1890, can be found on the ISU campus. He and his wife Kate lived in relative affluence, as a wealthy aunt had left Kate a substantial amount of money.
On tour, by appointment, you can peruse the interior, which has a blue porcelain fireplace imported from Italy and mahogany furniture in the parlor and dining room.
There’s also a trove of Debs memorabilia, including a portion of his library. Debs passed away in prison, having been sentenced for sedition following his speech in 1918 denouncing America’s participation in World War I. His funeral took place at the house and was attended by 5,000 people.
A vast collection of Debs relics, including a piece of his personal library, is also present. Debs died in prison after being found guilty of treason for his speech criticizing American involvement in World War I in 1918. Five thousand people showed up for his funeral, which was held at the home.
Address: 451 N 8th St, Terre Haute, IN 47807, United States
15. Square Donuts
This Terre Haute institution for sweet treats has been in operation since 1967, and it can be found at 935 Wabash Avenue in the shadow of the Vigo County Historical Museum.
Richard Comer, Sr. (1934–2015), the creator of the unique shape and the moniker Square Donuts, came up with both. He started making donuts with a square cutter right away, and the business flourished with his wife Patricia and their four daughters’ assistance.
There are three Square Donuts stores in Bloomington and two in Terre Haute. You can visit the downtown location for a wide selection of doughnut flavors, including chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, maple, strawberry, and ice cream.
Cake donuts, tractor tires (glazed cake crullers), cream, custard, jelly-filled doughnuts, long johns, and cinnamon rolls are further temptations.
Address: 935 Wabash Ave, Terre Haute, IN 47807, United States