Where to Go This Weekend: Brown County, Indiana

Tired of the gosh-darn seriousness that pervades election season? Head for unincorporated Story, Indiana, where they have a sense of humor about such things…

The exterior of Story Inn, located in Nashville, Indiana

Last Call for Indian Summer

Tired of the gosh-darn seriousness that pervades election season? Head for unincorporated Story, Indiana, where they have a sense of humor about such things. Since it’s unincorporated, the tiny Brown County town doesn’t have its own dedicated government, but the locals do elect a “Village Idiot” from one of their own every year. (This year’s winner was a local bartender, unanimously voted in for setting her own hair on fire while simultaneously lighting a cigarette and hair-spraying her do into place.) But there’s far more to Brown County than idiosyncratic voting records. With our long, lovely Indian summer about to lapse into memory, here are some suggestions for getting outside before the skies of November turn gloomy.

  1. Visit Brown County State Park
    Bordered by Story to the south and Nashville, Indiana, to the north, the nearly 16,000 square-acre park has some of the best hiking and “mountain” biking in the Midwest. Spots to try: The four-mile mountain bike trail that starts from the North Loop Tower and takes you through portions of the scenic Kin Hubbard Ridge and Green Valley Creek areas. Click here for a video of a 10-minute ride through the park’s wilderness. Go to browncountymountainbiking.com for information about the county’s mountain biking trails, which are all inside the park.
  2. Leaf Peep
    The best way to see some blazing fall foliage is to traverse the woodlands on foot. If you’re feeling fit, try the .75 mile self-guided nature trail through Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve. This path goes through stands of yellowwood trees where you might spy the crow-sized, red-topped pileated woodpecker. For a less arduous walk, head for Trail 2, an easy mile-long jaunt through oak, hickory, sassafras, beech, and maple woodlands. Descriptions of the park’s trail options are available here. For detailed maps of the park, click here.
  3. Kick Off Your Holiday Shopping
    Nashville, which bills itself as “The Artist Colony of the Midwest,” is home to dozens of locally owned galleries and boutiques, just the thing for getting the holiday shopping season underway. Among our picks: The Brown County Art Gallery (Main Street and Artist Drive, Nashville; 812-988-4609, browncountyartgallery.org) and the T.C. Steele State Historic Site (4220 T.C. Steele Rd., Nashville; 812-988-2785, tcsteele.org), last home of the Indiana impressionist painter Theodore Clement Steele.

Where to stay and eat: For lodging, try the Story Inn (6404 S. State Rd. 135, Nashville, 800-881-1183, storyinn.com; rates range from $129 to $219), run by Richard R. Hofstetter, a law professor turned historic building preservationist. Located in a building that dates back to 1851, the Story Inn offers a mix of rustic touches among luxury accommodations. The Story Still Tavern is a bar named for the still the Brown County sheriff shut down on the site in 1932; the Story Inn’s restaurant, once a general store, serves dishes made from locally grown produce and game, including pork, bison, and angus beef.

GO Brown County, Indiana. For information about parks, galleries, and other attractions, start at the Brown County Visitors Center (10 N. Van Buren St., Nashville; 800-753-3255 or 812-988-7303, browncounty.com), open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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