Just one of the many tranquil wonders of Indiana's covered bridge territory: the
Roseville bridge, which turns 100 this year
There’s something soothing about the sight of an antique covered bridge: It’s a reminder of the possibility of life in the slow lane. If you can’t traverse it in your car, the idea of a traffic jam becomes unthinkable. And isn’t that lovely? There are two covered bridge festivals in Indiana this weekend, both providing the chance to get off the highway, take a breath, and take in changing leaves.
The Covered Bridges of Putnam County Festival is centered in small-town Bainbridge and runs from Friday, October 14, through Sunday, October 23. The festival features the usual arts-and-crafts fair and food vendors, as well as the chance to visit the area’s covered bridges. Rent a bike in nearby Greencastle and peddle through the town. Continue for a mile west of downtown Greencastle and you’ll come to the DePauw Nature Park, where an abandoned limestone quarry sits among more than 500 acres of forest and fields. The park has nine miles of trails for hiking and biking.
About a half an hour’s drive northwest of Putnam County, you’ll arrive in Parke County, where the annual Covered Bridge Festival celebrates the area’s 31 rustic passageways with what its organizers claim is the largest festival in the state. The fest is based in Rockville, Indiana, where food vendors, crafters, and an array of performers provide entertainment throughout the weekend. The festival also offers opportunities for antiquing in downtown Rockville and a display of covered bridge paintings in Rockville’s Covered Bridge Art Gallery.
GO The Parke County Covered Bridges Festival, October 14–23, in Rockville; 765-569-5226, coveredbridges.com. And, the Putnam County Covered Bridges Festival, October 14–23, in Bainbridge; 765-435-2813, friendsoftheparkrussellville.org.
Where to eat: The Almost Home restaurant (17 W. Franklin St., Greencastle; 765-653-5788, almosthomerestaurant.com) has specialty martinis in 50 flavors, as well as steaks, seafood, and innovative salads. The family-owned Mama Nunz’s Steakhouse (800 S. Main St., Greencastle; 765-653-8402, mamanunz.net) has been serving up steak and pasta for two generations and more than half a century.
Where to stay: The Billie Creek Inn (1659 E. U.S. Hwy. 36, Rockville; 765-569-3430, billiecreekinn.net) has suites and single rooms and is convenient to both festivals; rates range from $150 to $190 a night. The Raccoon Lakeside Lodge (9469 E. Paw Paw Ln., Rockville; 765-344-1162, raccoonlodge.com) has apartments with full kitchens and single rooms, all located next to Raccoon Lake; nightly rates range from $150 to $250.
Photograph: Courtesy of the Parke County Convention and Visitors' Commission