Our first visit to Indiana, PA sort of happened by accident. With a plane obsessed toddler, a friend and I were looking around for a small airport that we could tour. The Indiana Airport was brought to our attention, and our love for the area started from there. Being from Eastern PA originally, I had heard of IUP, but my knowledge of Indiana County didn’t go much beyond that. It wasn’t until we started looking into things to do in Indiana, PA with kids that I realized how much this adorable town has to offer.
With the proximity from Pittsburgh and Central Pennsylvania, Indiana County is the perfect place for a day trip or quick weekend getaway. Whether you want a little bit of history, outdoors or great restaurants, there’s something in Indiana County for the whole family.
Sponsored Post: We were hosted by the Indiana County Tourist Bureau. As always, all opinions are gladly our own. Be sure to check out the Visit Indiana County, PA website or call them at 724-463-7505 if you’re planning to visit the area. The staff there is SO helpful with planning the perfect trip for your interests.
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Where to Stay in Indiana, PA
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, Indiana at IUP during our latest visit and can’t say enough good things about this hotel. The hotel is conveniently located on the edge of IUP’s campus, just behind the football stadium. It’s also a quick drive to downtown Indiana and in close proximity to other attractions in Indiana County.
The check-in process at the hotel was super easy. We were even able to check in a bit early to squeeze in a nap for my son. My 2-year old was thrilled to be greeted with a basket of toys to choose from. (Something the hotel does for all kids staying there.) These added touches make the Hilton Garden Inn at IUP a great place for families.
We also had a chance to use the indoor pool during our stay. Both the room and the water were the perfect temperature. I’m pretty sure my son would have been perfectly content just staying in the hotel and using the pool during our visit!
Rooms and Dining at the Hilton Garden Inn Indiana at IUP
We stayed in a 1-Bedroom King Suite, and the separate bedroom and huge living room area is perfect for families. The room comes with a jetted bathtub and a 1/2 bath, plus a wet bar area with a fridge. Our room was extremely clean and recently remodeled, with all the features you need for a home away from home.
We also had a chance to enjoy the hotel’s breakfast during our stay. There’s a buffet of fresh fruit and pastries with make-your-own waffles. Unlike some other hotel breakfasts, it’s fully serviced and they also offer eggs and pancakes made-to-order. We had veggie omelets and the special of the day, which was yummy chocolate pancakes. We unfortunately didn’t have a chance to eat lunch or dinner at the CH Fields Craft Kitchen restaurant during our stay. Everything on the farm-to-table menu looked delicious, though!
Every employee we encountered during our stay was super friendly and helpful. From the staff to the rooms and amenities, we definitely recommend the Hilton Garden Inn Indiana at IUP. For more information, visit the Hilton Garden Inn at IUP website.
Getting Around Indiana, PA
A car is definitely needed if you want to fully explore the Indiana County area. Downtown Indiana has metered parking and it is closely monitored. Be sure to bring extra quarters and change with you, since you likely will need to park on the street at least once.
Indiana also offers public bus transportation through IndiGO, the Indiana County Transit Authority.
The closest major airport is Pittsburgh International, located about 75 miles East of Indiana, PA. The Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe also offers access to the region from certain locations across the US. Arnold Palmer Airport is about 35 miles from Indiana, PA.
Things to Do in Indiana, PA
Whether you’re visiting Indiana, PA with kids or without, there’s really something to do for everyone. The downtown area is packed with locally owned shops and restaurants. Plus it has a friendly, small town feel you’d expect from this Western PA town. Indiana County is also rich in history, with several museums and historic buildings to tell the story of the area’s past.
Fun Fact: Indiana, PA is also known as the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World.” It was given this name for the extensive number of Christmas trees Indiana, PA grows and ships annually.
The Jimmy Stewart Museum
I heard of Jimmy Stewart, the Academy Award-winning actor, before visiting Indiana County. It wasn’t until I visited the museum, however, that I realized how important he was to both the history of Hollywood and Indiana, PA. Not only was he a decorated general and war hero, but he starred in so many great movies. A few of Jimmy Stewart’s most notable films included It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey and Rear Window. We had a great time exploring the museum, and some of the highlights included:
- The actual door from Jimmy Stewart’s home on Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills. (This serves as the starting point for the museum’s displays.)
- A number of photos telling Jimmy Stewart’s story, including several from his Hollywood days.
- Extensive information about the history of Jimmy Stewart’s upbringing in Indiana. There’s also a section with several items from his father’s former Hardware Store.
- Original movie posters from several movies Jimmy Stewart starred in.
- A remake of Jimmy Stewart’s office with his desk and several notable artifacts.
- A replica of Jimmy’s childhood bedroom. Includes the matching pair to his original bed, model airplanes and a globe.
- Movie theater with old Jimmy Stewart movies running daily.
- Several old uniforms and costumes belonging to Jimmy Stewart.
Visiting the Jimmy Stewart Museum with Kids?
I definitely recommend making a stop at this museum while you’re in town, given the significance of Jimmy Stewart to the area. Keep in mind, however, that it’s a smaller museum and there isn’t a lot specifically targeted toward kids. At 2-years old, my son’s favorite things at the Jimmy Stewart museum were the Harvey Bunny, Jimmy Stewart’s uniforms, and the planes in Jimmy’s bedroom. If you’re visiting the Jimmy Stewart Museum with kids, be sure to keep a close eye on them as there are many breakable artifacts throughout.
If you’re visiting Indiana, PA on a nice day, you can also walk up to Vinegar Hill to see Jimmy Stewart’s childhood home. The staff at the Jimmy Stewart Museum can point you in the right direction!
Know Before You Go: The Jimmy Stewart Museum is located at 835 Philadelphia St, Indiana, PA. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for Seniors and Military, $7 for children 7-17 and kids 6 and under are FREE. For more information on visiting the museum, including ticket pricing and hours, go to jimmy.org.
Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport
As mentioned previously, the Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport was actually what drew us to Indiana, PA in the first place. This public-use airport serves the surrounding area of Indiana County and has been operating as a public airport since 1959. Flying was especially significant the airports namesake, Jimmy Stewart, given his role in the U.S. Army Air Corps for years.
Our tour of the airport consisted of visiting several hangers to see a number of airplanes, including many from the mid 1900s. We learned a lot about different types of smaller planes, including some of the upkeep and maintenance required. The airport was fairly busy on the day that we were there, and the kids loved seeing a number of planes taking off and land.
The General Manager, Fred Fuellner, gave us the tour personally. It was clear that he loves sharing his passion and knowledge of flying with others. Tours are available upon request, and you can contact the Indiana County Jimmy Stewart Airport at 724-463-3883 or firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.
Jimmy Stewart AirShow
The Indiana County Airport also started an airshow in recent years, with the 2019 show being held on June 8th and 9th. The Jimmy Stewart AirShow offers a ton of activities for people of all ages. This includes tethered hot air ballon rides and helicopter rides in addition to the airshow itself. There are also several activities specifically geared toward kids, including a jungle gym, obstacle course, parachute games and face painting. (Plus, admission is free for children 12 and under!) For more on Indiana County’s AirShow, see here.
Know Before You Go: The Jimmy Stewart Airport is located at 398 Airport Road, Indiana, PA 15701. Parking is free, and there is a large main building that offers restroom facilities and waiting area.
Nature Works Farm & Nursery
We were introduced by this farm in Homer City by the lovely staff at the Indiana County Tourist Bureau. We were so glad we visited, (especially my toddler-aged son who LOVED the farm.) Nature Works Farm is owned by the sweetest couple, Bob and Cassandra Madden. They had dreams of running their own farm after being actively involved with small scale farming, sustainability and education efforts. The primary business of this 35-acre farm is its nursery. Nature Works offers a huge variety of beautiful cut flowers and plants for sale, including many plant species I hadn’t seen before.
The main draw for my son was the number of animals on the farm, with a dog and a number of cats, chickens, goats, sheep, pigs and cows. There were several baby animals when we were there, including chicks, goats and piglets. The owners are deliberate about moving the animals around so they can play a key role in restoring the land. (Just one of many things we learned on our tour!)
Bob and Cassandra love giving tours of the farm and educating others on their practices. If you’re interested in a tour, contact them at 724-769-3276.
You can also find Nature Works selling produce seasonally at the Indiana County Farmers Market.
Know Before You Go: Nature Works Farm is located at 3741 Route 56 Highway East, Homer City PA 15748. They hold regular hours during the warmer months and are open daily from from mid April to June. Current hours are 9am- 6pm Monday- Saturday and 9am-1pm on Sundays.
Buttermilk Falls Natural Area
Prior to visiting the Indiana, PA area, I had no idea that that Buttermilk Falls existed. I’m so glad we made the 30 minute drive from Indiana, PA to stop there on our way home. Buttermilk Falls was originally owned by Fred McFeely. You may recognize McFeely as the grandfather to the famous Fred Rogers. (Yes, from *the* Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.) The actor often referenced his time on the property growing up.
The walk to the 45 foot waterfall is an easy 1/4 mile hike. There’s a scenic overlook of the Falls shortly after entering the trail. From there, the downhill path leads you to the bridge and steps to get down to the Falls. In 2017, Indiana County built a bridge and stairs that includes a grated walkway behind the Falls. So many people were walking back that they decided to make it safer for visitors to do so. Such a great move on their part!
Note: There’s a gate near the entrance to the triangle bridge. It appears closed, but it can be accessed by walking around it.
Visiting Buttermilk Falls with Small Children?
My son just turned 2, so I used our ergo360 carrier to hold him backpack-style for the hike to the waterfall. If I hadn’t done that, our short hike probably would’ve turned into hours! The stairs are easy enough for people of almost any age and physical ability to access, so realistically it would have been feasible even at 2. (With close supervision, of course.) Be prepared to get a little wet walking under the Falls.
Located next to Buttermilk Falls is the McFeely Trail. It’s more of a walking trail that my toddler son and his friend were able to hike independently. It’s well shaded and a great starter hike with children (or adults) of any age. There are also restrooms available and a covered area with picnic tables. We found a grassy area near the parking lot and had a picnic lunch, which I highly recommend!
Know Before You Go: Buttermilk Falls is located at 570 Valley Brook Rd, New Florence, PA 15944. The entrance and parking lot is located is accessed via a rural road that narrows to one way. Be careful to watch out for other cars as you get closer to the entrance. Check out the Buttermilk Falls brochure for more.
Mack Park and Indiana Community Garden
Mack Park is a great place for families in the area, and it has a big and colorful playground. There are several different components of the playground, including a separate toddler playground. If your kids are interested in skate boarding, there’s a huge skate park located on the premises as well. There is also a public pool at the park that’s available during the summer months.
Next to Mack Park is the Indiana Community Garden. Just like it sounds, it includes several flower beds maintained by the local community. The Community Garden holds group gardening and other events to teach the local community more about gardening. We were also there on a warm day, and the kids loved watering the flowers with the available watering cans.
Know Before You Go: Mack Park and the Community Garden are located at 750 South 6th Street, Indiana, Pennsylvania 15701. There are also restroom facilities available for public use at the park.
Indiana Free Library
We’re huge fans of our local library and love checking libraries out whenever we travel. The Indiana Free Library is housed in the same building as the Jimmy Stewart Museum. We were glad we made the stop after touring the museum, and my son loved the play area there. The employees working there were all extremely nice and helpful during our stop.
One of the great things about the Indiana Free Library is that their children’s programs don’t require registration. If you happen to be in the area, you can just drop-in to one of several story times and activities available for kids. Head to the Indiana Free Library website for more.
Know Before You Go: The Indiana Free Library is located at 845 Philadelphia Street, Indiana, PA 15701. Hours vary by day, and they’re open every day but Sunday.
Indiana, PA Fire House
The Indiana Fire House isn’t technically an attraction, but I have to mention it since it’s honestly one of the nicest fire stations I’ve seen. We were lucky enough to get a tour of this beautiful fire station with one of the volunteer firemen. It’s definitely worth a stopping by if your kids love fire trucks like mine, especially since it’s located right in downtown Indiana. Just walk past the large windowed garage doors to see a few fire trucks up close.
Know Before You Go: The Indiana Fire House is located at 501 Philadelphia Street, Indiana, PA 15701.
Additional Things to Do in Indiana, PA
Below are a few other ideas of things to do in Indiana County. While we didn’t get to them on our recent trips to the area, they’re on our list for future visits.
- Smicksburg to experience Amish Country in Northern Indiana County.
- Self-guided covered bridge driving tour to see the 4 covered bridges in Indiana, PA.
- Underground railroad tour in Blairsville, PA
- Kart racing at Blairsville Speedway on Saturday nights
- Palace Drive-In Movie Theater
- Hiking on one of many Rails-to-Trails in Indiana County
Where to Eat in Indiana, PA
With so many great places to eat around Indiana, PA, a couple days just wasn’t enough time. In addition to the great restaurants, the locally owned coffee shops in Indiana, PA far exceeded my expectations. Not only did they have really good coffee, but they were all very kid-friendly. (So much that I would consider the coffee shops attractions for families in themselves!)
You may recognize the name of this coffee shop given its locations all over Pittsburgh. You may not realize though, that Commonplace actually started in Indiana, the town that the owners and their family call home. They treat coffee like an art form here, and everything I saw served from the barista looked almost too good to drink. (My cold brew coffee was also perfect for a hot day!)
Given that the owners have 3 boys, there’s also a huge selection of toys available to play with. My 2-year old also highly recommends the sugar cookie jam-packed with sprinkles.
- Location: 1176 Grant Street, Indiana, PA
- Website: https://commonplacecoffee.com/indiana-penna/
The Artist’s Hand Gallery
This mixed use space is both a gallery for local artists to showcase their work and a cafe. We stopped here for lunch, and I had a freshly prepared panini for lunch and an Italian soda. (Both of which were tasty!) We loved the added touch of the daily quote that came with our lunch. The Artists Hand Gallery also offer a full espresso bar as well as baked goods from the local bakery, Six Hands Bakery. While you’re there, take the time time to browse the artwork displaced throughout the gallery. There are many items available for sale as well.
If you’re visiting the Artists Hand Gallery with kids, be sure to seek out the bookshelf by the coffee bar. It’s filled with Legos, crayons and a few other things to keep the kids occupied.
- Location: 732 Philadelphia Street, Indiana, PA
- Website: https://www.theartistshandgallery.com
Caffe Amadeus makes you feel like you’re stepping into a European cafe from the moment you enter its doors. Its namesake, the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is the inspiration for much of the decor. In addition to the full service barista, Caffe Amadeus roasts its own coffee beans. (My friend also swears by their chai tea!) This cafe also sells a variety of baked goods and other food for sale.
Despite the air of sophistication when you first enter, Caffe Amadeus is super kid-friendly. There are several seating areas throughout this large coffee shop. Plus there’s a big kids area in the back that includes so many toys and games for kids of all ages. (So parents can actually drink their coffee before it gets cold!)
- Location: 628 Philadelphia St, Indiana, PA
- Website: https://www.restaurantji.com/pa/indiana/caff-amadeus-roast-and-brew-/
Philly Street Station
Philly Street Station is a newly opened restaurant located in an old train station. This original train station building dates back to 1901 and the restaurant maintained many of the original features. Be sure to read the book found on each table, which shares the history of the Indiana B R&P Rail Station.
The interior of the restaurant is filled with train memorabilia and pictures, making it the perfect place to dine if you love trains. My son also had a chance to wear the special conductors hat to “turn on” the model train. The train runs around the interior of the dining room, and he was super excited to see it at the end of our meal.
The menu at Philly Street Station is expansive, and I had the fish tacos at the recommendation of the server. The tacos were super flavorful and the blackened Walleye was cooked perfectly. My son picked the pizza and tater tots from the kids menu. He loved it so much that he ate more than I’ve ever seen him eat out to dinner!
- Location: 1125 Philadelphia St, Indiana, PA 15701
- Website: https://www.phillystreetstation.com
This lunch and dinner spot has a unique mix of vintage decor in a Victorian house. Even the ladies’ room is fully decorated, with vintage hats and a clawfoot tub. There is also ample dining outdoors, with a mix of umbrella covered tables and covered patios. We were fortunate to be there on a nice day and enjoy the seating on the outside patio.
If you’re visiting with kids, be prepared that the inside comes across as a little formal. The entire restaurant is still kid-friendly, though! The service and food were both great, and they offer a large menu with a huge variety.
- Location: 458 Philadelphia Street, Indiana, PA 15701
- Website: http://benjaminsindianapa.com
The Meadows Frozen Custard
No trip to Indiana is complete without a stop at Meadows for a frozen treat. This frozen custard stop has a number of rotating daily flavors in addition to its staple menu. Our vanilla and pistachio custard was delicious and the portions are huge. The store offers both indoor seating and ample benches and tables to sit outside. The Meadows is a franchise, but the location at Indiana has been around for almost 30 years.
- Location: 458 Philadelphia Street, Indiana, PA 15701
- Website: http://meadowsfrozencustard.com/columns/indiana/
When dining in Indiana, PA, know that some restaurants are closed on Sundays. (Always check the website or call first!) A few other restaurants on our list for next time include: Steel City Sammiches, Josephine’s Pizzeria & Enoteca and Ninth Street Deli. Indiana, PA also has a number of wineries and breweries that can be found here.
Please share in the comments if you’ve been to Indiana County and have additional favorites that should be added for our next trip!
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