The small city of Madison, in Jefferson County, Indiana, United States, is going to charm you with its picturesque beauty and interesting history. It has a population of around 12,000 locals and it is the largest city between Cincinnati and Louisville.
Whether you are traveling here for pleasure or business, you will not want to miss the main attractions and activities to do while you are in town.
1. Check out the Francis Costigan House
The Francis Costigan House was built in the 1850s and it is representative of the architectural design of the 19th century. Francis Costigan is the architect who designed the house, following the Greek Revival design.
You will be able to admire not only the captivating exterior but also the interior decorations with handcrafted wooden pieces. The house is emblematic of how people used to live two centuries ago and it will give you a time-travel experience as soon as you get inside.
The fee for a complete house tour is $5. Make sure to check the tour schedule on their website and call 812-265-2697 if you wish to schedule a tour.
2. Discover local history highlights at Eleutherian College
There are plenty of historical places to check out in Madison and the Eleutherian College should have its place on your list. Here you will learn a lot about the main figures who created the Madison we know today. The Eleutherian Institute was founded in 1848 by The Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Society.
Eleutherian comes from “eleutheros”, a Greek word that stands for “freedom” and it was known for admitting students with no discrimination of race or ethnicity.
The building of Eleutherian College dates back to 1850, and it is very impressive to visit by itself. Also, the college was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, and in 1997, it became a National Historic Landmark.
You will need to make an appointment to visit the college but the experience is worth it.
3. Madison Railroad Station Museum
You will find the Madison Railroad Station Museum within the Madison’s History Center Campus and you can easily spend a few hours here. You will find original equipment that was used along with the history of the railroad station as well as equipment used in its construction of it.
Each piece in this museum comes with an interesting story that you will be able to read in its description. Once you check the railroad station museum, you will have a better understanding of the way the railroad system impacted the city’s growth over the decades.
Plus, while you are here, you can also check out the History Museum at the History Center.
4. Visit the Lanier Mansion Historic Site
This mansion was also designed by Francis Costigan in the 19th century and it is just as impressive as you would expect it to be, given the era it represents. Dating from 1844, the building carries a lot of impressive details that make it stand out among other constructions.
FD Lanier, a railroad developer, and a banker owned this mansion and enriched it with a lot of unique decorations specific to the 19th century, that you will be able to admire as you are visiting. You will find original furniture and an impressive staircase that accommodates the three stories of the house.
Lanier Mansion also hosts paintings and landscaping styles from the 1800s that you can admire. Make sure you bring your camera with you because you will be tempted to capture a lot of these beauties in pictures. You can book a tour here and event organize a memorable, private event such as a wedding at the Lanier Mansion!
There are also events that you can attend at this mansion such as musical concerts and educational events.
5. Explore the beautiful Clifty Falls State Park
The Clifty Falls State Park spoils you with the best natural beauties Madison has to offer. It is situated right on the Ohio River and you can find fascinating waterfalls as you take your walks through the park.
There are plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic or play some outdoor activities with your friends or your pet as well. If you like to hike, there are several hiking trails inside the park that you can try out.
Look for the information center to find out more about the park but also about the types of activities you can enjoy here! There are over 350,000 visitors that enjoy the beauty of the Clifty Falls State Park each year and you could be one of them if you go to Madison.
6. Try out the local beer at Mad Paddle Brewstillery
Brewing high-quality beer is another beautiful aspect of Madison that you will love. The brewing beer history here took off between 1823 and 1918 and the city became famous for it.
Mad Paddle Brewstillery is the best place in Madison to taste local beer and learn more about the process of making this delicious drink. The brewery was launched by the Wade brothers in 2018 and it became an attraction point almost instantly. The place hosts events such as music concerts and you can rent it for a private event as well.
Here you will find the best beer in town but also a delicious menu to try with it and often there is live music available to complete the atmosphere.
7. Admire the architecture of the Sullivan House
If you love architecture and beautiful buildings, you can’t miss the Sullivan House in Madison. This house belonged to the judge Jeremiah Sullivan in the 19th century and it is one of the oldest buildings in town. Urban legends say that Sullivan also named the city of Indianapolis.
The design of the house has a strong Federal style that offers the building a certain charm and personality. It dates back to 1818 and it is considered the first mansion in Madison. The Sullivan family lived in this house for over 70 years and the place now operates under Historic Madison, Inc.
If you are interested in booking a tour of the house, contact Historic Madison and consider that there is a $5 fee per person.
8. Have a relaxing day at Crystal Beach Pool
You can find the perfect mix between a fun and relaxing day at the pool and a historical getaway at the Crystal Beach Pool.
The pool has been functioning since 1938 and it is the place where many locals and tourists decide to hang out during the hot, summer days. The water has different levels of depth so you can get as deep as you are comfortable with and it is built in a completely safe structure. The semi-circle design of the pool gives it a vintage aspect that makes it even more charming.
Besides the pool, here you will find a bathhouse that is made out of stone and still has its original design.
9. Discover the herbs at the Stream Cliff Farms
Stream Cliff Farms is one of the farms that made history in the region. You can find all kinds of organic herbs and other types of food here, as well as original wine. However, the market is not open daily all year round.
The farm is owned and operated by the same family for decades and it was passed down for six generations. There is also a restaurant where you can try out local and international dishes. And for cooking enthusiasts, there are several cooking classes you can attend, along with gardening and art ones.
You can find the farm open on Saturdays, between 12.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. and if you want to visit it on other days, you should check their website for the updated schedule. Some events take place here such as the Barn Market and it is very much worth it to check them out if you are in the area.
10. Try out original sweets at Cocoa Safari Chocolates
Who doesn’t like chocolate? While you are in Madison, you can’t miss the Cocoa Safari Chocolates. While there are many places where you can find tasty sweets in Madison, this is where you want to go for chocolate art.
At Cocoa Safari Chocolates you will find all kinds of artisanal sweets that will steal your heart and spoil your taste buds. The shop was opened in 2005, and the team aims for creating the best tasting chocolate sweets and a wide variety to satisfy all expectations.
You can taste their sweets by visiting them as they are open every day of the week, but you can also order some from their website. And if you are organizing a party, count on Cocoa Safari Chocolates for the best sweet treats to impress your guests!
As you can see, Madison has a lot to offer, and you might even prologue your stay here to get to see as much of it as possible. This city encompasses the atmosphere and history so specific to Indiana and is ideal for everyone who wants to have a relaxing vacation!