The charming small town of Wabash, Indiana is a two-hour drive from Indianapolis. It lays next to the Wabash River, which stretches over 500 miles. The town is partially hilly with streams cutting through limestone historic downtown buildings, and tree-lined streets. Come along as we explore the midwestern charms of Wabash, Indiana.
In its heyday, Wabash was a stop for the Big Four railroad, and trains regularly use the route today. In 1880, it became the first electrically lighted city in the world. In 2016, Wabash received another honor when it became the finalist in the first Small Business Revolution contest and received a $500,000 makeover.
I grew up in Wabash, and on my fall trip home, I spent time touring the town and the sights. Today, visitors can expect to experience a mix of old and new with memorable stays in boutique lodgings, wine tastings, antiquing, riverside walks, and musical shows.
First Fridays, Shows, Markets & Food Tours in Wabash
Every first Friday of the month (except January), downtown streets bustle with activity, including melodies from street musicians and the delicious smells of food trucks. You can peruse boutique shops or antique stores, sample food, wine, and beer, learn about the infamous Modoc the elephant, visit the Wabash County Historical Museum and ride a historic trolley.
I haven't been to a show at the Art Deco-style Honeywell Center yet, but they often sell out. This year's calendar includes the toe-tapping Riverdance, country singer Trace Adkins, and the musical 42nd Street. Before each show, Eugenia’s Restaurant opens for a dinner buffet, and they are also open for lunch and Sunday brunch.
If food trucks don't strike your fancy, downtown eateries include Market Street Grille, Twenty Restaurant, Green Hat Lounge, Modoc's Market, Wabash Pizza King, and my personal favorite for burgers and shakes The Curb, which is a 60's style diner a few blocks from downtown. If you are a beer lover, the new Chapman's Brewery taproom opened the end of January. Afterward, wrap up the evening with a movie at the 111-year-old Eagles Theatre.
On summer Saturday mornings, in the Honeywell Center parking lot, I like to stroll through the Wabash Farmers' Market to check out local crafts, produce, baked goods, and listen to live music. From June to October, are Taste of Wabash food tours. If your group has six to fifteen people, a food tour can also be arranged.
Boutique Stays in Wabash
The town of Wabash offers a couple of boutique hotel stays that encompass the historical feel of the town, including Charley Creek Inn and Herrold on Hill Bed & Breakfast Inn.
Charley Creek Inn
Wabash's landmark hotel, Charley Creek Inn, is in the heart of downtown. The 30-room Georgian Revival historic building is a fully restored 1920s hotel and on the National Register of Historic Places.
I toured the property, rooms and suites, and banquet facilities. The guest rooms are spacious with 20th century inspired furnishings and modern amenities. For larger groups, families, or extended stays there are suites with small kitchens.
The hotel's restaurants – Twenty and Green Hat Lounge – are inspired by Indiana native Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichel. I enjoyed a night out with appetizers, cocktails, and the live piano music they play on Friday and Saturday night. If you are in the mood, as I was, sing along with your favorite songs.
The hotel also has two shops. My mother and I always head down to the Wine & Cheese Shoppe for the complimentary wine tastings and to look at their selection of artisanal wines, craft beers, small-batch spirits and liquors and specialty cheeses.
The Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe has nostalgic candies, locally-made chocolates, and hand-dipped ice cream.
Herrold on Hill Bed & Breakfast
Three blocks away from downtown, and two blocks away from the Honeywell Center, is the 1885 Victorian Neo-Jacobean Herrold on Hill Bed & Breakfast. This lavish 6-room bed and breakfast is decorated with antique furniture and art and has all the modern conveniences.
In the mornings, I enjoyed a cup of tea in the dappled sunlit parlor and sitting room with a double-sided fireplace. And, in the evenings, my favorite place to take in the changing evening sky is the screened porch with a glass of wine in hand.
The proprietors, which happen to be my parents, have been honored for three years in a row with the Featured Foodie Hotspot and they regularly participate in the Taste of Wabash food tours. They serve multi-course gourmet candlelight breakfast in the formal dining room, an intimate window nook, or the porch for pleasant mornings.
Wabash City Trails
A trip to Wabash isn't complete without biking or walking one of its many trails. Since I am a history buff, my two favorite trails are the Wabash Cultural Trail and the Paradise Spring Riverwalk Trail.
The cultural trail takes you past important historic downtown area landmarks like the Dr. James Ford Historic Home, the Wabash County Courthouse, and the Wabash Carnegie Public Library. The Riverwalk trail, which is at the edge of downtown, wanders through the historic cabins at the Paradise Spring Historical Park and then connects to the Wabash Riverwalk Trail where you can watch for wildlife along the riverbanks.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.