Evansville is the economic, cultural, and entertainment hub of the Tri-State area of Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Founded in 1812, it’s the third most populous city in Indiana and offers historical perspective, premier entertainment, and outstanding local cuisine.
Due to its location on the Ohio River, it is also known as the River City, or as locals call it, the Crescent Valley. Evansville is full of history with attractions like Angel Mounds settlement site, family-friendly activities like Mesker Park Zoo, or natural wonders like Wesselman Woods.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Evansville (IN)
1. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
Built in 1993 to bring family fun to a small Indiana town of Santa Claus, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is a paradise for people of all ages. The 40-acre park attracts more than a million visitors every year, offering many rides, attractions, games, and even live entertainment (check out their diving show!). It’s also a winner of many public polls, including Indiana’s Best Place to Take the Kids, and as of 2002, the friendliest and cleanest park in the world.
The Holiday World Park has four areas celebrating all the main holidays – Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July. In the Splashin’ Safari Park, there are three wooden roller coasters, the Thunderbird ride, and safari-themed water rides. It’s home to the world’s two longest water coasters, a few wave pools, and a lazy river. Enjoy cool bonuses like free unlimited soft drinks and an app to book the top rides.
2. Mesker Park Zoo
Opened in 1928, Mesker Park Zoo and Botanical Garden only had two lion cubs, a few antelopes, and an elephant. Today it’s home to more than 700 animals, including giraffes, jaguars, macaws, Mexican gray wolves, lemurs, and many more. The Botanical Garden at the Zoo features a few gardens with plants grown explicitly for zoo animals to eat.
The zoo is open year-round and offers unforgettable experiences. One of its most popular exhibits is the Amazonia featuring rainforest residents and several fish species. There are tropical trees and palms, a waterfall, and a suspension bridge. The rest of the galleries include specials like Discovery Center and Lemur Forest and others divided by continents. Younger visitors will love the Children’s Enchanted Forest, a carousel, a playground, a cafe, and a tram.
3. USS LST-325
USS LST-325 is a tank landing ship of the U.S. Navy, located along Riverside Drive in Springfield. It moved to this location in June 2020 after being 15 years at Marina Point. Fully restored, USS LST-325 is the only operational LST craft that exists today.
Winston Churchill once called it the ship that won the War, as it was crucial for sea-to-land invasions. It’s an exciting World War II historical site with tours led by actual crewmembers, who dedicated their lives to serving the Navy. The vehicle is 328-feet long, 50-feet wide, and weighs 1,625 tons. Such size and power will impress any visitor coming to see the ship.
4. Burdette Park
Since opening to the public in 1936, Burdette Park has been a top recreational spot for locals and tourists. It’s a 170-acre park that is open every day and has many opportunities for recreation and fun. It’s most famous for its 3-mile paved trail, considered a destination point on the American Discovery Trail and one of the best and fastest BMX tracks in America.
One of Springfield’s best summer activities is the Burdette Park Aquatic Center, open from May to August. It’s been functioning since 1961, but the Olympic-size swimming pool, two diving boards, four waterslides, and a family pool are in superb shape even today. There’s also a 2,5-acre fishing lake, four tennis courts, basketball, volleyball, softball fields, and a camping area with cabins and space for tents and RVs.
5. Children’s Museum of Evansville
The Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville, also called cMoe, is the most educational and fun place for kids of all ages. Built and designed by Roto Studio, the museum opened in 2006 and is the best interactive children’s museum in the area. It offers over 20,000-square-feet and three floors of interactive exhibits and galleries.
All activities should inspire kids and spark their interest in the world we live in. They can deconstruct objects in the Work Smart gallery, enjoy a water exhibit at the Quack Factory, learn about the human body in the Live Well Gallery, and express themselves through art in the Speak Loud Gallery. There’s also a play tower teaching about renewable energy, a dinosaur exhibit, an interactive theatre, and even a talking figure of Mark Twain.
6. Victory Theater
Located in downtown Evansville, Victory Theatre is a small venue that offers excellent entertainment options. This 1,950-seat theatre is home to the famous Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, local ballet, modern dance groups, and traveling shows.
Designed by Chicago architect John Pridmore and opened in 1921, the theatre used to be a premier and classy entertainment venue. At the time of its construction, the theatre’s stage was the biggest one in the Midwest. Today visitors can enjoy the unique atmosphere and decor of the 20th-century theatre restored to its original glory.
7. Angel Mounds State Historic Site
Angel Mounds State Historic Site is a 600-acre archaeological site that helps the visitors discover the Middle Mississippian indigenous culture and the people who inhabited the land from AD 1100 to AD 1450. The twelve mounds seen at the site today served as residencies and ceremonial places.
Take a stroll around the site and visit a museum in the interpretive center. You will learn about the political, cultural, and economic center of the Angel tribes and about a thousand inhabitants of the area. There are also recreations of Mississippian structures and a replica of a 1939 archaeology laboratory. The museum offers many interactive activities suitable for both young and old.
8. Ellis Park Racing & Gaming
Although officially located in Henderson, Kentucky, Ellis Park Racing & Gaming is only about a 10-minute drive south from Evansville. It’s a thrilling way to spend the day and enjoy simulcast or live thoroughbred racing. Built in 1922, the park is open year-round for horse races, gaming, and fun events like Ostrich racing. For those visitors who like gambling, there are 179 instant racing machines in the gaming area.
You can bring lunch to eat at one of the picnic tables or enjoy a buffet-style restaurant on the spot. It primarily serves Southern food, like fried chicken or fish, BBQ ribs with a wide choice of sides. For a more luxurious racing experience, book a spot at the Sky Theater located above the track, and enjoy air-conditioned seating with betting facilities, meals, and a bar nearby.
9. John James Audubon State Park
Peaceful and tranquil, John James Audubon State Park is a 700-acre state nature preserve. Located in Henderson, Kentucky, not far from Evansville, the park features many fantastic recreational opportunities. There’s a fishing lake where you can rent a boat, a nine-hole golf course, a few tennis courts, and 6 miles of marked hiking trails in the woods. It’s also a popular campsite with a 69-acre campground and six cottages available for rent.
The park received its name after John James Audubon, a wildlife artist whose passion was exploring the forests and studying wildlife for his art. The Audubon Museum, located in the park and opened in 1938, is home to the world’s most extensive collection of original Audubon art. It has four display areas educating visitors about the artist’s life. Check the museum tower and look for a few small niches for nesting birds.
10. The Roofless Church
Half an hour from Evansville, the Roofless Church is a unique architectural landmark located in New Harmony. Designed by Philip Johnson and built in 1960, this site represents an open-air church that welcomes visitors of all faiths and inspires them to unite. The church itself is a 9,800-square-feet area surrounded by brick walls.
The central feature is a magnificent bronze sculpture called The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Jacques Lipchitz designed it along with the beautiful bronze gate medallions at the entrance of the church. A curved dome-like roof protects the sculpture and confuses many visitors, who mistake it for the church.
11. Bosse Field
Opened in 1915, Bosse Field baseball stadium is one of Evansville’s highlights. Today it is home to Evansville Otters, but since its construction, about ten other teams have also considered the stadium to be their home. With the capacity of 8,000 seats, watching a game at Bosse Field is an exciting option for a night out in the city.
Being the first municipally owned stadium and the third-oldest functioning ballpark in the U.S., Bosse Field has a rich history. It got its name after Benjamin Bosse, the mayor of Evansville, from 1914 to 1922. You can find his signature on a sign hanging on the main gate. There’s always something going on, including high school, college, and American legion games.
12. Blue Grass Fish & Wildlife Area
Blue Grass Fish & Wildlife Area is a must-visit site for wildlife lovers and nature fans traveling to Evansville. The land on which it stands is unique due to being strip-mined. This natural park covers 2500 acres of the former Ayrshire Mine property.
Water depth at the lake is ideal for kayaking. You can also fish and hunt in the area if you have a special permit. Another feature that makes the park attractive to visitors is its incredible bird watching opportunities, with grassland and water birds occupying the territory.
13. Old Courthouse Center
The Old Courthouse Center, located in downtown Evansville, is a gorgeous landmark dominating the city skyline with the 216-feet-tall tower. Completed in 1890, it used to be the seat of Vanderburgh County’s government. And before that, it was a basin with canal boats delivering and returning cargo on the canal.
Today it represents the 19th century German Beaux-Arts architectural jewel. Thanks to the grand sculptures and stone carvings in Indiana limestone and chic Victorian decor, any visitor will be in awe. Fourteen statues, designed by Franz Engelsmann, surround the building and add to its tastefulness.
14. Eastland Mall
There’s no better place for enjoyable shopping and fun entertainment options for everyone than the Eastland Mall. With more than a million total square footage and more than 130 stores, this mall is a nice change of scenery and a fun way to spend a few hours of your visit to Evansville.
Opened in 1981, it has been the leading shopping destination in the Tri-State area ever since. In addition to three department stores, the mall offers an excellent food court with many fast-food options, like Chick-fil-A and a TGI Friday’s restaurant. Kids will enjoy a goofy golf area and a carousel ride, while parents can relish in the mall’s relaxed ambiance.
15. Reitz Home Museum
Indulge in the luxury living of Evansville’s past by visiting the Reitz Home Museum. Built by John Augustus Reitz in 1871 to showcase his success and high status, the museum presents the history and the daily life of the family and their contributions to Evansville’s society.
It’s a Victorian house museum with distinguishing architectural and design elements. Visitors can immerse themselves in the silk damask-covered walls, hand-painted ceilings, hand-laid wood floors, marbled fireplaces, and numerous pieces of original period furniture. The tours are offered to the public any time of the year.
16. Willard Library
Willard Library opened to the public in 1881. It is the state’s oldest public library and one of the oldest in the Midwest region. Locals and visitors treasure it for the architecture, interior design, and an incredible selection of books, archives, and genealogical materials.
Designed by James W. Reid, it is a famous haunted library. Staff members and some visitors claim to have seen Grey Lady or Louise Carpenter’s ghost, who was the library’s founder’s daughter. Each year in the last two weeks of October, the library organizes tours telling ghost encounters stories back from 1937 until the present day.
17. Evansville African American Museum
Evansville African American Museum, established in 2007, is the state’s first museum of its kind. It covers the life, struggles, and achievements of the African American community in Evansville. The museum’s building is one of the 16 buildings in the Lincoln Gardens Complex, the first New Deal housing project designed for African Americans, dedicated in 1937.
The museum covers the life in the Baptisttown neighborhood, which became the center of African American life in Evansville. It had its own schools, churches, social clubs, shops, and a hospital. The museum offers rich and factual historical exhibits and a replica of the room from the 1930s.
18. Wesselman Woods
Explore the great outdoors in the 240-acre nature preserve called Wesselman Woods. It is the largest old-growth urban forest in the U.S., with some of the trees over 400 years old. Take a stroll on a lovely walking trail and spot some of the local wildlife, which includes raccoons, squirrels, gray foxes, whitetail deer, and owls.
For visitors there’s a nature center offering engaging interactive exhibits and several live animals on display. The park has a few wildlife observation areas, a turtle pond, and a 3-acre Nature Playscape, an area specifically designed for children to play and learn.
19. Tropicana Evansville
Tropicana Evansville, which opened in 1995 as Casino Aztar, was the state’s first casino. It used to be a riverboat until it relocated to a land-based site in 2017. Located on the Ohio River, this complex offers the most breathtaking views of Evansville.
The whole complex attracts many visitors with its 45,000-square-foot casino, two world-class hotels, a conference center, shops, bars, restaurants, and a lounge area. The entertainment area hosts nightly live music bands and DJs. For those who’d like to test their luck, the casino offers 1,175 slot machines, over 30 gaming tables, an eight-table Poker Room, and more.
20. Evansville Wartime Museum
Located at Evansville Airport, Evansville Wartime Museum showcases and celebrates Evansville’s role for the nation during World War II. It tells the stories of the locals who fought for their country and displays memorabilia they collected.
During World War II, Evansville was a center of military production. It manufactured P-47 fighter planes, LSTs, tanks, ammunition, clothing, and weaponry. Visitors can learn all about the history of Evansville’s impact in the war, see the vehicles and artifacts through a multitude of exciting displays.
21. Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, located in Owensboro, Kentucky, is less than an hour away from Evansville. It’s the world’s only museum dedicated to the international history and preservation of bluegrass music. The 21,000-square-feet building is full of interactive exhibits, memorabilia like posters or costumes, live instrument demonstrations. It’s also home to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame.
For music buffs, the complex holds guided tours, jam sessions on the first Thursday of the month, and an annual summer music festival called the River Of Music Party. It usually takes place on the last weekend in June and lasts for three days. It’s also worth checking out the 447-seat Woodward Theatre, which is the museum’s performance venue.
22. Mickey’s Kingdom Park
If traveling with children, there’s an excellent way to burn off kids’ energy and take a break for parents. Located on the beautiful riverfront in downtown Evansville, Mickey’s Kingdom Park is a wonderful interactive playground.
The playground is a 21,000-square-feet space, built by the local community volunteers and designed for children of all abilities. The site’s most unique feature is that many structures are from recycled materials, like empty milk jugs. It’s a lovely way to feel like part of Evansville’s community.
23. Howell Wetlands
Among one of the few best natural escapes in Evansville is the Howell Wetlands. This 23-acre wetland park is an urban recreation gem. There are lots of animals to spot, as well as two miles of hiking trails. They are known as one of the most well-maintained trails in the area.
Take a stroll in the serene surroundings of one of the most extensive urban wetlands in Indiana. Bring your camera not to miss the excellent photo opportunities on many of the area’s wooden walkways and bridges.
24. Old Post Office
The Old Post Office or Evansville’s Customs House is a gorgeous event venue and one of the most treasured landmarks. Built in 1879, it’s a historic post office building. Visitors can get a feel of the city’s past by walking around and examining the building’s architecture.
This Gothic-style limestone building has three stores. The first floor is home to a beautiful banquet hall, and the other two stores are available for special events like weddings and celebrations. The two architectural wings were a new addition to the building in 1918, and today add to the charming city’s atmosphere.
25. Bru Burger Bar
Bru Burger Bar is a fabulous burger place located in a renovated historic bus station building in downtown Evansville. Known for its flavourful burgers and inviting sides, Bru Burger Bar is an absolute must for those who appreciate great food. And if you’re into craft beers, here you’ll find a good selection of regional beers on tap.
When visiting this place, usually bustling with people, make sure to try some of their most famous burgers like the Garlic Three Cheese or the Bourbon burgers. The restaurant will also please its visitors with specialties like Bru Board or Bru Fries, their homemade sauces, and regulars like BBQ nachos and crispy onion rings.