10 Reasons to Visit Boone County, Indiana

Person standing at Boone Pond in Boone County Indiana

Photo courtesy of Amy Imboden

When my husband and I started looking for a place to put down roots, Boone County quickly caught our eye. With affordable housing, thriving cities, and a farming community feel, we knew this place was something special. 

Boone County is a rural community just northwest of Indianapolis with great cities and towns like Lebanon, Whitestown, Zionsville, and more. We originally started going to Boone County to visit our friends in Lebanon. But eventually, we found ourselves coming back on random weeknights just to explore the neighborhood. 

That led to us looking for a house in the area, and we soon settled on a cozy, 1869 farmhouse on the edge of the city. Not long after we moved, some friends of ours drove over from Carmel for guitar lessons—and sure enough, they ended up staying, too!

After all, Boone County is the second fastest-growing county in Indiana for a reason! There’s a certain magnetic charm that draws people to our community. We’re constantly making updates to meet the needs of our growing population, but Boone County still maintains its inherent quaintness and small-town allure. 

Now, I’ve raised my family in this community for over 20 years, and we’ve experienced many of the best things that Boone County has to offer. My time here has afforded me valuable insight into what locals enjoy most—and what some people don’t even know exist. So, I’ve put together this list of the Top 10 things that make Boone County a vibrant place for visitors and residents alike!

1. The Big 4 Trail

Hop on The Big 4 Trail to catch a glimpse of true Indiana! This beautiful rail-trail was named after the railroad that once linked Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and New York together in the 1920s. The trail is now a historic part of Indy, and its path will soon connect all the major cities in Boone County—from Lebanon to Zionville.

If you’re looking for a short ride, walk, or jog, I recommend checking out the 2-mile trail in Whitestown or the 3.7-mile trail in Zionsville. But if you’re ready for a longer distance, you can jump on the trail in Lebanon and travel the 15.4-mile stretch through Thorntown. You’ll get to enjoy the beautiful Indiana scenery as you pedal over wooden bridges in serene fields. There’s bound to be some farmers at work in the fields, and you might even spot a deer in the evenings!  

The Big 4 Trail is also a great place to spend time with family and friends. The trail has a mixture of paved and gravel surfaces that are easy enough for kids to ride. There’s also a park at the halfway point between Lebanon and Thorntown that’s a great place to meet up and stop for a break! 

2. Max’s Cubbard

Ever tried breakfast at a drugstore? I promise it tastes better than it sounds!

Max’s Cubbard is a local favorite for a hearty Hoosier breakfast and lunch. This classic diner is hidden across the street from the Boone County Courthouse, tucked away at the back of a Hallmark store where it shares a space with Cowan’s Drugstore. 

Max’s opened sometime around 1960, around the same time as The Friendly Tavern opened in Zionsville. With its long counter, classic stools, and red carpet, it truly feels like a nostalgic glimpse into the past. But most importantly, the food’s delicious, the servings are huge, and the coffee’s refilled before you can even think to ask. 

The diner is decorated with signs saying “Boiler Up,” along with old pharmacy relics that date back to 1856. When you’re done eating, take a stroll through Cowan’s to admire their pharmaceutical museum, including the first hand-written prescriptions they ever issued! You’ll probably be too full for snacks, but don’t let that stop you from grabbing homemade caramels at Hallmark on your way out! 

Breakfast at Max's Cubbard

Photo courtesy of Amy Imboden

Man drinking at the counter of Max's Cubbard

Photo courtesy of Amy Imboden

3. Center Stage Community Theatre

Center Stage is the oldest community theater in Boone County, residing just off of Indianapolis Avenue in Lebanon. Since 1994, Center Stage has performed everything from classic dramas to avante-garde comedies. Their plays are relevant, poignant, funny, heart-warming—and always entertaining!

The Center Stage Community Theatre is a hidden gem for many Hoosiers, but their performances are well-known throughout Indiana’s local theater community. Every year, their plays attract directors, actors, and theater buffs from across the state, including many experienced performers.  In fact, over half of their ticket sales are from outside of Boone County!

I recommend following them on Facebook to stay in the know about any upcoming performances or auditions! And if you want to get involved, they welcome volunteers and performers from all across the region.

4. Hickory Hall Polo Club

If theater isn’t your speed, how about watching a live polo match? From June to October, the Hickory Hall Polo Club opens their doors to the public, allowing visitors to watch their expert players compete on trained polo ponies!

During the season, matches take place every Friday at 6 PM—with doors open at 5 PM. Guests are encouraged to pack a picnic and tailgate throughout the event. This family-run establishment welcomes about 500 spectators each week, so you’ll want to arrive early to make sure you get a good spot! 

If you don’t know much about polo, don’t worry! Hickory Hall offers a convenient Spectator’s Guide on their website. It explains the rules of the sport and what to expect from a Hickory Hall match. Each week, you can participate in the Divot Stomp (à la Pretty Woman) and enjoy an airplane flyover with a candy drop at halftime!

Best of all, their Polo at Sunset events are family-focused and community-driven. Each match is sponsored by a local business, and all proceeds from the event benefit local charities in our community. The cost to attend is $40 per car, which goes toward the charity for the evening. 

5. Sugar Creek Art Center

Thorntown is a small town with a big reputation here in Indy! People come from across the region for Stookey’s Restaurant, which serves amazing catfish, onion rings, and steaks. And in autumn, the town comes alive for the annual Turning of the Leaves Festival. But did you know Thorntown also has a huge, three-story art gallery, as well?

The Sugar Creek Art Center is located in a 100-year-old building that some residents still remember as the Old Garment Factory—a place that manufactured clothes in the 1980s. Now, the center is a non-profit art gallery and studio entirely run by volunteers. 

At the center, you can rent one of their studios or event spaces, participate in their gallery exhibitions, and shop for authentic, locally made art! The exhibits are constantly changing, showcasing a variety of pottery, jewelry, wood turned bowls, fiber and glass arts, and more. The center also hosts special events throughout the year, where you can browse through art to your heart’s content. 

If you’re a casual artist, Sugar Creek also offers opportunities to showcase and sell your artwork. Every month, they host an open show focused on a specific theme, and anyone is welcome to submit their art to the show.

6. Boone County 4th of July

Here in Boone County, the 4th of July has been a big deal longer than anyone can remember. The festivities last for over a week and include many nights of community events at Memorial Park in Lebanon. In fact, all the festivities are meticulously planned out by a dedicated 4th of July committee (and several sub-committees!)

One of the most popular activities is the annual “Almost Anything Goes” competition. Anyone with a team of seven can sign up to compete in silly, fun, and often messy games. These competitions are hosted several nights throughout the week with events for kids, teens, and adults. There’s also an ice cream social, concerts, a pedal parade, a golf-cart decorating competition, and more!

Usually, a carnival comes to town, but our 4th of July Festival is ever-evolving! In 2022, they added a foam party for the kids, as well as a pickleball competition. But the week always ends in a show-stopping parade and fireworks show. You can reserve your prime parade seating by showing up a day or two in advance and roping off a section of Memorial Park for your crew. (It’s a local tradition!) 

Pro Tip: Follow Boone County EDC to stay in-the-know about local events all year long!

7. Farmers Markets

In the summer months, residents come from all around for fresh produce, homemade treats, live music, and good vibes at our local Farmers Markets! Boone County is home to many local farmers, bakers, and other vendors that sell their delicious wares. So, mark your calendar for market season!

One of our most popular markets is the Zionsville Farmers Market—the oldest and largest Farmers Market in the county. The Zionsville market runs on Saturday mornings from the end of May to the end of September, giving you plenty of time to stock up on your farm-fresh favorites.

If you’re looking for a slightly less crowded spot, both Whitestown and Lebanon also host markets from June through August. The Lebanon CIty Market is held downtown on Tuesdays 5-7 PM with weekly themes, activities, prizes, and free books for kids. Meanwhile, the Whitestown Farmers Market is open Thursdays 5-8 PM with live music and tasty food trucks.

Each market has their own unique variety of vendors, so it’s worth visiting all of them to see what’s for sale! You can shop a wide variety of local goods and produce, while getting to know our local communities.

Pro Tip: I always enjoy stopping for lunch or dinner at a local restaurant when I’m going out to the market!

8. Nature Parks

For all the hikers, bikers, and nature lovers out there, Boone County offers several lovely outdoor spaces just waiting for you to explore. Some of the most popular spots for a nature hike include Starkey Nature Park, Mulberry Fields, and Creekside Nature Park. But if you’re looking for some new scenery, try these lesser-known areas for your next outdoor adventure! 

In Zionsville, you’ll find both Turkey Foot Nature Park and the Zion Nature Sanctuary. These two locations are great for short, beautiful hikes through the woodland. Turkey Foot is a 23-acre park with a picturesque footbridge along Eagle Creek, while Zion Nature Sanctuary boasts natural wetlands areas, a scenic overlook, and an outdoor classroom for local nature programs! 

If you go a little further north, you’ll find Boones Pond—one of my favorite places to get some fresh air. Boone’s Pond is a State Recreation Area where you can go fishing, boating, or just relax on your lunch break. Motorized boats are allowed, and there’s a path around the pond that leads to some perfect fishing spots. Just make sure you wear some long pants so you don’t touch any poison ivy!

Amy posing in front of Boones Pond

Photo courtesy of Amy Imboden

Sign reading Boones Pond State Fishing Area

Photo courtesy of Amy Imboden

9. Peaceful Country Living

One of the best parts about Boone County is that you can get away from all the bustle. City life is only a small portion of our community, and many people enjoy the quiet fellowship of rural living. 

After all, life in the country doesn’t equal isolation—but rather a unique connection to the surrounding community. It’s a place where people look out for each other, and your neighbors are always happy to lend a hand, share their tools, and feed your chickens while you’re out. 

That’s why rural Boone County is the perfect place to start a farming venture—large or small. But it’s also a cozy place to settle down and raise a family. Smaller towns like Advance, Jamestown, Elizaville, and Hazelrigg also have their own shops and restaurants to explore, if you’re looking to get away from the big city!

10. Impactful Volunteer Opportunities

Despite its smaller size, Boone County is full of unique and interesting non-profits. If you’re new in the area and looking to meet new people, there’s no better way to make connections than volunteering! 

Boone County has a big heart, so you can often find residents out volunteering at their charity of choice. Our non-profits offers countless opportunities to help with animal rescues, women’s shelters, food pantries, foster care advocacy, child abuse prevention, and more. So, check out our local volunteering scene for ways to get involved!

Whether you’re interested in mentoring kids, supporting the arts, or organizing the Farmers Market, anyone can become part of our growing community, And when you do, you’ll see just how close-knit Boone County truly is. Our volunteers are only one of the reasons I’ve listed here today, but that genuine generosity shows why so many people proudly call our county home!