The Indiana city of Terre Haute got off to a roaring start in the 1800s with the bold move to build Fort Harrison deep within Indian territory. The city flourished for decades as a frontier depot for trade between the west and the east by river and railroad. The following century wasn’t as kind to Terre Haute. But this resilient Midwest city is back on the ascendency with a revitalized downtown, a University of Indiana campus, and a growing arts scene backed by the Swope Art Museum.
Things to see
If there’s anything exciting happening in Terre Haute, it’s probably the work of the energetic students of the University of Indiana. The campus is a gorgeous place to walk, people-watch, or even get a dose of exercise. Surrounding it are streets lined with cool cafés, fun bars, and plenty of youthful enthusiasm.
The Swope Art Museum is the place for all your Midwestern art questions. This downtown venue is small but impressive, with a solid collection of works by 20th century Hoosier artists that bring the historic building to life.
Honey Creek Mall is the only place to shop in Terre Haute. It’s home to many well-known American retailers along with a handful of popular chain restaurants.
When summer rolls around, keep an eye on the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds. This is Terre Haute’s main venue for touring concerts, country fairs, and other fun classic Midwestern festivals.
Anyone who enjoys baking in the kitchen has probably seen or used Clabber Girl baking soda. This essential baking ingredient got its start in Terre Haute so the city created a museum devoted to all things Clabber Girl. It’s a cool slice of vintage Americana.
Hotels in Terre Haute
Nearly all of the accommodation in Terre Haute consists of American chain hotels supported by a handful of local motels and historic inns. You won’t have any trouble finding a branch of your preferred chain hotel here, particularly along the interstate corridor and around the University of Indiana campus.
Most of the hotels here provide basic amenities but are heavy on friendliness and cleanliness. A few companies like Hilton and Candlewood have gone a step further and converted slick historic downtown buildings into modern hotels with a splash of style and cosmopolitan service.
Where to stay
Business travelers and creative types will find downtown Terre Haute surprisingly attractive. The city has taken its vintage Midwestern architecture and allowed companies to come in and transform them into upscale hotels, trendy restaurants, and art galleries.
Adjoining the downtown core is the bustling university campus. The two districts flow seamlessly into each other, allowing travelers easy access to Terre Haute’s main attractions as well as the fun student side of city life.
If you need to stay outside of the city center or are looking for the most bang for your buck, there are a number of budget chain hotels scattered along Interstate 70, next to the city exits. This is the preferred area for drivers needing a convenient place to sleep for the night or for families on holiday.
How to get to Terre Haute
The nearest airport to Terre Haute is about an hour away at Indianapolis, the state capital. Indianapolis International Airport has a good range of domestic flights, particularly to cities in the immediate Midwest region. Most travelers rent a car at the airport and drive to Terre Haute, which is right off of Interstate 70. Greyhound buses also have plenty of routes into Terre Haute, especially through Indianapolis. Within the city itself, there is a public bus system that runs every day except Sunday from 06:00 to 18:00. Taxis pick up the slack after the buses stop running.