Last Updated on July 4, 2017 by Jody Halsted
Our explorations in Hendricks County were made possible in partnership with Visit Hendricks County.
Fall weekends are perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Though it is still warm during the day, the air holds the seasonal change in its every breath, cooling the evenings to a crispness ideal for light jackets.
Autumn is my favorite time of the year, and my family found Hendricks County, Indiana, to be a wonderful host to the changing seasons.
Fall Fun in Hendricks County
Our fall fun began and ended at the Cottage at Natural Valley Ranch. This vacation rental was perfect for our family. Dinner was eaten on the wrap around porch our first night, and our final evening concluded with hot dogs cooked over a campfire beside the lake. In between we explored the fall fun Hendricks County had to offer.
Beasley's Orchard & Gardens, Danville, Indiana
The Civil War era barn sits in a junction of mature apple orchards, ripening apples hanging heavily from the branches looking surprisingly like bunches of large grapes.
Fall harvesting has begun, and the market within the barn is is bursting with local produce: sweet corn, potatoes, onions, cantaloupe, broccoli, and cabbage vie for room on the shelves with a variety of apples in hues from bright read to brilliant green. Wooden shelves are stacked full of locally canned goods, and local wines are artfully displayed near the stone hearth of the fireplace, immediately conjuring thoughts of relaxing evenings by a fire with a glass of wine. Sold!
As my husband and I examined the shelves to see what we couldn't leave without (apparently popcorn, fruit butters, pickles, and sauces), the girls did their own bits of shopping (locally made candies and soda) before settling down on a bench near the Cider Bar with a book.
Had we visited a couple weeks later, we would have joined the fun at the Heartland Apple Festival, a two-weekend celebration at the orchard which includes live music, a craft marketplace, a kids' activity zone, and plenty of local food!
Old Fashion Days, North Salem, Indiana
There is nothing -nothing!- like a small town parade. And Old Fashion Days proclaims to have the largest parade in Hendricks County. Filled with candy-throwing, bubble-blowing, and an impressive number of tractors, it didn't disappoint.
While the parade was fun, we really enjoyed the ‘old fashion' part of Old Fashion Days. There just aren't many places where you can learn to create lace and tatting, watch women spin wool that they have sheared from their own sheep and dyed by hand, or purchase a grill set from a blacksmith – just after he has finished creating it.
Live music, truck pulls, pie eating contests, craft booths, and a car show help fill the agenda of this entrancing small-town festival.
McCloud Nature Park, North Salem, Indiana
What was meant to be a quick stop turned into a few hours of exploring and education. We had only thought to explore the park trails – maybe cross the 101 year old iron truss bridge – and enjoy the warm fall afternoon. But on arrival we found that a hands-on water educational event was going on. The girls were thrilled to join in. Activities led them from water cycles in the Nature Center to life cycles of frogs in the Pavilion, before a short hike led us to Big Walnut Creek where we waded in the cool water while the girls netted small fish and insects.
We spent so much time playing the the creek that the final two activities had ended before we could reach them, and I never did get a chance to cross the iron bridge, but we all agreed that McCloud Nature Park was a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.
Horseback Riding at Natural Valley Ranch, Brownsburg, Indiana
When my horse-crazed girls learned that we could do a trail ride at the ranch we were staying on, there was no doubt that it would be part of our itinerary. Our final afternoon found us atop four of the ranch's horses, ambling along wooded trails.
Though we have done quite a few trail rides, this one was different. The terrain was more challenging than a typical trail ride – boggy spots, large branches, and trails that hugged the edge of White Lick Creek, tested our horsey skills. As we meandered through the ranch's wooded acres, our guides – one at the front and one at the rear- kept us entertained with stories about the horses, the ranch, and life in Brownsburg, while offering advice on how to handle the horses.
The trail ride ended near the petting zoo with it's amusing goats, fancy chickens, and smaller ponies (which are available for free pony rides for the littles), all of whom had to be visited before we could leave.
It was the perfect ending to a fall weekend in Hendricks County.