Other than living overseas for a few years as a child, for most of my life I have lived in Indiana, also known as the Hoosier State. I’m a Midwest girl and love it here. Indiana is known as “The Crossroads of America” and the “Hoosier State” due to its central location. While driving through Indiana, many people believe that it’s a subpar Midwest state that’s surrounded by endless cornfields and farms. The cornfields part is true, but this state has much more to offer. With so many things to do, the Hoosier State allows residents to experience big city living without the big city cost and effort.

Here are 5 reasons why the Hoosier State has much more to offer than cornfields and farms.

1. It’s just the right size.

Indianapolis is just the perfect size, it’s not too big and not too small of a city. It’s big enough to offer all the amenities one wants from a big city. Downtown Indianapolis has taken a new turn in gastronomy and offers new culinary treats from St. Elmo’s famous steakhouse to desserts from the gallery pastry shop. It’s small enough to make getting around manageable without all the hassle of stopped traffic. It has a small town feel at the same time; offering farm to table restaurants and lots of orchards to visit during season. Due to our central location, it’s also easier to take day trips to different cities. Chicago is only a 3-hour drive and offers an even bigger city experience. Also, for those seeking to visit another country by car, the Canadian border is only a 7-hour drive from Indianapolis.

2. It is one of the most affordable states to live in.

Did you know that a report by GO Banking has ranked Indiana as one of the top three most affordable states to live in? I have lived in Texas twice, and even though it is a nice state that offers a lot, the cost of living there was significantly higher than Central Indiana. Indy metro area offers an array of neighborhoods and suburbs with great schools and lots of local activities for adults and children. Business Insider has ranked Carmel as the No.1 best suburb in America, as well as by Niche for two years in a row. The housing market in Indiana is quite affordable and allows many housing options that will not break the bank.

3. State Parks

My little one is walking into the fairy tale tree at Newfields Garden in downtown Indianapolis.

For those who love nature, Indiana offers a diverse landscape of state parks. Only a few hours drive from Indianapolis is Indiana Dunes State Park which is situated on Lake Michigan’s coastline and offers a beach feel and sand dunes that are 60 meters high.

Brown County State Park is nicknamed “Little Smokies” because of its similarities to the Smoky Mountains. During the fall, this beautiful park offers vivid fall foliage and great opportunities for pictures and shopping.

Turkey Run State Park is another favorite hiking site for many locals. It offers scenic rugged terrain and large rock formations, and it’s situated close to many famous covered bridges and the famous covered bridge festival.

There also are many state parks that offer beautiful waterfalls. Just an hour drive from Indianapolis is Cataract Falls. It’s the largest waterfall in Indiana and offers great hiking trails.

In the heart of Indianapolis there’s also Newfields Garden, a 52-acre garden featuring 250,000 flowers, outdoor art, a 26-acre French chateau style garden and the famous Lilly home.

4. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

I have two young boys and have visited many children’s museums across the country.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is by far the best one I have visited.

It’s the worlds largest children’s museum and is renowned for its interactive exhibits and collection. The museum offers five levels of interactive play and learning for all ages. While some exhibits are permanent, others change every few months or every few years, making the experience different with each visit. This year, a new permanent exhibit opened: The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. This exhibit provides sports history, various indoor and outdoor sports, as well as the opportunity to meet a legendary sports character every visit.

5. Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indiana is home to the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400. Every year in the month of May, thousands come to Indianapolis to take part in the Indy 500 race. The entire month offers many activities for children and adults. There is the IPL 500 Festival Parade that showcases marching bands, floats, celebrities and race cars. Following the parade is the one-America 500 mini marathon. There’s also a 500 festival and a kids rookie run for the little Indy 500 fans. Lastly, many fans enjoy going out to the brickyard and watching drivers practice before race day. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also has a museum that showcases all sorts of race cars throughout history and allows tours of the track to visitors.

My kids at the Indy 500 kids festival & rookie run.

If you are PCSing close to Indiana or just looking for an affordable vacation spot, I hope you consider a visit!

Aishah Eljirby was born and raised in Indiana and spent a few years of her childhood overseas. She met her husband at their local mosque 8 years ago, and it’s been a fun Army Aviation adventure since. In the last 8 years, they have gone from being an Army National Guard family to Army Reserves.

Aishah is currently a stay at home mom to two fun boys, and she has a passion for science and volunteers at her son’s school’s science lab. She also occasionally tutors college anatomy and Arabic.

She loves reading and traveling and considers herself fortunate to have a husband who also is a pilot in the civilian world, which allows them to travel and experience different cultures and gastronomy and to teach their boys how beautiful this world is.