Gaining notoriety for our vibrant fall foliage (and rightly so), Brown County is one of the best places around to see autumn’s beautiful colors. In fact, it’s one of the top spots in the Midwest and even the whole country according to some.
To make your fall getaway to Brown County as enjoyable as possible, we’ve decided to put together a guide to help you better navigate your way around, bypass some of the traffic and crowds, and suggest some off-the-beaten-path activities. Let’s just call it an Insider’s Guide to Fall in Brown County.
First of all, the number one resource to have is our Discover Brown County app. From information on shops, restaurants, attractions, and lodging properties to finding parking, restrooms, and other attractions, the app makes life easy. In fact, it’s the only all-inclusive way to find the info you’re looking for! You can make reservations, use maps and directions, search for local events, and even find the Visitors Center on social media. No need to wander or drive around aimlessly, just refer to that app and let it show you the way. Think of it as your very own personal tour guide…one that just so happens to conveniently fit in your pocket that is! Be sure to download the app before heading this way. You’ll be glad you did. Plus it’s free! You can easily find it in the App Store and on Google Play or you can always visit www.browncounty.com/app. Don’t forget to turn on your notifications for updates on important info and Brown County fun!
The number two resource to have before your fall visit to Brown County is the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour brochure. What’s so special about it? Besides providing information on the event itself (which is an awesome way to see the beautiful fall foliage and some less well-known parts of the county), this particular brochure has a very extensive and extremely useful map in it that is guaranteed to help you dodge some major traffic by sneaking into town on the scenic back roads.
The Back Roads Studio Tour is something that has been going on for 18 years and is a true glimpse into the life of a local artist. This free, self-guided driving tour showcases the arts and crafts of the present day “Art Colony of the Midwest.” Not only will you get to admire the area’s fall colors as you drive along, but you’ll also have the chance to visit 14 home studios, featuring the work of more than 20 artists. Watch these artists in action, explore the spaces that inspire them, and if you like something well enough, purchase art directly from its source! Click here to check out their cool video and see what the tour is all about!
You can download the Back Roads map off the “Request Information” page on our website (www.browncounty.com/guides) or we can send it to you by mail. Also, it will be available in the Visitors Center. You can even find all the studios listed in the “Arts” section of the Discover Brown County app.
If you do find yourself stuck in traffic, head off on a Brown County adventure instead and visit some of the area’s more off-the-beaten-path attractions. Take a break from the car, stretch your legs a bit and have some fun!
If you’re coming to Nashville from the North on State Road 135 (a.k.a. from Indy, Martinsville, Greenwood, etc.), check out the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Museum and the Farmhouse Café. Pay tribute to Bill Monroe, bluegrass trailblazer and legend, at the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Museum located in Bean Blossom. Learn about the life and music of Monroe, and check out his personal collection of memorabilia. Reminisce about the story of bluegrass beginnings and even tour Uncle Pen’s Cabin while you’re there!
While you’re on the North side of the Village still, be sure to swing by the Farmhouse Café. Located in an old historic 1800s brick farmhouse, the Farmhouse Café & Tea Room is both unique and cozy. Garden fresh, seasonal salads, sandwiches, and soups pair perfectly with freshly made herbal teas and one-of-a-kind cool drinks for lunch. As do high-quality, artfully prepared dinner entrees. There’s even a Flower and Herb Barn on the property, where you’ll find plenty of plants, garden treasures, and antiques.
If you’re coming into town from the East on State Road 46 (Columbus), you can take a break in Gnaw Bone. There you’ll find the Brown County Winery. Have a taste or two and browse their award-winning, locally-made grape and fruit wines…something they’ve perfected in the three decades they’ve been in business.
Head a little more toward Nashville and you’ll run into Bear Wallow Distillery. Bear Wallow is one of the first craft distilleries in Indiana, using 100% locally-grown grains to make unique spirits in an old-fashioned copper pot still. Stop in for a Farm-to-Fifth Tour, tastings, cocktails, a special food section of whiskey-inspired creations, and direct sales!
Another option on the East side is the Brown County Antique Mall. Family-owned and operated since 1972, there are over 7,000 square feet to explore! There’s even an art gallery that displays and sells early Brown County and other American paintings.
Let’s not forget about those of you heading into the Village from the Bloomington direction. If you’re coming in from the West on State Road 46, be sure to check out the T.C. Steele State Historic Site. Stroll the beautiful gardens, admire paintings in the Large Studio, hike nearby trails, and see how Brown County’s founding father of the arts once lived (Steele’s the one that led other artists to the area to establish the Art Colony of the Midwest in case you were curious).
Yellowwood State Forest also is a great place to take a break. Located only seven miles West of Nashville, this 23,326 acre forest has tons of fun recreational opportunities for everyone! From its many hiking and horseback riding trails to its three lakes that are perfect for fishing or canoeing, Yellowwood is a prime spot for outdoor adventure. You can even camp there too!
After you’ve stretched your legs and cleared your minds at these fun attractions, now you’re ready to head to town and find parking. With both free and paid parking lots, along with street parking, we’ve got you’ve covered!
To help you figure out what your best parking options are, we’ve put together a list of all the lots around town and have tried to organize them based on their location. Obviously these lots are in addition to free street parking, which can be found all throughout the Village.
Here’s the list of lots – we worked our way from the South side of town (where State Roads 46 East and 46 West meet at the stoplight by CVS) to the North side:
- Brown County High School Parking Lot – 235 School House Lane (free lot on weekdays; paid lot on weekends with proceeds benefiting Brown County High School clubs)
- Foxfire Parking Lot – across from the BP gas station (paid lot)
- Pat Reilly Parking Lot – corner of Pat Reilly Drive and Jefferson Street (free lot)
- Village Florist Parking Lot – 188 S Jefferson Street (paid lot)
- Salvation Army Parking Lot – 168 S Jefferson Street (paid lot)
- Coachlight Square Parking Lot – 101 E Washington Street (paid lot)
- Nashville Christian Church – 160 S Van Buren Street (park with a donation)
- Washington Street Parking Lot – end of Washington Street (free lot)
- Pittman House Lane Parking Lot – near the Nashville General Store/Onya La Tour public restrooms (paid lot)
- Artists Colony Inn Parking Lot – 105 S Van Buren Street (paid lot)
- Old School Way Parking Lot – on Old School Way behind Out of the Ordinary/Heritage Mall (paid lot)
- Nashville United Methodist Church Parking Lot – 36 S Jefferson Street (park with a donation)
- Kritzer’s Parking Lot (or should we say field) – this one won’t be marked with a sign but if you see a bunch of cars parked in a field down West Main St., you’ve found what we’re talking about (paid lot)
- Courthouse Parking Lot – 20 E Main Street (free lot)
- Post Office Parking Lot – 200 E Gould Street (free lot)
- Historical Society Parking Lot – corner of Van Buren and Gould Streets (paid lot)
- County Annex Building Parking Lot – 201 Locust Lane (free lot)
*If you’re coming to town from the North side (on State Road 135 North), just flip flop this list!
Of course, while we did try to lay these out in a way that may make searching for a spot a little more convenient, all parking lots and spots are up for grabs! Use any of these and you’ll only be a few short blocks from the center of Nashville. You can find all these parking options in the “More” section of the Discover Brown County app, complete with details and directions to guide you there. You can always stop in the Visitors Center for maps showing parking lots too.
After you’ve wrapped up your driving and parking adventure, I can almost bet where your first stop will be (at least I know where mine would be). It’s not for fudge and some coffee or for a necklace and bath soaps. Nope…my guess is it’s probably the restroom! But where in the world can you find one of those?
Well you’re in luck, because we’ve got a few scattered around town. If you’re in Nashville during the week, the Courthouse is a good option. Located on the first floor, these restrooms are open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meanwhile, if you’re here on a weekend, there are four other options you can choose from.
If you’re more on the East or South side of the Village, you should head for the Onya La Tour restrooms. You’ll know you’re close if you see a bright yellow building (the Nashville General Store). Right in the middle of town (and a little to the West) are the Antique Alley restrooms. Venture back into the alley by Miller’s Ice Cream and you’ll find these restrooms, along with the Antique Alley Shoppes. Also, in the center of town are the Village Green restrooms. Brown County’s newest restroom facility, these bathrooms are conveniently located at the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets. Rounding out the list are the Mound Street restrooms. In between Van Buren and Jefferson Streets, these restrooms are your best bet if you’re on the North end of town. All of these restrooms are open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Just like parking, you can refer to the “More” section of the Discover Brown County app to navigate your way to relief!
Another tidbit of helpful information to know about Brown County when visiting in the fall is that most restaurants in town do not take reservations. When you’re here all day strolling, shopping, and having fun, eating out is most likely on your agenda. After all, how could it not be with all the tasty food on the menus? Since reservations aren’t really an option, be sure to plan ahead!
Give yourself plenty of time for dining and be patient. Instead of wondering around checking out everyone’s menus when you’re already hungry, pick out a place to eat before it’s time to actually eat. Stop by the Visitors Center to browse their book of menus or scroll through places to eat on the Discover Brown County app.
For (most likely) shorter wait times, you may want to stroll the Salt Creek Trail over to the Brown County Inn and the Pine Room Tavern. Admire the fall colors and take in some nature as you enjoy a leisurely walk along the trail. You’re reward for your hard work? A delicious meal!
Also, consider eating at odd times. Food is food…and it’s good no matter what time you eat it! Instead of planning to eat your lunch at exactly noon or have your dinner at 6 or 7, consider an early lunch, mid-afternoon meal, or even a late night dinner. Try to avoid prime feeding time for the masses and maybe you’ll not have to wait!
There’s always snacking throughout the day too. I’m not trying to encourage anyone to spoil their dinner, but why not take advantage of all the great sweet, treat, and snack shops in the Village while you’re here? Most of all, don’t let the whole no reservation thing ruin your day. Instead, take in your Brown County surroundings and just enjoy the company you are with.
When you’re visiting in the fall, it’s also a good idea to stop by the Visitors Center. Located in the heart of the Village (just look for the big, bright, and beautiful leaf sculpture), the Visitors Center is a one-stop shop for any information you may need to know. Get maps and brochures, ask the staff questions, check out local menus, get some Brown County gear, and pose for a fall picture on the patio!
Besides strolling the Village, there are a ton of other ways you can enjoy fall in Brown County as well. Head outside of town to see Brown County’s beautiful leaves on an ultimate outdoor adventure. Admire the colorful fall foliage while zip lining, horseback riding, hiking, or mountain biking. There are even birding tours and Fall Color Wilderness Kayak Tours too! Adventure-seekers, nature lovers, and everyone in between should experience the great outdoors in Brown County especially during the fall. Do town one day, stay overnight, and hit the trails the next day or make it a wilderness weekend and see fall in a whole new way.
No matter what days you come or what you do once you get here, a fall getaway to Brown County is hard to beat! We hope that with these tools, you’ll enjoy your visit regardless of the traffic and the crowd. Use this Insider’s Guide to Fall to make what is sure to be a great trip even better and see for yourself what the Brown County fall frenzy is all about!
For more info on all our fall fun, visit www.browncounty.com/fall-season!
Brown County Visitors Center:
10 North Van Buren Street, Nashville, IN 47448
812.988.7303 / www.browncounty.com
Monday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m..