Free Things to Do in Southern Indiana
When we tell you to come see us in Southern Indiana - just across the river from Louisville, we mean it! And we’re not asking you to break the bank. Sometimes the hottest spot in town is the one that costs the least or nothing at all.
We've compiled a list of the free activities you can find in Southern Indiana year-round and during the fall and holiday seasons.
Earn Prizes While Exploring SoIN
Set your sights on SoIN! See some of the best views along the Ohio River, walk in the footsteps of the Lewis & Clark expedition, explore 390-million-year-old fossils and hike some (or all) of Indiana’s longest trail. You can do all of this and more when you sign up for the Scenic SoIN passport.
Check-in at 10 locations on the passport to earn a custom print by Graphic Designer, Illustrator and SoIN native Matthew Clinard. While exploring some of the most scenic stops in Southern Indiana, you’ll earn entries into our "Ultimate Outdoor Adventure in SoIN" grand prize drawing.
Big Four Pedestrian Bridge
What to expect: A walking path across a former railroad bridge links Southern Indiana to the Louisville Waterfront. Go in the evening to enjoy the gorgeous LED lighting system that gives the bridge a lovely, colorful glow. Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
- Free parking
- Fully accessible to mobility devices
- Local author Kenny Karem’s
free and downloadable
activity sheets for the bridge
and the Ohio River.
- A total walking experience of two miles.
- Family Friendly
- Great for a date
Carnegie Center for Art & History
What to expect: The Carnegie Center for Art and History is a division of the public library system in New Albany-Floyd County. The center acts as a hub for contemporary art shows and historical information and exhibits about Floyd County. Temporary art exhibits occur throughout the year and encompass various media. Hours: 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Friday & Saturday (closed on Sundays)
- Free admission
- Permanent exhibit "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad"
- Regular programs and lectures for all ages, most of which are free
Schimpff’s Candy Demonstration & Museum Tour
What to expect: Schimpff’s Confectionery is family-owned and operated. It has been in its current location since 1891. The confectionery makes and sells several candy varieties including cinnamon red hots and their version of the Modjeska, a rich caramel and marshmallow chew. The store includes a deli, soda fountain, and museum. Call ahead to see when candy-making demonstrations are scheduled. Candy made at Schimpff's includes cinnamon red hot drops and hand-dipped chocolates.
- Candy-making demonstration
- Museum and candy memorabilia
- Good comfort food in the deli
- Speaking with members of the Schimpff family about the history
- Perusing the photos on the walls
Ohio River Greenway
What to expect: A seven-mile stretch of Ohio River Waterfront on the Southern Indiana side providing walking, biking, and hiking to residents and visitors. The Greenway spans the lengths of New Albany, Clarksville, and Jeffersonville’s southern borders. The project is a collaboration between the cities with each city adding its own specific amenities to the project. Hours vary by section.
- Falls of the Ohio Access
- Big Four Bridge Access
- New Albany Amphitheatre and Waterfront access
- Loop Island Wetlands
- Origin Park Access
Fossil Beds at the Falls of the Ohio
What to Expect: The Fossil Beds at the Falls of the Ohio State Park date back 390 million years. For a $2 parking fee, access to the Fossil Beds is a short hike down to the river. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes or boots. Bring a bucket and a brush to clear debris from fossils. Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Walking down to the fossil beds is free (parking is $2 per vehicle next to the interpretive center, there is also free parking at the nearby park)
- Listen for alarms that signal changes in the river level
- Most fossils are relatively small, marine life, indicative of the ocean that once covered the area, but these fossil deposits are some of the largest in the country.
- Some are 50-feet long. See tips for finding really big fossils.
- Bring sunscreen, a hat, and water.
- Remove any trash you bring with you
Hiking on the Knobstone Trail
What to Expect: If the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail is too much, try Indiana’s Knobstone Trail. It is Indiana’s longest natural footpath and perfect training for anyone interested in long-distance trekking. The trail is 58 miles long and runs along a high ridge. It offers spectacular views of Southern Indiana’s hills. The southern end of the trail ends at Deam Lake State Recreation Area, just 20 miles north of Louisville. Take a short hike or hike the whole 58 miles. Hours: Mostly open but check the Knobstone Trail website for trail closures
- Great exercise
- Camping opportunities
Explore Public Art
NoCo Arts & Cultural District is an intimate, whimsical, full of color and walkable area in downtown Jeffersonville. This vibrant location is home to artists, makers, historians and inventors, all of whom are transforming the area into an inspiring and intriguing place. (“No” stands for North and “Co” stands for Court Avenue, which is a shout-out to its location in downtown Jeff ). Other things you can do while you’re in NoCo: create art of your own at Maker13 or tour a museum. Explore fire engines and memorabilia dating back to the 1700s at Vintage Fire Museum and all things history from Clark County at the Clark County Museum.
One of the liveliest draws at NoCo is the eye-catching murals that adorn the area. The artistic mecca is home to several colorful works that make for great photo ops and selfie spots.
In addition to the NoCo Arts & Cultural District, Southern Indiana is home to dozens of other murals, many within walking distance of one another. Spend a day chasing the street art peppered throughout SoIN. While you’re taking a pic, be sure to tag us if you want to share one of your photos with our fans and followers.
Other Free Things To Do
From rolling hills and nature to the Ohio River and skylines, Southern Indiana is the prime spot for stunning sights. Check out this curated list of five spots for enjoying a scenic view.
Stop and smell the roses!
The garden scene is growing in Southern Indiana. From botanical to butterfly gardens, you could spend an afternoon touring some of the area spots that are in full bloom (depending on the season, of course!).
Several times throughout the year, Indiana celebrates Free Fishing Days. With its plentiful lakes, creeks, and Ohio River access, Southern Indiana is a prime spot for fishing. Here’s a look at seven spots in SoIN, whether you’re looking for a day on a boat, standing on a dock, or at the edge of a lake.
Festivals & Events
Thunder Over Louisville happens in mid-to-late April and offers one of the nation’s best fireworks displays set to music. The fireworks show is the opening event for the Kentucky Derby Festival. Viewing from the Jeffersonville side offers great viewing and easier-to-navigate crowds.
Farmers Markets occur in New Albany each Saturday from 8 a.m.- noon, May until October. During the summer months, the market has a couple of extra locations and has a Wednesday market. Market hours from November - April are 10 a.m. - Noon. Check the Develop New Albany site for current information. In Jeffersonville, the market operates at two locations on two different days. Markets happen at Big Four Station Park on Saturday mornings and at Faith Lutheran Church on Allison Lane on Tuesdays. Check the Jeff Main Street site for details on their summer and winter markets.
Jeffersonville RiverStage is an amphitheater-style venue along the Ohio River overlooking downtown Louisville. In the summer months, you’ll find free concerts every Friday. The venue is known for drawing a who’s who of musical acts, and its Jeff Goes Country concert in mid-summer is a hot-ticket event that draws thousands to the banks of the Ohio River. Fun fact: it’s a barge that has been converted to a stage, hence the name “RiverStage”!
The Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series is the place to go for music lovers. This weekly event and summer staple is held on Friday nights in historic downtown New Albany at Bicentennial Park. With food and beverage trucks on-site, the concert series has become a Friday evening tradition to unwind from the workweek and officially kick off the weekend.
Harvest Homecoming is one of the largest festivals in Southern Indiana. It has been drawing thousands to New Albany’s downtown for more than 50 years. The festival happens on the first two weekends of October. It features a parade the first weekend, followed by booth days the following weekend, including tons of food, a baby photo contest, pumpkin chunking and the best people-watching around.
Autumn on the River happens each October in Bethlehem, Indiana. It began as a festival to support the town’s only three-room schoolhouse, and that mission continues today. The festival draws people to Bethlehem to enjoy the fall colors, food, carriage rides, a car show, as well as plenty of fun and games.
Charlestown’s Christmas Light Show happens from late November (the weekend after Thanksgiving) through New Year's Day. Each night families can come to 1000 Park St., across from Charlestown High School, and stroll among the Christmas lights. There is hot chocolate, mini-golf, skating, and carriage rides. Carriage rides are available for a small fee. It’s the perfect place to create holiday memories.