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Nashville isn’t just located in one of the most scenic parts of Indiana, where forests stretch over rolling hills and the steep-sided Salt Creek Valley. The artists who formed the Brown County Art Colony in the early 20th century have left an enduring influence on this charming town. Downtown Nashville is home to more than a hundred small shops, and you can spend a day here wandering from cottage to cabin, sampling fudge or candy corn, and browsing through craft stores and gallery-hopping. Many visitors arrange their trips around theater and live music performances. Autumn is glorious in the nearby Brown County State Park and Yellowwood State Park, bringing visitors from all over to hike and drive amid the brilliant fall leaves. But don’t wait for October — this comfortable retreat is an ideal spot for a family-friendly getaway year round.
Nashville is located 60 miles south of Indianapolis and 86 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. Almost every major airline in the United States operates nonstop flights to one of the two cities. Because there is no train or bus service from the big cities to Brown County, the best way to explore Nashville and the surrounding state parks is by car, and you can easily rent one at either airport. You’ll find free parking all over town, though you may have to hunt for a spot during peak season in the autumn.
Southern Indiana enjoys four distinct seasons, with hot, humid summers — the high temperature averages over 75 degrees Fahrenheit from late May to September — and chilly winters that often dip below freezing, though the snowfall here is lighter than in the northern part of the state. You’ll want to pack appropriately for either season, and bring sunblock and bug spray if you’re spending the day in the state parks.
The most comfortable times of year are May through June, when short sleeves and light jackets are all you’ll need, and September through November, when the air is crisp and clear, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit.
Almost everyone who visits Nashville makes a pilgrimage to Indiana’s most beautiful state park, whose ridges and valleys were formed by glacial meltwaters at the end of the last Ice Age. The 16,000-acre park is covered in old-growth forest and riddled with hiking and mountain-biking trails. Many climb up the 90-foot Fire Tower to take in the expanse of the entire park.
Theodore Clement Steele is one of the best-known painters of the Hoosier Group of impressionists. In 1907, he and his second wife, Alma, built the House of the Singing Woods in the Arts and Crafts style, as well as a large studio and gardens. Now a museum, the home displays some of Steele’s loveliest landscapes, and you can meander around the 60-acre property afterward, admiring the terrain that inspired them.
The Brown County Historical Society has preserved one small corner of early-19th-century Nashville, and children especially will enjoy exploring the log-walled buildings, blacksmith’s shop, and best of all, the old jail. Historical re-enactors bring the site to life from May through October.