While most people have heard of Nashville, Tennessee, I imagine not as many have heard of Nashville, Indiana. Nashville, Indiana is a small artist community located in Brown County. A few years ago, Nashville was named as one of the 20 Best Small Towns to Visit by Smithsonian Magazine.
I stumbled across the town nine years ago during my year-long road trip around the USA and have wanted to return to stay at the nearby Story Inn which is rumored to be haunted. Finally, I made my return trip after going to Kentucky for the Derby.
I arrived Sunday night and stayed through Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday are very quiet days in Nashville. Some of the restaurants and museums are closed. I liked the quaintness, but for those who want more activity, visit on a weekend, as Nashville is a popular tourist destination and hopping.
Where to Stay in Nashville
While there are a variety of places to stay in Nashville from motels to small inns, as I mentioned above, I really wanted to stay at the Story Inn. I was taken by its history, its architecture and its supposed hauntings by the Blue Lady.
History of Story
The Story Inn is located in Story, Indiana thirteen miles southeast of Nashville in the midst of Indiana’s rolling hills, farms, and state and national parks. The now state of Indiana was opened to European settlement on September 30, 1809 with the signing of a treaty between Governor William Henry Harrison and the Miami Indians.
The boundary for the “Ten O’Clock Treaty” which opened three million acres to settlement is marked by the shadow cast at 10am on Sept. 30th. The line passed through the center of the would be Town of Story.
The Town of Story was established in 1851 and became the largest settlement in the area supporting two general stores, a church, a schoolhouse, a grain mill, a sawmill, a slaughterhouse, and blacksmith’s shop and a post office.
At the onset of the Great Depression, however, Brown County lost half its population, and the Town of Story never recovered. This afforded the state and national governments the ability to purchase thousands of acres of land. Now this area is a nature lovers paradise and my happy place!
The Story Inn
The Town of Story was purchased in the 1980’s and the Story Inn came to be. The Inn features a gourmet restaurant, a tavern, gardens, a barn, and 14 rooms and guest houses. The Bed & Breakfast is a popular wedding venue and fun weekend attraction.
I reserved the Blue Lady room for two nights as it is supposed to be the haunted room. I left the blue light on for the ghost to visit, but I didn’t see an image. A few weird things did happen, though I don’t know if they were related to the apparition.
Is the Story Inn Haunted?
So, I stayed at the Story Inn on Monday and Tuesday. The Inn is actually fully closed these days, meaning there is no staff on duty and the restaurant and tavern are closed. I thought this applied to the general public, but not to the guests too! I was the only one staying in the main building while another guest stayed in a different house.
As such, it was a little strange to experience surges and temperature changes in the water during my shower that would normally take place with someone flushing the toilet. Not to mention, the surges were much longer than the regular toilet flush. I chalked it up to an old building, but it only happened during one shower.
In addition, my room had an attic. The second day, I came back from hiking, and the attic door was open. I suppose the sliding latch could have come undone on its own, but the latch wasn’t the easiest to slide close. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether these were coincidental events or not. It’s been reported the picture of the lady has fallen off the wall too, but who knows. I was hoping an appearance of the Blue Lady to me would prove there are ghosts!
Story Inn Restaurant
While I didn’t get to have the full bed & breakfast experience at the Inn since it was closed the two days I had a reservation, I did get to enjoy a spectacular dinner at the Inn on Sunday evening. I recommend at least having dinner at the Story Inn if staying at a haunted hotel isn’t appealing.
Top Things to Do in Nashville
There is so much to do in and around Nashville, Indiana. Nashville is a perfect town for a weekend getaway.
Indulge in Nashville General Store’s Fried Biscuits
OMG! I read about these fried biscuits in my Reader’s Digest Scenic Roadtrip book. I wanted to just taste one, but they are only sold in batches of 10 for $7.99. So, I ended up with 10 balls of cinnamon toast. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat them all at once, but they are AMAZING!
Be sure to stop in the Nashville General Store no matter what. The cute store and bakery offers a variety of treats and local products for sale.
Taste Some Wine
There are a handful of Indiana wineries with tasting rooms in Nashville. Visitors to the town can conveniently pop into any of them to taste Indiana’s Upland wine. Instead of tasting in town, I thought why not drive the backroads to Brown County Winery just a few miles east of Nashville.
It was a tasting room on a somewhat busy backroad. While I didn’t find the peaceful atmosphere of a winery, I was surprised at how much I liked their sweet wine for which the Winery is known. I generally prefer dry reds, but their Vista Red Wine and Blackberry Wine won my approval. They were dessertlike.
Take a Distillery Tour
Not far from Brown County Winery is Bear Wallow Distillery. I figured while I was tasting wine, I may as well taste whiskey too. Given I had just recently enjoyed several free bourbon tastings in Kentucky, paying for a tour and tasting in Nashville, didn’t entice me too much. But for those not going to Kentucky, it’s worth $5 to have six tastes of Bear Wallow spirits.
Fortunately, Bear Wallow produces general bourbon, but also flavor spirits like Rootbeer, Lemonade, Margarita and more. The flavored “moonshine” was awesome! Bear Wallow offers additional tastings and tours, but I think Hard Truth Hills, with its serene location, might be a better choice for an in depth experience.
Learn How to Make Fudge (and Candy)
Nashville Fudge Kitchen, located in the heart of Nashville’s downtown, sells fudge, popcorn, candy, and ice cream. It includes two stations for making fudge and candy. Stop in to see the process! I strolled into the store to a find a recently made batch of fudge.
Stop By Brown County Pioneer Museum and Old Jail
The Brown County Pioneer Museum is only open on the weekend, but the Old Jail can still be seen. I think it is fun to see one room, log jails! If only we needed one room jails now instead of massive facilities. This one was constructed in 1874.
Ride the Train
The Brown County Pioneer Museum is only a two minute walk from the Nashville Express, a train that boards at the Fearrin’s Ice Cream Depot. The 25-minute, narrated historical tour is free for kids under 5, so it’s a good activity for families. In addition, the train travels to a few of the nearby hotels which offer ticket discounts to their guests. The train operates every half-hour from 10-6.
Check Out a Show at Brown County Playhouse
The Brown County Playhouse opened as a stock theater in 1949. Nashville was the only county seat in Indiana that could boast a dramatic stock theater company without a film emporium. Now Brown County Playhouse hosts year-round programming and films!
Drive Brown County’s Backroads to Artist Studios
Nashville and Brown County are known for its artist community. Pick up a brochure that indicates the artists’ studio locations and drive the backroads of Indiana. Each studio has different hours and some places seem more inviting than others, but overall, its fun to drive through the hilly, farmland without getting lost!
Visit TC Steele State Historic Site
Speaking of artists, one of the most famous artists from the Nashville area, was TC Steele, an American Impressionist painter known for his Indiana landscapes. The TC Steele State Historic Site includes three miles of trails and lovely gardens on its 211 acres. Set up a place to paint on the pretty grounds or take a tour.
Stroll Nashville’s Main Street
So far, I’ve mostly addressed eating, drinking and sitting! Walk off all those calories in downtown Nashville. While the Main Street is charming, be sure to check out all the side streets, especially artisan’s corner. Nashville features a choice of restaurants, confectioneries, antique stores, and artsy shops. Its picturesque streets invite an afternoon stroll.
Hike the Surrounding Trails
Need more than a stroll? Take a hike. Brown County is a nature lover’s paradise. Nashville is surrounded by parks, both state and national.
Brown County State Park
Brown County State Park requires an entry fee. $7 for Indiana residents and $9 for non-residents. The nearly 16,000 acre park includes over 30 miles of bike trails, over 15 miles of hiking trails, and a large campground.
When I visited many years ago, I took a short hike on trail 7 around Ogle Lake with my dogs while looking for caches.
This time I took Trail 9 whose trailhead is located inside the campground. The ranger at the pay station to the campground will provide a parking pass for free. I connected the loop trail to the extension to make a 7.4 mile hike.
The shaded trail led me by a quiet creek, past blooming dogwoods and through patches of wildflowers as I followed it to the lake where I enjoyed lunch on a nearby bench. The only unpleasant surprise was a bull snake on the side of the trail that initially scared me, though it was harmless.
Yellowwood State Forest
Another place with nice hikes is Yellowwood State Forest. The forest is free to visit. I took a 4.4 mile hike on Yellowwood Lake Trail. Most of the trail passes through the forest with limited views of the lake, though it is open near the spillway. It also passes through a few parking lots.
Today it was very muddy with a variety of wildflowers dotting the edge. In addition, one section includes interpretive signs for those interested in the ecology. It is best to use the AllTrails app in order to find the trail connections along the makeshift loop.
I have always liked Indiana, and I’m glad I returned to Nashville and the surrounding area. It’s quite a wonderful oasis of art, antiques, culinary delights, and beautiful parks and countryside. ETB