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Naturally Indiana

Surrounded by water on all four sides, with myriad lakes and rivers in between, the Hoosier State is made for boating.

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Madison Indiana public docks
Madison public docks.

Settled when Indiana was still a territory, Madison, tucked among the rolling hills that meander towards the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana, became a city in 1809. Considered a major river port and supply town outfitting pioneers as they made their way into the Northwest Territory, it thrived during the Steamboat and Railroad eras.

Today, the city boasts the largest historic district in Indiana, with more than 130 blocks listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The architecture ranges from Second Empire and Victorian to Georgian and Federal styles. A river walk lines the banks of the Ohio, just steps away from the downtown and its restaurants, art galleries, shops and museums.

You can’t miss an overnight stay at the Whitehall Bed & Breakfast, a pre-Civil War mansion with gorgeous gardens on the Ohio River. The owners have amassed a collection of museum-quality antiques, and their three-course breakfast is amazing.

Madison has several wineries, including two near the river: the award-winning Lanthier Winery, the city’s oldest, and The Thomas Family Winery located in 1850s stables, which also features hard ciders. In the country, Madison Vineyards is also a bed and breakfast.

You can also listen to music and dine in the garden at the Broadway Hotel & Tavern, Indiana’s oldest tavern, established in 1834.

Tie up at one at the full-service Rivercrest Marina, which can accommodate any boat size up to 150 feet. Pump-out service, running water, parking, a boat ramp, marine store and taxi service are available.

There’s running water, electricity and dock space able to host up to 70-foot boats at the Madison Lighthouse Docks, located right in the heart of Madison’s downtown.

Mark your calendar to see the Pony Express ride again at the Canaan Fall Festival and Pony Express Mail Run Celebration on September 13 and 14. On September 21, meet at the historic Broadway Fountain for Historic Madison, Inc.’s free architectural tour. That evening, attend the Black & White Party on the south lawn overlooking the Ohio River at the peach-colored Lanier Mansion, built in 1844 and considered one of the country’s finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. On the last weekend of September, enjoy the music, food and good times at the 43nd Annual Madison Chautauqua.

Visit nearby Clifty Falls State Park, known for its limestone bluffs, fantastic river overlooks, canyons, creeks, hiking trails and seven waterfalls. The park’s Clifty Falls Inn first opened in 1924 and has been extensively renovated and added onto since then. Many of the rooms have views of the river and downtown Madison.

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