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Best Outdoor Activities in Evansville, Indiana

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Have Fun...As Weather Permits

Evansville, Indiana is the kind of place that people can make the joke ‘If you don’t like our weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change.’ If you are traveling to or near Evansville; there is a good chance that the weather will cooperate for outdoor plans if you just wait a few minutes. Mild Spring and Fall temperatures help when making plans to spend the day outside. There are outdoor activities in Evansville that the whole family will love and that can make your stay more memorable. Evansville is located just north of the Ohio River in Southwest Indiana. Wesselman Woods Nature Center, Angel Mounds State Historic Site and Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden are just a few places that give people the opportunity to explore and enjoy Evansville, IN.


Wesselman's Nature Society

Wesselman’s Nature Society is a great place for a family outing. The entrance to the nature center is through Wesselman’s Park. The park offers batting cages, softball diamonds, tennis courts and shelters with picnic tables for outdoor parties. There is a reasonable amount of parking throughout and many people walk the park for exercise and many walk with leashed pets.

The nature center entrance is on the far east side of the park next to the recycling center. The nature center offers information about the types of local wildlife. The nature center is the home for Wesselman's Nature Society.

Canoe Trips

Wesselman’s Nature Society offers Canoe trips on Pigeon Creek during the day to see wildlife around the area like beavers, ducks, and deer. The Pigeon Creek canoe trip takes you through the city of Evansville on a five mile trip that takes about 3 hours. The trips can be booked for private groups or you can register to go at one of the scheduled times.

If you would prefer to try a canoe trip in the evening, the Blue Grass Fish and Wildlife canoe trip takes you for a guided tour through a nature preserve just north of the city of Evansville. This trip also takes about 3 hours. Hovey Lake Fish and Wildlife Area canoe trip offers another alternative for a moonlight paddle. The Hovey Lake trip has bald cypress trees growing out of the lake and lots of waterfowl and even a family of bald eagles. This canoe trips also lasts for about 3 hours. All of the trips originate at Wesselman’s Nature Center and all members of the party have to be at least 7-years-old. This is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening in the great outdoors.

Howell Wetlands

There are over 2 miles of walking trails on the 35 acre Howell Wetlands. Trails cover the marsh and cypress slough, through the wildflower and grassland prairie, over the oxbow lake, and through the bottomland hardwood forest. The oxbow lake was, at one time, a channel that the Ohio River flowed through. Howell wetlands are home to many forms of life including green tree frogs, great blue heron, and black rat snakes. There are also many plants and flowers that can be found in the wetlands.

It’s interesting to find such a well maintained wetland just a few minutes from the downtown area. The Howell Wetlands are open year round and can be explored alone or on one of the tours. Visitors must stay on marked path to keep from damaging the ecosystem. This area was designated as a wetland in 1997 and is the largest urban wetland in Indiana and owned by the City of Evansville.

Wesselman's Nature Society

Southwest Indiana

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Native American History in Southwest, Indiana

Angel Mounds is one of the country’s best preserved Native American sites. The people of the Middle Mississippian culture lived in this city from about 1100 to 1450 AD. It is not clear why the site was abandoned. Angel Mounds was where the chief and a couple thousand Mississippians lived. This was the hub of the greater community and it was protected by a stockade made of waffle and daub. The people of this time created mounds where ceremonies and rituals would be carried out and some of the higher status families would be buried on top of the mounds.

In about 1650 AD bands of Shawnee, Miami and other groups moved into and through the area. In 1852 white settler, Mathias Angel, located his farmstead on the land until he passed away in 1899. The land remained in the Angel family until, with money donated by Eli Lilly, the Indiana Historical Society purchased 480 acres of the land to preserve it for future generations.

Meskar Park Zoo and

Mesker Park Zoo has been in its current location since 1930 and has grown in size and popularity over the years. In 2001, Mesker Park Zoo added Botanical Gardens to its name after much work and effort from Zoo employees and volunteers who were trying to add a whole new feel to the zoo. One of the best loved and best remembered features of the zoo has been the ‘Santa Maria’ monkey ship that was constructed in 1933.

Over the years there have been many improvements in the zoo including the addition of new animals and the botanic garden. Currently the zoo is divided into sections. Here are the sections and a list of some of the animals at the zoo:

  • AMAZONIA, home to the Howler Monkey and the Jaguar
  • AFRICA, home of the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and the Cheetah
  • AFRICAN RIFT, home of the zebra and the Ring Tailed Lemur
  •  ASIA & AUSTRALIA, home of Otters, Bactrain Camels, Gibbons and Rainbow Lorikeet 
  •  DISCOVERY CENTER, home of Tonkin Leaf Monkey and Serval
  • KLEY, home of the Hippopotamus, Egyptian Fruit Bat and Burmese Python
  •  NORTH AMERICA, home of North American Timber Wolf and the Prairie Dog
  • TROPIC AMERICA, home of Llama and Black Swans

In addition to the animals pictured there are also lions, tigers, giraffes, a rhinoceros, bobcats, bald eagles, a reptile house and many other animals.

The zoo offers train rides through the zoo, concession areas, paddle boats, bumper boats, and first aid. Some of the animals can be fed by visitors. The zoo is open 365 days a year from 9am-4pm CST. This is a great way to spend time with the whole family and enjoy a beautiful day outside watching and learning about animals from all over the world.

Burdette Park

Burdette Park offers 170 acres of outdoor fun for the whole family. The park is open from 7am until midnight, 365 days a year. There are cabins and chalets to rent or campgrounds for RV's and other campers.

Some activities are seasonal like the aquatic center with slides. a diving well, spray park and bumper boats. The miniature golf course is seasonal also. There is also a fishing lake and trails for hiking. Batting cages and tennis courts are available and the BMX track is world-renowned. Burdette Park also offers playgrounds.

They have larger shelters and event buildings available to rent for reunions, company picnics and other larger gatherings. Burdette Park is a great location for the whole family to spend the day together enjoying the weather and the many outdoor activities Burdette Park has to offer.

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Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on September 20, 2010:

Great hub! Looks like Evansville has plenty of fun places for those who love the great outdoors.

Kyriana (author) from Midwest US on September 19, 2010:

@Teddletonmr...Thanks for the comment. Next weekend at Angel Mounds is Native American Days. It should be a lot of fun!

Mike Teddleton from Midwest USA on September 19, 2010:

Wow, this hub is packed full of information about Evansville Indiana. I cannot wait to revisit Indian Mounds, and Meskar Park Zoo. They all sound like a good time for the whole family. Thanks for sharing all this useful information on Evansville Indiana and the surrounding area.

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