Discover and Enjoy Winter's Bounty in Southern Indiana

By & / Photography By Gary Rothstein | February 01, 2016
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snow covered land and barn

Southern Indiana does not lie dormant when the leaves fall from the trees. The winter months are abundant with natural, cultural and culinary possibilities to coax you off the couch and heighten your senses. Experience the intoxicating aroma of homemade candy canes being individually crafted at the Martinsville Candy Kitchen or hear the high-pitched whistle of an eagle as it swoops across a frozen Lake Monroe.

While huddling with a blanket or a book might be tempting during the cold winter months, invest in some warm gloves and go outside!

Brown County

One of the top fall destinations in the country tends to get a bit quiet when the tourism season ends. But, the breathtaking stillness of the hills and woods — 170,000 acres of forested land — affords an opportunity to view nature up close.

“We know when we are well because we are happy and vital,” says Lee Edgren, owner of River Light Yoga.

On the weekend of March 5 and 6th, Brown County will host the National Maple Syrup Festival for the second year in a row. Head to the Brown County State Park (festival headquarters) for sugaring demonstrations, historical reenactments, guided hikes, Sap School, Maple Market, maple syrup flights, pancake breakfast, a maple syrup heist challenge course for kids and other children’s activities.

Every Saturday in February and March, Bear Wallow Distillery offers whiskey education with their Farm-to- Fifth tours. Learn about the role whiskey played in the formation of America during the Revolutionary War. See the complete process used to make whiskey at Bear Wallow, starting with grains from local farmers, and enjoy the best part of the tour…tasting it!

For more information on these and other events, contact the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau through their website or 800.753.3255.

Monroe County

Best known as the cultural hub of Southern Indiana with Bloomington and Indiana University at its core, Monroe County is also a nature lover’s paradise. Speedboats might populate the 10,000-acre Lake Monroe in the summer months but come winter, wildlife takes center stage.

Make some winter mischief of your own at the Maurice Sendak “Wild Things” exhibit at the Monroe County Public Library from February 12 through March 29. The exhibit will highlight 50 Sendak works of art with 50 heartfelt words from 50 extraordinary people, from former President Bill Clinton to TV personality Meredith Vieira. This is a chance to view the classic story in lithographs, sculptures and even a Rolling Stone magazine cover. For more information, go to or call 812.349.3050.

Maple syrup is the focus at the Hinkle- Garton Farmstead the last Saturday of February and March. This Bloomington farm and museum, located at 2920 E. 10th St., is open to the public February 27 and March 26. It is on that last Saturday in February when the first bottle of syrup is produced. The farmstead serves maple tea made from fresh maple sap, and maple-flavored baked goods. For more details, go to

Morgan County

This county located between Indianapolis and Bloomington is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. It has plenty of natural beauty within the Morgan-Monroe State Forest and is home to artisans, farmers and antique lovers.

Every Saturday, the Martinsville Candy Kitchen is a favorite stop for children of all ages. Bill Badger and his family can be found twisting candy canes in much the same way they have been shaped for 100 years. Badger likes talking about the history of the place while he works, as the muscles in his hands and arms operate automatically.

“I can do this in my sleep,” he says, noting the most candy canes they have ever made in one season tops 38,000.

Much of the equipment, including the marble slab where the mixture is formed, the hook where the candy is twisted and the machine that perforates the dough into hard candy, is original. And, like snowflakes, each candy cane turns out differently.

“As a child, we always went to the Candy Kitchen as a special treat, and I have chosen to continue the tradition with my family,” says Stephanie Wesseler, who was in the shop one Saturday with her husband and children. She’s also a teacher and has taken her students there.

If you’re very lucky, you might get the last candy cane of the batch.

If it’s dinnertime, try Zydeco’s 5 Cajun Retaurant offering the cuisine of South Louisiana right in Central Indiana, featuring fresh seafood, traditional soul food, poboys, salads and delicious desserts, plus gluten-free menu items. The restaurant has been featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

For more Morgan County activities, go to

Maurice Sendak memorial exhibition graphic for 50 year anniversary
snowy forest
Photo 1: NASA
Photo 2: ©Maurice Sendak. All rights reserved.
homemade candy cane hearts from Morgan County
Photo courtesy of Visit Morgan County
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