The Atheneum Visitors Center stands in perfect contrast to all the other architecture in New Harmony. It is functional and interesting on the inside as well. I think it illustrates a bold decision by a community that is looking towards its future as much as its past.

The aptly named New Harmony is indeed a place where travelers can find peace and harmony while traveling through southern Indiana. It is also an easy stop for southern Illinois and central and western Kentucky travelers. If you are looking for a place to “get away from it all” then New Harmony could be at the top of your list. This charming little southwest Indiana town situated alongside the Wabash River has a rich history. So while you’re getting away from it all you’ll still find yourself in a place worthy of exploration.

We usually focus on kid friendly spaces and places at Rubber Ducky Press, and certainly kids would enjoy a day at New Harmony. But, if you’re planning a getaway weekend it seems more ideal as a couples retreat. There are innumerable places to find a quite spot, view some of the oldest and most interesting buildings in Indiana, and a fascinating (if sometimes quirky) history to explore.

We arrived on a Friday night just in time to check in and grab some dinner. There were several restaurants to choose from. Since we were staying at the New Harmony Inn we decided to eat at the adjacent Red Geranium. While the fare wouldn’t leave any serious foodie pining for more, it was properly prepared and we enjoyed our meal. What impressed us more than the food was the friendly service. In fact, the vibe that resonated throughout the whole establishment was that of a quiet easy feeling. Clearly everyone there was simply enjoying themselves and relaxing.

Carol’s Garden and Fountain of Life is one of many gardens where you can enjoy the scenery and a quiet moment. New Harmony takes its art seriously and you’ll find many interesting works of art and sculpture at nearly every turn.

The next morning we slept in and took our time getting to the Visitor’s Center. That was perhaps a mistake. Building tours can book up fast and we were left to explore New Harmony without the benefit of a proper guide. But, before we left the visitor’s center we were given a most excellent introduction to the town’s history by the museum’s docent. Treated first to a short movie about the town’s founders and its history we were then given a tour of the museum, which features a terrific period model of New Harmony in the early 1800s.

Armed with this knowledge (and free map we picked up at the gift shop) we walked the streets to explore as best we could. While it wasn’t peak season for visitors it was early spring and the white and purple flowering trees against the wood and stone buildings made for a lovely scene.  We will be back again, but next time we’ll visit in the autumn to enjoy southwest Indiana’s fall foliage.

What I learned about taking a trip to New Harmony:

  • A visit to the Atheneum is a must and I would call ahead to book a guided tour which gets you inside some of the historic buildings; a surprising number of which still stand after 200 years.
  • The New Harmony Inn is centrally located, but I would try to book more modern accommodations at a nearby bed & breakfast.
  • Plan more time to do less. There’s plenty of history and sculpture to explore as well as shops and restaurants, but I think relaxing in this peaceful and charming hamlet is what New Harmony is really all about.
  • Visit before you go. It is an expansive resource.


Tom Doherty