Whether you have lived in Evansville your entire life or are passing through for only a few days, Evansville City View offers you an illustrated pullout map to tour your town. Be a tourist in your own city and visit the places that attract visitors from miles away. Get outside with hikes at Wesselman Woods, or breathe in history at Willard Library and Bosse Field, or catch a show at the Ford Center. Your exploration begins now. Welcome to Evansville.
1. Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden
Hand feed giraffes Kiah and Kizzie, watch prairie dogs and otters play, and listen to a tiger roar on Evansville’s West Side. Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden has more than 700 animals and 45 acres with themed regions including South America, North America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Open all seasons, warm up in Amazonia and feel the humidity of the rainforest. When paying admission for the zoo, don’t forget to share your Vanderburgh County ZIP code for discounted rates.
21545 Mesker Park Drive, 812-435-6143, meskerparkzoo.com
2. Reitz Hill
Reitz Hill lays claim to amazing views of the Ohio River all year long and excellent slopes made for sledding during wintertime. But the grand point on Evansville’s West Side has not always carried the name of Reitz. The hill first earned the name of Coal Mine Hill after resident John Ingle found coal in a 240-foot deep shaft he drilled into the hill in the mid 1800s. The name change for the hill came after the building of F.J. Reitz High School in 1918, which was named after the well-known Evansville banker and philanthropist. Today, residents gather at Reitz Hill for football games (attracting more than 10,000 people), fireworks shows, and other neighborhood events.
3. Howell Wetlands
Spend the afternoon on the boardwalk. Evansville’s “boardwalk” is quite different than the likes of Atlantic City or Santa Cruz. Howell Wetlands is one of the largest urban wetlands in Indiana with more than two miles of hiking trails, wooden walkways, and bridges. The 35-acre property includes a marsh, slough, and remnant river oxbow — an old channel of the Ohio River, which means during the wet months of the year the boardwalk is not visible underwater. Howell Wetlands is owned by the City of Evansville, and is managed by the Wesselman Nature Society.
21400 S. Tekoppel Road, 812-479-0771, wesselmannaturesociety.org/our-locations/howell-wetlands
4. University of Southern Indiana
Fifty-one years ago, a southwestern regional campus of Indiana State University was opened in Evansville to meet the need of public higher education in the area. It was 1969 when the university found a home on 330 acres on Evansville’s West Side, mostly donated by Southern Indiana Higher Education, Inc. (SIHE). Its official change to the University of Southern Indiana came in 1985 when legislation designated it a separate state university. More than 900 acres would be added to the growing campus in 2008 thanks to another donation from SIHE. Today, USI welcomes more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 80 majors and more fields of study are added each semester. Classes are offered through four programs, the College of Liberal Arts, Romain College of Business, College of Nursing and Health Professions, and the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education.
28600 University Blvd., 812-464-8600, usi.edu
5. Burdette Park
Located on Evansville’s hilly West Side, Burdette Park is known for its aquatic center, which has one of the largest swimming pools in the Midwest. The 170-acre recreation center opened to the public in 1936. Visitors can enjoy activities such as fishing, basketball, volleyball, miniature golf, and BMX racing. The park also has several small and large rustic shelter houses, an open-air pavilion, cabins for overnight rental, and the O’Day Discovery Lodge, available for weddings, company functions, or gatherings. In 2012, the final segments of the University of Southern Indiana-Burdette Park trail were completed. The paved walkway is three miles long.
25301 Nurrenbern Road, 812-435-5602, evansville.in.gov
6. Civic Theatre
Founded in the 1920s by Frances Golden, the Civic Theatre has seen many homes from the Memorial Coliseum, Bosse High School, the Rose Room of the McCurdy Hotel, the Elks Ballroom, and the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. In 1974, the community theater organization moved into its current building the Columbia Theater, built in 1910, at the corner of Fulton and Columbia. Under the leadership of director Christina Hager, the Civic Theatre introduces “To Kill A Mockingbird” with several performances throughout the month of February, and “9 to 5: The Musical” in April and May.
2717 N. Fulton Ave., 812-425-2800, evansvillecivictheatre.org
7. Tropicana Evansville Casino
For a taste of Downtown nightlife, many head to Tropicana Evansville to take in good food, fun, and music. Formerly Casino Aztar, Tropicana opened in 1996 to take advantage of a referendum allowing riverboat gambling along the city’s riverfront. Soon, the casino will move from the “City of Evansville” boat to a land-based location situated between the Tropicana Hotel and the LeMerigot, which is a part of The District, an area of nightlife surrounding the casino. The hotel offers 243 guest rooms, 11 suites, meeting facilities, and more. Many restaurants dot The District as well, allowing casino guests the luxury of a short walk to many favorite Downtown destinations.
2421 N.W. Riverside Drive, 812-433-4000, tropevansville.com
8. Willard Library
Evansville may boast many historically beautiful homes and buildings, but there is none quite like Willard Library. A Victorian Gothic masterpiece designed by renowned architect James W. Reid and his brother Merritt, the library is a grand structure looming on the North Side of the Lloyd Expressway in Downtown. Founded by Willard Carpenter, who dreamed of building a college, the library’s construction began in 1883 at a cost of $60,000. The shelves were stocked in 1884 and the library officially opened with a grand ceremony on March 28, 1885. Today, the library welcomes researchers, genealogists, and readers of all ages. In the fall, staff guide tours of the building and speak of the legend of the Grey Lady, an apparition first seen in the library in 1937.
221 N. First Ave., 812-425-4309, willard.lib.in.us
9. Greyhound Station
If you’re in Downtown after the sun dips below the horizon, make sure to drive past the former Evansville Greyhound Station. Recently restored by Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit preservation organization based in Indianapolis, city residents can see the illuminated racing dog run on the Downtown landmark. The 1939 building sat vacant after the last bus departed the station in 2007. After its renovation, however, the Greyhound will find new life again with a new tenant, Cunningham Restaurant Group’s BRU Burger Bar. The restaurant is slated to open in June and will offer gourmet burgers, salads, sandwiches, craft beers, and more.
2102 N.W. Third St., indianalandmarks.org
10. Old Post Office Event Plaza
Evansville’s post office was completed in 1879, and used until the federal government abandoned the building for the new Civic Center Complex in 1969. Today, the facility houses offices and is used as an event venue. The historic building has ties to the Berkshire Athenaeum located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Both High Victorian Gothic structures were constructed near the same time period, between 1874 and 1877, when the architect, William Appleton Potter, was the supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury.
2100 N.W. Second St., 812-253-2102, oldpostofficeplaza.com
11. Old Courthouse
One hundred and twenty six years after its completion, the Old Vanderburgh County Courthouse still defines the skyline of Downtown. Designed by Henry Wolters of Louisville, Kentucky, to reflect the emerging Beaux Arts architecture popular at the time, the courthouse was built in 1888 and constructed with Bedford Stone, limestone native to Indiana. Its past includes serving as a military headquarters during the 1937 flood and as a campaign trail stop for Presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. County government offices were moved from the courthouse in 1969 and today it serves as office space for the County Engineer and Veteran Service offices as well as private businesses. The recently restored Ballroom, Randall T. Shepard Courtroom, and Governor’s Parlor are available for private parties and events.
2201 N.W. Fourth St. Ste.102, 812-435-5241, oldvanderburghcourthouse.com
12. Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville
Known to many simply as cMoe, the Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville offers area children the chance to explore their imaginations. The museum — housed in a historic Art Deco building that was the former Central Library — has 18,000 square feet of galleries and exhibits, which are hands-on and encourage learning through playing. The three-floored museum was opened in 2006 and features several permanent galleries such as Live Well, teaching children about the human body; Speak Loud, encouraging visitors to be artistic with visual arts; and the Quack Factory Wet Deck, allowing children the chance to play with water. As the museum enters its 10th year of operation in 2016, new exhibits and renovations are planned for the third floor of the museum, including a Kids World exhibit, allowing children to explore various places around the world.
222 SE Fifth St., 812-464-2663, cmoekids.org
13. Victory Theatre
In the 1920s, if Evansville residents wanted to see a show, the Victory Theatre was the place to go. Built in 1921 as part of the Sonntag Hotel complex on Evansville’s Main Street, the building boasted state-of-the-art seating for 2,500 theater-goers. Five short years after its opening, the Loew’s Theatres film chain purchased the leasing rights to the building and operated the Loew’s Victory as a movie theater until 1971. The history of the Victory takes a fun twist from there, operating as a teen nightclub in the late 1970s and being named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The doors of the Victory closed in 1992 but were reopened in 1999 after many renovations. Now, visitors and residents can see concerts, and other acts, as well as the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra performances in the 1,900-seat venue.
2600 Main St., 812-436-7050, victorytheatre.com
14. Bosse Field
Sure, you’ve heard of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field as one and two on the list of oldest ballparks in existence today, but do you know the third? Built in 1915, Bosse Field is the home of the Evansville Otters, a Frontier League baseball team. The historic baseball field also served as the backdrop for the 1992 classic movie “A League of Their Own” about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Movie signage urging fans to “Support the Racine Belles” still can be seen today.
223 Don Mattingly Way, 812-435-8686, evansvilleotters.com
15. Ford Center
Almost every night of the week, activity surrounds the Ford Center inside and out. The 290,000-square-foot multi-purpose arena opened in 2011, and is often the setting for concerts, conventions, the Hadi Shrine Circus, WWE Supershow, and University of Evansville basketball. The venue has hosted musicians such as Aerosmith, Kenny Chesney, Elton John, James Taylor, and more.
21 S.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 812-422-1515, thefordcenter.com
16. Reitz Home Museum and the Riverside Historic District
Built in 1871 by John Augustus and Gertrude Reitz, the Reitz Home is an 8,000-square-foot Victorian home museum located in the Riverside Historic District. Open year-round for tours, the house is wildly popular during the Christmas holiday season. Volunteers donate their time, talents, and materials to help decorate the home, a practice that has existed for the last 36 years. Drive up and down the yellow-bricked paved S.E. First Street, the heart of the Riverside Historic District, and marvel at the range of important architecture.
2224 S.E. First St., 812-426-1871, reitzhome.com
17. Evansville African American Museum
To stand in the Evansville African American Museum is to breathe in history. While the museum is filled with glossy, easy-to-use interactive exhibits of the history of prominent African-Americans in the River City, the building itself also is significant. It’s the last standing building of Lincoln Gardens, a 17-building apartment complex that was completed in 1938 as a part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.
2579 S. Garvin St., 812-423-5188, evansvilleaamuseum.wordpress.com
18. Pagoda Visitors Center
Drive along the river in Downtown and you’ll see many attractions to catch your eye. One particular structure is the Pagoda Visitors Center. Originally built in 1912 as a gathering place, the Vanderburgh County Commissioners and the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau restored the building in 1995 and the CVB moved its offices to the location in 1996. Since its construction, the Pagoda — designed to resemble Japanese architecture seen at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 — has been a popular gathering place in Evansville, tempting residents for picnics and concerts. After the 1937 flood buried the building and its upper story promenade in mud, the Pagoda was abandoned and fell into decay. Thanks to the renovation, however, the Pagoda once again draws in city residents as well as visitors with its views of the Ohio River and its souvenir gift shop.
2401 S.E. Riverside Drive, 812-421-2200, evansvillecvb.org
19. Evansville Museum of Arts,History and Science
For a day filled of history, learning, and fun, residents do not need to travel to Indianapolis or Louisville. Evansville simply looks to the riverfront and the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. Established in 1904, the museum houses a permanent collection containing more than 50,000 objects. From fine and decorative arts to photographs and historic documents of Evansville and Southern Indiana’s past, to the Koch Immersive Theater’s explorations of space, the museum is a gateway of learning for the community.
2411 S.E. Riverside Drive, 812-425-2406, evansvillemuseum.org
20. USS LST-325
Visitors from around the world are flocking to a rare piece of World War II history that sits docked on the Ohio River near Downtown Evansville. Voted the Most Overlooked Tourist Attraction in the January/February 2016 issue of Evansville Living (though the the 328-foot-long ship is hard to miss), the warship is the last fully-functional WWII LST (Landing Ship, Tank) in existence. Tours are roughly 60 minutes long and run daily in the summer months on the hour with the last tour at 3 p.m. Tours remain open on Saturdays during the winter 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guides narrate the history of the vessel from its beginning at a Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1942 to later making 44 trips between England and France during 1944 and 1945.
2840 LST Drive, 812-435-8678, lstmemorial.org
21. Oak Hill Cemetery
Founded in 1853, the historic 175-acre Oak Hill Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is one of two owned and maintained by the City of Evansville (Locust Hill is the second). While visiting the grounds, note the first person to be buried at Oak Hill was 2-year-old Ellen Johnson, who died Feb. 18, 1853. The cemetery also contains the remains of soldiers who died during the Civil War in the interment sections. The remains of 500 Union men, 24 Confederate soldiers, and 98 local dead are buried in three separate sections.
21400 E. Virginia St., 812-435-6045, evansville.in.gov/cemeteries
22. University of Evansville
With a history of more than 150 years educating students in Southern Indiana, the University of Evansville is a private college with a current student body of 2,643 students from 51 countries and 43 states. The college was first founded in 1854 as Moores Hill Male and Female Collegiate Institute in Moores Hill, Indiana. It would be in 1917 that George S. Clifford made a case to move the university to Evansville and rename the institute Evansville College. Today, the university offers more than 80 majors and areas of study, including a study abroad program at its British campus, Harlaxton College in Grantham, England.
21800 Lincoln Ave., 812-488-2000, evansville.edu
23. Alvord Boulevard
It was 1909, and as the president of Progressive Reality Company, Albert E. Stokes had a vision for the 80 acres of rural land that stretched north to Lincoln Avenue from Washington Avenue. Development began in 1911, and additional home construction picked up after World War I. By the 1940s, most of the development between Washington and Lincoln avenues was complete. Today, Colonial Revival and English Tudor Cottage style homes are lined with trees making this walkable boulevard a beauty in all seasons.
24. Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve
Not many cities can claim to be the home of one of the largest urban old growth forests in the nation. Evansville has the privilege to have such a title with the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve — also a National Natural Landmark — sitting in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city on Boeke Road. Walk through its newly installed front gate and into the nature center — currently being renovated to include new exhibits and interactive learning areas — before setting off on one of the woods’ trails; the preserve offers six miles in all. Many events are held at Wesselman throughout the year including the Maple Sugarbush Festival and Pancake Breakfast in March and the Wandering Owl Beer and Wine Trail in October.
2551 N. Boeke Road, 812-479-0771, wesselmannaturesociety.org
25. State Hospital Grounds
Situated between the Lloyd Expressway and Lincoln Avenue on the East Side of Evansville sits the 132 acres of the State Hospital grounds. Along with the hospital, the area includes a number of walking trails, a disc golf course, and a recreational area. The Eykamp Scout Center and the Southwestern Indiana Master Gardener Association’s display gardens are located nearby on the Lloyd Expressway side of the grounds. The area also is home to the 220-year-old cherrybark oak tree, said to be the largest of its kind in Indiana. A pedestrian bridge (by the Eykamp Scout Center), now links the grounds to Wesselman Park.
400-448 Vann Ave.
26. Angel Mounds State Historic Site
A Native American archeological reserve, Angel Mounds State Historic Site was preserved by the Indiana Historical Society in 1938. With money donated by Eli Lilly, the purchase secured 412 acres where a fortified town and surrounding settlements were occupied from as early as A.D. 1000 to as late as A.D. 1450 by Native Americans known as Mississippians. In 1946, the property was turned over to the state of Indiana. Today, visitors can learn about the land’s previous inhabitants through two miles of trails on the archaeological site. Six miles of woodland trails are open to hikers, mountain bikers, and runners. Leashed dogs are welcome to explore the wooden trails.
8215 Pollack Ave., 812-853-3956, indianamuseum.org/explore/angel-mounds
Surrounding Evansville in all directions are places waiting to be discovered. After touring your town, pick a path and explore one of these regional destinations.
Historic New Harmony
For those in need of an artistic retreat, travel northwest about 30 miles from Evansville and you’ll find New Harmony, home to two utopian communities in its history. A creative getaway, the town is home to art galleries, museum exhibitions, theater performances, and more.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana and the Azalea Path Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
A quick trip up Interstate 69, Princeton, Indiana, awaits. Go under the hood at the Toyota Indiana Visitors Center with free admission and tram tours of the production facility. After enjoying the bustle of the automotive plant, take a quiet stroll through the more than 50 acres of the Azalea Path Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
4000 S. Tulip Drive, Princeton, IN, 888-696-8211, tourtoyotaindiana.com; 1502 N. County Road 825 W., 812-640-9133, azaleapatharboretum.org
Historic Newburgh and the Rivertown Trail
Founded in 1803 by John Sprinkle, Newburgh, Indiana, retains a nostalgic charm with many historic buildings overlooking the Ohio River. Known for its boutique shopping and delicious restaurants, the town hosts several annual events that draw visitors from all over. Built in 2010, the Rivertown Trail stretches 2.75 paved miles and winds throughout Newburgh.
Ellis Park Racecourse
There is no thrill like standing against the rail at the finish line yelling, “Go, baby, go!” to your favorite jockey and Thoroughbred streaking down the track at Ellis Park. Originally Dade Park, the track was built in 1922 and has weathered changes in ownership, tornadoes, fires, and floods.
3300 U.S. Highway 41, 812-425-1456, ellisparkracing.com
▲ Get the pullout map in Evansville City View 2016!