Monticello, IN- A Hidden Gem in America’s Crossroads

In Lake Life, Recreation, Small Town Culture, Travel by My Town TodayLeave a Comment

My Town Destination: Monticello IN, White County

Trip Type: Weekend Trip

Date of Visit: 8/9/18 – 8/11/18

Town Ambassador/Contact: Janet Dold-Phone: 574-583-722 / Email:

Ever driven down I-65 in the middle of Indiana and thought… There really is a lot of corn? Well, all you have to do is veer off I-65 to see the beautiful and unique small towns of Indiana. One very special place is Monticello.

Monticello is situated about halfway between Indianapolis and the Chicagoland area in North-Central Indiana. At 14 miles, it is easily accessible off I-65, and also from State Route 421. This charming town has less than 6,000 residents and has a long history of visitors to its beautiful lakes, creating an old school resort atmosphere.

Monticello’s Twin Lakes

Monticello is situated on the Tippecanoe River, and in 1922, just outside Monticello, construction began on the Norway Dam (at river mile 30.2 above the confluence of the Wabash River)creating Lake Shafer. After the Norway Dam’s completion in 1923 construction began a year later on Oakdale Dam.  The completion Oakdale Dam created Lake Freeman; coining the now “Twin Lakes” area. While in Monticello, you will see several businesses using the “Twin Lakes” name unique to the area. The creation of the lakes have made Monticello what it is today; full-time residents, part-time second home owners on the lakes, and visitors all summer long, coming to enjoy all the lakes have to offer for recreation and relaxation.

Fun, Amusement, and Recreation

Since 1926 Monticello has been welcoming visitors to its its largest attraction, Indiana Beach. Located on beautiful Lake Shafer, Indiana Beach is a great amusement park for all ages offering rides, beach and water park, and a wonderful boardwalk. I personally have very fond memories of attending as a child, spending evenings on the boardwalk and lounging all day on the lazy river. Yet. there are several other great ways to play in Monticello.

Did you know that they have a golf course on the water? Or a beautiful winery that is a renovated farm house? You can rent a boat for the day to enjoy Lake Shafer from Shafer Shores ,or do you like to kayak? Head to Blue Water Beach to put your kayak or canoe in the river. There’s also great fishing on the Twin Lakes. Make sure to stop into Twin Lakes Fish and Game to find the best spots, get your fishing license, and information for upcoming events.

Lodging, Waterside Dining, and Drive-Ins

There are many activities to enjoy in Monticello, but one of the best ways to take it all in is to stay on Lake Shafer or Lake Freeman. This way you can relax  and play your own way, at your own pace. A great place to do this is at The Lighthouse Lodge Bed and Breakfast. Located on Lake Shafer, but away from the hustle and bustle, this is a beautiful spot to get away for business or for fun. In addition to the Lighthouse Lodge, there are several great places to stay on the lake from small cottages and resorts, to private home rentals. Each place offers its own unique amenities and experiences.

Want to drive back in time? Did you know that there are only about 324 Drive-In’s left in America? Monticello has a great one, The Lake Shore Drive In! Spend the evening taking in a movie, and afterwards  grab a hot dog and a milkshake at B & K Rootbeer, a nostalgic and delicious Drive-In car hop! And if your looking for dinner on the water, check out The Sportsman Inn( boat up from Lake Freeman), Riverside Pub, or book a sunset cruise on the Madam Carroll.

Rolling Out the Welcome Wagon

While the resort style living on the twin lakes is an obvious draw, it’s really the residents of Monticello that are the shining stars. When you walk through downtown you are greeted with smiling faces and a friendly demeanor everywhere you go. Whether you are going to lunch at Cazadores, Shopping at Necessities Boutique, checking out Tornado Memorial Park, or stopping by the White County Historical Museum and Carnegie Library, you will leave delighted because of the way the people of Monticello make you feel.  I had the pleasure on this trip of receiving not one, but two boat rides from friendly residents who just wanted to share the special experiences of Lake Shafer and Lake Freeman, simply because the people are that wonderful to have offered.

Other Great Places Not To Miss

Kinser’s Bakery( downtown staple), Piddle’s Trading Post and the Country Store, Sycamore Drive-In (the best frozen custard!), Kopacetic Brewery, Ship n Dip,(the best beach towels in town, and beautiful outdoor furniture), Roth Bros Jewelers(Trusted jewelry store that’s been in business since early 1900s).

MTT Antique and Market Finds

Many small towns are known for having great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets, this can also include Thrift Shops and the like! Here are some great MTT Antique Finds from Monticello:

Monticello Farmer’s Market– Every Saturday in season in the parking lot of Rugi’s Dugout (another great eatery).

Corner Store antiques and Collectibles

Peach Picker Market

Norway Gardens

MTT Referral

My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on the fun of visiting a town, and seeing what town the majority of  its citizens would recommend for My Town Today to visit next.

The referral for this entry is: Dundee, IL . Stay tuned for My Town Today to pop up there soon.

Click Here for Monticello Photo Gallery:


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