1. DT Kirby’s
An official Chicago-style bar decked out with Wrigley Field memorabilia. Best known for their Chicago hot dogs and enormous burgers, this bar has probably the best greasy bar food you’ll ever taste. Try the Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger (yes, two grilled cheese sandwiches are used as the bun). Their site is TheBestDiveBar.com for a reason. (Warning: They won’t let you use ketchup on your hot dogs or let you cut your burger in half. House rules.)
2. The Elliott Hall of Music
Located on Purdue’s campus, this proscenium-style theater is massive. It has a 6,005 seat capacity, which is about 100 more seats than Radio City Music Hall in NYC. National musical artists, musicals, and comedians regularly come to perform at Elliott.
3. Purdue University
The Lafayette area wouldn’t be what it is without Purdue University on the other side of the Wabash River in West Lafayette. It’s just the truth. Division 1 sports, rich tradition, national entertainment, academic prestige, and multicultural college students make the Greater Lafayette area an exciting place to be.
4. Proximity to Chicago and Indy
Lafayette is right off the interstate at about 65 miles from Indianapolis and 130 miles from Chicago. It’s always easy to commute to some big city entertainment and getaways. Many people earn a living by commuting to work in Indianapolis and even Chicago, so the Lafayette economy in part runs off of these two cities. Lafayette offers small city living for big city jobs.
5. It’s a Smart City
The Greater Lafayette Area has been ranked multiple times as a brainiac zone, due to Purdue being a leading research university. Lafayette doesn’t quite rank as high as West Lafayette, so that adds to the rivalry flames between the two towns.
6. People’s Brewery
Lafayette has a long tradition of brewing, dating back to 1855. People’s continues the tradition as a full size brewery serving Lafayette and most of Indiana with quality, handcrafted lagers and ales. Try the Space Cowboy at 9 percent ABV, but maybe just have one.
7. Lafayette Brewing Company
MORE BEER! LBC ended a nearly 40 year dry spell of no local beer in Lafayette back in 1993 and has kept the cities blood thinned out since. It’s a microbrewery with great food in the heart of downtown on Main Street. If you have a strong local DIY ethic, LBC is definitely a great place for you.
8. Perk Up at Greyhouse
This place is always packed with students getting a big caffeine buzz to study on school nights, and on weekends you are likely to hear live music, and performances, which pairs nicely with a freshly brewed French press. The owners have a strong conviction for ethically sourced products and use only the finest fair trade coffee. Coffee and music are not the only reasons to stop in this unique shop as they also serve housemade gelato and crepes.
9. A City of Diversity
People from all over the world call the greater Lafayette area home. Purdue has the second highest international student population among public universities, and is fourth overall. Just about anywhere you go in the world, you’ll be able to yell out “Boiler Up!” and find an alumnus.
10. Three Farmer’s Markets
Lafayette and West Lafayette combined offers three vibrant farmers markets every week, which start in April and continue to thrive through October. You get everything from fresh organic produce to authentic Amish pastries–and even Craneberry Farm’s award-winning hummus. You NEED to try it.
11. Wabash Heritage Trail
Take a walk on the riverside. The Wabash Heritage Trail offers 13 miles of exploration and wildlife observation as long as the path isn’t flooded.
12. Frequent Festivals
Summertime means festival time and for a small town, Lafayette has them frequently. The Mosey Down Main Street, Taste of Tippecanoe, and the Dancing in the Streets are the main events, but almost every Saturday there’s something going on downtown. Large Mosey Beer to go anyone?
13. Columbian Park
Where else can you watch monkeys hanging around at the free zoo, take a spin on carnival rides, and hit up one of the largest water slides in the state, all in one park?
14. Wolf Park
Howl the night away at the nearby Wolf Park. This family friendly park has educational guided tours of the wolves, coyotes, foxes and even bison. If you’re lucky you may even see some newborn pups. Youth camps are also available during June and July.
15. Prophetstown State Park
As you can tell, the Greater Lafayette area has an abundance of parks and as Indiana’s newest state park, Prophetstown is one you shouldn’t miss. Pitch your tent or park your RV for the weekend (or ride your bike here for a day trip) and explore the 900 acres of restored prairie. Adventure seekers will not be disappointed with the several hiking and biking trails, horse drawn trolley rides and by joining one the many educational programs that are offered. Don’t miss the Country Fair Weekend in mid-September.
16. Celery Bog Nature Area
Get your feet wet plunging through 950 acres of wetlands, woods and fields at Celery Bog. Learn all about the local environment with hands-on investigations, which are provided on-site at the Lilly Nature Center. Natural history talks and workshops are available on “Wednesday’s in the Wild”.
17. The Discount Den
This is not your average convenience store—there’s just something cool about it. Students wait in huge lines between classes to get a 32 ounce fountain drink for only 56 cents. There is a wall full of custom fountain pop recipes. Sorority girls, like, totally travel in packs of 20 to get a “Den Pop! omgz!!”
18. Slayter Hill
Most of northern Indiana is flat, so any hill is really a big deal. Located right by Purdue’s residential campus, this is a really cool venue used for outdoor performances and movies in warmer months and sledding in the winter. There is a tradition of students stealing lunch trays and using them as sleds.
19. Triple XXX
For the most part this is your average Midwestern diner that’s open 24/7. It’s a staple in the Purdue community, featuring menu items endorsed by Drew Brees and other Purdue alum. The most popular specialty item is the Duane Pervis, a cheeseburger with peanut butter on it. You either love it or you hate it. Guy Fieri stopped by for one of his TV shows and wasn’t a huge fan. Give it a try and decide for yourself!
20. Purdue sports
Yeah, their football team and men’s basketball teams have seen better days, but there’s a lot of tradition with Purdue athletics. Tickets are pretty easy to come by and there’s a pretty decent tailgate scene as well. Mackey Arena has been called one of the best venues in all of college basketball. Boiler Up! (Just don’t wear an Indiana University shirt to a game or you might get stabbed with a protractor.)
21. Insomnia Cookies
Awesomely overpriced cookies delivered to your door at almost any hour. Try one and you’ll be hooked, especially if you have the (ahem) late-night munchies.
22. Purdue Boilermaker Special Train Rides
The Boilermaker Special is a train that is the official mascot of Purdue. Occasionally, you’ll see it around town. Jump on for a free ride around the community and show off that Boiler pride!
23. Knickerbocker Saloon
They claim to have been issued Indiana’s first liquor license. Back in the 1870’s gentlemen could stop in for a shave, haircut, and a brew. Over the years the saloon has been visited by President Grant, Mark Twain, Al Capone, and Purdue’s alumnus, Neil Armstrong. Today, the Knickerbocker still has a great vibe, outdoor patio and live bands throughout the week.
24. Nine Irish
The best and only Irish pub in town. It’s not awesome just because it’s the only Irish pub, it’s crazy LEGIT. They pour the best pint o’ Guinness in the states, in fact they won a competition year after year so they just stopped holding the competition. Celtic bands regularly play here and a few of the bands say it’s the best venue in the U.S. and Ireland. Come by and dance with the owner Jerry on top of the bar.
Who can forget about Preston’s? The best patio and the friendliest (and hottest) staff in all of Lafayette. There’s nowhere better to enjoy a beer than on Preston’s patio in the summertime.