Indianapolis to Bismarck Road Trip Guide


As the state capital of Indiana, Indianapolis is an underrated city waiting to be explored. One of the most famous racecar events takes place in this part of Indiana. The Indy 500 is an event that brings in thousands of visitors to the town each year. All around Indianapolis you’ll be able to find flourishing parks, calming ponds and rivers, and historical memorials. When it comes to weather, Indianapolis experiences all four seasons.

With average highs of 85-degrees in July and average lows of 18-degrees in January, there is a comfortable temperature for everyone at some point in the year. Speaking of cold areas, Bismarck, North Dakota is a short drive from Indiana. It’s the perfect distance for a road trip with the people who you love most. With just over 1,000 miles between the two cities, renting an affordable motorhome is a great way to explore the midwest! Let’s take a look at eight stops you can make along the way to have an amazing trip.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: trailer
audience: family

Point of Interest

The Indianapolis Zoo

If you’re heading out on the road with a couple of kids, it’s safe to assume you want them worn out for the drive. This can make the trip much smoother and what better place for kids to enjoy than the Indianapolis Zoo? There you’ll be able to see your classic zoo animals like giraffes, zebras, lions, and monkeys. There’s a section that has zoo babies where you can see young elephants, tigers, and other animals.This

The Indianapolis Zoo also has rides and attractions that both children and adults can enjoy. If you’re hungry during your trip, there is a restaurant at the zoo where you can relax and have lunch. Lake Haven Retreat and Indianapolis KOA Holiday are nearby campgrounds where you can get some rest before the next part of the journey.

Cajun Food Tours

If you don’t live in a big city, you’ve likely never experienced a food truck without traveling to get there. Luckily, on your way from Indianapolis to Bismarck you’ll be surrounded by the Cajun Food Tours. Located all around the city, Cajun Food Tours has a plethora of food trucks to choose from. This is a quicker stop on your road trip and could be considered somewhat of a modern picnic.

It’s suggested that you stop at one food truck to pick up your meal and enjoy it in a local park. After that, make your way to another food truck to get a dessert that you won’t find elsewhere. The kids will love this unique experience and you’ll get to try some food that you’ve never had before! Now it’s time to make your way to Chautauqua.

Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge

After an afternoon of eating food truck goodies, it’s time to get your body moving! As you continue to make your way towards North Dakota, you may want to stop at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge. This is a great place to stretch your legs and get a break from any crowds you’ve been around. This wildlife refuge can be found on the Illinois River near Havana, Illinois. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are only four wildlife refuges in the state. Here you’ll be able to enjoy a hike, relax in nature, or even have your own picnic. There are plenty of areas to fish nearby and the entire family could catch their own meal! Spend the night at Lost Arrow Campground to get some much-needed rest.

Hurricane Harbor

If you’ve had enough of the great outdoors for now, that’s okay! This time, you’re stopping at a waterpark. If your trip is during the summer, Hurricane Harbor is going to allow you to relax under the sun. The kids will love this Six Flags-based waterpark. They’ll be able to ride down one of the many water slides, take on the wave pool, and enjoy the splash pad.

Adults can do all of these things as well, but the lazy river seems to be a favorite among parents. There are roller coasters in the area as well if you’re really looking for a thrill. There are several options during your visit there to make it special and unique. You may want to check out renting a luxury cabana so that you can relax in style.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Now that you’ve made it over halfway through your trip, it’s time to spend some at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. This is a beautiful area that is the perfect break from staring at the road all day long. At this garden, you’ll be able to see over 15-acres of stunning landscapes. Unlike other gardens you’ve seen, this one has orchids, succulents, cacti, and more. There are even specific plants that are only found in the midwest.

One of the best parts about visiting Olbrich Botanical Gardens is the smell of flowers that follows you around as you explore. Several birds fly over the area and even call the garden home. There are sculptures throughout the garden, along with a man-made waterfall. If you need to fall asleep for the night, you can park the RV at any campground in Madison.

Children’s Museum of Eau Claire

One of the last stops you’ll be making is in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Children’s Museum in this Wisconsin town offers a fun pitstop on your way to Bismarck. There are activities for kids of all ages, and don’t worry, adults will have fun as well. There are several interactive exhibits that are also educational. Kids will love learning and trying new things during this trip.

Another great thing about this children’s museum is that there are tons of art activities as well. This will get your child’s creative mind flowing and they’ll be able to make something to remember the trip by! If you need to get some rest before you drive towards Minneapolis, there are a few local campgrounds where you can stay. Be sure to get plenty of sleep because the next step is going to require quite a bit of energy!

Nickelodeon Universe

This is likely the most unique theme park you’ll ever see. Why? Because it’s located in the middle of one of the largest malls in the world. The Nickelodeon Universe can be found inside the Mall of America. It used to be called Camp Snoopy and was themed after the famous dog and his friends. With the rise of shows like Spongebob, it was changed to Nickelodeon Universe.

There are roller coasters that will make your adrenaline pump and you’ll be in awe at how this place is all indoors. There are also water rides and carnival-like activities adults and kids can both enjoy. When you’re done, you’ll be able to walk right out of the park and explore the Mall of America. This is a great way to spend an afternoon during a long road trip!

Red River Zoo

You’ve almost made it! As you head out of Minnesota and cross into North Dakota, stop at the Red River Zoo located in Fargo. This is a great destination if you’re traveling between April and October. You’ll be greeted by a giant tiger statue as you make your way into the zoo. There you will be able to see a plethora of amazing animals. It has the classic animals including monkeys, lions, and bears.

There are also special animals that aren’t seen in many other zoos. Red River Zoo hosts educational programs throughout the year that will teach visitors of all ages something new about their favorite creature. If you need to hit the hay one last time before you reach Bismarck, you’re in luck! You’ll be able to Park your van or RV relatively close to the zoo to get some rest.


Bismarck is a unique destination because it’s mostly filled with tourist attractions that teach visitors all about the local history. Whether you make a stop at the North Dakota Heritage Center, the Dakota Zoo, or Fort Abraham State Park, you’re bound to learn something new! There’s something for everyone in Bismarck.

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