Cool Cats Abound In Indiana

What do James Dean and Garfield the Cat, and his creator, Jim Davis, have in common besides the fact that they were both cool cats? Their hometowns in Grant County, Indiana, of course!

James Dean made history in the movies, Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, and East of Eden, before his life was brought to a tragic end through a car crash when he was just 24. Grant County has a James Dean Landmarks Trail on which you can see the motorcycle shop where Dean bought his first motorcycle, visit the church where his funeral was held, or see where he was born. If you are a true Dean fan, you can choose to attend the annual James Dean Memorial Service or Remembering James Dean Festival. The Fairmount Historical Museum has lots of information and memorabilia about James Dean in case you want to know even more.

The Garfield Trail features fourteen five-foot tall statues of Garfield in different settings and outfits. (I was going to say that the statues are life-size, but I don’t think cats are actually five-foot tall!) Every stop gives visitors photo ops with the famous character himself. There’s even a cell phone tour available! Because the statues are outside, they are always open, but winter can be brutal for those not used to Northern winters.

We didn’t see all of the Garfield statues, but we did see The Cool Cat, at the Fairmount Historical Museum, A Worldly Cat, at the Van Buren Public Library, Dr. Garfield, at Marion General Hospital, Bookworm Garfield, at the Marion Public Library and Museum, and, my personal favorite, Scream for Ice Cream, at Ivanhoe’s Restaurant. To be honest, the Scream for Ice Cream may be my favorite because it is located at Ivanhoe’s which is famous for its ice cream.

Several magazines and travel websites have named Ivanhoe’s Restaurant as the best spot for ice cream in the state. Yes, they also have excellent hamburgers (6 choices), sandwiches (13 different ones), and even salads (9 of these), but desserts are where they shine! The menu lists 100 different ice cream sundaes which makes decision-making very difficult. Choosing between such items as the Neapolitan Banana Split (Hand-dipped chocolate, strawberry, and French vanilla ice creams with a sliced banana; covered with chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple topping; topped with whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a cherry), Lady Bug (Hand-dipped strawberry ice cream with M&M’s and marshmallow topping), Cracker Jack (Soft vanilla ice cream with a Heath bar, Spanish peanuts, and caramel topping), and Cookie Monster (Hand-dipped cookies and cream ice cream with Oreo cookies, a Hershey bar, hot fudge) was a daunting task. Thankfully, we visited with family so each of us chose different types and we got to try them all!

Getting to Grant County is not difficult. From Dallas, fly into Indianapolis, rent a car, and drive about an hour and fifteen minutes to see this intriguing area. Of course, while you’re in the area, you may want to see the site of the Indianapolis 500 or see some of the many picturesque covered bridges that abound.

Have you been to this area of the country? If so, what fun places did you discover?

– Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoy reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers. 


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