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Get Out of Town, | Jan 04, 2014

Driving through picturesque Southern Indiana

These scenic drives in Brown County and Columbus showcase our beautiful region.

Southern Indiana's backroads and highways dip through valleys and twist around hills. But it's not just nature that makes our state so intriguing. If you're driving from point A to point B, chances are you'll get distracted by something you see along the way. Here are two scenic drives that showcase two very different things we love about our region.

Brown County art studio and garden tour

Brown County is home to an abundance of artists. A self-guided tour leads drivers to the homes and studios of some of the area's most talented, while also providing views of their secluded woods and gardens as it wanders through the rolling hills of Brown County. The 2014 tour includes 14 stops, where artists open up their homes on one June weekend, and throughout the month of October, to let visitors view their studios.

Chris Gustin, an artist who creates rugs from recycled materials, says it is an interactive experience. Artists like to be able to talk to visitors about their work, and spectators enjoy learning more about the art.

Gustin also says some artists spend weeks or even months preparing their gardens for visitors. Gustin's garden includes sunflowers, day lilies and irises. Sometimes, if the tomatoes are ready, she might allow visitors to pick one as a souvenir.

"We get people who ask, 'How did you find this place? We thought we'd be in Kentucky with all the driving we did,'" Gustin says. "It really is just a beautiful drive."

You can find more information about the tour here.

Columbus architectural tour

Nature in Southern Indiana is stunning, but it's the man-made structures that make Columbus breathtaking.

The city's modernist architecture is world-renowned, with works by I. M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen and Dale Chihuly. J. Irwin Miller, a Columbus business owner, convinced Saarinen to design and build a modernist church in 1942. With his Cummins Foundation for architecture, Miller contracted architects to build schools, office buildings and fire stations. The tour passes almost 80 significant pieces of architecture and art, mostly located in downtown Columbus, includes the Columbus City Hall, which features a wall of glass windows designed to reflect the courthouse and two huge brick arms that frame the wall.

The tour includes a two-hour bus ride with a professional guide, but drivers can purchase a map of the tour at the visitor center and guide themselves.

Erin Hawkins, director of marketing for Columbus Area Visitor Center, says she encourages people to get in their cars to experience the city. "There's only so much ground you can cover in a two-hour bus ride," she says.

You can find more information about the Columbus architectural tour here.

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