Marion, Indiana the Heart of Classic and Cool

Grant County, Indiana is home to several unique communities with their own classic and cool characteristics. Marion is the county seat. It is where tales of high school basketball legends are told and where Christmas City USA and the town have become synonymous. Marion is also the birthplace of actor James Dean and cartoonist Jim Davis, before both moved to nearby Fairmount and grew up there.

Classic Cool Vibes in Marion

Christmas City USA

At Christmastime in the early 1960s, Marion was decked out with twinkling lights and snazzy holiday decorations. Those decorations, plus a dazzling holiday parade, caught the attention of an Indianapolis TV station. In 1965, this television station produced a half hour holiday special highlighting noteworthy light displays around central Indiana. During this show, they dubbed the town as Christmas City USA: Marion, Indiana. And, like a fat Santa in a narrow chimney, it stuck!

Since then, this holiday celebration has grown. It has developed into the Walkway of Lights, a walk through or drive-through light display with nearly 3 million lights and over 140 individual animated displays. Every year, over 65,000 cars bring nearly 250,000 light-lovers to experience this display that spans from Marion’s Mississinewa Riverwalk to Matter Park and into Ballard Field. For many families, it is a treasured annual holiday tradition.

High School Basketball Greatness

Most everyone knows Indiana is known for its love of basketball, especially high school basketball. Marion plays a big role in high school basketball lore. The Marion High School purple and gold Giants have won eight state high school basketball championships. This is the highest number of state championships won by any Indiana high school and is tied with Muncie Central. In 1975 and 1976, the Giants won back-to-back championships. Then, during the following decade, three of Marion’s basketball state championships were won consecutively in 1985, 1986 and 1987. During that time, the coach was Bill Green. To honor his winning record, the 7,500-seat gym where the Giants still play today, was renamed the Bill Green Athletic Arena in 1987.

The Hostess House

The Hostess House is one of Marion’s most beautiful landmarks – submitted by Karen Niverson

This historical Greek Revival mansion was built by J. Wood Wilson, as a token of love for his young bride in 1912. In this grand and historic mansion, the romance continues as weddings are performed there regularly. Otherwise, the opulent Hostess House is open daily for lunch. The dining rooms all have distinctive Victorian elegance. Your lunch will be an extraordinary dining experience we highly recommend.

The Quilters Hall of Fame

Located in the historic Marie Webster House in Marion, The Quilters Hall of Fame was founded in 1979 to celebrate the art of quilting. Here, four annual exhibits display these creative works of art. Every July, one talented quilter is inducted to the Quilters Hall of Fame during an event. From February through December, the QHOF is open to the public. 

Happy Trails in Marion

Cardinal Greenway

In Marion, there are plenty of places to stroll, power walk, run or even bike. So, grab your shades and hit the trails.

The longest paved trail in Indiana is Cardinal Greenway, which spans 62 miles and stretches from Marion to Richmond. Hikers and bikers can gain access in Marion at the following locations.

  • Miller Avenue trailhead at 380 South Miller Avenue
  • Hogin Park at 1460 S. Valley Avenue
Garfield Trail, Garfield Marion Indiana, Garfield Grant County Indiana

Along the Garfield Trail, collect selfies with colorful statues of Garfield, the lasagna loving fat cat, created by Jim Davis. Davis was born in Marion and his creation, Garfield, is celebrated here. Look for Garfield in the following Marion locations.

  • Garfield Garden Trailhead at 505 W. 3rd Street
  • Marion Public library at 600 S. Washington Street
  • Marion General Hospital, 441 N. Wabash Avenue
  • Matter Park Gardens at River Road & Quarry Road
  • Arbor Trace Golf Clubhouse at 2500 E. 550 North

The Mississinewa Riverwalk runs along the Mississinewa River for 2.25 scenic miles. Starting at Washington Street bridge and 1st Street, the trail spans through Matter Park, providing access to all the playground and park amenities.

Neat Eats in Marion

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PC Brick Oven Pizza

For pub-grub with a friendly atmosphere, try Folkies Tavern.  Homemade soups and sandwiches are their specialties. Select the perfect song from our classic jukebox to accompany your meal. Now that’s a cool combination!

Obi’s Barbeque serves up all of your BBQ favorites. Created with their handcrafted sauces and rubs, try the pulled pork, brisket, ribs or chicken. Classic sides include mac-n-cheese, smoked beans, coleslaw, baked potatoes, green beans and collard greens. Wash it all down with beer or refreshing wine slushies.

If you love brick oven pizza, you’ll love PC Brick Oven Pizza. Choose from our menu or create a wood-fired customization, tailored to you from our long list of toppings. Count on a crispy crust topped with melty, stretchy cheese and fresh toppings. Other entrees are available, but we highly recommend you try a pizza pie.

Marion’s History

Marion is named for Francis Marion, a brigadier general from South Carolina in the American Revolutionary War. The town was established in 1831, following the Battle of the Mississinewa during the War of 1812, which was fought just north of where Marion is today.

Like other towns in the area, Marion was the beneficiary of the natural gas boom in the late 1800s. Otherwise, Marion became a trading center supported by small farms and forest-related industries, contributing the most to the town’s growth.  Today’s local economy is boosted by manufacturing producing automotive components, paper items, foundry products, machinery, wire and cable.

Marion is located in east-central Indiana, midway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. Along the I-69 corridor, take exit 264. We hope you visit soon.

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Grant County

About Grant County

Grant County, Indiana, is home to nifty attractions, outtasight events and rebellious celebrities. Whether it’s saddle shoes, classic cars, vintage bikes, James Dean, or Garfield, we love everything classic and cool. Have a blast just 90 minutes North of Indy.

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