The city of West Lafayette is about an hour from Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana. I had the pleasure of visiting this iconic college town and learned much about the relaxed vibe, friendly community, and delicious food scene. If you haven’t traveled through the Midwest, you are in for a real treat when you visit the neighboring towns of Lafayette and West Lafayette, full of Hoosier hospitality. Here are some fun things to do in West Lafayette, Indiana, for you to choose from.
West Lafayette has three excellent places to wet your whistle. First is Triple XXX, known for creating and producing Indiana’s iconic drink since 1895. Triple XXX has many varieties of hand-crafted sodas such as grape, cream, orange, and sarsaparilla, but root beer is its claim to fame. The name, XXX, refers to the highest grade due to its pure sugar content.
You can also have a tasty meal at Triple X, with breakfast dishes like biscuits and gravy, Duane Purvis Burger (chopped steak with peanut butter), and the Boudia (boe-dye-uh), a sandwich with cream, American, and Swiss cheeses, bacon, and tomato, with hash browns and gravy. In 2008, chef Guy Fieri visited Triple XXX to film one of his Diners, Drive-Ins, and Drives segments.
People’s Brewing Company is a wonderful taproom serving seasonal, year-round, and specialty small-batch beers in a comfortable setting since 2009. People’s packaging is whimsical and colorful; I loved it! I did a beer tasting that featured Moundbuilder IPA, Altbier, and a seasonal dark beer. Chris Johnson (the creator, owner, and Purdue alumni) was knowledgeable and shared the history behind his business plan.
People’s Brewing is an advocate for the community in West Lafayette. Daily specials and live music make this an even more attractive hangout.
If beer isn’t your thing, how about wine? Wildcat Creek Winery has palate-pleasing sweet fruit wine choices. Be sure to try Lafayette Red and White, the Riesling, and Traminette, Indiana’s signature wine with fresh fruity aromas. Steuben, made from a blue-black grape, is the winery’s best seller and my favorite. It is similar to a Rosé, with cranberry and strawberry flavors, and very easy to drink.
We paired Aunt Minnie’s Cherry Tree semi-sweet wine with chocolate morsels. It was amazing at how different the wine tasted with the chocolate on our tongue. Yummy! Wildcat calls it “cherry pie in a glass”. You will definitely not be leaving here without a bottle of the Steuben.
Get Your Italian Food Fix
West Lafayette has two long-running Italian restaurants in the area, which seem to have a friendly competitive streak, but offer different menu items and specialty dishes. I liked them both equally, plus the owners of both were committed to customer service, a knowledgable staff, and family first.
Bruno’s, serving Indiana for over 60 years, has some of the best pizza in West Lafayette. It touts being the first pizzeria in the town. Bruno’s makes fantastic dough (Bruno’s dough) that is deep-fried, brushed with garlic butter, sprinkled with Parmesan, and served with dipping sauce. It is a must-try item! Bruno Itin, the creator and Swiss immigrant, showcases his cooking skills through the Swiss, German, and Italian dishes that make up his menu, now carried on by his children.
While Italian food is the star of Bruno’s menu (think Stromboli, lasagna, and pizza), I preferred the German choices such as Wienerschnitzel, Knackwurst, and Bratwurst. Bruno’s also offers dessert pizzas, so save room. I recommend Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip—scrumptious! After eating, enjoy arcade and game room run at Bruno’s Big O’s Sportsroom.
Arni’s Restaurant is the other eatery that has endured more than 60 years in West Lafayette, Indiana, currently with more than 20 branches around the state. Arni’s is known for its super thin and crispy pizza crust, but Arni’s is much more than a pizzeria. Brad Cohen, son of the original Arni, creates mouth-watering pizza combinations, but the appetizers and salads are some of the best I’ve ever had.
My favorite dish was Arni’s Junior Salad, with tiny chunks of ham, turkey, and mozzarella cheese. It is topped with radishes and green onions. You can choose between 10 or so homemade dressings; my pick is celery seed parmesan. Other dishes to try are the Magnificent Mushrooms (cream cheese and sausage), Potato Pancakes, and Buffalo Chicken Roll-up.
Treat Yourself to Something Sweet
When I first saw the neon sign outside of Igloo, I knew that I was in for a treat, literally and figuratively. Igloo Frozen Custard makes everything homemade and has perfected frozen custard—and that is just the start of the frozen delicacies they serve. My favorites were the hand-crafted treats- cheesecake on a stick and nut bars. Igloo even has pup cups for your dogs!
Igloo has a drive-thru for convenience, soda flavorings that you can buy, fruit drinks, food (burgers, hotdogs, salads, & bbq), and take-home packed frozen custard containers. For a stroll down memory lane, try the Krunch Kote, a crispy topping that I remember from my childhood days. I loved how friendly and fun Igloo’s pastel decor is. Sample Igloo’s seasonal and rotating flavors as you make your way through Indiana’s “I Scream for Ice Cream” Trail, one of 19 culinary trails in the state.
Tour West Lafayette’s Famous Campus
I knew that Purdue existed and had a good basketball team; that was it. What I did not realize is that you have to be really smart to compete for registration at this internationally respected university. Per the admissions office, “Students don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to change the world”. The black and gold Boilermakers (40,000 students, 10K of which are international, and nearly half that of employees) make up the lively college town vibe in West Lafayette. Purdue has many famous graduates, including more astronauts than any other institution in the country, 23 to be exact.
Points of interest around campus include the Loeb fountain, nine libraries, Purdue Mall Fountain, and the statue of John Purdue, founder and namesake of the university. I loved the Boilermaker statue, next to the Drew Brees (quarterback of the New Orleans Saints) gymnasium.
Fun fact: The Gateway to the Future Arch was used in Monsters University.
Pretend You’re in Ireland
Nine Irish Brothers is as close to Ireland as you are going to get in Indiana, maybe even in the whole United States! This award-winning neighborhood Irish restaurant and pub serves really good food and drinks. The decor is spot on, and the restaurant is known for its delicious brew of Guinness and traditional Irish fare.
Tiger Mike’s Fish & Chips and the Deluxe Reuben are just two of the favorite eats here, not to be outdone by the Guinness Stew and Goat Cheese Fritters (with raspberry vinaigrette). Guinness (originated in Dublin, Ireland) picked Nine Irish Brothers as the best pint in the country. Whiskey flights are also available.
McCord Candies has been making mouth-watering chocolates since 1912. McCord also produces famous candy canes at its three-story soda fountain. Linda, an exceptional local jewelry artist, blew me away with her personalized pieces that any mother, grandmother, sister, friend, daughter, or aunt would love. In addition to selling handmade glassware at LE Originals, Linda can transfer a picture onto a glass bead.
Grateful Heart Gallery & Gifts is another cool place for souvenir shopping and buying local art. The shop even has creative pottery pieces that double as musical instruments. Be sure to admire the downtown murals while you are out shopping.
West Lafayette: A Fun Place to Explore
I get so excited about discovering new small towns. Indiana has several worth visiting. I found Lafayette to have friendly business owners whose sense of pride in the community is apparent and endearing. While I still have many more things to see and do here, I hope you will have as much fun visiting West Lafayette, Indiana, as I did.
Special thanks to Visit Indiana, Visit Lafayette/West Lafayette, and Indiana Foodways for hosting my visit. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
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