I discovered Oldenburg, Indiana on a whim. My boys and I were traveling back from Indy and my curiosity won. Known as the Village of the Spires, Oldenburg’s German heritage and charm makes it a great daytrip getaway located about an hour from Cincinnati.
I decided to come back to Oldenburg a few days later. This time without my kids and with my husband. I love my boys, but there were certain aspects of history that I wanted to dive into deeper during my second visit that I knew they wouldn’t be up for.
The first settlers, William George and his brother, arrived in Oldenburg in 1817. Over the years Oldenburg’s population grew with German Catholic immigrants and incorporated in 1869. In 1851, Immaculate Conception Academy began with 6 pupils. Over the years, the sisters continued to offer outreach for the poor and educational programs for the community.
Fried Chicken at Wagner’s Village Inn
Located at 22171 Main St. in Oldenburg. Oldenburg is known for their fried chicken. I was told that many out of towners drive to Oldenburg just to eat their fried chicken. My boys and I tried to get a table on a Saturday evening but we discovered a long line, which is always a good sign, but we were told that we still would have to wait quite a while because the food is made to order and we had a bit of a time crunch that night.
My husband and I came back a few days later and enjoyed a family style meal with plenty of leftovers to enjoy later. The interior of Wagner’s is a bit of a flashback to the 60/70’s era. When you walk in the door, you will see hundreds of pictures of people who celebrated their special day with the honorary chicken hat.
We started with a few rounds of coleslaw while we were waiting on our chicken. The coleslaw leans on the sweet side and if you’re hungry, it’s really easy to fill up during your wait.
The chicken was worth the wait. If you love pepper, you will love the chicken because it’s heavily seasoned with it. Our meal came with rolls, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy.
There are a few other restaurants options in town that came highly recommended.
Both The Brau Haus and the Pearl Street Pub were closed during our visit so we will have to try them next time.
Quest to find the Hand Painted Fire Hydrants
As you walk down the streets, you will discover creative fire hydrants that each tie to the city in some way.
It’s such a simple thing, but it really did put a smile on my face every time that I found one. If your kids are with you, you can make a challenge to see who can find the most.
Take a Tour from the Sisters of St. Francis
During my visit with the boys, a local shop owner shared that the sisters give tours. My boys were not in the mood for a tour and we were tight on time. We were fortunate that Sister Amy was available to give us a tour of the convent when I came back with my husband.
She shared about the history of the convent, showed us around the complex, and shared stories. It was seriously such an honor to chat with her.
We learned there was a wall around the property formerly used as a physical separation of the church from the outside world. Over time the views of the church shifted with the culture and the physical walls were removed to symbolize the open doors to the community. This section of wall pictured below is that remains.
After our tour we did a little exploration on our own.
The walking tour map has a scavenger hunt for kids along with history and information about each of the points of interest on site.
Visit a working farm
Michaela Farm is named in honor of Sister Michaela Lindemann who began work on the farm in 1854. It’s a short drive or a reasonable walk from the convent.
Make sure that you bring cash so that you can take home dried herbs, eggs, and grass fed beef in the farm store.
Discover treasures at local shops
We were fortunate to stop by The Creche Shop while Ed Kirschner was crafting a nativity by hand. Generations of families make a tradition out of purchasing nativity stables from his shop.
The Golden Turtle Trading Company is a great stop with artisan goods. I really enjoyed looking around in this store.
Stop by Carriage House Antiques located at 22159 Main St. and discover 17th century antiques and homemade ice cream. The shop is filled with an incredible collection of 17th Century pieces.
If you have kids with you, you can entice them with the homemade ice cream that you order at the front of the store and afterwards they can burn off some energy at the nearby playground located within walking distance of main street.
A few points of interest are the original 5,000 lb. safe door, cuckoo clocks, a small trunk from London with original newspaper clippings attached to the bottom, rare books, and a colonial bee hive (pictured below).
Make sure that you read the descriptions next to the items for a glimpse into their story.
Look for historic details all around you
There are historic markers located throughout Oldenburg. The details on the buildings and walls are really incredible if you take the time to notice them.
I was also told that Freudenfest IS the place to be the 3rd week in July. This festival is a fun celebration of German heritage with food, drink, activities, and entertainment.
Oldenburg is a great day trip destination or a great stop on a roadtrip.
You can find out more about what Oldenburg has to offer from the Franklin County website.