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11. Muncie, Indiana (population 70,085)
This East Central Indiana town is a great place for a fresh start, and that’s exactly what hundreds of freshmen get each year at Ball State University. Muncie’s main claim to fame happens to be David Letterman’s alma mater.
According to Ball State’s official website, he even expressed jealousy toward faculty and staff members who got to stay on campus for years. Letterman put his money where his mouth was, providing funding for the David Letterman Communication and Media Building.
Ball State University doesn’t take without giving back. According to the physics and astronomy departments’ online planetarium guide, Muncie locals can attend complimentary community programs to learn about constellations, black holes, and more. Recent programs, according to the observatory, explored the concepts of life on other planets, the aurora borealis, and Saturn’s rings.
According to the Muncie Visitors Bureau, the Muncie Children’s Museum gives kids a variety of stimulating, hands-on learning experiences. However, the positive influence doesn’t end when they outgrow the play sets and costumes.
The museum regularly recruits kids fourteen and older for their teen volunteer program, which teaches practical skills such as collaboration and creativity. The museum’s official website also details the seasonal and annual events that the museum hosts, including the Children’s Health Fair and Winter Wonderland.
If you want to get acquainted with Indiana’s native flora and fauna, take advantage of Minnetrista’s free admission before they realize what they’re giving away. This forty-acre agricultural mecca is also home to a massive historical preservation center, where workers handle, document and archive relics that tell the story of East Central Indiana’s history.
According to the center’s online map, the Gardens at Minnetrista contain dozens of specifically themed areas, including the Moon Garden with a wishing well and the culinary herb garden in front of the orchard courtyard.