Although Kokomo, Indiana, initially appears to be a sleepy town, it actually has a rich history and many undiscovered wonders.
This Howard County city, known as the “City of Firsts,” was once the center for innovations and inventions that aided in the advancement of the nation. A natural gas boom in 1886 led to a number of technological developments in the city.
There were many inventions made here whose effects can still be felt today, from bombs to horseless carriages.
The majority of innovation hubs today are found in large cities, but that doesn’t mean this city has lost its edge.
For both young and old, there are still a lot of things to see, do, and experience.
When you’re contemplating to pay a visit to Kokomo, it is guaranteed that you’ll find something new to explore. Kokomo has many tourist spots, popular attractions, and off-beat things to check out. There are also free places that you can visit without spending any money. When visiting Kokomo, you can go on excursions, day trips or handpicked tours that will make your trip worthwhile. We’ve picked 5 of our favorite things to do when visiting Kokomo.
Participating in a tour of the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory is a unique, educational and enjoyable activity to engage in. The Opalescent glass factory is one of four factories remainingin the United States that specializes in making art glass. The factory originated in 1888, making them 131 years old. The tour offers a walk through the entire building, learning the process of manufacturing art glass from beginning to end. Visitor really gets up close to the action. You can watch employees running molten glass to a machine where another staff member mixes it and push it through to be flattened. Afterward, the glass undergoes a cooling process ending up with a stunning sheet of glass. You also get to visit other rooms, i.e., where the glass is blown, art items are made as well as warehouses with finished products, ready to be shipped. The factory has a gift store where they also offer classes on mosaics, beading, glass blowing, etc.
You can check out one of Kokomo’s most iconic attractions, namely the World’s largest steer, which is a staggering 4000 pounds. He is stuffed and can be seen on display in a building of the park. You can take a lovely family picture on the covered bridge in the park.
This scenic 80-acre park is also home to the giant Sycamore Stump, the Vermont Covered Bridge, Kokomo Creek, several playground areas for kids, and a variety of shelters and pavilions perfect for picnics and family gatherings.
Kokomo is also an idyllic location for Fiji Weddings. Kokomo beach captures the essence of barefoot extravagance. Imagine stretches of white sand, harmonized by the calm waters of the nearby lagoon where neighboring islands offer a picturesque backdrop to your ceremony. If you’re planning to spend quality time with your kids doing kayaking on a Kokomo beach, you must learn how to make kayaking safe for children first.
Martino’s Italian Villa
This is one of Kokomo’s staples and well worth a visit. They’ve been serving customers since 1962 with delicious authentic Italian cuisine and pizzas. They were even inducted into the Pizza Hall of Fame in 2017. They make the best hearty red sauce, and the pizza is to die for.
Frank and Angela Martino first opened Martino’s in 1962. In early 2022, new owners Mike and Brandy Conner took over the restaurant, ending a six-decade reign of local restaurant ownership by the Martino family and ushering in a new era. The however said it will be a similar one for the beloved Italian restaurant.
At the edge of downtown, you can find The Refinery. The place is situated in front of a dance studio and is referred to as a healthy drink station. They have nitro coffee, smoothies, and kombucha on offer, and they create fun mocktails by incorporating wholesome ingredients. A few of the favorites you can try is Bucha-Rita, The Mermaid (both are kombucha drinks), pumpkin spice bullet coffee, key lime smoothie (made from lime and matcha) and an all-round favorite, lavender lemonade. The place offers a great atmosphere and is set up like a regular bar, except kids are welcome here. For outdoor seating, two garage doors can open as well as a small courtyard in front that gives access to a lovely city park.
Interesting Facts About Kokomo
As a result of the natural gas boom, Kokomo attracted more industries, leading to significant technological advancements. Kokomo was a pioneer in American automobile manufacturing; on July 4, 1894, Elwood Haynes test-drove his early internal combustion engine car there, earning Kokomo the title of “City of Firsts” for its industrial and technological accomplishments. Over the following few years, Haynes and his associates constructed a number of other automobiles; in 1898, the Kokomo, Indiana-based Haynes-Apperson Automobile Company was founded for the purpose of mass-producing commercial automobiles. To provide his wife with dinnerware that wouldn’t tarnish, Haynes went on to create stainless steel flatware in 1912. The Delco Radio Division of General Motors (now Delphi) created the first push button radio in 1938.
Kokomo is also known as the “City of Firsts” in the food sector. The first canned tomato juice was created in 1928 by Walter Kemp, Kemp Brothers Canning Co. in response to a request from a doctor looking for baby food for his clinic. The first mechanical corn picker, created by John Powell in the early 1920s, was also invented in Kokomo. The first Ponderosa Steakhouse, which debuted in Kokomo in 1965, was based there. The first McDonald’s with a diner inside opened in Kokomo, known locally as “McDiner,” but this McDonald’s theme failed to catch on nationally. The “McDiner” eventually shut down and was reopened as a standard McDonald’s restaurant.
Kokomo is also linked to the following innovations:
- Elwood Haynes successfully tested his “horseless carriage” for the first time in 1894 on Pumpkinvine Pike, which is now Boulevard east of Indiana 931. (formerly U.S.31.)
- D.C. Spraker invented the first pneumatic rubber tire in the US at the Kokomo Rubber Tire Company in 1894.
- In 1985, William “Billy” Johnson of the Ford and Donnelly Foundry created the first aluminum casting.
- George Kingston invented the Kingston carburetor in 1902.
- Elwood Haynes made the first Satellite cobalt-base alloy in 1906.
- In 1912, Elwood Haynes created stainless steel tableware in response to his wife’s request for tarnish-resistant tableware.
- In 1918, the Superior Machine Tool company developed the Howitzer shell used in World War I.
- The Liberty Pressed Metal Company created the first finned aerial bomb in 1918.
- William Swern Sr. created the first tire-making machine for mass-producing automobile tires in 1923.
- The General Motors Corporation’s Delco Radio Division developed the first push-button car radio in 1938.
- In 1941, the Globe American Stove Company produced the first metal lifeboats and rafts, known to the US Navy as Kokomo Kids.
- The General Motors’ Delco Radio Division developed the first signal-seeking automobile radio in 1947.
- In 1956, General Motors’ Delco Radio Division created a transistorized signal-seeking car radio (hybrid) that combined vacuum tubes and transistors in its radio’s circuitry. The 1956 Chevrolet Corvette car models had this transistorized car radio as an option.
- The year 1957 saw the introduction of the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, which came standard with an all-transistor car radio made by General Motors’ Delco Radio Division.
From historical museums, art glass tours, and roadside attractions, the Kokomo area offers a large variety of sights to see. Kokomo also offers outdoor recreation for all ages.
Live music, festivals, local dining, eclectic nightlife and unique shopping – you’ll find it all in beautiful downtown Kokomo. Set against a backdrop of historic buildings and public art spaces, the city center is home to unique experiences and tastes.
Kokomo offers a variety of annual festivals and fairs featuring music, family fun, and of course, food!