Indiana is a diverse state full of travel opportunities. Whether it is vineyards, breweries and distilleries, shopping, hiking or heritage and historical sites that you seek, VisitIndiana.com will point you in the right direction. And no matter what adventure you take, you’ll be greeted with Hoosier Hospitality.
Misty Weisensteiner/Director, Indiana Office of Tourism Development, shares some of the destinations that should be on your summer travel list!
White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis is like one-stop shopping for a summer getaway. You can pedal a surrey or rent a Segway to take along the canal, or you can rent bikes to take all along the Cultural Trail. All within walking distance are the NCAA Hall of Champions, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, IMAX theater, Indiana State Museum, and Indianapolis Zoo. Check the summer schedule to include an outdoor concert in White River State Park. Just a few blocks from this downtown is The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Explore five floors of fun and excitement at the world’s biggest children’s museum: Science is everywhere Dow AgroSciences ScienceWorks, Dinosphere, National Geographic Treasures of the Earth and Beyond Spaceship Earth.
In its second year: the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience, a 7.5-acre outdoor health and fitness. The focus is to get kids moving at the 12 interactive experiences. There’s basketball, baseball, racing, golf and more. You just pick up the provided equipment and try to hone your skills.
There’s also an Avenue of Champions dedicated to 16 Hoosier athletes or sports icons. Larry Bird, Tamika Catchings and Hank Aaron are among the ones you see in life-sized bronze statues.
Columbus is a small city that’s world-renowned for its examples of mid-century Modernist architecture. Take a guided tour to see more than 70 notable buildings and public art installations created by famed architects, designers and artists. In fact, artwork is around every corner in Columbus. It’s a real Instagram-worthy destination. You’ll see it’s a citywide art museum dotted with cozy bistros and eclectic shops, luring camera-toting travelers from all over the world. Walk around and take in the world-class architecture.
Located within one city block in beautiful downtown Columbus are attractions that will amaze kids and parents alike, and won’t break the bank. Explore the indoor playground at the Commons . The centerpiece of this no-cost play experience is the 35-foot-tall Lucky Climber, which truly must be seen to be believed! The playground features three separate zones, each with activities geared toward toddlers, little kids or big kids.
Right across the street, spend hours exploring kidscommons , a three-story children’s museum featuring a rock-climbing wall, a room dedicated to blowing giant-sized bubbles and the world’s largest toilet, where kids can “flush” themselves down the pipes!
In the same block on historical Washington Street, grab lunch and a sweet treat at Zaharakos , a meticulously restored ice-cream parlor and soda fountain dating from 1900. A favorite place of generations of parents and kids, Zaharakos is home to the Welt Orchestrion, a self-playing pipe organ that provides the rich sound of a full orchestra complete with bass and snare drums, triangle, and cymbals!
While you’re in town, spend a day on the river at Blue’s Canoe Livery , just a short drive from downtown Columbus. Offering camping, kayaks, rafts and canoes, the friendly folks at Blue’s can help you pick a trip to suit any age and ability level.
Your outdoor Indiana adventure could also include a round of golf on the Pete Dye Course located at French Lick Resort. Naysayers said he couldn’t build a course in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, but he proved them wrong. The view from the clubhouse and course is as breathtaking as it is challenging. Stay in one of two majestic hotels at French Lick Resort: French Lick Springs Hotel or West Baden Springs Hotel. Each offers fine and casual dining, as well as full-service spas featuring the mineral waters that first drew visitors to the area in the 1920s. Both hotels have been completely restored, offering historic beauty with modern conveniences. An onsite casino, concerts, bike rentals and trolley add to the fun.
The hotels were originally built in the 1800s for visitors to experience the “healing waters” of the nearby mineral springs. This tradition of health and wellness for visitors continues today in the form of two luxury spas. The Spa at French Lick focuses on American sophistication and leisure while the Spa at West Baden offers visitors the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate amid European influences.
The resort offers diverse lineup of restaurants to accommodate any dining occasion. With eight eateries to choose from, diners can experience the elegance of a traditional steakhouse, sit in the kitchen at an exclusive chef’s table, dine in the atrium of West Baden’s awesome dome or grab a casual bite to eat and listen to live music at a bar and grill.
There is much to do near the 3,000 acre resort as well. With state parks, a winery, scenic railway, caves and a theme park nearby, a visit to French Lick Resort can be a launch pad to explorations throughout southern Indiana.
Santa Claus/Holiday World
A few years after his birth in Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln’s family moved to what is now Spencer County, Indiana. He lived and learned there, from age 7 to 21, where he adopted his belief that slavery was unjust. Both Lincoln State Park and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial give you insight to his formative years. You can also see one of the only pieces of furniture known to have been crafted by him at the museum in Rockport. But it’s not just Lincoln history in Spencer County. You can also enjoy an outdoor concert at the amphitheater in Lincoln State Park and ride the nationally ranked roller coasters and water slides at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is a family-owned theme park and water park combo, located in Santa Claus, Indiana. Holiday World celebrates Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July with roller coasters, family rides, live entertainment, games and attractions. Thunderbird, the nation’s only launched wing coaster, has been featured on the Travel Channel, HGTV, and in USA Today. TIME magazine named Holiday World’s Voyage the nation’s #1 wooden roller coaster. Splashin’ Safari, named the Midwest’s Best Waterpark by TripAdvisor, includes the two longest water coasters in the world (certified by Guinness World Records), numerous family raft slides and water slides, two wave pools, plus water activities for children. Both parks provide guests with free soft drinks, free parking, free inner tube usage, free sunscreen and free Wi-Fi.
Best deals on tickets? “Pick Your Price” online tickets offer the best discounts, which vary throughout the season. Website: HolidayWorld.com
Dunes State Park- While best known for its world class beaches, the Indiana Dunes and its surrounding areas offer so much more. World class cuisine, breathtaking scenery, eclectic nightlife and exhilarating biking and hiking await you on your next trip to the Dunes.
**We now have our first National Park—61st in the nation. Every year, nearly 4 million visitors flock to Indiana Dunes State and National Parks. It’s the state’s largest attraction. In all, the Indiana Dunes is 15,000 acres of beaches, forests, prairies and wetlands.
Brown County State Park – Come mountain bike, camp, hike, swim, fish, ride horseback, picnic and enjoy the natural beauty of the park located in the rolling hills of southern Indiana.
Turkey Run State Park– A walk into one of the ravines takes you on a trip through time, for the sandstone gorges represent 600 to 300 million years of nature’s handiwork.
McCormick’s Creek – You can explore the park by 10+ miles of well-marked hiking trails, taking you past unique features like Wolf Cave, Twin Bridges, and the Falls on McCormick’s Creek.
Indiana State Parks: We have a 100-year legacy of providing Hoosiers unique places to hike, camp, picnic, and enjoy nature. Here are just a few must-see destinations:
a. McCormick’s Creek – Indiana’s first state park, established in 1916
b. Brown County – Indiana’s largest at 16,000 hilly acres
c. Turkey Run – noted for sandstone canyons, tall trees and Sugar Creek
d. Prophetstown – restored prairie near historic 1812 battlefield
e. Falls of the Ohio – explore a 220-acre Ohio River fossil bed that is 387 million years old
f. Spring Mill – working pioneer village with a water-driven grist mill
g. Fort Harrison – 1,700-acre forested urban park on former military base
h. Shades – sandstone cliffs, shady ravines and Pine Hills Nature Preserve
i. Mounds – unique earthworks built by prehistoric American Indians
If the beach is your idea of a family getaway, then Indiana’s South Shore is your ideal destination! It’s the sand and surf you want, with the added excitement of hiking the ever-shifting Indiana Dunes. Beyond the shore, you’ll discover water parks, shopping, breweries and more.
Indiana’s South Shore, just a 30-minute drive from downtown Chicago and home to America’s newest National Park! Climb to the top of a soaring sand dune for breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and then venture on out into the water. And the beach isn’t all! From water parks and baseball to shopping and casinos, the South Shore offers fun for all ages.
Bring your own watercraft or rent one once you get here—there are so many ways to enjoy your days at the shore.
• Lake swimming
• Calumet bicycle trail
• Nature center and programs
WhoaZone – As one of the largest water playgrounds in the Midwest, WhoaZone offers visitors over-the-top adventures and acrobatic thrills as they take on this action-packed, inflatable obstacle course.
You can run, jump, slide, bounce and splash for hours on this inflatable playground on water! The WhoaZone at Whihala Beach has four routes with different challenge levels, so it’s fun for all (must be age 7+ to play).
Deep River Water Park – You’ll agree this large water park is “simply SPLASHtastic” after soaking up all the fun. Pictured is the first Double Dueling CannonBowl Ride in the world—just one of many thrilling water slides and rides at the park.
Affordable family-friendly waterpark in Crown Point, Indiana. One of the largest midwest waterparks that include:
• Wave Pool
• Lazy River Rides
• Cannon Bowl Rides
• Speed Slides
• Paddles Play Zone [for the little ones!]
• STORM ride complex
• Mayor Byrdovich’s Courthouse water-play structure
• KRAKEN 6-lane slide racer
• rentable cabanas
• and much more!
• Also, we are cooler friendly to bring your family snacks and beverages into the park!
Mascot Hall of Fame -New in 2018! Explore three floors of colorful, interactive fun as you check out some of the most famous professional and college sports mascots. See yourself on the big screen as a mascot, create your own and so much more.
This hall of fame for U.S. mascots was created to honor mascot performers, performances, and programs that have positively affected their communities. What started as an online hall of fame later came to fruition as a physical location in Whiting, Indiana in late December 2018. Children and adults alike can enjoy this colorful, interactive, and fun exhibit featuring mascots from across the country.
Biking Trails– The South Shore has more than 100 miles of biking and hiking trails for you to explore.
Northwest Indiana and parts of Eastern Illinois contain more than 125 miles of biking and walking trails. Many of the trail systems run along abandoned railroad tracks and highlight the rich ecological diversity that make up the South Shore region.
Albanese Candy Factory – Known for the World’s Best Gummies, Albanese Candy Factory is the place to go for these chewy treats, plus chocolates, nuts and more. Take a few minutes for the self-guided tour—including a free sample.
South Shore Brewery Trail – The South Shore knows about hops! Download their app as you check out more than 20 breweries and alehouses.
To learn more, check out www.VisitIndiana.com.
SEGMENT IS SPONSORED BY INDIANA OFFICE OF TOURISM