As the sunshine returns and spring break approaches, your family may be itching for a change of pace. Luckily, Indianapolis is surrounded by a number of family-friendly destinations that are perfect for a quick day trip.
Check out a few of our favorites family-friendly day trip destinations below.
1. Mounds State Park 39 miles away
Walk in the footsteps of Indiana’s earliest inhabitants at Mounds State Park, located off I-69 just east of Anderson. Here you can view 10 unique earthworks dating back as far as 160 B.C. that were built by prehistoric Indians known as the Adena-Hopewell people. Today, the park’s Nature Center brings the history of the mounds to life with a wildlife viewing room, animal displays, interactive games and more. Hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. A number of hiking trails, ranging from easy to rugged, wind around the prehistoric mounds. Before you head out, be sure to pick up a tree guide and mounds history guide from the Nature Center.
On Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00-4:00 pm, you can also tour the historic Bronnenberg House, which tells the story of the family who discovered the mounds in the 1800s and fought to preserve them.
2. Bloomington, IN 51 miles away
The picturesque town of Bloomington, Indiana is perhaps best known as a hot bed of higher education, but it is also a great place for families to get away for the day. First up: The WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology. Located on the B-Line Trail in the heart of the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District, WonderLab offers kids of all ages the chance to explore more than 65 hands-on science exhibits. Enjoy “soapy science” in the Bubble-Arium, get up close and personal with insects, amphibians and reptiles in the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science, discover the science around us in How Things Work, and commune with nature in the WonderGarden. The museum’s youngest visitors even have their own safe space to play, which is enclosed by a low wall so parents can keep tabs on older children. (Note: WonderLab is closed most Mondays and major holidays.)
Once your visit to the museum is complete, take a stroll on the 3.1- mile-long B-Line Trail. This paved, 12-foot-wide trail is stroller friendly and home to a growing inventory of murals and sculptures to enjoy during your walk. There are also four plazas along the trail that offer a great place to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch.
3. Parke County, IN 59 miles away
With a whopping 31 covered bridges, Parke County has earned the title of “Covered Bridge Capital of the World.” The historic structures that dot the area aren’t just eye-catching; each has a story to tell. Visit coveredbridges.com before your visit to learn the history of each bridge and download suggested driving routes.
During the weekends of February 25-26 and March 4-5, visitors can take part in the Parke County Maple Fair. Numerous maple syrup camps will be set up throughout the county where you can see how the sweet stuff is made and score a sample. Festival headquarters will be located at the county 4-H Fairgrounds outside of Rockville. Hours are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. There you can find maps and information on all the places you’ll want to visit in Parke County.
4. Newport, KY 115 miles away
Located just minutes from downtown Cincinnati, Newport, Kentucky, is chock-full of family fun. Immerse yourself in an underwater world that is home to thousands of animals from across the globe at the Newport Aquarium. While you are there, be sure to take a trip across Shark Bridge, a 75-foot rope bridge that allows guests to walk just inches above sharks, exotic shark rays, stingrays and more than 300 fish. When you are finished at the aquarium, grab a bite to eat at Newport on the Levee before taking a trek across the Kentucky/Ohio state line via the Newport Southbank Bridge. More commonly known as the Purple People Bridge, this bridge (which is actually purple) stretches 2,670 feet over the Ohio River, connecting Newport to downtown Cincinnati (and your kids can tell their friends that they walked from Kentucky to Ohio in a matter of minutes).
5. Indiana Cave Trail 75 miles to the nearest cave
Looking for a family challenge in 2017? Why not conquer all four caves along the
Indiana Cave Trail. Bluespring Caverns in Bedford features an underground river you can tour by boat as you learn the unique history of how the caverns were formed. Further south, Marengo Cave is a National Natural Landmark featuring large rooms and an abundance of formations that will make you feel as if you have been transported to another world. At 43.5 miles long, Indiana Caverns is the longest cave system in Indiana. Both walking and boat tours are available to take you past diverse ecosystems, an amazing waterfall and one of the largest collections of Ice Age bones in North America. Finally, walk in the footsteps of Daniel Boone at Squire Boone Caverns, where tour guides escort you down 73 stairs past views of rushing rivers and waterfalls.
Once you complete all four caves, you’ll score a free T-shirt! Simply pick up a passport at the first cave you visit and have it stamped at all four locations. It is impossible to see all four caves in one day, but no worries – you have through December 2018 to finish the task, which can easily be divided into multiple day trips.
When it comes to family-friendly destinations, this is just the tip of the iceberg. So grab the kids, load up the car and see where your next adventure leads.