7 Family Friendly Indiana Weekend Getaways

Have the winter blues started to set in? Are you ready for a vacation, but don’t want the typical vacation price tag attached?

Consider trying one of these 7 Indiana Weekend Getaways to Help Beat the Winter Blues. They are all within driving distance from Indianapolis and can easily be done in one weekend. So, get up, get packing and show those winter blues who’s boss.

7 Family Friendly Indiana Weekend Getaways:


Pokagon State Park Toboggan Run

Located about two and a half hours north of Indianapolis, near the city of Angola, you will find Pokagon State Park. This beautiful state park is home to the refrigerated Toboggan Run thrill ride. For just 13$ an hour you can experience the 20 to 30 second ride complete with dips, valleys and a total vertical drop of 90 feet over the course of a quarter mile. On Fridays, if riders rent three toboggans during the same hour they will receive the third one for free.  There are no specific age or height requirements, but children must be old enough to understand and abide by the rules. In other words – mom and dad, you know who can handle it and who can’t. With a maximum of four people per toboggan, there is plenty of space to enjoy the ride with family and friends. The run operates with or without snow, but will close if the temperature drops to 0 degrees F or below.  Brrrrr…..that’s cold.

Toboggan Run at Pokagon State Park, Photo credit: Pokagon State Park

Would you like to experience the beauty of outdoors and get some exercise? If you happen to arrive when there is snow on the ground, then you can do just that – by putting on a pair of cross country skis and hitting the trails. At Pokagon, they rent skis, boots and poles for just $5 per hour for youth ages 15 and under and $8 an hour for adults.

While you are there, stop by their Warming Center for a snack or head over to the Nature Center (open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 4:00 pm and open Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am-5:00 pm.)

Want to make a weekend of it? Stay at the beautiful Potawatomi Inn located on the shores of Lake James where they offer a variety of lodging choices including: cabin suites, kids’ suites, inn suites and an additional five different types of rooms to choose from. If you are in the mood for something more rustic, then you may want to try one of their eight historic cabins.

During winter, park entrance fees are collected Friday nights and on weekends when the run is open. The cost is $7 in-state vehicles, $9 out-of-state vehicles, $2 a person on a bus. Instead of running from winter, embrace it. Head to Pokagon State Park and enjoy all of the fun winter in Indiana can offer.

Location: 450 Lane 100 Lake James, Angola, Phone: 260-833-2012


Paoli Peaks

You don’t need to be where the mountains are to enjoy a day of skiing. Did you know you can ski right here in the state of Indiana? Hit the slops at Paoli Peaks. Paoli Peaks is a great place to try out skiing or snowboarding for the first time with your family. Paoli Peaks’ season runs mid-December through mid-March. Remember, skiing, snowboarding and tubing are weather-dependent activities and conditions and hours are subject to change without notice. Always check the Snow Report before coming out to Paoli Peaks for daily updates on snow and tubing conditions.  

Paoli Peaks

Maybe you aren’t quite ready for skiing, but are still looking for a place to go and enjoy the snow? Arctic Blast Snow Tubing is the ultimate activity for some serious family fun! It’s perfect for all ages and ability levels because no experience or special equipment is required. Paoli Peaks tubing facility is separate from the Ski and Board lodge – equipped with it’s own parking lot, ticket sales and day lodge. Inside the lodge you will find a concession stand with both indoor and outdoor seating (with a fire pit of course) perfect for a relaxing break. Don’t forget! the Paoli Pro Shop offers clothing and snow boot rental inside the tubing lodge. Tubing tickets start at $25 per person. For more pricing information, be sure to visit their website.

Location: 2798 West County Road 25 South, Paoli, Phone: 812-723-4696


Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark and Resort

After you are finished hitting the slopes or taking a ride on an Arctic Blast Snow Tube in Paoli, make a stop at the Big Splash Adventure Waterpark for an overnight adventure. This 40,000 square foot waterpark is attached to a 154 room hotel offering a variety of rooms and suites to fit families of all sizes. If you are ever in the mood for a day-trip during the week, Big Splash Adventure also offers Mommy and Me packages on Mondays and Fridays from 9:30 am-4:00 pm. During this time, admission is just $14 for any person measuring 46 inches and above and $12 for anyone shorter than 46 inches. Only a limited number of day passes are admitted each day. To ensure admittance, passes must be purchased online.  Check out their website for more information on scheduling and pricing.

Location: 8505 West State Road 56, French Lick, Phone: 877-936-FUNN (3866)


WonderLab Museum
Bubble-Arium, Photo credit: WonderLab Museum
Bubble-Arium, Photo credit: WonderLab Museum

With it’s beautiful scenery, historic buildings, college campus, parks, lakes and incredible food and music scene – Bloomington, Indiana has a lot to offer visitors both young and old. Located south of Indianapolis down Indiana State Road 37, Bloomington is the perfect destination for a family day trip. While you are there, be sure to check out the WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology. This is a fun and educational way to spend a day indoors. At the WonderLab children are encouraged to learn through exploration and play. They offer a variety of exhibits, hands-on workshops, activity stations and live animal programs. For more information on pricing and hours, be sure to visit their website.

Location: 308 West 4th Street, Bloomington, Phone: 812-337-1337


French Lick Resort: French Lick and West Baden, Indiana

Located about two and a half hours south of Indianapolis you will find the beautiful, historic French Lick Resort. Established in 1845, with the current spa wing built in 1901, this charming resort offers guests of all ages plenty to do on a cold, Indiana day. For many kids, just having a pool to swim in is enough to keep them happy and entertained for quite some time. French Lick offers that and so much more.

French Lick Resort
Photo credit: French Lick Resort

Want an entire day of fun? Check out WinterFest running daily from 10:00 am-8:00 pm now through February 28. During WinterFest, children can create a toy, learn to tie-dye, make some winter crafts or be a star in the talent show. If they need to burn off energy – there is plenty of opportunity for that as well.  They can bounce in the bouncy house, enjoy a “Fitness Frenzy” or take part in an indoor snowball fight. After all of that playing, children will have a chance to wind down and relax with a movie and popcorn. Check out this link for a complete list of activities. If mom and dad are in the mood for a date while at the resort, children ages 6 to 12 are able to utilize the drop-off services. Older and younger children must be accompanied by an adult.

In addition to WinterFest, French Lick also offers a daily KidsFest on Sunday through Thursday from 9:00 am-8:00 pm and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 am-9:00 pm. Or for 35$ check out the KidsPlus Pass that includes: unlimited KidsFest activities (including KidsFest’s child drop-off services for children ages 6-12), unlimited bowling with shoe rental at Pluto’s Alley (Monday through Thursday all day access and Friday through Sunday 2:00-5:00 pm with all other times based on availability), one slice of pizza and a fountain drink from Pluto’s Alley, one small ice cream from The French Lick Mercantile Company and one youth admission to the French Lick/West Baden Museum (open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am-4:00 pm.)

Whether you stay for one night or an entire weekend, the French Lick Resort has plenty to offer – dining, spa treatments, special events, music, gaming, activities, the list goes on and on. Be sure to check out their website for a complete list of all that there is to enjoy.

Location: 8670 West State Road 56, French Lick, Local Phone: 812-936-9300 & Toll Free Phone: 888-936-9360
Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park Resort * (Just outside Indiana, but worth the trip!)

Just over two hours from Indianapolis, located in Mason, Ohio (near Cincinnati), you will find the Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park Resort. Regardless of what the weather is like outside, you and your family are guaranteed an incredible time swimming, splashing and sliding the day away. The fun doesn’t stop there! In addition to a remarkable water park, they also offer attractions for land-lovers such as: MagiQuest, Ten Paw Alley, Shadow Quest, Compass Quest, Northern Lights Arcade, Howl at the Moon Glow Golf, Creation Station and Clubhouse Crew. That’s not all! Try some of their kid-friendly daily activities including: Character Appearances, Wake up with Wiley and Friends, Lunch Time Lineup, PJ Party with the Great Wolf Kids, Story Time and The Great Clock Tower Show. Great Wolf Lodge offers non-stop family fun and entertainment for all ages including dining, shopping and a fitness and spa area as well. This is a vacation you will remember for years to come – and it is just over two hours away!

Coyote Canyon - Photo credit Great Wolf Lodge
Coyote Canyon – Photo credit Great Wolf Lodge

If you decide to make a weekend of it, they offer a wide-variety of overnight options including standard, themed and premium rooms. Some of the themed rooms offered are: the KidKamp Suite, Wolf Den SuiteKidCabin Suite and the Whirlpool Fireplace Suite.

Visit their website for more information on booking your stay – including pricing and special offers.

Location: 2501 Great Wolf Drive, Mason, Ohio, Phone Reservations: 800-913-9653, Resort Direct Phone: 513-459-8885
Science Central and Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island 

Looking for a place to go, but don’t feel like going through the hassle of packing for an overnight trip? We have just the place for you. Head to downtown Fort Wayne, located just two hours north of Indy, for a family day trip to Science Central. Here, kids can learn about science through fun, hands-on activities. While you are there, check out the Zula Patrol: Mission Weather exhibit where kids can learn about clouds, precipitation, wind, temperature, and other weather phenomenon all while applying science processes. They also offer exhibits such as: Swap Shop, Kids Central, a High Rail Bike, Science on a Sphere and Demonstrations in the Lincoln Financial Foundation Demonstration Theater. Visit their website for information on pricing and hours. Children two and under receive free admission.

Photo credit: Science Central Museum
Photo credit: Science Central Museum
Location: 1950 North Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, Phone: 260-424-2400

A trip to Fort Wayne wouldn’t be complete without stopping to eat at Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island. This historic establishment has been owned by the same family since 1916 and little has changed in its 100+ years of operation. Serving up roughly 1,500 to 2,000 hotdogs a day on average, they obviously know what they are doing. Like most diners of long ago, the space is limited -offering some tables and a bar with swivel stools in a narrow space – don’t let that deter you!  Even if the line is out the door, the food is served up fast and it is well worth the wait. Check out the menu to see all that Coney Island has to offer – including exceptional pricing. Want to feel like a regular? Try using the Coney Island lingo. As it says on their website, “There’s a short-hand ordering lingo used by most customers that speeds along the already lightening fast process of getting food at Coney Island. “Three and a bottle” is three dogs with everything and a coke. “Three without” is three dogs with chili sauce and no onions.” If you have never been to Coney Island, this is definitely something you and your family will want to try.

Location: 131 West Main Street, Fort Wayne, Phone: 260-424-2997

Where do you like to go with your family for a winter weekend getaway? Comment below or email [email protected]. We would love to hear from you! Tag @indyschild on Instagram with #ICWinter and we will share your photo!

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