Far-away destinations and lengthy blocks of time typically come to mind when we think of vacations. Yet the occasional day trip can refresh everyone in the family and be just what your crew needs to reconnect and create some spontaneous memories.
So, set your compass and start planning!
Beaches, Historic Encounters, Family-Friendly Fort Wayne
Indiana Beach Amusement and Water Park (Monticello) is hard to beat for a classic summer escape. And on your drive home, stop by Battle Ground, Indiana for an evening “Wolf Howl” at Wolf Park. Longing for Lake Michigan? Head to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Portage) or nearby Indiana Dunes State Park (Chesterton). Consider stopping at Fair Oaks Farm as you make your way along I-65. Step back in time in Shipshewana, Amish Acres (Nappanee) or the Circus Capital of the World (Peru) which hosts amateur circus performances July 10 – 18 and an annual parade July 18.
Fort Wayne abounds in family fun, with its renowned Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Science Central, Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Moose Lake Christian Craft Village and Firefighter Museum as well as several venues for dramatic and musical arts. Festivals include Riverpalooza (May 30), Germanfest (June 10-13), Ribfest (June 18-21) and Three Rivers Festival (July 10-18). Enhance the day with a visit to Pokagon State Park, Lake James or Fun Spot Amusement Park (Angola).
In less than two hours, you can “soar” to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Check out the Carillon Historical Park, Wright Brothers Aviation Center, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and the unique Sunwatch Indian Village & Archaeological Park.
Summer events include Feast of the Flowering Moon (May 21-24), Strawberry Festival (June 6-7), Banana Split Festival (June 12-13), Dayton Air Show (June 20-21) and Rail Festival (June 27-28).
Cincinnati, Louisville and Indiana Adventures
Notable attractions in Cincinnati include the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark, the Children’s Museum, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Art Museum and King’s Island. Don’t overlook Hueston Woods State Park, EnterTRAINment Junction, Coney Island, Queen City Underground and Newport Aquarium. Festivals include Appalachian Fest (May 8-10), CincItalia (May 16-17) and Ohio River Paddlefest (June 18-20).
Begin your sightseeing of Louisville with a short cruise on “The Belle of Louisville,” America’s last true Mississippi River steamboat. Afterwards, consider the Kentucky Science Center, Slugger Museum/Factory and the Kentucky Derby Museum. For more fun, try an underground experience with zip lines and biking at the Louisville Mega Cavern or a family competition in the Louisville Quest.
Indiana State Parks are perfect summer getaways! Brown County (Nashville), McCormick’s Creek (Bloomington), and Clifty Falls (Madison) are three southern gems. Cavers will enjoy Indiana Caverns (Corydon), Bluesprings Caverns (Bedford) or Marengo Cave (Marengo).
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari (Santa Claus, IN) is widely known for its family-friendly, clean atmosphere, thrilling rides and spectacular water park. Santa’s Candy Castle and the Christmas Store are quaint stops in town. Save time for a quick stop at the nearby Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.
Rugged Beauty Along Sugar Creek
Turkey Run State Park (Marshall) is the perfect destination for first time or seasoned hikers, with breathtaking views of many natural wonders. Horseback riding and canoeing are also great options.
In just over an hour from Indy, you’ll find the Terre Haute Children’s Museum. With a focus on science and technology, this museum is filled with fun, hands on activities for kids. Check out the multi-level tree house and the news broadcast exhibit. And, don’t leave without a visit to the Bubble Ring in the Water Works area, where you can be completely enclosed in a giant bubble!
Remember that moments of free time rarely just present themselves; they must be intentionally carved out from the crush of commitments of daily life. Don’t let your moments pass by – plan a fun family getaway today!
Enhance Your Day Trip
Amp up the fun with these simple tips!
Be Mysterious. Plan a mystery trip – nothing excites kids more than the unknown. Days leading up to the trip can include clues or even a treasure hunt.
Be Silly. Have each family member choose a new nickname for the day – with everyone trying to use only those names.
Be Inclusive. Let each child help plan your trip with activities they think everyone would enjoy.
Be Original. Once you choose your destination, log onto www.roadsideamerica.com to discover some quick, fun stops to add along your drive – unique oddities and landmarks to make everyone smile!
Be a Travel Agent. Exchange trip planning with another family with each group mapping out a fun day for the other.
Be Kind. Ask each family member to extend a small act of kindness in some way during the trip (brighten the day for an overworked waiter, pay ahead for the next customer in line, offer a helping hand to a mom with a stroller or someone wheelchair bound, or surprise a sibling with an unexpected pleasure).
Be the Chamber of Commerce. Have kids record the highlights and “must see” places of your trip – maybe creating their own video road trip show!
Be Free. Turn off or limit the use of mobile devices — or leave them at home (except one phone for emergencies.)
Be Spontaneous. If an unexpected opportunity arises along the route, consider it!