If you’re craving a last-minute getaway with your family this holiday season, consider one of these drivable destinations that would make a perfect quick trip out of town.
Distance from Indianapolis: 2 hours 30 minutes
Wintertime is a great time to head up to Angola, located in the northeastern part of Indiana. Pokagon State Park is a must-visit for families who love the outdoors — the park offers cross-country skiing (rentals are available), sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and trails that are perfect for cold-weather hikes. The park’s biggest draw during the winter months is definitely the Pokagon Toboggan Run, which is one of the tallest and fastest toboggan runs in the United States. You can zoom down the quarter-mile track at over 30 mph! A few miles north of Angola is where you’ll find Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve in Fremont, home to 250 bison. Tours are available during the winter on Saturdays and Sundays via an open-air vehicle. When it’s time to come in from the cold, catch a family-friendly flick at Brokaw Movie House, a vintage 1931 first-run movie theater in downtown Angola.
Distance from Indianapolis: 1 hour
A quick drive south of Indianapolis will take you to Columbus, Indiana, a city known for its modern architecture and public art. But it’s also a city with lots for families to do! Start by visiting Kidscommons, a children’s museum in downtown Columbus. It’s the perfect place for littles ones to play and explore, with three floors of hands-on, interactive exhibits. Kids will enjoy designing, climbing, creating, and taking a trip down the world-famous giant toilet. Across the street is The Commons Indoor Playground, an amazing space that is free and open to the public. The indoor playground features infant and toddler areas, slides, a tunnel and a two-story Luckey Climber. For a dose of outdoor adventure, head to Mill Race Park and go sledding down the hills if there’s snow on the ground, or take a leisurely stroll along the scenic walking trails. Round out your visit with a meal at the historic Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum, where you can indulge in delicious sweets while learning about the history of the parlor.
Distance from Indianapolis: 2 hours 15 minutes
Downtown Fort Wayne is a great place to visit any time of the year, but there’s also lots to do in the winter. Enjoy a stroll through Headwaters Park, and then stop to ice skate in the fresh air at the Headwaters Ice Rink, open through February. Warm up in the lush tropical gardens at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, or be inspired by the permanent and visiting exhibits at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Be sure to visit Electric Works, Fort Wayne’s new and eclectic hotspot that opened in early 2023, built on the historic GE campus and given new life. Inside, you’ll find Union Street Market, the region’s first food hall and public market, featuring dozens of vendors. Of course, no family trip to Fort Wayne is complete without visiting Science Central, where you can explore more than 200 hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages.
Distance from Indianapolis: 2 hours
Located in southern Indiana, Harrison County is one of the best places to explore the state’s history above ground … and underground, too. Indiana Caverns and Squire Boone Caverns, two of the more popular caverns in the state, will have you exploring underground streams, cave formations and fossils below the earth’s surface. And you don’t have to worry about winter weather when you visit a cave, because the temperature underground is always a constant 52 degrees! Other historical activities families can do include touring Indiana’s first state capitol in Corydon, historical sites like The Battle of Corydon Memorial Park, The Governor’s Headquarters, Constitution Elm and the Leora Brown School. Another must-see is the Harrison County Discovery Center, with its interactive, high-tech displays that makes history engaging for all ages.
Distance from Indianapolis: 2 hours 45 minutes
December might be the perfect month to visit Santa Claus, Indiana … for obvious reasons! This destination is all Christmas all the time, but you really feel the spirit surrounding you during the holiday season. Treat your family to a cup of famous frozen hot chocolate at Santa’s Candy Castle, and then visit the Santa Claus Museum & Village to write a letter to Santa. The giant Santa Claus Christmas Store is decked out with everything a Christmas-lover could want, from ornaments to lights to cookies and fudge. A few miles away from Santa Claus is Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, one of the three National Parks in Indiana. Pick up a junior rangers activity book at the memorial visitor center, then bundle up and hike through the park to complete the activities while learning about our 16th president. As you explore the living historical farm, you’ll meet park rangers dressed in period clothing, performing activities typical of daily life in the 1820s.
Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or cozy indoor fun, there are plenty of places around Indiana that make for a quick family getaway!