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Family fun....for not a lot of money

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Family fun....for not a lot of money

Hi! My husband, 6yo son & I live in Southern Indiana and we are looking for places to take day-trips or maybe just a 1-night stay. We enjoy all kinds of things...festivals, museums, historical sites, beaches, amusement parks, relaxation, etc. We would love to have some idea for trips that we can do relatively inexpensively. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks & take care!!!!

Bloomington, Indiana
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1. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

First, welcome to TA!

Second, you don't say exactly where in Southern Indiana, so I hope I don't recommend your hometown! You might elaborate exactly where you're located as that could influence people's suggestions (i.e. you may get different suggestions if you live in Evansville versus Lawrenceburg.)

Beyond that . . . here's a small handful of ideas:

1. Bloomington & surrounding areas. Won't go into all the options available right now, but suggest you check out the Bloomington Forum, there's a fair number of posting outlining things to do (but I confess, I'm not certain any of them focus on kid things).

2. Indy would certainly offer many options and suggest you also check out its forum. I'm certain there are posting there that have a "kid flavor" to them.

3. Holiday World. One of the highest rated small amusement parks in the country - also has a water park with "mega stuff."

4. French Lick/West Baden. While the casino is obviously adult oriented, as with many gambling destinations, family friendly stuff is being added to give the kids something to do.

5. Is camping in the mix or not? If yes, I can add a few other ideas.

Lastly, I've skipped just about anything "north of 70," but depending on your location even going all the way to the northern edge of the state wouldn't be too far, especially for an overnight. Do you have a specific driving time/distance in mind as an upper limit?

Also, I've stuck with things in Indiana (after all this is the Indiana forum), but certain there are things in Ohio, Kentucky and/or Illinois that could fit the bill.

Hope this helps,


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2. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

Thank you! We live about an hour West of Bloomington and do visit there often. I will definitely check out the Bloomington & Indy forums...thanks for that suggestion! Holiday World is an excellent idea! We are actually heading there in a couple of weeks...it will be my son's first visit and he is VERY excited! :-)

I didn't even think about French Lick! I have never been there myself and always associate it with the casino for adults. We'll look into that, as well. Camping is definitely in the mix! We actually have never been before, but were just discussing that we want to make that a part of our family fun!

As for north of 70...we're fine with that. I have some family that live in that area and we could always stay with them or stay in a hotel overnight w/ no problem. We don't have a lot of limitations on distance...including OH, KY & IL. Wonderful ideas...thank you!! Anything else you might have would be greatly appreciated!! :-)

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3. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

You can buy an annual pass to the State Parks for $36. Several of them have lodges for overnights or you can camp. They're an incredible asset to the state and a great adventure for kids.

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4. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

The George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes. Indianapolis War Memorial and Museum on the circle...free or low admission. The State House in Indianapolis. Evansville for fun and Newburg, IN next door to see the Ohio river. Family cabins in Brown County state park...discounted rates in the fall/ winter. Cataract Falls in Cataract, IN and a picnic. Spring Mill State park has a great pioneer village and space museum. The Indiana State Fair. Hunter's Bee Farm in Martinsville, I think. Just a few ideas.

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5. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

I agree that the state parks are a great deal. Shades and Turkey Run are lovely. But my first thought when I read your post was the Falls of the Ohio. It's a park just across the Ohio River from Louisville KY. When the water levels are low enough (probably not right now), you can walk across ancient stone littered with thousands of prehistoric fossils. http://www.fallsoftheohio.org/ My family also enjoyed Marengo Cave when we visited there a few years ago.

Edited: 14 May 2011, 02:32
Delavan, Illinois
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6. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

I'll second the suggestion for Shades and Turkey Run, especially Turkey Run. Take a canoe trip if the water is high enough or cold, of take a tube float if it is low and warm. The trail ride horses are also so tame there that I would have no fear taking a 6-year old on them. My own kids never grew tired of visits to Turkey Run and I can still remember visiting it Shakamak, Clifty Falls, McCormick's Creek, and Spring Mill as a kid.

I think that French Lick might be a bit boring to a 6-year old. It is to me and I'm not 6 anymore. The racing museum at the Speedway in Indi and the children's museum in Indi should be big hits though.

Try some of the many caves in southern Indiana (http://indianacaves.com/), each one is unique and a great place to cool off when it is hot outside. At Merengo they have some special programs for children as well.

Lincoln's Boyhood Home is near Holiday World. And if you're already 1 hour west of Bloomington, then you're only 3 hours from Springfield, IL for more Lincoln sights. I especially rcommend New Salem State Park which is preserved to be like it was in Lincolns day. Somewhat similar to a Billie Creek Village experience that you would find in Rockport (IN), definitely a place you ought to go if you haven't been there yet (http://billiecreek.org/).

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7. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

Lots of great ideas so far! Here are some that I didn't see mentioned....

Most little (and big) boys I know enjoy both the Academy of Model Aeronautics and the Silvertowne Mint for model airplanes and coin collecting. (Moms usually enjoy the jewelry, ornaments, etc. in addition to the coins at Silvertowne!) Silvertowne is in Winchester, and the AMA is a little west of that toward Muncie. In between is Farmland with an old-fashioned general store where kids can pick out candy from big glass jars just like their great grandparents did. The Chocolate Moose is a fun, fifties style restaurant there too that kids like.

If the anyone in your family likes cars or racing, you won't want to miss a race at the legendary Winchester Speedway, "Fastest 1/2 mile track in the World."

While you're in Winchester, you might want to watch a movie at old fashioned drive-in theater. I loved drive-ins as a kid!

For camping in the area, you'd probably enjoy Kamp Modoc. It's very reasonable and has a lot of great family activities. www.kampmodoc.com

Wilson Wines in Modoc has some neat concerts and festivals.


The area actually has a lot of events and festivals. For more info on the area visit www.roamrandolph.org

Not far away is Wilbur Wright's Birthplace and Museum. I think a little boy would really enjoy it. It's small enough not to be overwhelming, but there is a lot too see.


Kids usually love train rides. I can't remember now if anyone mentioned the train from Connersville to Metamora? If not, they have theme trains like the "Wild West Train." Metamora has shops and an old mill, a canal boat and more.

All of the above should be quite affordable and kid-friendly. If I think of any others, I will let you know!

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8. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

Mid-summer is the Circus City Festival in Peru, Indiana. That would be fun for a little kid!


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9. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

Just wandering around by the canal can be a fun day in Indy for some little kids. There is usually something going on, and the outdoor art, fountains, etc. can intrigue them for awhile. There are also the museums, zoo, and baseball stadium right there.

Though more expensive, the Children's Museum is, of course, wonderful, and Conner Prairie can be a lot of fun too.

You can also see the fort in Fort Wayne and visit the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. They also have a minor league baseball stadium downtown.

Dayton has the free air force museum and several Wright Brother's attractions.

Cincinnati has a nice riverfront (when the water levels are good.) They sometimes have free concerts and other activities down there. There's the Newport Aquarium by the river, riverboat rides, the museum center a short drive away, great ice cream, and lots of parks and festivals.

I hope this helps!

10. Re: Family fun....for not a lot of money

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