Posted on May 11, 2017 by Indiana's Cool North
We like to think of Northern Indiana as America’s backyard. Did you know that half the U.S. population lives within a 12-hour drive of the region? Proximity is just one of the reasons Northern Indiana is the perfect family vacation destination. The main attraction is the abundance of kid-friendly activities you’ll find here! We’ve listed a few fun family activities to help kick start your vacation planning.
Northern Indiana is home to many beautiful lakefront beaches. A blissful beach day is a must during a family vacation. The Indiana Dunes boast a 15-mile coastline along Lake Michigan with gentle waves that make it a perfect playground for little ones. In fact, Parents magazine selected Indiana Dunes as one of the top five family beach destinations in the United States!
Another great beach destination in Northern Indiana is the town of Culver, on Lake Maxinkuckee. Often referred to as “The Cape Cod of the Midwest”, Culver is a delightful and relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Prepare for your family beach day with this quick Beach Prep Checklist:
Both kids and adults love visiting the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend. It’s the oldest zoo in Indiana and home to more than 400 animals.
Are you a cat lover? Get ready to see lions, tigers, bobcats, and snow leopards! Pack your camera and nab that purrrr-fect vacation photo. If you prefer to monkey around, you’ll love watching resident primates in action, including chimpanzees, squirrel monkeys, tamarins, and spider monkeys. Getting to see Australian animals like the wallaby, kangaroo, and sugar glider will make you wonder if you’re in Northern Indiana, or the Land Down Under!
A visit to the Potawatomi Zoo is both fun and educational, not to mention an experience your kids won’t soon forget.
History and nature combine at the Taltree Arboretum & Gardens. The Arboretum is a vast oak preserve that boasts miles of hiking trails, several formal gardens, as well as protected prairies, wetlands, and woodlands. It’s home to birds, butterflies, and many endangered plant and wildlife species.
Formal gardens include the Children’s Adventure Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Native Plant Garden. However, the highlight of your trip to the Taltree Arboretum will likely be visiting the award-winning Railway Garden.
This outdoor garden-scale model train spans nearly a full acre and is sure to amaze both kids and adults! Learn all about the history of steam engines in America and their influence on the civil war, Western expansion, and the industrial revolution. Beyond being informative, the Railway Garden is just plain cool! With 30 handcrafted bridges, more than 500 varieties of plants, and six water features, it’s also incredibly beautiful, making it an ideal spot to pose for a family vacation photo.
Indulge in a little retail therapy during your Northern Indiana vacation and pick up a sugary souvenir! Your family will love the quaint boutiques and markets that sell delectable desserts and sweet treats.
While visiting Amish Country, don’t miss the Wakarusa Dime Store. Established way back in 1907, this classic candy shop is famous for its jumbo jellybeans and huge selection of nostalgic candies.
When you’re in Indiana Dunes, pay a visit to Sweet D’s Cheesecakes & Treats – you won’t regret it! In addition to over 20 flavors of cheesecake, the shop sells cupcakes, cookies, and more.
In South Bend, enjoy a free tour of the South Bend Chocolate Company Factory and Museum and taste some of the mouthwatering treats that have made it the fastest growing chocolate company in the U.S. If it’s a chilly day, relax at the adjoining café with an order of their renowned hot chocolate.
Northern Indiana is home to a rich, fascinating history. Explore it with your kids during your vacation! They’ll be having so much fun, they might not even realize they’re learning along the way.
In Kosciusko, you can go for an old-school ride on Webster Lake aboard the historic Dixie sternwheeler boat. It’s a classic Midwestern experience! Dixie was built in 1928-1929 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn all about the history of the region during your cruise, and snap a few photos of the beautiful surroundings.
History buffs of all ages will love visiting Amish Country, where a plethora of museums and historic homes await. The Amish Acres Historic Farm & Heritage Resort is sure to be a highlight for your family. Kids love the horse and buggy rides! The farm, which dates back to the late 1800s, was meticulously restored and opened to the public in 1970. It’s the only Amish Farm listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers visitors an incredible look at Amish heritage and life.
A visit to The History Museum in South Bend will be a hit with the whole family, thanks to their unique Kidsfirst Children’s Museum. Little ones love the museum’s regular Story Time. While at the museum, tour the historic 38-room Oliver Mansion and adjacent gardens for an inside look at how the wealthy Oliver family lived. The mansion’s original furnishings and elegant architecture make it a must-see.
For a surefire good time, plan your family’s vacation during one of Northern Indiana’s famous festivals or fairs.
In Amish Country, the Elkhart County 4-H Fair is the event of the year. For nine days in July, it’s a mecca of family fun and excitement. See prize animals, hop aboard thrilling rides at the midway, check out the rodeo, and indulge in classic fair food.
In Marshall Country, the Blueberry Festival has been a family favorite for over fifty years! Taking place in early September, it has more to offer than just pie. Visitors are in for great entertainment, the Blueberry Stomp road race and fun run, a carnival, fireworks, hot air balloon launches, a pageant, and more! In fact, the Blueberry Festival is just one of several fabulous food festivals in Northern Indiana! Check out the rest here.
No matter the season, your clan is bound to have a grand time in Northern Indiana! Start planning your next family getaway today.