March is finally here, and with it comes dreams of warmer temperatures, sunny days and the approach of summer. Kicking off the spring season is Spring Break, that week off from school (and work, for those with kids in school) that allows us to pack a bag and take to the roads and skies to visit places far and near.
Did you know that there are some amazing travel destinations right here in the Hoosier state? Our friends from Visit Indiana have a few suggestions on where your family may want to travel this spring and summer. You can have tons of fun without spending mountains of cash!
ArtsRoad 46 Road Trip
Head south to State Road 46 and make a few stops along the way in Columbus, Nashville and Bloomington to experience fun for the entire family. Some attractions worth exploring include:
Columbus, a welcoming city of 45,000 residents, is the proud home to seven National Historic Landmarks. They are among more than 80 pieces of amazing architecture and public art for you to tour. Internationally famous architects designed many of the buildings and homes which you can tour. And while the grownups can appreciate this amazing collection of art and design, kids will enjoy what's inside some of the buildings. They'll marvel at the completely restored Zaharakos ice cream parlor, where they can sit at the soda fountain counter to order a big parfait or listen to the historic orchestrian organ. Full meals are available in addition to the delicious desserts. They can also learn, play and run at KidsCommons, Columbus' fun children's museum.
- Nashville/Brown County
Stay a few days at the Abe Martin Lodge in Brown County State Park. With an indoor water park, the lodge offers the warmth of rustic quarters with the fun of slides and splashing. It's the perfect place to snuggle in for the night after a day of adventure on the trails of Indiana's largest state park. Bring your mountain bikes to try out the miles of trails-acclaimed throughout the country for their beauty and challenge. After getting acquainted with the park, venture into Nashville's Arts Village, where you'll find unique shops, studios, and galleries filled with pottery, glass, leather and more.
Time to begin thinking about college? Then stop in Bloomington next for a campus tour of Indiana University, where nearly all the buildings were constructed with Indiana limestone. Mom and Dad can enjoy a tasting at nearby Cardinal Spirits or Oliver Winery. And you can't leave Bloomington without a visit to WonderLab Museum of Science, Health & Technology . The museum provides opportunities for children to experience hands-on science exhibits and programs and was named one of the 25 Best Science Centers by Parents Magazine.
Historic National Road
National Road is one of the seven historic byways included on the Indiana Byways Passport. The passport gives you a guide as you explore the byways, collecting unique stamps from the various locations along the route. Officially endorsed as a Legacy Project of the Indiana Bicentennial, there is no better way to see the Hoosier State.
- Historic National Road
Traveling east to west from Richmond to Terre Haute, the Historic National Road was conceived by George Washington and officially designated as the first federal road by Thomas Jefferson. Starting in Richmond, pay a visit to the Richmond Art Museum before heading west. Make a stop at The Historic Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, home gym of the Hickory Huskers in the 1986 movie classic Hoosiers. Check out Oasis Diner in Plainfield and enjoy an authentic 50s diner and a delicious pork tenderloin. Finally, cool off in Brazil at Lynn's Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, an old-fashioned soda parlor.
All Aboard in Northern Indiana
Train enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy a trip to Indiana dunes country, especially with new additions like a 2.5-acre model railway and the opportunity to spend the night in a renovated freight station.
- Pull into the station
Riley's Railhouse is a new bed and breakfast set in a recently restored and renovated freight station. It sits adjacent to railroad tracks in downtown Chesterton. The beautiful downtown area offers great restaurants and shopping, including an outdoor European market on Saturdays from May-October, all within range of the tracks to watch trains pass by.
- Hit the rails
For a train-watching experience on a smaller scale, Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in nearby Valparaiso is home to a new railway garden. The garden boasts a 2.5-acre outdoor model railway that engages visitors in the amazing story of America's railroads. Kids will love seeing their favorite famous tank engine leading one of the trains, and train enthusiasts can delight in watching the railway system run through the various railway lines. The arboretum also hosts a 1920s-style railroad depot with vintage benches and acres of gardens, woods and prairies.
Valparaiso is also home to the Illiana Garden Railway Society at Samuelson's Nursery, where families can partake in watching the Bull Moose Line, a 2,000-square-foot miniature train diorama. It's a setting straight out of traditional Americana that features more than 600 feet of running track and several different trains. Hours are limited, so call ahead.
Head south to Hebron and the Panhandle Depot, where rail service was discontinued in 1978. The restored building now houses local railroad memorabilia and an exhibit on local military service.
- Wet your whistle
Those looking for an entertaining bite to eat can venture to the Industrial Revolution Eatery & Grill. The exterior features a myriad of metal sculptures featuring hardworking Americans. The interior fascinates guests with a model train that circles the establishment as they dine on classic gourmet dishes. The deliciously perfect finish to this train-themed summer day is The Depot of Kouts, a former train station that has been transformed into an ice cream shop.
Remember that Solidarity is here to help you every step of the way with your vacation planning. From savings accounts to shared branches and ATM locations, we've got you covered on the road. Learn more at solfcu.org.