Southern Indiana in summer is known for three things: heat, humidity and corn! However, if you don't mind traveling a bit off the beaten path, you will find a wide variety of family friendly activities, many of them fairly inexpensive or free. A few of these will also help you and your family beat the heat! I have compiled a listing of my Top 5 favorites, all of which are within a 50-mile radius or one another. Begin planning your southern Indiana adventure now and use the following as an itinerary, if you wish, starting with...
5. Marengo Cave, Crawford County, Indiana
Southern Indiana has many caves which are easily accessible for people of many fitness levels. Marengo Caves in Crawford County is by far the largest and most visited. They offer two different walking tours, an easy 40 minute tour through the Crystal Palace, and a slightly more strenuous 60 minute tour along the Dripstone Trail. Visit www.marengocave.com for directions, pricing and printable discount coupons.
4. Squire Boon Caverns, Mauckport, Indiana
Squire Boone Caverns in Mauckport, Indiana is not only a great cavern to tour, its grounds also boast gem mining and a pioneer village with hands on activities available that both kids and adults will enjoy. The cavern tour is about 1 hour-long and boasts such unusual features as a rushing river and underground waterfall. The cavern grounds are easily accessible, and prices are extremely affordable. Also, at a chilly 52 degrees, it's a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. Visit www.squireboonecaverns.com for more information. '
3. The Original State Capitol of Corydon, Indiana
Also known as America's Hometown, the beautiful and historic city of Corydon is an interesting place to visit. Full of shopping, great restaurants and historical sites (most of which are free or low-cost to tour), Corydon is a wonderful place to while away a day or a weekend. Some of the best attractions are the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site, the Constitution Elm, Governor Hendrick's Headquarters, and Battle of Corydon Memorial Park, the site of the only Civil War battle fought on Indiana soil. For more visitor information visit www.thisisindiana.org.
2. Amish Country, Daviess County, Indiana
Okay, admittedly as a Yoder I'm a little biased, but if you love all things Amish, Daviess County is the place to be in southern Indiana. Home of one of the top ten largest Amish communities in the United States, Daviess County is a bucolic farming area boasting beautiful scenery and friendly small towns such as Washington, Montgomery, Loogootee and Odon. Favorite places to eat are Gasthof Amish Village in Montgomery which has not only the best Amish buffet in the area but also flea markets, the Blue Door Antiques Shop and a bakery that sells the most amazing apple butter, homemade bread and mile-high meringue pies. Drive further down the road past Gasthof Village to see some of the prettiest Amish farms in the state. Please drive carefully; you'll encounter horses and buggies on the road almost everywhere you go. Visit www.daviesscounty.net for visitor information and a crash course in 'visiting Amish country' etiquette.
And last, but certainly not least, my number one favorite place to visit in southern Indiana is...
1. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana
A great and affordable theme park located in the wonderfully Christmas themed town of Santa Claus, Holiday World & Splasin' Safari is a great and affordable place for a family to spend a day or a weekend. The theme park consists of two separate areas: Holiday World, filled with rides, shops, restaurants, games and shows, and Splashin' Safari, a 30-acre water park containing the Mammoth, the worlds largest water coaster. Free soft drinks, tea, water, sunscreen and parking make the price of admission extremely affordable. Multiple discounts are available and the Military Discount is applied to the admission for the entire family, not just the service member. For pricing, directions and lodging information visit www.holidayworld.com.