Coasters, Caves, and Canoes: Fun Things to Do in Southern Indiana

Splashin' Safari water park at Holiday World in Indiana
Holiday World

As you might expect, there are plenty of cornfields and farms in Southern Indiana. Surprisingly however, there are also lots of fun things to do, including one of the country’s best theme parks and water parks. Following are some attractions you could consider adding to your Indiana vacation itinerary:

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus

Holiday World is one of the few remaining independent, family-owned theme parks in the US. It is also among the best parks. Its lands are themed to holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. It has a superb collection of roller coasters, including the enormous wooden ride, The Voyage, and the launched wing coaster, Thunderbird.

The park is noted for its exceptionally friendly staff and impeccable grounds. Holiday World is also known for the complimentary benefits it offers, including free parking and unlimited free beverages, including soft drinks. It also includes free entry to Splashin' Safari, its enormous waterpark. Inside the water park, its inner tubes do not require an additional charge and sunscreen is available for free.

Next to Holiday World, the Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort offers a place to stay. The huge property offers RV sites and campsites, and also offers cabin rentals and lots of RV rentals for non-equipped campers. There is a shuttle bus to Holiday World, and the campground offers its guests discount tickets to the park. It is operated by the same family that runs the theme park.

Marengo Cave in Marengo

Who knew that beneath all of those cornfields, Southern Indiana was teeming with caves? It's a veritable cave country and Marengo Cave, a U.S. National Landmark, is the area's largest.

Guests can take either a 40-minute or 60-minute tour and sort out all that stalagmite and stalactite stuff they learned back in grade school. The tours are not physically challenging and the caves are alive with color and incredible formations. Theme park fans will want to keep reminding themselves that Marengo is not an elaborate mine coaster or other imagineered attraction; this is the real deal.

The complex also features canoeing, gemstone mining, and a cave simulator with crawling mazes. Cabins and campsites are available.

Cave Country Canoes in Leavenworth 

Half-day (7 mile), full-day (14 mile), and two-day (21 mile) kayak and canoe rentals are available to tour the lovely Blue River (which actually is quite green these days). The two-day itinerary includes camping. The river features Class I rapids. Special events, such as fishing expeditions, are offered. Make reservations online in advance as the rentals are popular.

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City

You knew he was president of the United States. You knew he was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. You knew he hailed from Illinois. But did you know that Honest Abe also spent his formative years in Southern Indiana?

It's true, and the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial, which is operated by the National Park Service, includes a visitor center, exhibits, the gravesite of his mother, a marker where his family's cabin stood, a facsimile of the family’s 1820 homestead, a memorial building, and a living historical farm.

Dr. Ted's Musical Marvels in Dale

If you've got the boogie-woogie blues, Dr. Ted has the cure. The mechanical engineer and tinkerer has a roadside museum filled with music boxes, player pianos, nickelodeons, and other mechanical music makers. Park fans should delight in the Wurlitzer band organ and the carousel horses on display. Of course, there is a gift shop available.

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