Quick Summer Getaways from Indianapolis

Scenic national parks, lively cities, and cozy small towns, all within driving distance.
East Water Raceway

This article was created by Katy Mann of Indy with Kids in collaboration with Indy Maven for our monthly Guest Editor series. 

Are you ready for a weekend road trip with the whole family? Pack the minivan, grab the essentials, and don’t forget your bathing suit! Think scenic national parks, lively cities, cozy small towns, and famous spots with something for everyone, no matter who’s in your crew.

Southern Indiana

The Indiana side of the Ohio River is full of culture, entertainment, rolling hills, and scenic views. While there are many historical sites and museums to explore, Southern Indiana is a great summer trip for those seeking outdoor fun. 

After exploring “our side,” cross the bridge to Louisville for additional fun. The Big 4 Bridge is a beautiful bridge connecting Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. You won’t find cars on this one-mile bridge, but it’s bustling with people and bikes making the trek from one state to another over the Ohio River.

Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards

Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards is a working farm like none other. There’s a play area for the younger set, u-pick produce fields for the whole family, and a winery and distillery for the adults in your fam. On the weekends, expect live music and crowds relaxing in the courtyard with a bottle of wine and lunch from the cafe.

If you crave adventure, the neighboring The Woods ATV Adventures has guided ATV tours that include photos of your outing. Expect to get dusty and maybe even dirty as you splash through creeks, traverse hillsides, and visit airplane wreckage.

Art District

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NoCo Arts & Cultural District

This artsy district in Jeffersonville has countless public art pieces and murals, live music, and cultural celebrations, creating a colorful and lively atmosphere that’s welcoming to all. There are local boutiques and cafes in this walkable district. Check out Geraldine’s Kitchen for a home-cooked breakfast or lunch. Geraldine’s has a children’s menu and gluten-free and vegan options.

Fun & Playful Dining Scene

RecBar 812 is an all-ages restaurant and retro arcade all in one. Menu items incorporate nostalgic flavors, like Frosted Flake tenders (chicken tenders breaded in Frosted Flake cereal), and cowabunga totchos. If the murals and signs on the wall don’t paint a picture of the past you can share with your kids, the expansive arcade game collection will.

Falls of Ohio State Park

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State Parks and Spaces

There are so many opportunities to get out into nature in Southern Indiana, from State Parks to forests—you’ll never tire of the view.

Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville is famous for its extensive fossil beds dating back 390 million years. Walk around, enjoy the Ohio River rushing by, find fossils, and see wildlife. The Interpretive Center is a great stop if you want to learn more. There is a fee for parking and for the Interpretive Center.

South Bass Island, Ohio

Less than five hours from Indy, South Bass Island, Ohio, is a top summer tourist destination on Lake Erie. Visitors can take a ferry to the island with or without a vehicle. Many families opt to leave their cars behind and rent golf carts once they’re on the island because parking is readily available for golf carts but not as readily available for other vehicles. The island offers many seasonal activities, such as boating, swimming, fishing, and kayaking.

Often, families extend their stay and visit nearby attractions like Cedar Point in Sandusky and the African Safari Wild Animal Park in Port Clinton.

Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center

Natural wonders meet family entertainment at Perry’s Cave. A tour of an underground limestone cave tour full of stalactites, stalagmites, and a Butterfly House, home to more than 50 exotic butterflies, are two of the activities guests will find at this family fun center. Fill a leisurely afternoon with gemstone mining, a maze, miniature golf, rock climbing, and an antique car museum. There’s also an antique car parade at 2 pm every Sunday.


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South Bass Island State Park

Bring your own camper or tent, or rent one of the “cabents,” a yurt-like cabin. During the warm months, families love the picnic area and swimming beach. Bring your own Waverunners, stand-up paddleboards, power boats, and kayaks. 

Village of Put-In-Bay

Put-In-Bay Pyrate Fest, Ohio’s Island Wine Festival, Amphicar Days, Bash on the Bay, and Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day are just a few of the signature events at Put-In-Bay, a charming village area.  Day trippers and overnight guests on South Bass Island love the charm and vibrancy of Put-In-Bay. With restaurants, entertainment, and boutiques for shopping, this is a must-visit area of the island.

While in the village, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial is an essential visit. This 352-foot monument commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812 and celebrates lasting peace between Britain, Canada, and the United States. If you make the trip to the top of the memorial, you’ll have dazzling views of Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada lakeshores, plus you might see airborne wildlife.

Take the time to grab a bite to eat and even a frozen beverage and local favorite, The Keys, a lakeside tropical-themed restaurant and tiki bar. Sitting on the patio, sipping a frozen beverage or crafted cocktail, you’ll see Ohio and the Midwest in a new light.

South Bend, Indiana

Home to the University of Notre Dame, South Bend is more than just a University town. There are so many things to do and see, so many restaurants to try, and so many places to explore.

East Water Raceway

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East Race Waterway

South Bend is the perfect place to try urban whitewater rafting or kayaking. Both beginners and experienced paddlers of many ages will love this rapid adventure in downtown South Bend. 

Once you check in with the South Bend Parks department at the top of the East Race Waterway, you’ll suit up, grab a watercraft, and make your way down the ramp. Helpful team members will instruct you, and lifeguards will be stationed throughout the course. At the end of your run down the rapids, a truck will return your boat to the beginning, and you’ll make your way back along the scenic walkway. Then, you can ride those rapids again and again!

The Indiana Dinosaur Museum

Opening late June, you can be one of the first visitors to this widely anticipated Indiana treasure. The brainchild of Mark Tarner, the owner and founder of the South Bend Chocolate Company, Indiana Dinosaur Museum will be just one attraction in this space that has plans for a restaurant, a farmers’ market, and the relocated South Bend Chocolate Company Factory.

Howard Park

Howard Park is famous during the winter months for its 16,000-square-foot ice skating trail, but in the summer, the park heats up with a mix of outdoor activities, a giant splash pad, huge colorful playgrounds, riverside walks, green spaces, and an open-air restaurant, Howard Park Public House.

Mascot with Kids.

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South Bend Cubs

Attending the game of this Minor League Baseball team is major fun! Themed nights, game-side activities, a splash pad, and a playground make Four Winds Field the perfect place to take the whole family for a baseball game.

Potato Creek State Park

Nature lovers and outdoor recreation fans love this Indiana State Park for its diverse landscape of wetlands, prairies, and woodlands, plus a swimming beach. Families love spending a beach day on the shores, playing in the grainy sand, swimming in the lake, and sunbathing. If you have a kayak or a bike with you, this is the place to be.

Notre Dame University

If you’re interested in Gothic architecture, religious icons, or a beautiful walk, you must visit Notre Dame University. The public art sculptures, the iconic Golden Dome, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart are all must-sees on a self-guided campus visit. You can also sign up for a tour or use the app with an audio tour to find your way to campus treasures.

Cheers to a beautiful summer of exploring more.

Katy Mann is the founder of Indy with Kids. Follow her on Instagram @indywithkids.

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