There’s no doubt about it; a good number of native-born Hoosiers often grow up, spread their wings and fly away to big cities or seemingly exotic locations on the east or west coast — any place that appears more exciting than their home state of Indiana.
However, when it comes time to settle down and raise a family, some turn their eyes back to the Midwest and home. Truth be told, Indiana is as good a place as any to call home and a great place to explore with kids.
Indiana’s best toy store
Can’t make it to F.A.O. Schwartz in New York City? Then head for Veach’s. Veach’s Toy Station, 715 E. Main St. in Richmond, is less than an hour away for an afternoon of browsing and shopping in 16,000 square feet of this third-generation family-owned toy store. Veach’s features a calendar of make-it, take-it craft workshops for kids — and what else would kids want to do on their birthday but visit Veach’s birthday castle and pick out a free gift? Visit veachstoystation.com for hours of operation.
Kids love caves. Kids love boats. Why not go for the win with a boat tour through a cave at Bluespring Caverns in Bedford? An hour-long boat tour floats visitors down the Myst’ry River where blind cave-dwelling fish and crayfish can be spotted. Overnight adventures are available to youth groups who want to spend the night 100 feet underground. Also on the grounds is Indiana’s largest sinkhole and an opportunity to try your hand at prospecting in the Myst’ry Gemstone Mine. For more information, visit bluespringcaverns.com.
Every community has its own personality and its own celebrities. The favorite son of Fairmount, 50 miles north in Grant County, is cartoonist Jim Davis, creator of the comic strip cat, Garfield. Therefore, it only stands to reason that Grant County has the Garfield Trail. Businesses in Swayzee, Sweetser, Gas City, Upland, Matthews, Van Buren, Fairmount, and Marion feature statues of the famous cat sporting a design unique to the heritage and character of each location. If you’re ambitious enough to visit all 11 statues, a cellphone tour is available at 765-997-7034. Visit followthefatcat.com for a complete listing of the businesses where Garfield statues can be located.
Lest you think this reporter has overlooked Indianapolis’ own award-winning museum, The Children’s Museum, think again. If it’s been awhile since you’ve visited, then you owe your kids (and yourself) a visit to 472,900 square-foot facility dedicated to family learning. With permanent exhibits such as “Dinosphere: Now you’re in their World,” “The Power of Children: Making a Difference,” and opportunities for kids and adults alike to explore physical and natural sciences, history, the arts and world cultures, there is truly no place like like it. Visit childrensmuseum.org for hours, admission fees and a daily-changing schedule of events.
One of the more unique places to visit in Indiana is Wolf Park, 4004 E. County Road 800N in Battle Ground. With a mission of dedication to behavioral research, education and conservation, Wolf Park’s objective is to improve the public’s understanding of wolves and the value they provide to our environment. Wolf Park has daytime hours, but a true event highlight is the evening howl. Nighttime is when the air cools, and the wolves get frisky. Visitors will have the opportunity to hear and witness wolves’ trademark behavior — the howl. Wolf Park offers guided tours Tuesday through Saturday and Howl Nights on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:15 p.m. Visit wolfpark.org for hours, admission fees, and a listing of seasonal Wolf Park events.
For more ideas for Indiana travel and day trips, see visitindianatourism.com.
This is the fourth in an occasional series for summer travel throughout Indiana.