Have you tried cycling?
Bloomington, the location for the 1979 movie “Breaking Away” about the famous Little 500 bike race, loves bikes as much as it loves basketball. Recognized as a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community, Bloomington’s downtown features the B-Line Trail, a 3.1-mile, flat, paved path that cuts right through the downtown, giving bikers access to shopping, restaurants, breweries, architecture, museums and even places to stop and tune up a bike along the way. There is also the Bloomington Rail Trail (2 miles) and the Clear Creek Trail (2.4 miles), for a combined 7.5 miles of easy biking. If you’re apprehensive about city biking, have no fear. Some of the busier intersections in downtown Bloomington feature well-marked painted bike turn-box zones and more than 2,000 public bike parking spaces for lock-up.
If scenery is what you’re looking for, the rolling countryside is just a 10- to 15-minute ride in any direction, and you’ll soon see why southern Indiana is home to the annual Hilly Hundred Weekend.
The Bloomington Bicycle Club (bloomingtonbicycleclub.org) makes it easy for beginners, with a schedule of organized bike tours ranging from 10 miles to 50 miles for almost every day of the week. If you want to be your own tour guide, check out an app such as Map My Ride for dozens of suggested routes along the back roads of southern Indiana.
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If adventure is your true calling, then the state parks of southern Indiana will not disappoint. Top-notch mountain bike trails can be found in both Brown County State Park near Nashville and in the Hoosier National Forest. Don’t have the right type of bike for the hills? No problem. Salt Creek Cycles (saltcreekcycles.com) and the Bicycle Garage (bikegarage.com) are just two of the businesses where you can rent what you need.
It’s all about the leaves
There’s no doubt that it’s all about the leaves in the fall, but biking is just one way to see them. A zip line tour literally puts you in the trees.
Indiana Zipline Tours, 4641 W. County Road 450S, Crawfordsville, offers a two-hour guided tour along eight zip lines that are as high as 80 feet in the air. It also offers a mile-long after-dark night-flight tour on Fridays and Saturdays. Zip liners can rent a helmet-mounted Go-Pro camera or a smartphone video mount to capture their experience to share later. Visit indianaziplinetours.com for prices and to book a tour.
For more than just zipping through the trees, there’s the Go Ape adventure course located at Eagle Creek Park, 5901 Delong Road, Indianapolis. It offers more than zip lines — there are rope swings, tunnels, bridges, and obstacles for this two- to three-hour outdoor adventure. Your self-guided tour includes 30 minutes of instruction and safety training before you set out. There are adventures for all ages and abilities. Visit goape.com for more information and to book an experience.
eXplore Brown County, 2620 Valley Ranch Road, Nashville, is a company specializing in outdoor adventures including mountain biking, paint ball, ATV rentals and camping. It also offers a variety of zip line experiences. Tours available include Zipper’s Kaldeidoscope of Color tour, a Night Flight Astronomy tour and the Screamer tour, where zippers travel at speeds up to 45 mph. Through the month of October, eXplore Brown County is also featuring a Zip on Zombies tour, where participants can expect to find zombies around every turn, and perhaps the body of a visitor or two who didn’t quite make it through the zombie obstacle course. Visit explorebrowncounty.com for tickets, package deals and information about the tours.
Tap into your family’s inner Huck Finn with a weekend stay on a houseboat. Patoka Lake Marina, 2991 N. Dillard Road, Birdseye, is offering offseason rental prices on houseboats that can be your home away from home for up to a week. The boats include sleeping accommodations for up to eight people, heat and air conditioning, a gas grill, a DVD player and a full kitchen. Houseboaters should bring their own towels and bedding, but if they forget anything, stores and restaurants are located near the marina. Visit patokalakemarina.com for more information.
The Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve, 6975 N. Ray Road, Fremont, offers an overnight experience like no other — in a tipi or safari tent. The larger of two tipis sleeps up to five people, and the smaller 12-foot tipi sleeps three. The safari tents, on raised wooden platforms, are actually situated in the wooded portion of the buffalo field. In addition to the unique camping experience, the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve is offering a Fall Rendezvous, Oct. 17 to 25, re-creating the sights and sounds of 1840 Indiana with trappers, traders and American Indians. Visit wildwindsbuffalo.com for more information.
For more ideas for Indiana travel and day trips, go online to visitindianatourism.com.