Ten Local Spots for Autumn Fun in Southern Indiana
By Joy Neighbors
All aboard the French Lick Scenic Railway (FLSR) for a spectacular view of the Hoosier National Forest. The 18-mile round-trip takes just under 2 hours and includes such sights as the 2,200-foot Burton Tunnel, rugged limestone rocks and gorgeous autumnal leaves. The FLSR also hosts various events throughout the year. Up next - The Polar Express, which will head to the North Pole in November.
French Lick West Baden Museum is a gem. Basketball is king in southern Indiana so it's no surprise that native son Larry Bird has an exhibit dedicated to him. Discover why the wealthy were “on the run” for Pluto water at the turn of the 20th Century. And don’t miss the world’s largest circus diorama depicting the Hagenbeck Wallace Circus, which wintered here for several years in the 1920s.
Deal yourself in for fun at French Lick Casino, a Vegas-style gaming facility with 37 live-action table games including blackjack, roulette, mini-baccarat, poker and craps, along with 1,000 new and classic slots, video poker, progressive jackpots and video keno. There’s also a luxurious high-limit room with comfortable VIP lounge access. Enjoy Indiana’s largest non-smoking room with live table games and 250 of the latest slots.
4) Take the Wheel
At French Lick West Baden Indoor Karting you can choose from two state-of-the-art go-kart tracks. The Main Track is a grand-prix style raceway where karts can go up to 40 miles-per-hour. The Slick Track is new and offers a unique experience for racers as they drift and slide around the oval raceway. Falcon Raceway is perfect for the younger set, 4 to 8 years old. And don’t miss the new Bounce House in the Fun Center where 25 arcade-style games are also available.
5) Walk the “Path”
Every October, Sleeping Bear Retreat unleashes their inner ghouls to await your arrival along the “Psycho Path.” Not for the faint of heart, this trail weaves through heavily wooded areas with steep hills. Lace up your running shoe so you can keep ahead of the monsters and demons that will give chase. If you’re still breathing normally after that, check out “Paintball Zombie Hunt” – a splattering good time.
6) Take a Fall Wine Cruise
There’s nothing like gliding across the lake in the crisp autumn air with a glass of wine in hand, and that’s exactly what you can do on October 22 when Patoka Lake and Marina offers their Fall Foliage Wine Cruise. Sample five to seven wines and enjoy two glasses of vino during the cruise.
7) Wine Tastings for Land Lubbers
This region boasts two wineries where wine sampling is always on the menu. At French Lick Winery, wine lovers can taste several vinos crafted from regionally grown grapes. Must-try wines include Norton, Traminette, and Cherry. The Vintage Café serves up Italian fare for hearty appetites.
With more than 15 varieties of wine available, Patoka Lake Winery has something for every taste. This is the newest winery in the area and a definite libation-stop for an afternoon outing.
8) Wilstem Ranch
There’s still time to take in the Elephant Retreat at Wilstem Ranch. Meet “the girls,” take a part in their daily spa activities and discover some amazing facts during the Educational Seminar. The Pumpkin Patch is back this year with plenty of autumn activities, rides and attractions. But hurry, the pumpkins, and the girls will be gone after Halloween.
9) Hit a Hole-In-One
Where can you play golf on courses designed by Tom Bendelow, Donald Ross and Pete Dye? Right here! These legendary course designers worked with the rolling hills of Southern Indiana to create three separate courses that are as challenging as they are beautiful. Now the hardest decision is which to play first: Pete Dye, Donald Ross or Valley Links Courses.
10) There’s No Place Like (the) Dome
And of course there is The Dome. Once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the breath-taking dome spans 110 feet. But that’s not all you’ll find at West Baden Springs Hotel. Check out several fine shops, a two-story natatorium and historical tours. Wednesday through Sunday evenings, catch live music in the atrium. With plenty of dining options and a stunning view, West Baden Springs Hotel is a true historical gem.
And don’t miss French Lick Springs Hotel – THE home of tomato juice, a 105,000-square-foot Meetings and Events Center and family-funactivities like surrey cart rides, footgolf and KidsFest. And don’t forget to take a mile-long ride on the historic trolley.