By Glenda Winders
Moms are the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, the ones who held it all together when the world seemed to be falling apart. Husband at home? Kids to coach through eLearning? A job to do remotely? No problem. So now it’s time to give yourselves a break, and what better reward than to grab a couple of girlfriends and head out for a “Momcation.”
Still not certain you’re ready to cozy up in clever boutiques or charming tearooms? Wherever you live in the state there’s plenty to do outdoors, whether you want to get back into shape, visit with your friends or just drink in the silence. Looking for water fun? You might start in Fort Wayne.
“Fort Wayne is a great destination for outdoorsy moms to get out on our three rivers,” said Jessa Campbell, marketing and communications manager for Visit Fort Wayne. “We have eight miles of water trails for kayaking or paddle-boarding and waterfront outfitters will provide all the gear you need.”
Back on dry land, bicycle or take a walk on the 25-mile Rivergreenway Trail that runs alongside the St. Marys, St. Joseph and Maumee rivers. Meander past the outdoor murals and sculpture that tell the city’s story, then grab some takeout at a local restaurant and enjoy a picnic in one of the 80 local parks.
The Indiana Dunes National Park and State Park in the South Shore area never fail to entertain and inspire with 15 miles of shoreline and arguably some of the best beaches in the country. Nearby are Friendship Botanic Gardens and Gabis Arboretum for trails, bird-watching and serene landscapes.
Beachwalk Vacation Rentals and Miller Beach Vacation Rentals will provide room to spread out as well as the ability to avoid crowds by cooking your own meals. Local wineries and breweries can provide adult libations to accompany whatever you whip up.
More beach fun is to be had in Culver at Lake Maxinkuckee, one of the state’s largest natural lakes. Or hike the trails at Potawatomi Wildlife Park that take you through woodlands and prairies as you watch for deer, turkeys and myriad waterfowl and birds.
Pile your pals into the car to explore the Barn Quilt Trail. The 75 colorful quilt-block murals celebrate agriculture, quilting and community pride as they tell about the culture and history of rural northern Indiana.
Culver Cottage Bed & Breakfast is a Victorian inn located right downtown, and the Inn by the Lake offers fabulous views. Rather stay to yourselves? Cori Humes, executive director of Visit Marshall County, says Lake Max Meadows is an ideal space for a gaggle of girlfriends. The rustic Lake Max Loft is in a new barn and has a gourmet kitchen. Its smaller counterpart, the Studio, is artistically designed in the oldest barn on the property. It sleeps up to three and has a kitchenette.
Richmond is famous for its 80-plus towering murals that grace the sides of its buildings, and the sculpture park in a lush garden on the campus of Indiana University East is another must-see for art-lovers. Stroll through the Richmond Rose Garden or pick and arrange your own flowers at the Barn at Helm.
For more exercise, hike through the Hayes Arboretum or Whitewater Gorge Park. Go birding with a guide at the Cope Environmental Center or rent a bike for free at the Cycling and Fitness Warehouse for a ride on the Cardinal Greenway. Golfers in your group? Richmond offers three courses. Water sprites can kayak, canoe and paddle-boat at Middlefork Reservoir.
The Lofts on Main in Cambridge City, Abington Cottage and Quaker Hill Cottage all provide spacious private lodgings with character.
Typically you’d head to Carmel for its clutch of shops, museums and restaurants, but there’s a whole other side to this sophisticated spot that’s perfect for what you’re after this time. Cool Creek Park, Greyhound Trail, Hazel Landing Park and White River Greenway are ideal for walks and hiking. Ride the Monon Trail on an electric bicycle you rent from Pedego, or hit the links at the Brookshire Golf Club.
“French Lick West Baden is a charming resort community surrounded by the Hoosier National Forest and wide-open spaces that give Mom plenty of room to relax, enjoy nature and reconnect with herself after the additional responsibilities and stress this pandemic has caused,” said Kristal Painter, executive director at Visit French Lick West Baden.
Experience up-close animal encounters as well as zip-line tours, ATV adventures and horseback riding at Wilstern Wildlife Park. Also here are cabins on the property that would handily accommodate a social-distancing group. You’ll find eagles, hawks, osprey and other waterfowl at Patoka Lake, where you can also enjoy swimming and boating. Cabins in this peaceful setting are equipped with kitchens and hot tubs.
Patoka Lake Winery just outside the entrance to Patoka Lake State Park offers winery suites in silos or cabins, and nearby Benny’s restaurant provides takeout or serves on the patio. What better setting for a Momcation: Enjoy the park, taste the wine, have a great dinner and spend the night — all without getting into your car.