Where will Hoosier families be traveling this year for Spring Break and summer vacation? The answer may surprise you. In fact, to find the answer, you don’t need to look too much further than your own backyard. Tourism industry stats show “Staycations,” a trip taken “within a comfortable driving distance,” are on the rise. In fact, Google searches for the term are up 10 percent over last year. Why are they becoming so popular? Industry leaders indicate three strong reasons: money savings, less hassle, and travelers are becoming more aware of all the unique things to do within their own state.
Rental properties large enough to accommodate families—and multiple families—have become a popular “home base” for Staycationers in Indiana. “Cabins and cottages provide a central meeting place for families in one common location,” says Patty Frensemeir with Hills O’Brown Vacation Rentals in Brown County. She believes Hoosiers opting to vacation within a three-hour drive from home do so partially for cost-savings, but also because our state rivals other states in things to do and see. “We have some awesome landscape here, similar to Gatlinburg, but closer to home.”“We have close to 190 cabins both in and near town as well as spread out all around Brown County,” says Laura Anderson at Hills O’Brown. “There are all sorts of options, too, such as those on the edges of stocked lakes and ponds, designed for dog owners and/or with hot tubs.”
Indiana Beach, the large amusement park on Lake Shaffer near Monticello in the northern section of the state, offers choices for their guests. “We have cabins on the water and near the water that are perfect for people visiting the park and exploring the area,” says Carol Blume, Indiana Beach reservations manager.
In Northwest Indiana, home of the Indiana Dunes, cabins are available at several of the area’s RV parks including Yogi Bear and Caboose Lake Campgrounds. Located right on the river, Southern Indiana’s Ohio River Cabins in Derby rent pontoon boats, and offer horseback riding, fishing and ziplining, and are surrounded by state forest.
As one might expect in a county that has more than 100 lakes, Kosciusko not only has lakeside cottages but also places to launch and/or moor your boat. At Fisherman Cove Resort on Webster Lake, guests can choose from two- and three-bedroom air-conditioned cottages, rent pontoon and fishing boats and enjoy the heated pool. At Elliott’s Ness on the Barbee chain—seven interconnected lakes—there’s an inexpensive boat launch right across the lake, and the historic Barbee Hotel & Restaurant is just across the street. For those who like to fish, the lakes teem with muskie, blue gill, bass and catfish.
Steuben County in the northeast corner of the state is dotted with 101 lakes. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort on Barton Lake in Fremont not only has 540 campsites but also 21 rustic cabins as well as 21 deluxe cottages. Amenities include boat rentals, planned activities, camp store, playground, three giant water slides, three pools, Aqua Play Zone, mini-golf, kiddy train rides, golf cart rentals, splash playground and wagon rides—in other words no kid should utter the words “I’m bored.”
Even more unique—just like our state—both Patoka Lake Marina in Birdseve and Hoosier Hills Marina in Celestine rent floating cabins— extremely comfortable houseboats with full kitchens, air conditioning and televisions. Surrounded by woods and nestled into hidden coves on the water, it’s a great way for both woods and shore cabin lovers to get their fix.
Ann Mulligan, Marketing Director for Visit Madison, Inc., says “Staycations are right up our alley, especially with the number of festivals, museums and other things we have to do here.” She notes that this port city perched on bluffs overlooking the slow moving Ohio River is a delight of perfectly restored buildings, dating back to the early 1800s. Lodging choices include hotels, B&Bs in historic mansions, guest houses, country cabins as well as camping in the gorgeous Clifty Falls State Park known for its rocky wooded terrain and numerous waterfalls.
In Spencer County, tucked away on the Ohio River in Southeast Indiana, staycations are a perfect way to learn more about Abraham Lincoln, who spent his formative years from ages seven to 21 living in a log cabin. That cabin has been recreated at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial which also is where the Nancy Hanks Grave Site is located. For other family fun, there’s Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus known for its wooden roller coasters. “A great new spot to make a base camp would be the Corner House Bed & Breakfast near Rockport,” says Spencer County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Melissa Brockman, noting that other Lincoln attractions such as Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum and Lincoln Ferry Park, where the man who would become our 16th president, owned his ferry business, are nearby. “It’s also right down the road—not even a mile—from Pepper’s Ridge Winery and less than 30 minutes to Santa Claus.”
Nancy Sartain, Leisure Marketing Director at the Richmond-Wayne County Convention & Tourism Bureau, suggests booking a room at one of their area’s fabulous bed and breakfasts like the Phillip W. Smith, a magnificent 1890 Queen Anne Victorian home in Richmond, as a start for visiting such attractions as their Antique Alley—miles and miles of antique stores stretched along the old National Road and other byways, the Tiffany Window Trail, Heartland Wine & Ale Trail with its nine stops at breweries and wineries and the city’s many historic districts.
Learn about one of the oldest and most beloved brands in America, Clabber Girl Baking Powder, at their headquarters in Terre Haute. Once a wholesaler of general merchandise and grocery products, the original building was built in 1892 and is now home to the Clabber Girl Bake Shop & Museum, designed to share the history and heritage of this iconic Indiana brand. At the Clabber Girl Museum, visitors will see an actual Indy race car from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, an 1800’s era kitchen, a recreated Victorian-era home parlor, and much more! Browse the museum at your own pace free of charge, or enjoy a Culinary Tour Package.