As we enter the season of blue skies and longer days, we find ourselves eager to hit the road and explore new places for a few days. From museums in big cities to tucked away caverns, here are some of the Pivoteers’ favorite places that make for perfect road trips.
Madison makes for a fun and family-friendly weekend getaway. While exploring the downtown, be sure to make a stop at the Madison Coffee and Tea Co. The Lanier Mansion is definitely worth seeing. There’s lot of lesser known Indiana history to discover along with beautiful gardens and a great view of the Ohio River. I recommend staying at the Clifty Inn and getting up for a hike at Clifty Falls State Park.
On your way down to Lexington, it’s worth making a pit stop or two along the Bourbon Trail. Woodford Reserve and Wild Turkey are both nearby. A visit to Keeneland is also a must. Gratz Park Inn is a great choice for a B&B like experience, and it’s close to local bars, museums, and shops. If you’re looking to splurge a bit, the restaurant in the hotel is fantastic. They’ve got a nice wine selection, seriously the best yeast rolls I’ve ever had, and soul food faves like shrimp and grits.
Nostalgia is leading me back to my western Indiana roots. Most people know about Turkey Run State Park as a staple camping and hiking destination, but Shades State Park is where I’d rather roll out my sleeping bag. You can still spend a day drinking in a canoe on Sugar Creek, and you’re closer to other places I’d like to revisit, like the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, a sanctuary for lions, tigers, and other big cats near my hometown of Brazil, Indiana. And while there, I’d have to drop by and eat a few sliders at Eddie’s Sandwich Shop. It’s not quite the same since Eddie is no longer manning the grill, but they’re still the best sliders you’ll ever eat in your life ever.
St. Louis is extremely family-friendly and offers a lot of low-cost or free attractions. Over a couple of days, my family could wander around their huge, beautiful zoo. We could take in a Cardinals game (where they lost to my beloved Yankees after a fierce pitching battle), have a picnic in the wonderful park beneath the arch, or visit City Museum—probably one of the coolest places on earth. Any or all of these are possible in a weekend, with plenty left over to grab good food and drinks.
B-Town is one of my favorite getaways in Indiana. It’s only about an hour away, but it feels so much farther once you’re there. I will usually check out a show at the Bluebird and stay out into the wee hours of the morning before I walk to my brother’s house, with a slice Rocket’s Pizza in hand. Then during the day, I’ll walk around the shops downtown and get some ice cream from the Chocolate Moose before escaping to Lake Monroe for the rest of my visit. From camping to boating, it’s the perfect spot for me.
Hocking Hills, Ohio
If you’re really wanting to be secluded, Hocking Hills is the place to go. The scenery is gorgeous. Between caves, waterfalls, creeks, and lakes, there isn’t an area here that isn’t picture perfect.
Lake Shelbyville, Illinois
For some much needed relaxation or kicking back some beers with your friends or family, rent a houseboat for a few days. And don’t forget to grab lunch at “Skeeters.” It’s a game changer.
This area is artsy, rustic, and relaxed. And if you want a break from days on the water, be sure to go inland towards Three Oaks, MI to see what you can find in their various art and antique shops.
Every May my college friends and I drive up to Angola for a long weekend of golfing. The rivalry gets more intense every year, as the teams don’t change from year-to-year. Each squad stays in opposing lake houses on Crooked Lake and we play at Glendarin Hills.
As a kid, my family would take a short vacation to Spring Mill State Park. We’d either stay at the inn or rent a cabin and make a long weekend of it. The inn had an indoor/outdoor pool, which at the time was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
This four-hour drive is so worth it. Beautiful lake, beach state park, and they are also in the midst of their tulip festival this week and weekend. Also some fun facts: there are lots of wooden shoes there within the Dutch community, and they have the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the country. It’s a quaint town with antique shops and home décor places, and it is next to Hope College.