story by GLENDA WINDERS
Staying in one of the seven inns in Indiana’s state parks is a uniquely inspiring experience. Where else can you wake up smack in the middle of nature but still take a shower and eat a hot breakfast before you head out the door to hike, swim, enjoy wildlife, and take part in fun and educational events and programs? The rooms are cozy, and the restaurants all serve up traditional Hoosier fare. Best of all, you’ll have the feeling that you are a million miles from the stresses of everyday life. Here we highlight a few.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is the oldest of the parks, opening on July 4, 1916, and its signature lodging is the Canyon Inn. The building was originally a sanitarium for the wealthy and weary to recuperate constructed in 1888 by a Dr. Frederick Denkewalter. The good doctor felt the extraordinary natural environment would help his patients heal, and he also welcomed locals to walk and picnic on the grounds. After his death the area became a park and the inn was completely remodeled. And speaking of remodeling, mark your calendar for mid-2024, when the Spring Mill Inn at Spring Mill State Park will reopen after a massive renovation.
While you’re here, enjoy the creek and falls. Cross a stone bridge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and climb the restored 86-feet-tall fire tower. Bloomington and Indiana University are just 15 miles to the east, and 16 miles to the north are Cataract Falls and Lieber state recreation areas — a chance to see three examples of nature’s handiwork in one trip.
The Clifty Inn in Clifty Falls State Park overlooks the Ohio River. Enjoy the trails and Big Clifty and Little Clifty waterfalls in the park; then take the 10-mile trip to nearby Madison, designated one of 12 arts and cultural districts in the state. Here you’ll discover the city’s rich history as a flourishing port in the 19th century. With its 133 blocks of historic architecture, it is one of the country’s largest Historical Landmark Districts. Madison calls itself “Indiana’s Music City,” so just about any time you visit you’ll be able to take in a live performance. “The best small town in Indiana” is another of its monikers and with good reason. Its Main Street and beyond are filled with unusual boutiques and places to eat that cover global cuisines.
For a completely different vibe, head north to Fort Harrison State Park, which until 1995 still operated as a military base. Today the centerpiece is the 18-hole Fort Golf Course, designed by renowned golf course architect Pete Dye on natural terrain. Lodging options include the Fort Harrison State Park Inn, the Harrison House and four officer homes. While you’re here you can fish or canoe on Fall Creek, take walks on the trails or visit a museum to learn the fort’s history. If you come in the winter, take advantage of one of the area’s biggest sledding hills.
Summer Savings now through 8-31-2023 and available at all Indianainns.com locations.
Stay two or more consecutive nights Sunday-Thursday and get 25% off the Best Available Rate. Some restrictions and blackout dates may apply.