BY GLENDA WINDERS
Time and budget don’t allow you to go far or stay long, you say? Then a resort or hotel “staycation” holiday is just the ticket, and Indiana has many from which to choose year-round. Relaxing in one location and taking advantage of the amenities gives you more bang for your buck, and best of all, you’ll be back home in just a few hours. No jet lag for you!
For a more rustic family adventure there’s the Potowatomi Inn and Cabins in Pokagon State Park on the shore of Lake James, one of the state’s largest. Choose an inn room, cabin suite or historic
cabin. Then enjoy hiking and biking, horseback riding and wildlife viewing at the Nature Center. Or play in the game room, paddle in the indoor pool or relax in the hot tub. Grab pizza, sandwiches and ice cream at their Courtyard Café or have a home-style meal at the Lakeview Restaurant.
Another option for lake fun is the Oakwood Resort at Lake Wawasee. Here you can play on the beach, swim off the pier or relax and read under an umbrella. You’ll also have the complimentary use of kayaks, paddleboards, and bicycles as well the fitness room and game room. The Oakwood Coffee and Creamery is a licensed purveyor of Starbucks coffee, and they also serve ice cream and cold drinks. At dinnertime the Pier and Back Porch restaurant will serve you a delicious meal with a lakeside view and live entertainment on the weekends.
Fair Oaks Farms is a sure bet for keeping the entire family entertained. Stay at the Fairfield by Marriott in silo suites that come with comfortable beds for the parents and bunks for the kids. While you’re here take in the Crop Adventure, the Dairy Adventure and the Pig Adventure to learn how farms work. Then play family basketball in the pool, soak in a hot tub or watch your little ones splash and play in a zero-entry pool.
“Fair Oaks Farms is a perfect staycation spot or week- end getaway,” said Summer Holman, director of sales at Fair Oaks. “And hotel packages are a great opportunity to save money and include everything in one visit.”
When you get hungry check out the Dairycatessen for premade grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and snacks or the Cowfe for an award-winning grilled cheese, ice cream and gifts. Dinner will be at The Farmhouse, where you’ll enjoy enjoy upscale family dining. Best of all, this is a dog-friendly destination, so you don’t have to leave your pet at home.
If water is where your family likes to play, check out Big Splash Adventure in French Lick. Enjoy their colorful 40,000-square-foot pool with its variety of water slides and retractable roof for good weather or play games at the Treasure Chest Arcade. Then test your skill at Shotz Mini Golf and Lazer Tag. For additional fun make the short trip to Paoli to drive through the Wilstem Wildlife Park and experience encounters with giraffes, elephants, bears and more. Budget-friendly packages are available if you stay at the hotel at Big Splash Adventures, and who could resist rooms with names such as Pirate’s Paradise and Captain’s Cabin? Family dining here is at The Boatyard, and for snacks there’s the Galley Grill. Parents can unwind with an adult beverage at Lee Wally’s Lounge.
For a more grown-up stay in the area, the place to go is French Lick Resort which is home to two historic hotels. West Baden Springs Hotel features a spectacular domed atrium that spans 200 feet and crowns the 6-story hotel. French Lick Springs Hotel greets guests with a veranda full of rocking chairs and a palatial lobby with gold leaf accents, detailed murals and original tile floors.
“The beauty of French Lick Resort is that you don’t have to travel far to feel like you’re truly getting away,” said Lauren Jones, director of marketing. “There’s something for everyone, and that’s why our guests keep coming back. You can take it slow, sit back and relax, or plan out your day from morning to night and enjoy all the indoor and outdoor activities at the resort, and nearby attractions within a short drive.”
Take advantage of luxurious spa services at both hotels, pools and hot tubs, fitness centers, bowling, shopping, sporting clays and archery range, and hiking trails. Play a round of golf at the Pete Dye or Donald Ross Courses (ranked #1 and #2 in Indiana by GolfWeek) or try your luck at the casino. Dining at the resort includes quick-serve, casual and upscale options. French Lick Springs Hotel’s signature restaurant is 1875: The Steakhouse, named for the year the first Kentucky Derby was run. At West Baden Springs Hotel, enjoy chef-crafted cuisine and an extensive wine list at Sinclair’s Restaurant. Guests staying at one hotel are free to explore the other, and a free shuttle will take you between both.
The New Harmony Inn Resort and Conference Center will pamper you with a spa center and hot tub, outdoor pool and fitness center. Or you can play tennis or take a spin on one of their complimentary bicycles. The iconic Red Geranium restaurant provides Old World charm and an extensive wine list, the Green Room is more cozy and casual, and the Grapevine Bar serves up whatever you’d like to drink. The inn’s big draw is that it is situated in the middle of New Harmony’s unusual history, making it easy to take guided tours of significant buildings and walk two meditative labyrinths, and it is also close to Harmonie State Park. At the end of the day treat yourself to some tasting at Rod Clark’s Whiskey Experience.
In Plymouth, the 400-acre Swan Lake Resort offers golf, indoor and outdoor pools, and a fitness center. Accommodations include hotel, villas, cottages, and log cabins. For a unique dining experience, there’s the Chophouse which overlooks a landscaped pond and waterall, as well as several fairways. Putter’s Bar & Grille offers a more casual spot.
Some hotels are also so conveniently located that you won’t need to get into your car to find entertainment. Bottleworks in Indianapolis, for example, has an up-town vibe all its own. The art deco building was once the home of one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the world, and the “industrial chic” rooms reflect the spot’s special history. Have a manicure at the W Nail Bar, work out at the fitness center, play a game of billiards or make a memory in the vintage photo booth. Your lodging will be just steps away from the Garage Food Hall, where you can choose your own cuisine, as well as from the Woodhouse Day Spa and YogaSix.
The elegant boutique Hotel Carmichael in Carmel offers lush rooms and fine dining in Vivante (elegant French fare in clubby ambience), the Adagio Lounge with its grand piano and fireplace, or Feinstein’s Cabaret for live entertainment and a special menu. Restaurants within walking distance include Woody’s Library Restaurant in an actual former library and Divvy’s for sharing plates. Finish off with coffee and dessert at The Cake Bake Shop. When you’re here you’re also close to the Plum Creek Country Club and Brookshire Golf Club for golf and the Waterpark at Monon Community Center. Go shopping or take a historical tour in Carmel — or maybe indulge yourself at the Imperial Day Spa after a class at the Yoga Studio.
The Bradley in Fort Wayne prides itself on mixing Midwestern charm and modern design in its deluxe accommo- dations. While you’re here visit the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Fort Wayne Zoo or the Foellinger-Freimann Botani- cal Conservatory. Take in a show at the Embassy Theatre, learn to brew your own beer at Gnometown Brewing Co. or check out Fort Wayne Outfitters for out- door and riverfront activities. Then come back to the hotel to relax with a drink at Birdie’s Rooftop Bar before a dinner of Italian-American classics at Arbor, which sources its ingredients locally.
In downtown Wabash, the Charley Creek Inn is a historic hotel offering small-town luxury and charm. Guest rooms and suites feature designer fabrics and antique furniture. A multi- day stay here is made easy with a restaurant, lounge, cheese store, and ice cream shop right on the premises. And, you’ll be within walking distance to Wabash attractions like the Honeywell Center, Modoc’s Market, Wabash County Museum, and more.
If the children are college students, hotels close to major campuses invite you to come for a visit. Graduate Hotel Bloomington is a short walk away from the gates of Indiana University as well as from the shops and restaurants around the Courthouse Square downtown.
The Union Club Hotel puts you close to the Purdue University campus and just a mile from Mackey Arena and Ross-Ade Stadium. That means you can also visit the Haan Mansion, Lilly Nature Center, Columbian Park Zoo, Coyote Crossing Golf Course and Jerry E. Clegg Botanic Gardens. Stop in at the Boiler Up Bar before dinner at the hotel’s 8Eleven Modern Bistro. Or grab a snack at Leaps Coffee Shop and order room service whenever you’re ready.
Located in the heart of the campus, South Bend’s Morris Inn calls itself “Notre Dame’s living room.” Here you’re close to Notre Dame Stadium, St. Mary’s College and the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
But what if it’s just the two of you getting away from the day-to-day and rekindling your romance? Serenity Springs in La Porte has just what you’re looking for. Imagine hunkering down in a water-view cabin for two with its own fireplace. Breakfast will arrive in a basket on your doorstep with some surprises included, too. Complimentary bicycles will allow you to soak in your surroundings, or you might want to try catch-and-release fishing. If it’s winter, enjoy cross-country skiing or snowshoeing and then warm up on your heated floor when you return. A short drive will have you at wineries, breweries, galleries and casinos, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and a choice of restaurants. Then it’s back to the cabin for a soak in your private sunken whirlpool tub — and goodnight.