Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Spring Break on a Budget
Midwest cities offer unique activities without breaking the bank

by Nancy Edwards

March 01, 2013

Many households in the Indianapolis area will be flying south to enjoy a traditional vacation this spring break of beaches and amusement parks. But for those families looking for a fun trip within just a few hours’ drive, there’s good news. Plenty of great opportunities exist close to home. Check out these suggestions to enjoy more vacation time, with less travel time.

French Lick and Indiana Caverns

In French Lick, the newly opened Shotz Miniature Golf & Laser Tag ( is attached to Big Splash Adventure Hotel and Indoor Water Park ( Shotz features an indoor nine-hole miniature cosmic golf course, Lazer Frenzy and Lazer Tag.

French Lick Springs Hotel ( offers fun and relaxation for the entire family. Moms can chill at the hotel’s spa while dads can try their luck at the casino – or they can relax together at the indoor pool and hot tub while kids enjoy staff-supervised playtime and learning.

In nearby Harrison County, Indiana Caverns ( will celebrate its grand opening in mid-April. Take in the panoramic view of Big Bone Mountain and three waterfalls. Learn how caves are formed and look for blind cave fish and crayfish.


Families that can’t get enough of exotic species will appreciate the Newport Aquarium ( and Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden ( Meet Mighty Mike at the aquarium, the biggest gator in the country. New residents at the zoo include Woodstock, a 900 pound manatee and an endangered baby Brazilian ocelot.

The Cincinnati Observatory ( features “Astronomy Thursdays and Fridays”, an intriguing event that allows guests to view the moon, planets, double stars and an occasional comet through the oldest telescope in the United States.

Cincinnati’s breathtaking architecture can be viewed at Mt. Adams ( Check out more of what Cincinnati has to offer at


Have you ever wondered “How large is the universe?” Or “Are we alone?” Visit Chicago’s Adler Planetarium ( to contemplate these puzzles of the universe. While you’re there, watch a space show and “fly” through space.

After playing astronaut at the planetarium, kids can pretend to be a deep sea explorer or a penguin at Shedd Aquarium ( A new resident of the aquarium, a blind California sea lion pup named Cruz, is guided by sound and scent. Meet Cruz and learn what audio cues he has been trained to respond to.

Don’t miss Chicago’s legendary pizza. Try Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Lincoln Park ( And have the perfect ending to your meal with an ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop (

St. Louis

Beyond the Gateway Arch, St. Louis offers an array of unique finds, including the City Museum ( Walk through a part treehouse hideaway/ part cave, before hiking up to the second floor at the World Aquarium.

A carnival midway tribute awaits guests on the third floor. A new exhibit from the Chicago School of Architecture, “Elmslie and Sullivan”, showcases original architectural pieces from the buildings of Louis Sullivan, considered the father of modern architecture and George Grant Elmslie, who was Sullivan’s chief draftsman.

Go back in time to the landmark restaurant Blueberry Hill ( to listen to music from a jukebox or play pinball. There is so much more to see in St. Louis – scour the top 25 attractions at

Spring break doesn’t have to mean sun and surf – visit the great destinations the Midwest has to offer for a vacation your family will be sure to remember.