Tuesday, July 3, 2012

One Tank Trips from Indy

I'm getting the itch to getaway.  I've written about it a few times and I've been daydreaming about places we could quickly pack and run off to enjoy for a weekend.  One of my greatest stress relievers is to take a few minutes to hop online and search cabins in Brown County, Indiana or amusement parks like Indiana Dunes or Holiday World.

The main thing that holds me back is the responsibility we have to our pooch- Sassy.

Sassy will be 14 years old in September.  She's been my dog since she was 8 weeks old.  She is starting to show serious signs of aging- hearing loss, impaired vision, and pee accidents in the house.  It will be remarkably hard on this family if we have to handle the loss of 2 pets in 1 year.  But it is what it is.  We know that we love Sassy and we will do our best, as a family, to take care of her and love her for as long as we have her.

But having a senior pooch means some restrictions on "get up and go."  She hasn't been kenneled in years and I won't do that to her now- it is definitely an anxiety producing experience for her.  We have a friend who will come and stay with her when we plan ahead.  And I do have Christy close by and she could come and take care of her in the morning and the evening but that makes me sad to have Sassy alone all night.

But if we could just up and leave, say, one Saturday morning and come back Sunday afternoon... where would we go?

To me, a "one tank trip" is anything within an approximate 2 hour drive.  From the Indianapolis area, that includes places like:

Fort Wayne

Columbus / Brown County
Bloomington / Brown County
Indiana Beach

Cincinnati, OH
Dayton, OH
Louisville, KY

We aren't the kind of family that has ever gone camping so something particularly outdoorsy won't be happy-making for all members of the family.  Otherwise, my list would definitely include the many state parks within a 2 hour drive of Indy.

For us, an overnight getaway includes a hotel with a pool and free breakfast, a fun children's attraction, a yummy place to eat dinner, and some sort of interesting hole-in-the-wall type of find.

Here is what I think we'd do in each of those getaway locations.

Fort Wayne - We did a weekend in Fort Wayne a couple of years ago and really enjoyed our time there.  Highlights of the trip included visiting the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, taking in a TinCaps game, and discovering the Fort Wayne Firefighter's Museum.  Something really cool on the Visit Fort Wayne site is that they include information for vegetarian dining and gluten free dining.

Columbus, Bloomington, Brown County - I have to admit that when I think of this area of Indiana, my interests are more inclined towards an adult getaway- just me and Jeff or me and some close girlfriends.  Columbus has plenty to offer a family- kidscommons, Zaharakos, and The Commons.  Brown County is a place where I want a cabin in the woods or in the midst of farm acreage.  I want to sleep in, get up and have coffee on the porch, walk in the woods or ride my bike, and end the day with a bottle of wine, cooking dinner together.  Bloomington is a place I need to go when I want to eat.  Bloomington is known for the restaurant scene there- and plenty of art experiences to take in, too.  Bloomington is also "home to the nation's fifth largest per capita population of same-sex couples and one of the most progressive cities in the Midwest, both socially and politically."  

Indiana Beach - It's an amusement park, lake, campground.  Dry rides, water rides.  Might be a better trip for us when the kids are older.

Cincinnati - Cincy is chock full of family fun.  You could easily plan a week and have something interesting to explore each day.  We did a long weekend there 3 years ago (can't believe it has been that long!).  There's the Cincinnati Zoo, Newport Aquarium, Entertrainment Junction, Coney Island, Kings Island, Union Terminal Museum Center, Reds baseball, and more.  Plus, my parents are there so there is time for each kid with Grandma and maybe even the possibility of a date night.

Dayton, OH - I have to first admit that the only time I've actually been to Dayton is when we've travelled to the University of Dayton for family weekend to support my brother in the marching band.  It's always fun- and a little rushed and stressful.  The best part of visiting Dayton would be spending time with my brother and his girlfriend.  When I think of Dayton and tourism, I think aviation.  If you're interested in all things flight related, Dayton is a great place to visit.  Interesting places I'd like to visit there include the Dayton International Peace Museum (there is a special exhibit in July called ""Americans Who Tell The Truth" - Portraits of outstanding Americans and their quotes by artist Robert Shetterly"

Louisville, KY - Louisville is another place that we have previously traveled for a family getaway last year.  Best part of the trip was the Louisville Waterfront.  There's also the Louisville Science Center, a trip down the river on the Belle of Louisville, and the Louisville Zoo.

I think Cincinnati is best saved for a longer trip- I'm thinking a long weekend rather than an overnight trip.  Bloomington and that area will be saved for a grown up getaway.  My kids aren't yet fascinated by airplanes so Dayton doesn't have as much to offer.  I think I would come home ever more exhausted from Indiana Beach.

Fort Wayne is sounding more and more like a place to go back and visit again.  It's been 2 years since we were there.  I'd love to revisit the Zoo and we never made it to the Botanical Conservatory last time.  Just having 2 things to see and having a list of restaurant ideas and that whole "hotel with pool" thing makes it sound like the easiest possible option.

Although, an Indy staycation is certainly tempting, too.  A night or two in a downtown hotel and exploring areas that we haven't been to before, avoiding the commonly known Indy highlights like the Zoo and Children's Museum... like Carter's Toy Museum in Zionsville, Trader's Point Creamery, and Rhythm! Discovery Center, and paddle boats on the canal.

What would you pick?  Indy or Fort Wayne?  Staying in your local city or making a 2 hour trek for your getaway?



Anonymous said...

I would make it a 3 hour trip and go to St. Joe, Michigan. You have Lake Michigan, Warren Dunes close by, fun places to eat, a spray park near the beach.
If that doesn't work, Ft. Wayne.

Pandora's Box said...

Obviously, I say Louisville. The Belle has a lunch or dinner cruise to do, the Zoo has a few baby animals now (including a polar bear!) and a splash park right in the middle of it, the Science Center is a lot of fun for kids, and the caves & fossils are just on the Indiana side of the river.

Cajoh said...

I keep suggesting to my wife that we go to a bed and breakfast that is right next to a Frank Loyd Wright house here in Chicago, but she thinks it's too weird to know all the sights ahead of time.

Milwaukee is our 1 tank getaway and many times we just go for the day. We have time in August, we just need to agree to where we will go.

Julie said...

A good list for quick getaways! As a Bloomington resident, I can tell you that there are some fun kids activities, so a family getaway is definitely doable. WonderLab Museum is fantastic for kids of all ages (and adults, believe me), tons of hands on activities. Other museums have kid-specific activities too, like the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and the Monroe County History Center. And a lot of the great restaurants in Bloomington have kid options too. And of course there's all the swimming, boating, hiking and camping at Lake Monroe.

Of course, it's a fun "adult" getaway as well. Can't go wrong no matter what!