What’s on your bucket list for 2021?
After what seemed like an endless period of shutdowns and social isolation in 2020, people are anxious to make up for lost time. Folks are eager to get out there and live life to the fullest once again — and we don’t blame them!
Summer is an excellent time of the year to reconnect with your friends and family members, explore the world around you and take in some new experiences. If you haven’t yet made your “bucket list” of places to visit before the weather turns cold again, we’ve got plenty of ideas to share.
Check out these “must-see” places right here in Indiana:
Indiana Dunes National Park
Nestled against Lake Michigan’s southern shore, this state park offers more than 2,000 acres of open land, walkable terrain, flora, fauna and fun. Whether you want someplace to explore with your family or you just want a little peace and solitude while you reconnect with nature, you’ll find what you need at the Indiana Dunes National Park.
If you’re a history buff, don’t forget to check out the Baily Homestead and Chellberg Farm while you’re there. Both offer a peek into the area’s past and allow you to glimpse what life might have been like when settlers first came that way.
Market Street Catacombs
Located right here in Indianapolis, the Catacombs are all that remain of Tomlinson Hall, which once seated 3,500 people and was part of the city’s cultural center in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Tomlinson Hall burned to the ground in 1958, leaving behind only its arch and stone basement — which is how the Catacombs came into being. Take a guided tour through this historic landmark, then explore the City Market to indulge your inner foodie or find unique items and gifts from local vendors.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum frequently comes up on lists about the best things to do in Indiana, but that’s only because the place is arguably awesome! It has more than 47,000 square feet to explore, and it’s the biggest kid-friendly museum in the world.
New exhibits are constantly arriving, along with special, limited displays, but you can always check out the Dino Hub, the Carousel of Wishes and Dreams, the five-story tall Fireworks of Glass exhibit and more. There are also plenty of outdoor exhibits, gardens and places to explore, so whether you’ve been here before or never set foot on the grounds, you’re bound to find something worth investigating.
Tucked in Fishers, Indiana, Connor Prairie is more than just a historic spot: It’s also a living history museum that caters to family fun. There’s so much to do here, from classes that teach historical trades to adventure camps that include zip-lining and pony rides, you’re bound to find something interesting, educational and exciting.
While you’re there, go on a nature walk, check out the reenactments at the 1836 Prairietown, take a Balloon Voyage or visit a Lenape Indian Camp. Or, maybe just play in the four-story treehouse for a while and explore the trails.
This is an absolutely jaw-dropping natural wonder — and it’s right here in Marengo, Indiana! Discovered by accident in 1883, the Marengo Caves are filled with stunning natural formations and its own, unique ecosystem.
The Crystal Palace and Dripstone Trail are guided tours that allow guests to more fully appreciate what they’re seeing, but that’s not the only thing to do here. There’s also a 5,000 square foot wooden “Miner’s Maze” outdoors, pedal karting, the 30-foot “Sky Climber” spiral slide and gemstone mining available, so leave plenty of time in your schedule to fully enjoy everything about this day trip.
WonderLab Museum of Science
If you’re looking for another family-friendly, kid-approved place to visit, you’ll love Bloomington’s WonderLab Museum of Science. Located in the heart of the city’s Entertainment and Arts District, this museum is filled with interactive exhibits that provide both education and fun.
Kids of all ages can check out the Giant Flowing Bubble and the Bubble Wall, while everyone can enjoy the Wonder Under the Waves Saltwater Aquarium with its living coral reef. There’s even the “Science Sprouts Place,” which is filled with hands-on exhibits especially designed for the 3-year-old and under crowd.
The Indianapolis Zoo is one of the biggest attractions in the state, but what if you want to get a little more up close and personal with the wildlife? Wolf Park, which opened in 1972, offers the ultimate adventure for animal lovers.
Part research facility and part conservation facility, Wolf Park is located in Battle Ground, Indiana. Their “Follow the Pack Tour” offers a guided look at the wolves, bison and other animals in the park, but you should really consider the after-dark experience of Howl Night for an adventure like no other.
As always, it’s wise to remember that many venues and attractions are just now starting to reopen and increase their hours. Quite a few still require visitors to wear masks inside the buildings, and others are restricting the number of guests to better maintain sanitary conditions. Because of that, it’s wise to check the hours of any place you intend to visit and throw a mask or two in your pocket (just in case) as you head out the door.