Indoor Water Park, Arcade, and Santa's Workshop in Picturesque French Lick
Inside Big Splash Adventure, the atmosphere is strictly tropical year round. Its 40,000-square-foot indoor water park is surrounded by glass walls and features a retractable roof that can open up during warmer months. The water park is the centerpiece of a fun-filled, family-friendly resort set on 75 wooded acres, where guests also enjoy access to an arcade, a mini-golf course, and the Alpine Slide, which takes you 250 feet gliding down a hill.
The water park’s glass walls let ample sunlight pour onto the colorful tube slides that twist and turn high above a lazy river fringed with tropical plants and faux boulders. A giant parakeet statue is perched above the whimsical kids' area, which keeps tykes on their toes with a teetering splash bucket and a pirate-themed obstacle course. Grownups can relax in a 25-person hot tub heated to a balmy 100 degrees.
This getaway also includes admission to the Santa's Magical Workshop at The Mansion, open till January 5. It has a gingerbread house and holiday-related crafts, and you can meet up with Santa and get your picture taken. After a day of adventure, guests can dine on grilled shrimp, barbecue-bacon burgers, or buffalo wings at Big Splash’s Boatyard Restaurant.
French Lick, Indiana: Charming Resort Town with Sprawling State Forest and Rich History
Far south in Indiana, near the Kentucky border, the small town of French Lick boasts a unique landscape that helped shape its evolution into a resort town. Roughly two centuries ago, visitors flocked to French Lick and the neighboring West Baden Springs to bathe in the area's naturally therapeutic waters, which left several salt licks in the surrounding soil. The former French trading post is still popular with tourists today, less for the springs than the 200,000-acre Hoosier National Forest. Here, tree-lined trails weave past creeks, a 19th-century post office, and caves.
You don't have to venture far to get a taste of French Lick's rich history, which earned the town a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. At the Indiana Railway Museum, climb aboard a vintage locomotive that goes chugging through the forest. The railway is known for its staged Wild West robberies. Elsewhere, daily tours explore the century-old West Baden Springs Hotel, a National Historic Landmark with 200-foot domed ceilings adorned with frescoes.