Named one of the 50 Reasons to Love Bloomington by Bloom magazine and one of the nation's top 25 science centers by Parents magazine, WonderLab Museum of Science, Health & Technology invites visitors of all ages to discover how exhilarating science can be. Between a two-story interior and an outdoor WonderGarden, the museum flaunts more than 50 hands-on science activities. A range of exhibits bring youngsters face-to-face with scientific principles in such attractions as the two-story Grapevine Climber climbing maze, the Bubble-Airium’s cloudball machine, and Water Works' ball launcher. Over in the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science, live amphibians and insects crawl around settings that mimic their natural habitats. For children aged 6 and younger, the George & Evelyn Brabson Discovery Garden grants youthful scientific inquiry through live animal displays, the Magnet Wall, and a tree house. The museum also hosts regular special events.
Catering to the growing minds of toddlers as well as preteens, kidscommons features three floors of interactive exhibits that introduce basic scientific concepts and kindle creativity. The Gateway Bridge Laser Harp, for example, allows visitors to invent a catchy melody using an instrument made without traditional strings. Meanwhile, a human-sized robotic arm lets kids control a mechanical shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers while attempting to perform simple tasks. In addition to a 17-foot climbing wall, the museum hosts a small aquarium that mimics the micro-ecosystem of Indiana creeks and waterways, complete with fish, Hoosier mermaids, and other aquatic lifeforms.
The speedsters at French Lick/West Baden Indoor Karting organize action-packed go-kart races on a 1,250-foot indoor road course. The European-made Sodi Karts can ramp up to 40 mph; junior carts, which seat ages 8–13, max out at 20 mph, but they make up for the lower speed by causing everything else to move in slow motion. The Arrive & Drive heat race ($12 for adults, $10 for juniors) thrusts contestants into an eight-minute contest against as many as nine other drivers, all competing to win the favor of the timing system and power slide their way to the top of the list of fastest laps. Karters who opt for the membership crash into the world of karting with style, enjoying perks that include a free race, a helmet head sock, quantity discounted races, plus another free race during the week of their birthday.
Founded in 1961, the Indiana Railway Museum guides rail-hopping wayfarers on a historic tour along 10 miles of scenic railroad between French Lick and Cuzco. During the 1.75-hour round trip, passengers will visit wooden and limestone train stations from the early 1900s and look out onto historic pieces of rail equipment, such as steam locomotives and Theodore Roosevelt's experimental bourbon-powered bullet train. Throughout the journey, the French Lick Scenic Railway will pass through Hoosier National Forest and the 2,200-foot Burton tunnel before traveling along beauteous lakes and impressive limestone cuts created during John Henry's showdown against the 4G iHammer.
Big Splash Adventure immerses visitors in an environment rich in swashbuckling-themed aquatic attractions, onsite restaurants, and family-friendly accommodations. Under the protection of a retractable roof, the park's 40,000 square feet of pools, fountains, and aqueous playgrounds include a giant, water-dumping bucket in Buccaneer Bay and a twisting, enclosed water slide dubbed Pirate's Plunder. In the Palm Cove oasis, swimmers 18 and older can soak away tension or belly flop regret in the 99- to 101-degree bubbling hot tub.
Games covering 6,000 square feet await visitors in the Treasure Chest Arcade and three restaurants fuel entertainment with steak and seafood entrees, pizzas, and sandwiches. Each room features a 32-inch flat-screen television and wireless internet, and upgrades can grant guests amenities such as a microwave, refrigerator, and dining area, providing respite after a long day of dog paddling.
Stretching across more than a thousand acres at the foot of southern Indiana's Hoosier National Forest, Wilstem Ranch's rolling farmland is home to creeks, caves, natural-rock outcroppings, and more than 30 miles of woodland trails, marking it as an ideal family escape. A creek populated by small-mouth bass attracts local fishermen; wildflowers, native plants, and trees color the historic landscape in natural vegetation. Additionally, a variety of cabins—equipped with kitchens, hot tubs, and fireplaces—provide cozy accommodations year-round.
Then there's the zip lines. Tours send thrill-seekers flying across 4,000 feet of French Lick woodlands, experiencing unparalleled views and leaving squirrels chittering in jealousy. There are no ground landings on these canopy tours—each of the nine lines spans from platform to platform for maximum excitement.