Indoor Water Park, Arcade, and Nearby Pumpkin Patch in Picturesque French Lick
In autumn, the air in French Lick, Indiana, cools down and the surrounding forests shift from deep green to vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange. It's a fall scene that looks like it could have been plucked from a painting. But inside Big Splash Adventure, things stay strictly tropical all year round. The 40,000-square-foot indoor water park is the centerpiece of a fun-filled, family-friendly resort set on 75 wooded acres. In addition to the water park, guests of the hotel enjoy access to a seasonal haunted mansion, a pumpkin patch, and an arcade with a mini-golf course.
Glass walls let ample sunlight into the aquatic center, where colorful tube slides twist and turn high above a lazy river fringed with tropical plants and faux boulders. A giant parakeet statue oversees the whimsical kids' area, which keeps tykes occupied with a teetering splash bucket and a pirate-themed obstacle course. Grownups, meanwhile, can relax in a 25-person hot tub heated to a balmy 100 degrees.
You can take advantage of the crisp fall weather on a hayride through the pumpkin patch at the hotel's sister property, Wilstem Ranch, located just a short drive from Big Splash Adventure. For more thrills and chills, visit the nearby haunted mansion. After a day of adventure, Big Splash and Double Splash guest rooms make for a comfy spot to unwind in front of a flat-screen TV. A piping-hot breakfast awaits in the morning.
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. The forest puts on a dazzling show in the fall, when golden poplars, orange maples, and a host of wildflowers burst into color.
You don't have to venture far to get a taste of French Lick's rich history, which earned the town a spot in the National Register of Historic Places. At the Indiana Railway Museum, climb aboard a vintage locomotive that goes chugging through the forest. Seasonal rides feature Halloween-themed performances and staged Wild West robberies. Elsewhere, daily tours venture into the century-old West Baden Springs Hotel, a National Historic Landmark with 200-foot domed ceilings adorned with frescoes.