Summer is a great time to explore areas around Indiana. With the beautiful weather and summer festivals, summer can be a perfect time to get out and explore. Here are a few suggestions for day trips that are off the beaten path but are affordable and interesting for both children and adults. All of these venues are south of Lebanon (areas north were in a previous column). Try one or two and experience new adventures. Please check venues in advance for updated pricing or schedules.• Shades State Park, Ind. 234, Waveland. Geared to hikers and cross-country skiers, the park is known for its four narrow ridges, or backbones. It includes great sites such as Kickapoo Ravine, Devil’s Punchbowl and Lover’s Leap.• Turkey Run State Park, 8121 E. Park Road, Marshall, includes 13 miles of trails, some of them quite rugged, and 2,400 acres of hardwood forest cut in two by Sugar Creek.• Badlands Off-Road Park, 3968 N. Xavier Road, Attica, 765-762- 2981. Jeeps, trucks and three- and four-wheelers can drive in the 700 acres of varied terrain. This includes mud pits, pea-gravel hills, water and an old quarry.• Billie Creek Village, U.S. 36, Rockville, 765-569-3430, is an old time village that includes an 1830 log cabin, 1913 schoolhouse, 1859 church, antebellum doctor’s office, a general store and other historical buildings. There are demonstrations in quilting, cider and molasses making, weaving and pottery throwing. The general store contains Amish crafts and food as well as folk art . When the village is in full operation, there is a fee; it is free when only partly operational.• Covered Bridge Festival, Oct. 10-19, 2014, throughout Parke County, 765-569-5266. Parke County is home to 32 covered bridges, some of which you can still drive through. Pick up a guide map at the information center to travel the bridge routes and to visit small towns filled with food, fun and crafts during this festival. The beautiful scenery and fall colors are an added bonus to the quaint and historic towns and bridges.• Wonder Lab, 308 W. Fourth St., Bloomington, 812-337-1337, is a unique science lab just south and west of the square in Bloomington. You can dig for fossils, freeze your shadow, climb a vertical maze, create circuitry to turn on a light, see bees living in a real hive and learn about bubbles in the bubble-airium. Closed Mondays. Call for hours and admission fees.• Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave., Bloomington, 812-855-6873, is a diverse museum of world cultures with an exceptional collection of Native American photographs and artifacts. A unique gift shop has many interesting cultural items for sale. Call for hours. Free.• Bluespring Caverns Park, Bluespring Caverns Road, Bedford, 812-279-9471. In this park, electric tour boats propel visitors through the limestone formations and caverns cut by the White River years ago. Tours take about an hour. There is gemstone “mining” at the visitor center. Call for hours and admission fees.• French Lick Springs Resort and Casino, 8670 W. Ind. 56, French Lick, 800-457-4042, has all a resort could offer — tennis, golf, swimming (indoors and outdoors), bicycling, horseback riding, bingo, croquet and a recreation center with bowling, pool and video games. It has spa amenities and, of course, the huge casino. The resort has two restaurants and an ice cream shop. Call for package deals and/or discounts.
Take a break this summer and enjoy a day or weekend getaway.