When most people think of summer vacation, Indiana doesn’t necessarily spring to mind. In reality, though, the Hoosier state is a fantastic destination for summer fun. Home to more than 35,000 miles of rivers and streams, 100,000 acres of publicly owned lakes and reservoirs, and 50 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, Indiana welcomes tourists with 80-degree weather and no shortage of fun. If you’re headed to the Hoosier State this season, be sure to add these water attractions to your summer bucket list.
Dreaming of spending your summer by the lake? Head to Pakota Lake in Patoka State Park. You’ll find opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, and even a stay on a houseboat! Gorgeous limestone ravines and wildlife await at Spring Mill State Park, where visitors can see a fully operational 19th-century grist mill make flour and cornmeal. For a little more history, head to the reconstructed Pioneer Village, which transports tourists back to 19th-century Indiana.
The Hoosier State is home to the world-famous Santa Claus, Indiana. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some festive fun! Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari offers four themed areas representing Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July. The Splashin’ Safari water park features thrilling water slides. Work up the nerve to try the world’s longest water coaster, the “Wildebeest,” and the world’s longest water slide, “Mammoth.”
If you’re looking for a more laid-back approach to summer fun in the region, head to French Lick Resort, where they’re celebrating 100 Days of Summer. The ongoing event features memorable concerts and a no shortage of fun outdoor adventures.
Discover the exceptional Riverfront Connectivity of Fort Wayne, where three rivers intertwine to create a seamless link between the city and outdoor recreation. Wander the extensive trail network spanning over 120 miles, granting access to destinations including the historic Old Fort and Headwaters Park, the vibrant hub of summer festivals. Bask in the natural beauty of downtown Fort Wayne, which boasts eight miles of riverfront where kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and leisurely boat rides await.
In search of unparalleled charm? Head to Promenade Park. There, you can unleash your inner child at the kids’ canal, engage in friendly competition with permanent ping pong and cornhole games, and climb the enchanting tree canopy trail. Unwind on porch swings and enjoy direct river access for tranquil moments by the water’s edge. After working up an appetite, head to The Deck, a waterfront restaurant nestled along the picturesque St. Marys River.
For a uniquely Indianan attraction, check out the Sweet Breeze. It’s an authentic replica canal boat that offers tours throughout Fort Wayne’s downtown riverfront. Experience the charm and tranquility of a bygone era as you sip a delicious beverage. Seasonal tours offer wine tasting, magic shows, and an autumnal colors tour if you stick around for fall.
Lafayette and West Lafayette
When you’re in the market for the ultimate summer fun, visit Tropicanoe Cove. This exhilarating outdoor water attraction opens its gates from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The aquatic paradise offers a range of thrilling features designed to delight visitors of all ages. Immerse yourself in the fully-accessible interactive water playground, glide along the lazy river, and brace yourself for an adrenaline rush on the twisting and turning tube slide, stretching an impressive 300 feet.
If your thirst for aquatic fun hasn’t been sated yet, try Prophetstown State Park Water Park. Nestled within the grounds of Indiana’s newest state park, the $6 million water park stands as a shining jewel among the state’s parks offerings. The aquatic center boasts an impressive array of water park-like features.
Clark and Floyd Counties
Located at the precise intersection of adventure and relaxation, the Deam Lake State Recreation Area offers a number of activities and amenities that cater to every outdoor enthusiast. It’s a paradise for fishing enthusiasts, providing ample opportunities to cast your line and reel in a catch. Boating and swimming are also popular pastimes. Nature lovers will rejoice at the access to the south end of Indiana’s longest trail, the renowned Knobstone Trail, from Deam Lake State Recreation Area. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a journey through captivating landscapes.
For some inclusive fun, visit the Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Splash Pad, a cutting-edge playground located in Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park. Opened in 2022, this state-of-the-art facility fosters shared enjoyment for people of all ages and abilities. Spanning nearly 12,000 square feet, the wheelchair-accessible playground features a rubber surface for safety. Visitors can enjoy accessible swings, a thrilling zip track, and expression swings for parent-child bonding.
Indiana’s largest natural lake draws tourists year-round, but Lake Wawasee really comes alive in the summer months. Plan your stay at Oakwood Resort, where you’ll enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating. Grab a drink at The Nauti Mule & Mare. These floating bars invite you to leave your troubles on the shore and bask in the natural beauty of the region.
A cruise around Webster Lake is sure to make for memorable times – especially on board the Dixie Sternwheeler. Indiana’s oldest sternwheel tour boat ferries passengers on 90-minute cruises all summer long. Plan a sunset cruise for a romantic date night, and enjoy beverages and snacks while on board.
Chelsea DeAngio is a freelance writer based in Greensboro, NC. Inspired by a rootless childhood as a Navy brat, she enjoys traveling every chance she gets. Pop culture often drives her trips. Whether channeling her inner Lady Mary at Highclere Castle in the UK or noshing on nachos at Showgirls filming locations in Vegas, Chelsea is always in search of a little silver screen glitz.