Visiting French Lick, IN, and want the scoop on some fun spots to visit when you go? From scenic boat rides to animal encounters, here are my picks for fun things to do in French Lick with kids.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at Visit French Lick West Baden to give you the scoop on what to see and do when you visit. All opinions are my own!
This summer, my teen daughter and I took a week-long road trip around Indiana. We stopped in Richmond, IN, and Corydon, IN, to check out the history and found them simply delightful. We hit Santa Claus, IN, as well to learn about President Lincoln’s mark on the area, too. And in between was a bucket list destination for me: French Lick. I’m all about historical beauty and learning while having fun and this area did not disappoint. Here are my top places to visit when in and around French Lick and West Baden.
Wilstem Wildlife Park
Wilstem Wildlife Park is one of those cool places that you’re happy to know about. Part educational spot, part entertaining animal haven, it offers the options of seeing animals up close or from a distance. If you have kiddos that shy away from animals, or exactly the opposite, it’s a great spot to visit. During our time at Wilstem, we had the pleasure of checking out both ways:
Giraffe Educational Encounter – My favorite thing to do at Wilstem. We got up close to two giraffes, fed them, and had our photos taken with them. In between, we learned about the gorgeous animals and were able to ask questions. At $29 per person, it’s a steal for the 45-minute(ish) encounter.
Drive Thru Safari Park – For this one, you stay in your vehicle for the entire trip. You can choose to pay extra for feeding cups to really get close to several species. During our drive I swear, we giggled the entire time. Also available are Guided Wagon and Bus Tours if you don’t want to drive.
Wildlife Cruise at Patoka Lake
We had absolutely gorgeous weather for our morning Wildlife Cruise at Patoka Lake. On a two-story boat, we also had the option to stay indoors on the bottom floor or head up top to the canopy-covered benches. Our guides were highly knowledgeable and were very kind to a lady that had a ton of questions, aka, me.
The highlight of the two-hour cruise was looking for waterfowl and bald eagles. The guides knew exactly where to look and gave us plenty of time for photos and video. During summer, the scene is lush and green. But in autumn, leaf peeping is a must.
Things to Do at French Lick Resort
There are two free must-dos at French Lick Resort that are not only historically-cool, they’re fun:
Take a ride on a historical trolley – We came across the resort’s rail trolley by sheer accident. We were sitting out on the huge common porch and heard a horn. Me, always curious, started walking toward it and was delighted to learn there was a true rail trolley connecting both French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs hotels. You can make a round trip or hop on/off, too. The trip goes through the woods and is shaky and bumpy, but it’s completely worth it.
Take a historical walking tour of French Lick Springs Hotel – All around the property are numbered markers filled with cool historical facts. On our historical walk one afternoon, we moseyed through the Sunken Gardens, learned about the natural springs, and even found a cool walking path in the woods. While I’m happy to divulge what used to be in that spot, it’s more fun to learn on your own walking tour.
As for the resort itself, it’s better explained through our full YouTube review:
Where to Eat in French Lick
French Lick Springs Hotel has two that I highly recommend:
Ballard’s – Located in the Atrium, Ballard’s was perfect for my teen daughter and I for lunch and dinner. The plates are on the larger size, so we opted for the appetizer menu which was ideal. And if I had to recommend some apps, they would be the Smoked Chicken Quesadilla and hummus.
If you like a late night snack, Ballard’s does offer a Late Night Menu including sandwiches, appetizers, and artisan pizza.
Xanadu – Great for morning coffee, sandwiches at lunch, and amazing ice cream with handmade waffle cones, Xanadu was our go-to place to dine several times during our stay at the resort. What was really fun is a take away window on the porch for ice cream and coffee.
33 Brick Street – This was our first dining spot during our visit to French Lick. It has a really cool sports bar theme with an old school feel. You really can’t go wrong with the Club Sandwich, hearty nachos, or chicken wrap.
Patoka Lake Winery – Stop for the wine, stay for the lunch menu. My pick is the Chicken Parm sandwich with a side of couscous. Also, Patoka Lake Winery is all about sweet wines, my favorite, but there dry wines are worthy of a stop, too.
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