When you’re traveling with family, do you like to throw in a little bit of history along the way? You’re definitely not alone. From places where an American President enjoyed the outdoors to theme parks (yep!), here are 6 cool, historical places to visit in Santa Claus and vicinity!
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at Visit Santa Claus, IN, to give you the scoop on the historical fun! All opinions are my own!
For years, my family and I have hit the road to explore new cities. And whether it’s on the way or when we get there, adding in historical stops is a must. Sure, my daughter is now in college, but that love of American history that was instilled in her is still there, so she’s my perfect road tripping partner.
This summer, we visited Santa Claus, Indiana, and Spencer County to see what it has to offer families that adore American history and we were delighted to explore. Here are our favorite historical places to visit in Santa Claus, Indiana, and surrounding areas.
Lincoln State Park
If you haven’t brushed up on your 16th American President history in a while, Abraham Lincoln spent many of his formative years in the area that we now call Lincoln City, Indiana. Only a few minutes’ drive from Santa Claus, it’s filled with loads of outdoorsy activities including hiking (there are 10 miles of trails), walking, and birding. Add in the fact it has two beautiful lakes with kayaking and water sports and it’s an outdoor lover’s dream.
Established in 1932 as a tribute for Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, the park has 1,747 acres to keep you busy and socially distant.
Know before you go: there is an entry fee to visit Lincoln State Park. If you’re an Indiana resident, it’s $7 per vehicle. If you’re from out of state, it will cost you $9 to enjoy the beauty of the park.
Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum
Another fun way to learn about United States President Lincoln’s childhood is with a tour of Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum. Open on weekdays only (and seasonally, so check the website for exact dates), it’s like stepping back into the early 19th century.
Abraham Lincoln lived in Spencer county from 1816 through 1830, so the village depicts what his life would have been like. You’ll learn about the hardships he and his family faced which will definitely give perspective to our easier life now.
Did you know there’s a Santa Claus Museum as well? Yep! If you can’t make it, you can send your letters to Santa here:
PO Box 1
Santa Claus, IN 47579
They’ll go to the town of Santa Claus’ Santa Claus Post Office.
And if you really want to get in the holiday spirit, there’s even a Santa Lodge in town, complete with Santa Statue!
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
Okay, cut me some slack: a theme park? Yep!
Holiday World is America’s first theme park. Originally called Santa Claus Land, it opened in the summer of 1946. It wasn’t until 1984 that the park became Holiday World and 1993 when Splashin’ Safari was added in. You may not think Splashin’ Safari with its fun pools and water coasters in its water park is historic, but head to the other part of the park to change your mind.
When you walk along the paths of the theme park, it feels like you’re walking through something special. Sure, there are all the modern touches along with cool roller coasters (you can hear The Raven from Lake Rudolph Campground – both a cabin and RV resort), but it’s the look and feel of the park that my family adores. Add in the freebies: soft drinks, parking, and sunscreen, and it’s not only a super fun park, it’s a great value.
My daughter’s first visit to a drive-in was a hoot this summer. I’d been promising her I’d take her to our local one, but the timing was never right. So, on our recent visit, I made it a point to take her to Holiday Drive-In. Just about 30 minutes from Santa Claus, it has six different screens to choose from.
For us, we went straight to the horror screen for “Carrie” and “The Conjuring”. There’s plenty of social distancing and, to hear the audio, you’ll need to tune in via radio station.
Santa’s Candy Castle
I had a huge sweet tooth as a child, so I know all about old school candy. But, describing it to your own kiddo is not as good as letting her try them in person.
Enter Santa’s Candy Castle, a regally-themed candy shop. It has several rooms filled with hard to find and classic candy varieties plus 30 flavors of hot chocolate when available.
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
We have a Walt Disney World CD that gets played constantly in our car. And on that CD is “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.” On it, he talks about growing up in the wild and the struggles he had to face. But never in a million years did I think I’d get to see that location in person.
If I had to pick only one historical place to visit in Santa Claus, it would be Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Sure, the memorial itself is truly impressive, but it’s the walk back to Lincoln Living Historical Farm and the area itself that are stunners.
We walked by the cemetery and grave where Lincoln’s mother, Nancy, is buried, it it’s hauntingly beautiful. Yes, I love old cemeteries.
But what impressed me most was checking out where his actual cabin was. Teeny in comparison to today’s homes, it’s there he spent his formative years. I mean, we actually walked in the same woods as young Abraham did. Fascinating!
What’s one of your favorite historical places to visit in Santa Claus? Please let me know in the comment section below!