If you need reasons to vacation in Indiana, Brown County State Park Vacation Rentals and the nearby shops and attractions in Nashville, Indiana more than fit the bill. The State Park puts hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails within easy access of your back door, not to mention a water park, a nature center, museums, and historical sites galore. Whether you’re zooming along on a zip line, riding an iconic little train, or laughing at a marionette doing somersaults, look for the delight in the eyes of your kids. Here are the top 10 activities that you might enjoy at Brown County State Park.

1. Climb a 90-foot Fire Tower

Fire Tower Trail begins on Weed Patch Hill, which is Brown County State Park’s highest point. The trail progresses along the ridge behind the fire tower before looping back on another ridge. Hikers get the opportunity to hike a short but challenging trail. Stopping to climb the 90-foot fire tower gives your family some amazing views of the state park’s many miles of pristine forests. If you take some backpacks with water and snacks, it turns the hike into quite an adventure when everyone takes a little picnic break after descending the tower.

2. Splash Around in the Abe Martin Water Park

While you’re already in Brown County State Park, you’re close to the Abe Martin Lodge Water Park. It’s a 12,000 square-foot, indoor pool and water park that’s temperature-controlled. While the kids enjoy pool volleyball or basketball, the tubular slide, or the splash pad, you might consider slipping into the relaxing hot tub that features a waterfall. No matter what the weather outside looks like, a refreshing break in the pool makes the day start or end on a positive note.

3. Board the Nashville Express

The little train tour on the Nashville Express takes about 20 to 30 minutes as the driver takes you along the main street, side streets, and historical areas of town. He talks about local history, points out local attractions, and shows you where to find shops and restaurants. It’s a great way to get acclimated to the town or take the tour as an amusement ride for the kids. Tours leave Fearrin’s Ice Cream & Yogurt Depot approximately every 30 minutes. Getting ice cream before or after the ride is a big hit with the kids.

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4. Explore the Brown County State Park Hiking and Biking Trails

When you check into your Brown County State Park vacation rental, be sure to unpack the hiking shoes and pick up your trail map. The park features about 20 miles of hiking trails. Some trails are paved and very easy to navigate for younger kids. The Strahl Lake Trail is an easy quarter-mile walk around Strahl Lake; however, the half-mile spur to the Nature Center is challenging. The Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve Trail is a rugged trail of less than a mile that loops through the reserve. On this trail, you can point out to your children the endangered yellowwood tree. Of the more than 25 miles of biking trails, the easiest to ride are Limekiln Trail and Pine Loop.

5. Soar Through the Trees on a Zipline

Holler Hoppin’ Zip Lines takes your family soaring through the woods, across 50-foot ravines, and through hollows on a six-hop tour that totals over 1,100 feet of line. If you have some older kids, the night hops begin at twilight, offering up a unique set of thrills as you zip along through the moonlight. If you choose a daytime excursion, the Banded Rooster Restaurant can fix you up with great ranch food, so look for bacon and eggs for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch, and steaks for dinner, along with other menu choices.

6. Attend a Marionette Performance

The Melchior Marionettes production company features a 60-seat outdoor theater in downtown Nashville, Indiana. Second and third generation puppeteers perform with hand-crafted and costumed half-life-size marionettes in full view of the audience. The 20-minute variety show features colorful cabaret marionettes performing with a wide variety of music against a hand-painted street scene. Children enjoy watching the puppeteers pull strings to bring dancers, jugglers, trapeze artists, and witches to life.

7. Tour the Historic T.C. Steele Homesite

Singing Winds, the studio, house, gardens, and grounds of artist T.C. Steele features guided tours and workshops led by artists. The paintings on display and the house give your family a glimpse into the life of southern Indiana as the Steeles viewed it in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their philosophy of life included incorporating art and nature into their daily lives. While T.C. Steele painted, Selma Steel made stencils and planted flowers. Five walking trails give you the opportunity to introduce your kids to the Dewar Log Cabin, lily ponds, and the Remote Painting Studio.

8. Tour an Authentic Pioneer Village

The Brown County History Center preserves and exhibits the Pioneer Village in downtown Nashville, Indiana, less than 3 miles from the center of the state park. The village includes a two-story long jail that housed county prisoners from 1879 to 1919. The log museum once served as a community center and now contains the local historical school, church, and military memorabilia. The second-floor exhibits feature a 1877 cobbler shop, photos, maps, and a collection of Cracker Jack toys by local artist Carey Cloud, the original designer. Other exhibits include a working 1850 blacksmith shop and a 1898 physician’s office used for almost 50 years in the southeastern area of the county.

9. Go Horseback Riding

For the equestrians in your family, Brown County State Park features about 70 miles of bridle trails through beautiful and rugged forests. The Saddle Barn in the park offers guided trail rides, riding lessons, campfire programs, and personal horse stabling. Visitors who choose to bring their own horses must obtain horse tags in person at the park office or by mail. Outside the park, Schooner Valley Stables offers guided walking/trotting trail rides and walking/running trail rides.

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