Nicknamed the Hoosier State, Indiana is a fun vacation destination perfect for your family Thanksgiving getaway. When the weather turns cold, snuggle up in a cozy vacation rental in Indiana with a cup of hot chocolate. If you’re feeling up to braving chilly weather, bundle up to go window shopping at the charming boutiques on Main Street. When the weather is mellow, explore the caves along the Indiana Cave Trail or hike through one of Indiana’s lovely state parks such as the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Check out the top places to visit in Indiana this November.
1. Pokagon State Park
Choose a well-appointed cabin in this gorgeous state park 70 miles southeast of South Bend or mosey over to the Potawatomi Inn on the shores of Lake James and enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving getaway. Tuck into a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at the Inn or venture into nearby Angola or Fremont for traditional fare at the Village Kitchen, Clay’s Family Restaurant, or 6 Autumns Food and Spirits. When the snow flies, take an adventurous toboggan run down the refrigerated twin-track run, trek through the park on Nordic skis or snowshoes, then grab your gear and try some sledding or ice fishing. Start your holiday shopping at the Outlet Shoppes in Fremont, then take a break at the Paintball Plex for a lively round of Friday Night Madness, a popular indoor event.
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2. Santa Claus
Spend Thanksgiving in America’s delightful Christmas town, Santa Claus, and sit down to a special meal at St. Nick’s on Christmas Boulevard or park yourself at The Chateau for a home-cooked meal and football on TV. Take a walk around the picturesque Rockport Bluff to burn off some calories, then take the stairs up the bluff for breathtaking panoramic views of the Ohio River. Start your Black Friday shopping at the adorable Evergreen Boutique and Christmas Shop where you can order a handmade wreath, accessorize with a blanket scarf, or buy some button socks. Sip hot chocolate at Santa’s Candy Castle while the kids chat with Santa and the Elf on the North Pole Network. Visit with Browse the collection of more than 4,000 ornaments at the Santa Claus Christmas Store, and don’t leave without some of their delectable fudge varieties.
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3. Fort Wayne
Begin your Thanksgiving holiday in Fort Wayne on Wednesday night at the Gingerbread Festival in the downtown History Center featuring hundreds of gingerbread creations. Ready yourself for a day of feasting, and walk or run in the four-mile Galloping Gobbler before choosing traditional fare or a non-traditional meal at area favorites such as Don Hall’s Triangle Park or The Guesthouse Grill. In the evening, browse the Festival of Trees where more than 50 twinkling Christmas trees vie for attention. Spend some holiday gift bucks at Glenbrook Square Mall, then stop by DeBrand Fine Chocolates on Auburn Road and indulge your sweet tooth with a giant caramel apple, homemade ice-cream, or frozen hot chocolate. In the evening, drive through the 1.5-mile route in Franke Park, and gape at over 70 spectacular animated light displays that feature colorful holiday scenes such as nativities, Santa and his elves, snowmen, and more.
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4. Fair Oaks
Savor a Thanksgiving feast at the Farmhouse Restaurant at the Fair Oaks Farm, one of the largest working dairy farms in the country. After dinner, jump on a bus and head down to the barn to watch the cows get milked. More than 80 calves are born each day, so you can witness the miracle of birth while at the barn. The Crop Adventure explains the importance of farming in America in an innovative way, and you can burrow deep underground to see bugs and roots that help provide your food from seed to table.
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Join local runners on the 2.75-mile or 4.6-mile Drumstick Dash, then cheer the kids on the Lil’ Gobbler’s Run that follows. Treat yourself to a family-style Thanksgiving feast at Buca di Beppo, the Grille Restaurant at the Marten House Hotel, or one of the neighborhood eateries like family-friendly Chef Mike’s Charcoal Grill. Following a day of Black Friday shopping at a mall such as Edinburgh Premium Outlets or Castleton Square Mall, shop for jewelry at The Sterling Butterfly or handmade wares at Homespun. Then join Sandi Patty and the Indianapolis Symphony for the Circle of Lights yuletide celebration downtown at Monument Circle, and head over to Carson’s Department store for free selfies with Santa.
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6. South Bend
Bring the family to the one-mile Turkey Trot for an invigorating non-competitive walk or run, or challenge yourself at the 5K out-and-back route. Enjoy traditional Thanksgiving fare plus roast beef and ham at the family-owned Honkers Family Restaurant, or follow up a delicious dinner at the Morris Inn with a romantic carriage ride around the grounds. You can avoid the crowds and do your Black Friday shopping at local downtown businesses such as The Mole Hole Gift Shop or Imagine That for some tasty baked goods.
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The Columbus Turkey Trot is an all-day event, so you can run before or after a hearty Thanksgiving meal at one of Columbus’s eateries such as Skooter’s Family Restaurant, the Boat House, or Lindey’s. Then shop for holiday gifts at The Deja Vu Art and Fine Craft show. This unusual show features “trash” such as broken shards of china, forgotten toys, and yesterday’s newspapers that over 60 artisans have transformed into fine art pieces in the form of jewelry, weaving, wearable art, and woodworking. When you need a break from eating and shopping, take the kids to The Commons, a free indoor playground with plenty of energy-draining activities for kids of all ages, including a climbing wall.
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8. Terre Haute
Compete to win a prize in the 5K Turkey Trot, or join the family for a non-competitive one-mile walk to help feed Thanksgiving dinner to local residents. Enjoy a hearty meal at restaurants such as Zimmarss, Sunrise, or the Lake House, then do some window shopping along the downtown streets. There’s plenty of Black Friday shopping at the Honey Creek Mall, as well as The Country Cabin where a group of local artisans gather under one roof, offering you a unique variety of handmade and hard-to-find gift ideas. If the kids get restless, take them to the Children’s Museum where they can explore four floors of interactive exhibits and games.
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9. French Lick
Skiers, snowboarders, tubers, and snowbladers love French Lick’s proximity to the Paoli Peaks Ski Resort, built on a natural hill at 900 feet of elevation with a 300-foot vertical drop. The resort’s snowmaking systems ensure fresh surfaces every day on the two terrain parks and the halfpipe. You can find a variety of lodging options in French Lick, including a cozy cabin or well-appointed suite at the Finger Licks Resort or the West Baden Springs Hotel, both of which serve superb Thanksgiving feasts. After a long day on the slopes, stop by one of the local spas such as the Bliss Spa and Boutique or the Spa at Finger Lick for a soothing massage. Pick up some unique handmade gifts at Bear Hollow Wood Carvers, then get a refreshing ice cream treat in the cafe.
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