Surrounded by water on all four sides, with myriad lakes and rivers in between, the Hoosier State is made for boating.
Patoka Lake Marina and its floating cabins.
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Think Indiana is all cornfields and flatlands? Well, it’s got water, too. Lots of it. In fact, the Hoosier State is surrounded by water on all four sides: Lake Michigan with its magnificent sand dunes in the northwest, the Ohio River edging parts of the east as well as the entire southern border, and the Wabash River running along the western edge. And that’s not all. Nestled between these boundaries, the terrain brims with hundreds of lakes, streams, waterways and pools. So, come on over — the water’s fine.
Thick woodlands surround Indiana’s second largest manmade lake, 8,800-acre Patoka Lake, making bald eagle and other wildlife sightings (osprey, deer, wild turkeys) a daily occurrence. With swimming beaches, watercraft rentals, fishing and hiking trails, there’s no reason to leave the lake’s peaceful confines. But within distances of an hour or less, there’s plenty more to do. Explore Marengo Cave, one of the state’s biggest show caves, canoe on the Blue River, visit Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home in Spencer County, or spend the day at Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus (yes, that’s the name of the town). Rides here include the new Hyena Falls, featuring four in-the-dark waterslides, and award-winning wooden roller coasters.
You can’t miss sampling Indiana vintages at the French Lick Winery or the spas, golfing, horseback riding and casino at the early 20th-century resorts West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs Resort. Both also offer daily tours.
Tie up at Hoosier Hills Marina, which offers 24- to 45-foot slips with or without electricity, free pump out and high premium ethanol-free gas. Patoka Lake Marina has courtesy slip/buoy rates at $25 a night and cruiser courtesy slips with electric at $35. Amenities at both include a marina store, food, utilities, bait and tackle as well as watercraft and houseboats rentals.
Mark your calendar to board the French Lick Scenic Railroad when the Lost River Renegades try once again to rob the train on horseback (September 2; October 5 and 6). Embark on the 60-foot Patoka Voyager for Patoka Lake Marina’s Fall Foliage Wine Cruises every Saturday (except Labor Day weekend) or the Sunset Beer Cruise featuring Indiana artisan brews on October 4. Groove on the free music and peruse artisan arts, produce and foods from area farmers at the Ferdinand Folk Festival on September 21.
Visit nearby Jasper for the chance to indulge your inner German. Eat at the Schnitzelank, where waitresses dress in Bavarian garb, the Glockenspiel plays on the hour and the food is hearty and house made. Walk off those calories with a stroll along the Patoka River, taking time to tour the Jasper City Mill. Ride the Spirit of Jasper, a vintage train with excursions to French Lick with time out for gambling at French Lick Resort’s casino.
Visit the Monastery Immaculate Conception, also known as the Caste on the Hill, in Ferdinand. Known for its peaceful setting, grotto and gardens, a must stop is their Simply Divine Bakery where the sisters bake old fashioned German-style cookies.