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Destination: French Lick and West Baden, Indiana

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West Braden Springs Hotel gardens

Historic tours are available at West Baden, and Indiana Landmarks also offers seasonal Twilight Tours narrated by historians costumed as some of the famed people who once walked the grounds here, such as noted gangster “Big Jim” Colosimo, golfer Walter Hagen and palm reader Mademoiselle Louise, who charged 50 cents to tell someone’s fortune.

The gardens at West Baden are formal, accented with architectural follies and interspersed with walkways. Dining can be casual under the dome at West Baden; at French Lick’s Power Plant Bar and Grill, where the large electrical switchboard that once supplied the resort’s electricity is on display; or The Grand Colonnade Family Restaurant, with elaborate breakfast buffet. Formal dining can be had both at the 1875 Steakhouse at French Lick or Sinclair’s at West Baden, each of which emphasize locally sourced foods.

Children (and adults) will also enjoy the renovated Pluto’s Alley on the lower level for the French Lick Springs Resort, which includes six lanes of bowling, an arcade and Pluto’s Pizzeria.

The French Lick Casino offers the state’s largest non-smoking gambling venue and features more than 1,100 slots as well as such games of chance as roulette, Pai Gow Poker, craps and Texas Hold-em Bonus.

For golfers, there are four different courses, including the 18-hole Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, the Donald Ross Course where Hagen won the PGA and the family-friendly Valley Links course that was commissioned in 1907.

Nearby, bird lovers can flock to Patoka Lake, the state’s second largest reservoir lake for eagle and osprey sightings. Houseboat and floating cabin rentals are available at Patoka Lake Marina and Hoosier Hills Marina, and there are daily boat tours and monthly wine cruises.

Those traveling with children can find adventure at the 40,000-square-foot Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park, French Lick West Baden Indoor Karting and SHOTZ Lazer Tag & Miniature Golf. There are canopy tours at Lark Valley Zip Line, and the French Lick Scenic Railway offers trips through the countryside aboard its historic train cars, plus themed rides such as the Wild West Hold-ups and Murder under the Big Top. Oenophiles can sample wines at the award winning French Lick Winery and shop in French Lick’s quaint downtown.

For more information 800-457 4042 or www.frenchlick.com.

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