Sometimes busy families just fall into a rut: School, after school activities, dinner, homework, bedtime. Repeat.
That’s my family. Then we discovered Edge Adventures Aerial Park in Northwest Indiana. Less than an hour from the Loop and with more than 50 treetop obstacles and zip lines, it’s definitely worth a visit for families who need to shake up their routines.
The beauty of this aerial park is it’s run by a dad of two boys who gets what it’s like to be a busy parent frustrated that kids aren’t getting away from screens and outside enough just to play.
“It is absolutely some really good family time that they are spending up in the trees. As a kid, we all climbed trees. I don’t know why we stopped, it’s a lot of fun,” says Brian Niksch, park manager. “It’s a completely different thing to do.”
So the three kids and I set out to try something we’ve never done before, experiencing nature from 20 to 40 feet above the ground. We suited up in the safety harnesses, helmets and gloves, took a very shaky walk over a practice swinging cable and short zip line, then we were off on our own to explore.
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you it was scary, hard and exhilarating all rolled up in one big day of fun. We struggled to make our way over swinging boards and rope bridges to the zip lines, but there’s really nothing quite like flying through the air. (Once we got over our initial fear of leaving the platform and the huge tree it surrounded.)
The kids all declared it a perfect outing for families who have an adventurous spirit.
Unique to Edge Adventures is a kids’ course, intended for kids 4-7, that is 4 feet or less off the ground. There’s also an all zip line course for those of us who like the thrill of flying without all the work and balance it takes to get from tree to tree on the adventure course.
For families, Niksch suggests taking a three-hour adventure ($49 adults, $39 kids) because it gives everyone the chance to do the entire park without rushing, with some needed breaks for water. We particularly liked that the park wasn’t crowded – only 20 people are admitted every half hour so you won’t feel pressured to hurry up by someone behind you. There also wasn’t anyone judging us on our lack of skills.
Things you should know:
Book your tickets ahead of time to make sure you have a spot since it is a bit of a drive.
There are only port-a-potties. (It is outdoors after all.)
Bring a cooler for lunch and drinks since the park provides a nice area with picnic tables to rest between obstacles or after you finish.
Leave your stuff in the car – this is no place to have to deal with a purse. (We used one small string backpack for the car keys, phones and bug spray.)
In October, Edge Adventures is going all out for Halloween with spooky lights, scary sounds and creepy décor on the Haunted Treetop Trails. On Saturday nights, it will add Zombie Zip Lines (think soaring over zombies with light effects and creepy noises). Haunted Treetop Trails takes place from 3-6 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday in October while Zombie Zip Lines is 5-10 p.m. every Saturday. For kids 4-7, the park will host a Pumpkin Adventure ($10 for a one-hour experience) with not-so-scary pumpkins.
You might even decide to make a day of it since just a short drive from the aerial park is a huge candy factory – Albanese Candy, 5441 E. Lincoln Highway, Merrillville, – and plenty of restaurants and shopping nearby in Hobart and Valparaiso. Not too far away is the very popular County Line Orchard if you want to do apple picking and eat up warm apple cinnamon doughnuts.
The kids are still talking about the fun we had during our day at Edge Adventures so we’ll be going back before it closes for the season.
If you go
Edge Adventures Aerial Park
9001 E. Lincoln Highway
Crown Point, Ind.