Summer has just officially started, but most of us are already halfway through summer break! After exhausting that “Summer Bucket List,” you may have run out of ideas for fun outings and places to take your kids and feel like you’re destined to hear “I’m bored!” for the rest of the summer. Fear not. I have uncovered three places in Michiana — you know, Michigan and Indiana — that make great day trips. They’re all about 45 minutes from the city, so you can easily head out for a day filled with fun. And with a little luck, your kids will be worn out and fall asleep on the car ride home.
This is such an amazing place that I’m not quite sure how I didn’t know about it before now. It’s a dairy, pig and crop farm that has attractions perfect for kids. You can choose to participate in the “Dairy Experience,” the “Pig Experience” or the “Crop Experience.” These experiences each take about 1 ½-2 hours, so you may not be able to get all three done in one day. (Tickets can be bought by experience or in a full package.) One of the coolest parts about Fair Oak Farms is the Birthing Barn. When the green flag is flying, head on in and watch the birth of a calf — during birthing season this can happen several times a day. Also, for the daredevils, don’t miss the high ropes adventure course or a visit to the Cowfe for some yummy ice cream; a sure win with the kids!
Approximately 1 hour, 15 mins from Chicago
856 N 600E. Fair Oaks, IN 47943
If you like Morton Arboretum, you will love Taltree! The beautiful hiking trails through the woodlands, the wetlands and the prairie allow you to experience nature up close. Visitors are welcome to walk through the trails on their own enjoying the various ecosystems. A favorite for many kids (and for me!) was the Railway Garden, which is a beautiful model train display highlighting American railroad history. Don’t forget to find Waldo, who is hidden in the garden. (Be warned — his location may change depending on the day.) Also available for older kids is an interactive scavenger hunt, so be sure stop at the front desk to get the sheet.
Approximately 1 hour from Chicago
450 West 100 North. Valparaiso, IN 46385
If you are looking to get into kayaking with your kids, the Galien River is a great place to start! Rent a two-person kayak and go down the river for up to one hour, and then head on back. The river is calm and manageable for kids (and grown-ups who have never kayaked before). It was my first kayaking experience and although I had a bit of a learning curve, it was a fun trip for this newbie. A piece of advice — if kayaking with a child, the grown-up should be in the back as the stronger paddler. It makes the trip much easier. Take it from me. 🙂 The company provides the kayak and a life vest for the trip. All you need to bring is sunscreen, your kiddos — and perhaps an adventurous spirit!
Approximately 1 hour , 15 mins from Chicago
17440 Red Arrow Highway. New Buffalo, MI 49117