It may be summer, but it’s never too early to think about Christmas! In fact, in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, you’ll find the spirit of St. Nick alive and well in Santa Claus, Indiana. A trip to Santa Claus is a fun adventure for families looking for a theme park experience that’s affordable and a bit closer to home. Here’s a guide to help you plan your trip to this festive town.
Relive a year of holidays in a single day by visiting each block of Holiday World: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and, of course, Christmas. Parents on a budget will surely jump for when they discover all the freebies included with each ticket ranging from admission to the Splashin’ Safari waterpark to free Pepsi drinks (including Gatorade). This theme park is perfect for families with all kinds of thrill levels from mild to “wild.” If it’s hot out, you will need to cool off at Splashin’ Safari, their adjoining waterpark with wave pools, a lazy river, water coasters and so much more.
Need more reasons to visit Holiday World? Read more about theme park on my blog, O the Places We Go.
Although we didn’t find reindeer at Santa’s Stables, we did see some of his adorable horses! Embark on a 20-minute journey with your assigned horses, guides, and even the owner’s dogs (yes, their super-friendly dogs usually hang out too!). During the ride, explore the private trail through the quiet woods and countryside. Don’t worry, your littles can still have a blast riding Foxy the Pony.
Learn about the fascinating history of this charming town at the Santa Claus Museum. (Fun fact: It was originally supposed to be called Santa Fe.) Kids can write letters to Santa in the original Santa Claus Post Office. Come December, they’ll receive a letter back. In fact, he’s been responding back to letters since the 1920s. How cool! Tip: Don’t forget to snap a selfie with the 22-foot Santa!
Challenge each other to any of the arcade games. When hunger hits, grab a freshly baked pizza, sandwiches or salads. Then treat yourself with some ice cream!
Embark on a scavenger hunt through town trying to find Santa’s lost reindeer using special decoder glasses. It was a fun challenge and a great way to explore more of the town, while receiving discounts at local attractions. In the end, we received our free photo with Santa ($10 value). Tip: Allow yourself 1-2 hours to complete the challenge (and more if you tend to stop and browse each location). Keep in mind that Santa is off on Wednesdays.
For all things Christmas, this is THE place to be. You’ll find holiday decor, gifts, sweet treats and of course, the perfect ornament for your tree. Spend some time here finding the perfect souvenirs from our trip! Tip: Head to the back of the store to find Santa waiting for you. He’s ready to hear your Christmas wish lists as well as take a photo.
For the ultimate toy store, you can’t help but check out Santa’s Toys. After watching Santa’s Toys featured on “The Profit,” we were excited to see the new changes in person. With tons of toys (many of which we haven’t seen before), the kids definitely give this store two thumbs up.
Everyone (and I mean everyone) we spoke with in town had raved about the frozen hot chocolate from Santa’s Candy Castle. The verdict? Definitely, a must! Those brave enough can try to conquer the Avalanche Challenge which includes a gigantic 1/2 gallon Frozen hot chocolate. For parents looking to reward their kids with a treat, they have a section of 99 cent stocking stuffers and candy as well as $1.99 ornaments. Tip: Chat with an elf on the North Pole Network and find out if you made it on Santa’s Nice List. If so, you get rewarded with an official Good List Certificate.
I’ve already highlighted a few foods found around town: frozen hot chocolate at Santa’s Candy Castle and pizza at Frosty’s Fun Center. Here are a couple more options around town!
Since we spent the majority of time grilling breakfast and dinner, we didn’t have a chance to try many of the restaurants. We did, however, spend time at Holiday Food for all our grocery needs.
Did you know there is a Hoosier Winery Trail? Located near Santa Claus is Monkey Hollow Winery and Distillery. Featuring a wide variety of wines, they also offer local cheese, crackers, and meats as well as live music every Saturday. And it’s totally family-friendly! While parents are enjoying wine, the kids can play a round of corn hole game on the patio that overlooks a pond and vineyards. Tip: Try their award-winning Pasture Red wine.
Lake Rudolph Resort
Whether you prefer roughing it in a tent site or sitting pretty on your oversized deck in a deluxe Christmas family cabin, Lake Rudolph has you covered. Adjacent to Holiday World (free shuttle service to the theme park is provided), the campground features family cabins, as well as tent and RV sites. Breakfast and dinner called for food grilled over the propane grill and every night ended with s’mores over a campfire. It was the perfect camping (or glamping) experience for this non-camping family.
If you can, splurge for a golf cart rental. It was the ideal way to explore (how many acres) of the campground resort. Plus, every night they have a golf cart parade where everyone goes all out decorating their golf cart. Other things offered at the campground include a small waterpark, free mini golf, two playgrounds, a pool, a game room, a 7-acre lake with rental kayaks and paddleboats.
Head underground to Marengo Cave located just 50 minutes away. Choose from a variety of underground tours with itineraries for both claustrophobes (the 35-minute long Crystal Palace Tour) and the ambitious spelunker (the five-hours-long Marengo Explorer adventure; helmets, lights and back-up lights are provided). Explore the deep, dark caverns with their stunning stalactites and stalagmites. After the cave hike, kids can mine for gems, which make the perfect souvenir for their underground adventure.
Gawk at the beautiful architecture of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, one of only two archabbeys in the country. Founded in 1854, the archabbey is home to 80 Benedictine monks who pray, work and live in the community. To make most of the experience, take a guided or self-guided walking tour. Then take a stroll outside where they have trails, a monastery rock garden and ponds.
Did you know that Lincoln used to live in Southern Indiana and his actual boyhood home is located just 5 miles away from Santa Claus? Learn about Lincoln by watching a 15-minute overview of the Visitor Center. From there, hike the historic trail of Twelve Stones, each stone marks a significant event in Lincoln’s life. To help you imagine how life was like back in the 1800s, peruse the grounds of the Living Historical Farm where you can find animals and reenactment actors. Tip: Make sure to take the Lincoln Spring trail to see where Lincoln may have gathered his water from a well.
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