Among my fondest memories as a kid are the day trips we took to Indiana Beach on Lake Shafer near Monticello, Ind. I wanted to introduce my kids to that joy and was pleased to find that they, too, fell in love with this throw-back amusement park.
Forget the slick and kitschy modern amusement parks and water parks, with their towering roller coasters and interminably long ride lines. Indiana Beach still has the feel of a small town carnival—but with better rides and a water park that splashes into the lake.
I took two girls, ages 10 and 12, and I couldn’t drag them away. They rode every ride in the amusement park and, despite a chill in the air, changed into their suits to test the slides in the water park as well. In 10 hours, we did everything. And then we did it again.
We made only one mistake: We failed to get an overnight reservation. I had driven there in the morning (it’s about two hours southeast of Chicago) and planned to spend the night at the first place we saw on our way home. I hadn’t planned on wearing myself out and then trying to drive over pitch-dark country roads for miles before finally stumbling upon a Super 8 Motel. If I had to do it over again, I would have postponed the trip until one of the cute little cottages that sit on the Indiana Beach property was available (they were sold out the day we visited). There also are hotel rooms and campgrounds available on the property.
Indiana Beach has a complicated, but affordable, pricing structure, including an option for folks who have no interest in riding the rides or splashing in the water park, but do want to walk around the boardwalk. And many of the rides have height requirements. The Web site has details on rides, costs and accommodations.