My Indiana Summer Grand Prize Trip
The following post was written by Thomas Jung, winner of the My Indiana Summer photo contest. (see his winning entry here, the Top 5 entries here and the rest of the My Indiana Summer submissions here.) Thomas and his family won a weekend trip to Indianapolis that included accommodations at Holiday Inn North at the Pyramids (with admission to Caribbean Cove Waterpark), a Marathon Gas Gift Card, a Scotty’s Brewhouse gift card, admission to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and admission to the Indiana State Fair).
When we were first contacted that we were one of the finalist in the My Indiana Summer Photo Contest, I have to admit that I was a little surprised. I’m very much an amateur photographer that had been lucky enough to capture a great moment of my daughter’s first ride on the Hallowswings at Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. So when we won the photo contest and found out that we would be receiving a weekend getaway, we naturally thought of Holiday World first.
The only problem with choosing Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari as our weekend getaway is that we only live a half hour from the park and we already have season tickets. So before we even headed out for the weekend that the contest sponsors had planned for us, we made a stop off at Holiday World for an unofficial start to our Indiana Summer weekend.
Holiday World is a bit of different experience for us because we live so close. We often just head over to Holiday World in the afternoon for an hour or two of swimming. The free parking and all the other family budget friendly aspects of Holiday World make it easy to do frequent, impromptu trips.
Pretty typically of our trips, we made a couple of quick stops for thrill rides like the Raven roller coaster as we made our way down to the Splashin’ Safari water park. My two girls – Megan, age 8 and Madison, age 6 – love the water park because it is a combination of swimming and thrill rides. My wife, Shari, and I love the water park as well, but for different reasons. We can sit back in the shade and easily take care of our 3 month old, Ryan, while the girls play in the nearby water attractions.
Holiday World is always clean and friendly and this day was no exception. We even finished up this particular trip to Holiday World with a light snack of Funnel Cakes and deep fried Oreos. I was once told that everything that Holiday World serves has no calories in it and now I refuse to listen to anyone who says otherwise.
For the main weekend getaway we had chosen to go to Indianapolis. We had wanted to take the kids to the Children’s Museum all summer, but had just never gotten around to it. Now seemed like the perfect opportunity. The plan was to head out on Friday afternoon, right after the girls got out of school.
We had hotel reservations at the Holiday Inn North at the Pyramids for both nights. The unique attraction of this particular hotel is the fact that it has an attached indoor water park called Caribbean Cove. Even though we got to the hotel fairly late on Friday night, the girls were changed and ready to head to the pool before we even had all the luggage carried in.
The Caribbean Cove had a nice assortment of water attractions, so there was something to do regardless of how much excitement you were looking for. My girls naturally headed right for the 3 twisty water slides that ran from high up in the ceiling, to spiraling outside the building and finally crashing down into the far end of the lazy river.
Besides the fact that we were indoors (which was a good thing for us because it rained that night), several of the pools are also heated. Even better after several hours in the car were the two large hot tubs. One of the hot tubs is designed to look like a secluded cave and even had heated waterfalls.
After swimming the previous night until the pool closed, we did indulge a little by sleeping in just a bit. We were still able to make it downtown to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis very soon after opening. I would strongly recommend getting there at opening time. By the afternoon, the museum had grown steadily more and more crowded.
We had been looking forward to the Children’s Museum as the centerpiece of our trip and we weren’t disappointed. The main atrium alone took us quite a while to work through. From this point where you enter the main Museum there was a full sized Star Wars space ship, Spiderman, the Water clock, Egyptian art, and dinosaur bones. But the most eye catching feature has to be the multi-story Fireworks of Glass. This work of art stretches the entire height of the Museum and you get a different perspective on it as you move up through the several stories of exhibits.
You always hear that the Children’s Museum is very interactive, but I guess I didn’t expect just how much interactivity there would be. For instance there was a section on life in modern Egypt. If this had been a normal museum, my daughters probably would have blown through this section in 5 minutes instead of the hour that we spent. Instead of static displays of typical homes or shops, every station could be entered and played with. In the coffee shop, for instance, the kids could pretend to make drinks and serve them to the parents. There were stations where kids could practice Arabic or where they could make simple jewelery.
My favorite part of the Take Me There: Egypt exhibit was the entrance. You boarded an airplane and could see the sights of Egypt outside your airplane window as you came in for a landing.
My daughters’ absolutely favorite part of the Children’s Museum had to be the Dinosaur section however. Besides the huge display of Dinosaur bones that come to life every few minutes with lights and sounds, there was also lots of opportunities to dig for dinosaur bones, dress up like a dinosaur and try to care for eggs with only claws, view the inside of dinosaur eggs, and many other interactive exhibits. We spent almost all of the morning in the Dinosphere and only pulled the girls away reluctantly because we already had tickets to the 12:30 planetarium show.
After a full day on Saturday at the Children’s Museum and a casual dinner at Scotty’s Brewhouse, we decided to try out the Indiana State Fair. Neither my wife nor I had ever been to a State Fair and we have only ever taken our kids to the county 4-H fair.
One of the first things we noticed upon entrance to the Fair grounds was the rather unusual assortment of food choices. Just about anything you could imagine was available here in a deep fried variation. We tried the deep fried Pepsi but passed up the Chocolate Covered Bacon and the deep fried pizza. You need a strong stomach if you plan to indulge in some of the stranger offerings and then give the midway rides a twirl.
Everyone’s favorite section of the State Fair was definitely the exhibit on Space. The girls got to learn a little bit about Astronauts with a connection to Indiana, see a rocket up close, try to operate a remote robotic arm, and view a replica of the Mars Rover.
Overall, we had an excellent weekend. Everyone had a lot of fun, but the kids also got some great learning opportunities. I took way more pictures than what I could share here within the blog. One of the hardest parts of writing this, was picking out the few pictures to use to highlight the trip. Of course you can always check out more of the pictures from our trip on Flickr.
Both Thomas Jung and his wife were born and raised in Evansville, IN. They met during college at the University of Southern Indiana. After college, they moved to Jasper, IN and have lived there ever since. Thomas is a Software Development Tools Product Manager for the software company, SAP, and he work out of his home in Jasper. They have three children – Megan age 8, Madison (pictured above) age 6, and Ryan who is just 11 weeks old. Thomas is a hobbyist when it comes to photography. His family is almost always the subject of his photos.