Cheap day trips to celebrate state’s bicentennial

It feels like it’s barely underway, but I’m already feeling the summer clock’s tick-tock winding down. Our girls have gone to camp, read hours and hours for the library’s summer reading program and spent time with their grandparents.

Before we know it, they’ll be gearing up to head back to the classroom in late July. It wasn’t in the cards or budget for our family to take a vacation this summer. And being a people of the red hair and fair skin, we don’t do well in high heat and humidity anyway.

We prefer fall break or winter break vacations because of our genetic disposition and vampire-like fear of too much sunshine.

Maybe we don’t have the time, money or ability to tan required for a vacation or even a staycation. That doesn’t mean we can’t rock the weekend and pack in a few more minutes of fun as a family.

These simple day trip ideas all have two things in common. They’re high on the fun factor and cost very little to pull off. Skip the theme park with its hidden expenses and take your family on a summer adventure they’ll never forget, Indiana Bicentennial style.

State park warriors

We don’t visit our national, state or even city parks nearly enough. When we do, our kids always have a ridiculous amount of fun. If you didn’t know already, Indiana turns 200 this year (that’s a whole lot of candles to blow out). Way back on our 100th birthday, the great Hoosier state established a system of parks for its residents.

The state parks have been partying it up to celebrate providing fantastic spaces for adventures and relaxation. If you’ve never visited an Indiana state park before, this is the very best summer to do so. There are special events and promotions galore. Even better, 240 libraries statewide have been provided with a pass that patrons can check out just like they would a book.

In July, we’re spending a day at Turkey Run State Park, which was established in 1916 as the state’s second park. Do you know the first? For the answer to my random trivia question and much more on the State Park’s offerings, head to

Get historical

The Indiana State Museum joined the state park system in its celebratory mood and also has a pass available for checkout at libraries statewide. A family of four can get a pass for free admission and even discounted parking. You can check out the special “200 Years of Indiana Art” exhibit or “Indiana in 200 Objects.”

Pack a lunch and eat out on the canal (in the shade of course if you too avoid the sun).

If the pass is unavailable at your library, you can still find a host of fantastic Indiana historical markers located throughout the state. For as little as $5, you can take a walking tour in downtown Indianapolis. Your eyes will be opened to all of the monuments and locations of historical significance.

You may have passed them every single day without knowing their value. If you have a bit more budgeted, you can even take a tour of the underground catacombs of the Indianapolis City Market.

To plan your trip, check out the details on

The Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin always has free admission. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, you can learn about not just our state’s history but the specifics of our county’s heritage, too.

Visit the state’s capital

Why not celebrate Indiana’s biggest birthday to date at our state’s first capital. Return to where the story began, historic Corydon located only a couple of hours away. This month, you can see the state constitution, the first state flag, the state’s historic rifle (I didn’t even know we had a historic rifle!) and more.

Looking to cool off? Visit nearby Squire Boone Caverns or Indiana Caverns and go underground. To plan your trip, visit Corydon’s website:

Your state only turns 200 once. Mark the summer with a day trip for learning and fun with your family.