Favorite Places: Santa Claus, Indiana

Jun 2, 2013

Our first destination in our Airstream was a favorite place of ours that we try to visit annually whenever possible: Holiday World theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana. In our opinion, the real North Pole has nothing on the Indiana version. Okay, so maybe we haven’t been to the real one, but we can at least guarantee it doesn’t have roller coasters!

Next door to the theme park was our campground of choice due to its close proximity: Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort.

Lake Rudolph

We were fortunate enough to get a spot near their little lake, in a relatively quiet area under some very tall pine trees. The roads are rather narrow and it’s your typical touristy campground with spots squeezed in pretty close together, but the staff and other campers were all very friendly and courteous and we had no issues with our neighbors, other than their kids that kept running through our site to get to their friends’ campsites.

We gave quite a few Airstream tours within the first hour of arriving and had a lot of passersby comment on our trailer. It was nice to get a little outside validation that all our hard work made for a pretty cool (nearly) finished product!

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If you’re looking for a theme park that’s laid back, family-friendly, affordable, and has excellent rides for the kiddos as well as thrilling wooden roller coasters for older family members, Holiday World is definitely your place. It’s basically the antithesis of the parks in Orlando. They have an incredible water park that’s included with admission and parking, sunscreen, visits with Santa, and soft drinks/tea/Gatorade (at “Pepsi Oasis” stations throughout both parks, as well as at concession stands) are always free. That’s right – I said free!

The park is a fantastic value, then after adding in the fact that they have three of the top-ranked wooden coasters in the world and throw a big party every year for roller coaster junkies like ourselves, it’s hard not to keep coming back! We’re fed a group dinner by the park for two nights in a row, followed by time to ride the coasters in the dark for a couple hours after the park closes to the public. Early admission to the water park and breakfast are provided on the morning in between. If you’re a roller coaster fanatic, be sure to check out Holiday World’s website for information on the HoliWood Nights Event. Holiday World, and The Voyage wooden coaster in particular, should be on every thrill seeker’s bucket list!

The Lake Rudolph campground felt like an extension of the theme park (in a good way!) with shaded paths, a lake with paddle boats you can rent, a nice little general store, friendly campers, and enforced quiet hours. We felt right at home there and our three dogs were a hit with the kids. While our evenings were spent in the amusement park riding coasters in the dark until we were bruised and delirious, we saw the many campfires in the distance as our fellow campers mingled and relaxed well into the night.

We also had the pleasure of visiting nearby Monkey Hollow Winery for the second year in a  row. Always a nice break from the hustle and bustle near the theme park, Monkey Hollow is situated atop a peaceful grassy hill, surrounded by vineyards and cow pastures that are punctuated by a tranquil little pond. After an indoor tasting and some shopping, we love migrating outdoors with a bottle of wine (or two!) and a cheese plate, to rest on the porch overlooking the idyllic Indiana countryside. Our dogs were very welcome outside and made a friend out of the vineyard dog. We had a lovely afternoon drinking a bottle of our favorite “Pasture Limit” semi-sweet red and a Chambourcin Rosé with friends, then took home a few bottles as well.

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What’s next for the adventure-seeking crew? We’re headed to northern Ohio next to camp at and house-sit for my parents’ property in the country while they vacation for a few weeks. We’re hoping to get caught up on some client projects, visit Cedar Point and the Lake Erie Islands, see lots of old friends (I grew up in Cleveland) and finish up a few tasks in the trailer with the help of my parents before we head back south to Tennessee.

This great first weekend in our trailer has only given us even more reason to want to travel, despite the lack of real furniture – and so many other items still unfinished – that will make it actually feel like home. The nomadic bug has hit all of us hard, and we’ve only just begun!

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