Champaign, Illinois (WCIA)
Day trips for vacation
By Marcia Frost
With the baking, baking, and opening the gifts done, it’s time to relax and enjoy the holidays. Unfortunately, it can also cause cabin fever when there is a week at home to deal with, especially with children. This is when it’s time to plan a road trip or two and there are plenty of options from here.
The covered bridge trails
I was feeling a little bored myself and decided it was time to check out the covered bridges in Parke Country, Indiana. There are a total of 31 to explore in this scenic region filled with interesting Indiana food stops and trails. I highly recommend Aaron is in the square for delicious pizzas and a stop at Tasty Freeze for a wide selection of ice creams as well as take out.
I am composing my own itinerary for a road trip (details available below *). You can download a map or request a copy of all Parke County Covered Bridge trails on their site. There are many options, and you can take many different ways from central Illinois on a day trip.
Have fun before you go by involving the kids in planning your stops. It’s a great trip to bring your furry friends. You can include breaks with fun times to Turkey Run State Park to get out a bit and use some of the energy of the car trip.
Christmas at the zoo
This year’s vacation event at the Indianapolis Zoo is the best ever. I had the opportunity to preview Christmas at the zoo and it was great fun, even without kids.
Santa Claus Village is a great place to start and they filled it with things to do including seeing Santa’s reindeer, touring Mrs. Claus’ kitchen and meeting Mr. Claus himself. The Polar Parkway is a popular photo stop and (weather permitting) penguins are available to meet guests. The light shows throughout the zoo are magnificent and most of the animal exhibits are open during the evening festivities.
You’ll also find special food and drink options during Christmas at the zoo, such as hot chocolate with $ 1 refills when you buy a mug, Reindeer Chow with Chex cereal, pretzels,
Marshmallows, M & M’s and chocolate chips, Holiday bread bowls filled with soup and “Holiday Sundae,” a turkey dinner with toppings. Adults over 21 years of age can soak with Yuletide Spiked
Cider (Hotel Tango Orangechello and allspice cider from Jamaica) or Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Bourbon (Hotel Tango Bourbon, Hot chocolate and marshmallow fluff).
Christmas at the Zoo starts at 5:00 p.m. each evening and runs through December 30e.
Head to Peoria
Peoria is just over an hour away and offers plenty of options for daytime activities. Visit the Riparian museum and Peoria Playhouse Museum. Hockey fans can attend a game of River men to Peoria Civic Center, where Bradley’s men’s basketball team also plays. At night, East Peoria Festival of lights will continue until the new year.
Wildlife Prairie Park, just outside of the city of Peoria, is worth a day trip on its own. This 1,800-acre playground is filled with hiking trains, wildlife, and picnic areas to relax in between. Look over there website for hours and details.
The Bloomington-Normal area is a short drive away and has plenty to do this holiday season. I like Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal, filled with many practical activities. Right next to it is the Normal theater, which shows classic and family films until the end of the year. In Normal mode, have lunch at Medici, a fun place with great food, and stop by Carl’s for some homemade ice cream. In Bloomington you also have the Ice center for skating and the 20,000 square feet Upper Limits Climbing Hall and Iron Coyote Challenge Park, two places that I can’t wait to discover.
The Windy City is always a great place to visit at this time of year. For more ideas on how to spend your break, check out “10 places I love in Chicago while on vacation.
* Marcia Frost Covered Bridge Trail
150 miles round trip
9 stops in 8 hours
6 covered bridges
3 food stops on Indiana Foodway Alliance
Bridgeton Waterfall and General Store Tour
- Champagne in Dana
Stop by the Off the Tracks Café for pumpkin and cinnamon buns
- Covered Bridge from Dana to Sim Smith
- Sim Smith Covered Bridge to Phillips Covered Bridge
- Phillips Covered Bridge to Mecca Covered Bridge
- Mecca Covered Bridge in downtown Rockville
Lunch at Aaron’s on the Square
- From downtown Rockville to the Roseville Covered Bridge
- Roseville covered bridge in Bridgeton
Stop at Bridgeton Waterfall and General Store
- Bridgetown to the Ford Conley Covered Bridge
- Conley Ford Covered Bridge in Montezuma
Ice cream at Tasty Freeze in Montezuma