Itching for an adventure while you wait for spring? Whether you’re looking to plan a long weekend adventure or need a one-tank escape from nearby Indianapolis, look no further than Brown County – even in the winter time!
Brown County, Indiana is known for its beautiful outdoor hiking, a huge state park, and its history an artists’ colony – which all might sounds like a recipe for disaster for a Midwest winter getaway with kids – but even in the cold months of winter, Brown County and the quaint town of Nashville, Indiana is the perfect place to plan a winter weekend with your family.
Thing to Do In Brown County With Kids in Winter
Stay at the Abe Martin Lodge
The Abe Martin Lodge located inside Brown County State Park (entrance fee required) is full of indoor activities. None are more popular than their indoor waterpark area complete with slide, zero-entry pool, and lazy river. Guests receive free admission with any room booking but day passes are usually available for $15 (call ahead first).
After a dip in the pool, you can check out the small arcade or grab a seat in the upstairs lounge in front of the giant fireplace. There are games and puzzles scattered throughout the space for you to enjoy as a family. If you’re hungry, you can grab lunch in the Inn’s restaurant, The Little Gem, which features a kid-friendly menu or buffet option.
For more info about staying at the Abe Martin Lodge, stay tuned for my review of one of their new Family Cabin Suites.
Visit Brown County State Park Nature Center
The Brown County State Park nature center is at the top of a ridge near the campground turn off. Signs in the park will direct you and there’s plenty of parking. Most days you’ll find the nature center staffed by park rangers and naturalists. Check with the front gate for the day’s specific hours.
There are lots of displays about the animals and plants located in the park. Many of them are interactive and let kids explore with their hands. Don’t miss the small bird-viewing area for an up-close look at some of the park’s critters. You can also check out the short Discovery Trail that loops around the Nature Center and is a perfect hike for little feet.
Explore Nashville Shops
Downtown Nashville is the heart of Brown County and offers lots of backwoods charm that the area is known for. While many of the shops are home to artists and galleries, there are also several that are kid-friendly including several candy/fudge shops, a toy store, a magic shop, and some gem mining attractions. Bundle up and wander around town as you warm up between samples of fudge.
Learn at the TC Steele House
When pouring rain threatened to ruin our weekend plans, we make a last minute decision to check out 20th century painter TC Steele’s home, one of 12 historic sites run by the Indiana State Museum. As members we had free admission but any ASTC Passport holder can take advantage of it as well. The new visitors center offers a short movie and some hands on kids activities before you take a guided tour of TC Steele’s home and studio.
The tour is very informative and we all learned a lot but it’s probably best for kids 7+ since it requires standing and listening while inside the historic (aka Don’t Touch) home. There are hiking trails as well and during the summer the gardens are supposed to be spectacular thanks to Selma’s Steele’s original garden design.
Related Post: How to Use the ASTC Passport Program to Save Money
Take a Hike
Even in the winter, the hills of Brown County are full of life. Pack your boots and warm clothing and plan for an outdoor hike. The Brown County visitors center has lots of suggestions for kid-friendly hikes including Brown County State Park and nearby Yellowwood State Forest. As always, make sure to plan ahead for cold weather and icy conditions before you start hiking.
Related Post: Best Indiana State Parks for Families
When you’re done with your day of exploring, you’ll need to warm up with a cozy slice of pizza and some beer. Big Woods Pizza is located right on the main street of Nashville and offers delicious pizzas for the whole family. There was seriously some of the best pizza we’ve had in a while. Even in the low season it gets busy quickly and seating is limited when their outdoor patio is closed, so arrive early or plan to wait a bit, especially on the weekend.
Brown County Getaway for Kids
Brown County is located about an hour southwest of Indianapolis, close to Bloomington and Columbus, Indiana. For more Indiana adventures, make sure to visit my destination guide page for a complete listing of trip ideas by state.
What’s your favorite winter getaway in Indiana? Have you visited Brown County with kids in winter? Leave a comment below!