Every now and again, the daily grind gets to the point where getting out of town is really the only option to escape feeling like you are stuck on the hamster wheel of life.
So, we packed up the kids, skipped cross country practice and headed 3 hours North of Louisville to Lafayette, Indiana. You see, my husband went to Purdue for his college career and wanted to make a trip to visit his old stomping grounds. I, on the other hand, have been wanting to check out the kid-friendly options in town.
Our visit to the Lafayette area, during the Fall, was just what I needed to get me to embrace the leaves falling and the arrival of pumpkins. I was living in a bit of denial that Summer was indeed over and that I had been packing lunches, every.day. for almost a month.
Fall Fun in Lafayette, Indiana
Get lost in a corn maze at Exploration Acres:
….and pick a pumpkin or two! With the 2017 season, Exploration Acres celebrated its 10th year of being a Fall favorite for families. It was easy to see why it has lasted for so long, kids (and parents alike) could just be themselves. For my boys they truly got to be themselves. We were in the throes of a very demanding cross country season for my kids and between practice 3 days a week, homework every day and meets sprinkled, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to sit back and enjoy watching them just be kids.
There is a price for admission $10.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids with discount days on Thursday’s. However, the price of admission includes activities for kids that are fantastic and my kids adored.
Things to do at Exploration Acres:
Think peddle cars, tractor train rides, an innovative slide, a corn bin filled with corn for kids to dig in and play with, not to mention the gigantic corn maze. There are two activities that do incur a nominal fee, the gem mining and the corn cannon.
Y’all this corn maze is over 18 acres and has 9 miles of paths, including spots to get coupons for good for goods and services at local businesses. While we were in town we were on the hunt for Purdue shirts for my husband and our boys and it just so happened that one of the stops during the maze was for the campus bookstore.
We found the perfect pumpkins at Exploration Acres as well but I have to tell you when I was pulling my wagon to the register to pay, I was fearful of what my total would be. We had a wagon full, to the tune of 5 regular pumpkins and 2 pumpkins for cooking, I was mentally prepared to take out a second mortgage on my home to finance these seasonal gourds. Then, the total was given to me, $21 was the grand total. I was pleasantly surprised. We had so much fun at Exploration Acres, that I even commented to my husband that I would make the drive again, just for the experience.
Let your wild animals get up close and personal with Wild Animals.
Look, I have to be transparent here. I really don’t like zoos, or it might just be our local zoo, but it always seems to take the entire day and we leave hot and sweaty.
The Columbian Park Zoo was different and quite possibly the best zoo experience that I have had.
First, the park is free to the public, so if your kids only want to go and see one animal, no problem! Typically, I feel that I have to get my money worth so we see all.the.things.
Secondly, the zoo is a manageable size, the solid 45 mins that we spent there was enough time to see everything.
The zoo is not open all year, be aware that they close in mid-October and reopen again in April.
My favorite animal was the monkeys, they are so entertaining and I loved the fact that the zoo has several benches right in front of their enclosure so you can sit and watch for a while.
Have a howling good time at Wolf Park
In 1972, Wolf Park opened at the hands of Dr. Klinghammer, who brought two wolves from a nearby zoo to the property for the purpose of research. Through several decades of work and research Wolf Park has evolved into the facility that visitors can experience today.
Howl Night at Wolf Park
Our family attended the Howl Night that happens each Friday and Saturday night. Howl night is a unique experience. It starts at the fox enclosure and the handlers share their knowledge of the foxes that live on the property. It is believed that the foxes were once bred for fur. They were so beautiful and their appearance was one that made you want to reach out and touch their fluffy tails.
At 7:30 the group moves over to the wolf enclosure, where a staff member speaks giving an overview of the park and the wolves that are on the property. Then, she ‘howled’ encouraging the other wolves on the property and the rogue coyote in the neighboring area to join in as well. We were given the chance to see the wolves get ‘treat boxes’ for behaving politely with the handlers.
My oldest son (8) loved the presentation and he sat listening very intently, he loved wolves prior to our visit and was eager to learn about them in this environment. My youngest son (6) liked the time at the park but the talk was just a bit long for him and he asked several times to go visit the gift shop before I agreed and took him inside.
Explore the Celery Bog
On the outskirts of Purdue’s Campus, sits the Celery Bog, nature preserve. There is an abundance of birds to see, flowers to identify and paths to hike. We loved hiking one of the smaller trails and my boys especially loved finding painted rocks along the trail and rehiding them for others to find. There is a nature center on the property that wasn’t yet when we were exploring, but the Lily Nature Center provides exhibits to provide even more education for those who are wanting to learn more about the area.
Tour Purdue’s Campus
At the end of the day, Lafayette is a college town, in fact, the town’s population doubles when class is in session. My husband really enjoyed taking us down memory lane and seeing how the area had changed since he last walked the campus just a ‘few’ years ago.
We stumbled upon the track and the gate was open so we went inside. My boys ran a lap around the track and enjoyed dreaming of running on a bigger stage as they get older.
Where to eat in Lafayette, Indiana
9 Irish Brothers
This authentic Irish restaurant offers up a pub type feel while remaining family friendly. Unfortunately, my youngest guy wasn’t feeling very well when we arrived so it was hard to gauge how he felt about the food but the mac and cheese that he ordered and we brought back to the hotel with us looked very good. I had the traditional fish and chips, they were so very good, my husband had the giant pork tenderloin (if you haven’t had this Indiana staple, I highly recommend it). However, the dish that impressed me the most was my older son’s chicken finger kids meal. I know that seems crazy to highlight a kid’s menu item, but it was apparent that the chicken was hand breaded. Such a nice change from the frozen premade nuggets.
This restaurant has two locations in the area and I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
The name Arni’s is a staple of Indiana and synonymous with pizza. It opened the first location in 1965 in Layfette, Indiana and the location that we visited while we were in town.
They have an expansive menu, with options beyond traditional pizza, like sandwiches and salads. While my husband opted for a stromboli and one of my children chose chicken fingers. I went for pizza because that is their bread and butter so to speak, not to mention the fact that I never get to try specialty pizzas when we order a large to split. My family can be picky! So I happily chowed down on my perfectly sized personal pizza.
Triple XXX Family Restaurant
How much time to do you have to hear about this restaurant? I have heard my husband talk about it for YEARS, and then Guy Fierri visited it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and I knew that I wanted to give it a shot. There is a burger on the menu called the Purvis burger. It has peanut butter on it. My husband mustered up the courage to finally try it on this trip.
There is a burger on the menu called the Purvis burger. It has peanut butter on it. My husband mustered up the courage to finally try it on this trip. He is now a believer in peanut butter on hamburgers, I even took a bite and I have to admit it wasn’t half bad.
I tried the Drew Brees special and it was out of this world, not to mention wayyy to much to eat.
What I loved about this spot is that it is unpretentious, in fact, it is a shoulder to shoulder type of situation at a counter. It was so packed inside that we had a table outside. It worked for the day that we were there but had it been a few degrees cooler, we would have been uncomfortable.
When you visit, don’t miss out on their killer root beer, we all liked it so much that we grabbed a 4 pack to enjoy at home.
Igloo Frozen Custard
Holy custard, Batman. This spot offers so much more than just sweet treats but that is the route we went when we visited. This shop has a wide variety of flavors of custard, from the raspberry that my oldest son got down to the dirt sundae that I ordered I was impressed. The custard is so very creamy and flavorful, I have to admit that I was shocked by how much I really liked everything I tasted, and I tasted everyone’s treats! Perhaps even better than the custard, was the very reasonable prices of the menu items. There were several times while my family was enjoying their treats that I would say to my husband, “am I reading that right?!’ I was shocked by the affordable prices of items beyond the sweets.
Each of us commented that we want to return to try custard AND a burger next time!
Getting away to the Lafayette Area was such a fun time for my family and we really enjoyed getting away from our daily grind to find some new favorite spots. Have you visited that area before?