Top Things to do in French Lick Indiana
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20 Exciting Things To Do In French Lick Indiana

On the hunt for the top things to do in French Lick, Indiana? You have come to the right place! 

The iconic atrium of the historic West Baden Springs Hotel at the French Lick Resort lures visitors to this luxury hotel tucked away in the southern hills of Indiana. Between the incredible amenities at the resort and nearby attractions, French Lick is a great place for families, couples, and getaways with friends.

Atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel
Atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel

This article highlights the best things to do during your visit to French Lick, Indiana. We want to thank the French Lick Resort and Visit French Lick West Baden for sponsoring this post. As always, opinions are our own. This site contains affiliate links.

Where Is French Lick, Indiana

French Lick is in Orange County, Indiana, in the state’s southern portion. For those driving, many opt to take I-64 over country highways.

From Lousiville, KY, the drive is roughly an hour.

The nearest airport to French Lick, Indiana, is Louisville, KY. (SDF). French Lick does have a small municipal airport.

About French Lick

The area of French Lick Indiana rose to fame as guests flocked to partake of the “miracle waters” from the natural sulfur and mineral springs. In 1845, Dr. William Bowles built the French Lick Springs Hotel, which began to attract wealthy and prominent vacationers. 

Five short years later, Dr. John Lane built a health resort a mile up the road and named it Mile Lick Inn, which later would be changed to West Baden Springs.

Library at French Lick Resort
Library at French Lick Resort

In 1888 Lee W. Sinclair purchased the West Baden Springs Hotel, only to have it destroyed by a fire in 1901. However, Sinclair used the fire as an opportunity to build his dream luxury resort which was modeled after the grandest spas of Europe. The hotel was completed in 9 months, and at the time, the dome was the world’s largest free-span dome which stretched 200 feet.

The West Baden Springs Hotel soon turned from luxurious to dismal as the hotel traded hands after the stock market crash of 1929. It was sold to the Society of Jesus, where the Jesuit priests removed many of the hotel’s lavish decor, capped off the natural springs, and ran the hotel as a seminary for 30 years.

Indoor Pool at French Lick Springs Hotel
Indoor Pool at French Lick Springs Hotel

After the Northwood College took over from the Society of Jesus for a brief period, the magnificent hotel sat empty for 13 years and crumbled. The Indiana Landmarks preservation group, along with philanthropist Bill and Gayle Cook, the historic hotel saw new life with a multi-million dollar restoration.

Today the French Lick Resort is the heart of French Lick, offering guests endless activities and amenities paired with historic luxury.

The Best Things To Do In French Lick, Indiana

Stay at the French Lick Resort

One of the top things to do in French Lick is to visit the historic French Lick Resort. The resort consists of the West Baden Springs Hotel, the French Lick Springs Hotel, the Valley Tower Hotel, and a plethora of luxury amenities.

Lobby of French Lick Springs Hotel
Lobby of French Lick Springs Hotel

West Baden Springs Hotel is home to the stunning atrium that was once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Here guests can enjoy fine dining at Sinclair’s, relax with a spa treatment, or go shopping in the gift shop.

The French Lick Hotel offers plenty of family-friendly amenities. Go bowling at Plutos Lanes, take a dip in the large indoor pool, sunbathe near the outdoor pools, then feast on a breakfast buffet at the Grand Colonnade Restaurant. Hop a complimentary trolley ride over to French Lick Resort or the Casino for even more fun.

Breakfast at the Grand Colonnade Restaurant
Breakfast at the Grand Colonnade Restaurant

The Valley Tower is the newest hotel to join the resort, which compliments the other two historic hotels. It gives guests easy access to the French Lick Casino and Convention Center. It is easy to access all the amenities of the French Lick Hotel from Valley Tower without a shuttle.

Know Before You Go To The French Lick Resort

  • The hotel does offer pet-friendly accommodations.
  • There is a $150 deposit required at check-in to cover any incidentals. However, if no incidentals were charged, the deposit is refunded at the end of your stay.
  • You can charge everything to your room! This includes horse rides from the stables, dining, and any other attraction found on the resort.
  • There is a mini-fridge in each room.
  • Complimentary valet and self-parking are available.
  • Bring cash for tips.
  • A complimentary shuttle will take you anywhere on the resort and nearby attractions around town.
  • The French Lick West Baden Museum is worth checking out to learn more about the fascinating history of this resort.

Hop A Ride On The French Lick Scenic Railway

Guests of all ages will fall in love with a ride along the French Lick Scenic Railway. Take in the sights and sounds of fall during a ride into the Hoosier National Forest, or go on a magical journey during the Polar Express. 

French Lick Scenic Railroad : Top Things to do in French Lick Indiana
French Lick Scenic Railroad

The Polar Express is an enchanting ride reliving the holiday classic story taking passengers on an adventure to the North Pole. Sip on hot chocolate, visit Santa and be prepared to have the bests of times.

Get the full schedule of the train excursions by visiting The French Lick Scenic Railway.

Tip: The Polar Express tickets do sell out quickly. It is recommended to get them as soon as they go on sale.

Sip On Tomato Juice

Did you know that tomato juice was invented in French Lick, Indiana? Tomato juice was first served as a beverage in 1917 by Louis Perrin at the French Lick Springs Hotel when he ran out of orange juice and needed a quick substitute. What better way to celebrate than with a Bloody Mary!

Get Soaked At Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park

Did you know that French Lick has an excellent indoor waterpark? Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark is a great way to spend the day when the weather turns for the worse or let the kids swim off some of that extra energy. This 40,000-square-foot indoor water park even has a retractable roof.

Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park
Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park

Zip down four water slides, leisurely float in the lazy river, or cool off in Buccaneer Bay with its massive dumping bucket. Little ones will enjoy Splish Splash Pool, designed for toddlers, while older kids can play basketball and tackle the lily pads and the spinning vortex in the Lost Treasure Lagoon.

Day passes are available for purchase online. There are changing rooms available on-site.

Big Splash Adventure Water Park also has a hotel attached to it, allowing guests to stay where the action is. Families can often go back and forth between the water park throughout the day.

Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park : Best things to do in French Lick Indiana with kids
Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park

Tips For Visiting Big Splash Adventure Water Park:

  • Big Splash Adventure Water Park is not a part of the French Lick Resort.
  • Day Pass guests need to bring their own towels.
  • The hot tub is for adults only.
  • There is a restaurant on-site along with the Galley Grill right outside of the waterpark. The Galley Grill has the option to order online with their QR Codes.
  • Lockers are available for rent.
  • Sign your waiver online before arriving to save time.
  • Check our child’s height to know which attraction they can and cannot ride. Life jackets are needed if under the required height for an attraction.

Enjoy a cocktail in the West Baden Hotel Atrium

One of the best parts of visiting the West Baden Hotel is relaxing in the spectacular atrium. Chaise lounges, sitting areas, and parlor chairs can be found scattered throughout the area, making it the ideal spot to enjoy a craft cocktail.

French Lick Resort
French Lick Resort

Ballard’s Bar offers guests a wide selection of beer, wine, and spirits or the option to stay for dinner at Ballard’s. Ballards is casual dining with an upscale twist offering lunch and dinner in the atrium under the magnificent dome.

Ballards at the West Baden Springs Hotel
Ballard’s at the West Baden Springs Hotel

Take A Hike In The Hoosier National Forest

Take a stroll through Indiana’s only National Forest. Comprised of over 200,000 acres, the Hoosier National Forests offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

There is a wide variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and trail running, to name a few.

Strolling The Gardens at the French Lick Resort
Strolling The Gardens at the French Lick Resort

It is a great spot to try to spot local wildlife such as bald eagles, whitetail deer, and more. 

Tip: Check out their scenic drives, especially in the fall!

Sip On A Glass of Wine at the French Lick Winery

Sample the wines of Orange County at the French Lick Winery. Offering flights and glasses, guests can try a variety of different wines. Enjoy a drink on the patio or split a bottle with your table.

Stay for dinner at the new Drift Restaurant inside the French Lick Winery. Drift serves upscale Italian cuisine that pairs beautifully with wine.

Tips: 

The French Lick Winery is an annex of French Lick Resort located down the road from the resort. The shuttle will take you from the resort to the winery.

For another fun winery, check out Patoka Lake Winery. 

Help Give An Elephant A Bath

One of the most incredible animal encounters that must go on your bucket list is the Elephant Spa at Wilstem Wildlife Park. Guests have the opportunity to assist in giving their resident elephants a bath, which includes exfoliation and painting their toenails!

Painting Elephant Toe Nails: Wilstem Ranch Elephant Spa
Painting Elephant Toe Nails: Wilstem Ranch Elephant Spa

We had a great time learning about the elephants, including why their daily baths are so important. The elephant’s caretaker was extremely knowledgable, offering us fun facts about the elephants, “Cindy and Vicky.”

Kids even have the chance to participate in helping care for these gentle giants with options to help scrub, rinse or paint toenails. Lucky for us, we were the only family, so we got to do it all!

Elephant Bath in French Lick, Indiana
Elephant Bath in French Lick, Indiana

Tips For The Wilstem Elephant Spa

  • This experience is two hours long and includes an elephant educational program.
  • The elephant’s caretaker will give detailed instructions on where to stand, what to do, etc.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes.
  • You will likely get wet but not soaked.
  • There is a bathroom available.
  • They feed the elephant animals crackers as part of their training. You may want to bring a pack for your kids as a snack.
  • Sign your waiver before arriving.

Address: 4229 US-150 W, Paoli, IN 47454

Go On A Wildlife Safari at Wilstem Wildlife Park

Meet the wild from the comfort of your car! The Willem Drive-Thur Safari gives guests a chance to get up close and personal with over 50 species of animals.

As you make your way through the gravel road, many animals will come right up to your car, especially if you have food! You can feed the animals right out of your windows! Purchase your feed cups before entering the safari.

Wilstem Drive-Thru Safari
Wilstem Drive-Thru Safari

The Willem Ranch offers a variety of animal experiences and encounters. The safari also features grizzly bears, zebras, bison, llama, and more! From a safari to sloths encounters, they have various fun things to do with the family.

Tips For the Wildlife Drive-Thru Safari

  • Buy at least five cups of feed! The animals will snarf them quickly.
  • Admission is priced per person, not per car.
  • Your ticket is good for general admission from 9:00 am-4:00 pm. However, there is no need to be there at a designated time.
  • Once one feed cup is gone, you can start distributing the remaining feed in smaller portions by using the empty cup.
  • The emus are quite aggressive eaters. While they won’t harm you, the initial shock of the violent pecking into the food cup was something to behold. They ended up being my daughter’s favorite.
  • Animals will pop their head into an open window! Keep alert!
  • Follow the safari rules. There are portions of the safari where guests need to keep their windows rolled up and remain in the car.
  • We pulled our daughter out of her car seat to sit in the front to feed the animals.
  • Admission includes access to the Roos and Crew barn, where the giraffes are visible.
  • Make reservations to ensure you spot.

Go Horseback Riding

A perk to visiting the French Lick Resort is that stables on-site allow guests to go on trail rides or pony rides. The stables are home to 27 horses who have been trained for a minimum of two years by the stable manager. Trail rides and pony rides are available daily.

French Lick Stables
French Lick Stables

Kids will love the opportunity to go for a ride on one of the stable’s beloved ponies. The pony rides are in ten-minute increments, which take kids around the barn to see the horses out in the field. After their ride, the kids can choose between a cowboy hat or a bandana. Pony rides are for kids eight years old and younger.

The Stables at French Lick Resort offers guided trail rides ranging in length from 45 to 90 minutes, taking guests through the gorgeous trails bordering the Hoosier National Forest.

Pony Ride at the French Lick Stables
Pony Ride at the French Lick Stables

Tips For Horseback Riding at French Lick

  • Make a reservation, especially for trail rides.
  • Guests must wear long pants and closed shoe toes while riding.
  • They also offer stable tours for a nominal fee.
  • Helmets are required for guests under 18 years old.
  • There is a 260-pound weight limit.
  • Check out the goats and chickens next to the picnic area.
  • There is a small play wagon structure with a slide for kids to enjoy.
  • If you are staying at the French Lick Resort, you can bill everything to your room!
  • Guests can also opt to go on a carriage ride.  

Play A Round of Golf

French Lick Resort is a golfers paradise with three exceptional courses that were designed by legends Donald Ross, Pete Dye, and Tom Bendelow. Players can choose to play the Pete Dye Course that was carved into the hillside of one of the highest points in Indiana. The 2015 PGA Championship was played on this course, drawing thousands of golfers each year.

The Donald Ross course was constructed in 1917, featuring many traditional design elements. The course has been home to many tournaments and tours.

The Valley Links Course is a nine-hole, fully walkable conversion of the 18-hole Tom Bendelow design exclusively for the French Lick Springs Hotel. Valley Links gives golfers of all skill levels and ages a fun and challenging place to play and was redesigned with families in mind.

Golf Courses at the French Lick Resort
Golf Courses at the French Lick Resort

Tips for Golfing At French Lick Resort

  • Check out their Golf Packages to save money.
  • Enjoy lunch or cocktails at the Mansion, overlooking the Pete Dye Golf Course.
  • The Hagen’s Club House Restaurant is at the Donald Ross Course.

Play A Round of Mini Golf

Not ready to tackle the golf course. Shotz Mini Golf has a fun, 9-hole Cosmic-themed indoor mini-golf course and an 18-hole outdoor Miniature golf course. Shotz also offers laser tag and a laser maze for more indoor fun!

Marengo Cave

As Indiana’s most famous natural attraction, a visit to Marengo Cave is worth venturing away from the resort. It is a short drive of roughly 38 minutes. No matter what time of year you visit, the temperature is always a chilly 52 degrees Fahrenheit inside Marengo Cave.

There are two cave tours guests can opt for. The Crystal Palace is a 40-minute adventure, while the Dripstone Trail is a 60-minute tour. However, many families opt to do both to see all the unique formations and flowstone deposits.

Tips For Visiting Marengo Cave

  • Strollers are not allowed.
  • Small children are welcome and can typically do the walking tours. Many preschool-age children can do both tours.
  • The paths are well lit with minimal steps.
  • Baby backpack carriers are not permitted.
  • Bring a jacket, even if it is summertime. The cave temperature never changes.

Bowl At Pluto’s Lanes

Did you know that the French Lick Springs Hotel has a bowling alley inside? Pluto’s Alley is the perfect place for an afternoon or evening full of fun. Grab a slice of pizza at Pluto’s Pizzeria, play video games in the arcade, or venture into Pluto’s Well for an adult beverage.

Plutos Bowling Alley
Plutos Bowling Alley

Tip: Reserve the lanes or go earlier in the day. They also have bowling ramps for kids.

Arcade at French Lick Springs Hotel
Arcade at French Lick Springs Hotel

Enjoy A Spa Treatment

Rest, relax and rejuvenate in one of the world-class spas at the French Lick Resort. Wellness is a top priority that radiates throughout the entire spa experience. Ease your muscles with a relaxing massage or emerge revitalized with therapeutic, full-body skin treatments.

Each spa offers a complete line of signature services designed to ensure every guest leaves their spa oasis feeling relaxed, recentered, and renewed.

Rent Bikes or a Surrey Bike

Tour the French Lick Resort on a bike or a surrey bike for a fun way to explore the property. Fun times are guaranteed as you pedal throughout the property admiring the forest, gardens, and architecture.

Surrey Bikes at the French Lick Resort
Surrey Bikes at the French Lick Resort

Rent bikes out by the hour at the activities building, which is in front of the French Lick Springs Hotel.

Try FOOTGOLF

Imagine merging soccer and golf to form a fun new game! For a good time, give the game a FOOTGOLF a try. Try to kick the soccer ball into a cup in as few shots as possible. However, be sure to make reservations to secure your tee time.

Take A Ride On A Historic Streetcar

The trolley made its debut in 1903, taking passengers from the steps of the West Baden Springs Hotel down to downtown French Lick. Trolley service ceased as automobiles grew in popularity. An idea to resurrect the old trolley system began in 1987. It ended with a beautifully restored trolley system thanks to the Indiana Railway Museum, the French Lick Resort, and Dan Ping, who did the restoration of the trolley.

Historic Trolley at French Lick Resort
Historic Trolley at French Lick Resort

Today the old trolley is one of the fun ways hotel guests go back and forth between the grand hotels. Guests will often wait at the trolley station instead of hopping aboard the quicker shuttles.

Top things to do in French Lick Indiana
Hop a ride on the trolley

Get Lucky At the French Lick Resort Casino

Play at French Lick Casino and feel the buzz of excitement on the 24/7 gaming floor. There are endless ways to play, from classic reel slots to new interactive slots filled with bonus features to table games and sportsbooks. In addition, casino guests has easy access to all of French Lick Springs Hotel amenities.

Tip: If staying as an overnight guest to enjoy the casino, opt to stay at the Valley Tower.

Enjoy A Delicious Steak Dining at 1875: The Steakhouse

Dining takes on many forms at the French Lick Resort. From casual dining at the Power Plant to a more lavish experience at 1875: The Steakhouse.

1875: The Steakhouse: Shrimp Cocktail

It is serving 100% premium aged Midwest, corn-fed Angus beef, 1875: The Steakhouse offers choice cuts that are aged to be tender and full of flavor. The elegant atmosphere sets the tone for a spectacular evening. In addition to 1875: The Steakhouse, guests can enjoy fine dining at Sinclair’s in the West Baden Springs Hotel.

fine dining at the French Lick Resort
1875: The Steakhouse

Tip: Make a reservation because they do book up.

Take A Day Trip To Santa Claus, Indiana

It’s Christmas every day of the year in the small, charming town of Santa Claus, Indiana. It should come as no surprise that there is plenty of fun, festive things to do in Santa Claus, IN. Many popular attractions include Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, Lincoln’s Boyhood Home, and sending a letter from Santa Claus’s post office.

Post Office at Santa Claus, Indiana
Post Office at Santa Claus, Indiana

In conclusion, we hope that this list helps you plan out your perfect French Lick, Indiana, itinerary!

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