Road Trip: Iowa to Indiana

Disclosure: I received product or services while visiting some of these destinations in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Road Trip: Iowa to Indiana

When I was little each summer we would always plan a fun family trip and more often than not, it would be a road trip. At the time, I was not the biggest fan of being in the car for hours, but today I appreciate the experience. I am excited to share the fun with my children! When we planned to visit Fort Wayne, Indiana this summer I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to plan some fun stops along the way.

Road trip, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana

 

Please note we did this trip in six days, but this could take a lot longer or shorter if you wish.  The spots and days we chose to stop were what fit our schedule the best.

Day One

Devonian Fossil Gorge

Our first stop on our trip was in Iowa City, Iowa to explore the Devonian Fossil Gorge. The Devonian Fossil Gorge is located at the west end of the Coralville Dam. The fossil gorge was created by the flood of 1993 when the water level rose over the dam, then spilled and poured. It tore away topsoil, pavement, sediment and more. This happened again in 2008 due to floods. This is what exposed the fossils.

Devonian Fossil Gorge, Iowa, Iowa City

We had a lot of fun climbing around the rocks looking for fossils and other fun plants insects and tadpoles. We were not able to stay long due to rain, but the kids had a blast playing in the rain.

Backpocket Brewing 

Before heading back on the road we stopped at Backpocket Brewing located not far from the gorge. They have delicious, unique pizza and their craft beer was great!

Bonus, they also had Mario Kart for the kids to play with while we ate.

Day Two

We stayed our first and second night in Wayne, Illinois where we have family. This was a great option for us. We were able to visit family members and had a place to crash for two nights. We took this opportunity to explore the area of Wayne, St. Charles and Geneva.

Centennial Beach

Originally we had planned to swim and play at Centennial Beach located in Naperville, not too far from Wayne, Illinois. Due to rain and unseasonably cold temperatures we did not. This attraction has been added to my list of things to do. Centennial Beach is a pool and lake atmosphere all wrapped into one. Truly a unique place to visit!

Island Park, Geneva

This originally was not in our plans, but I am so happy we had a chance to explore Island Park. It was a beautiful area filled with plants, trees, geese, a playground, plenty of picnic tables, bridges, rocks, and a bike trail.

Island Park, Geneva, Illinois

The kids really enjoyed the playground that had a ton of climbing opportunities and a zip line which was fun for all ages. Another fun part of Island Park was the bike trail that went under a train bridge. While walking across the pedestrian bridge we heard and felt a train go above us which was a fun experience.

Swedish Days

After wandering around Island Park, little did we know that Swedish Days was going on. A fun annual festival that is held annually in Geneva, Illinois. The festival was filled with carnival rides and games, food, vendors, face painting, live music and much more.

The kids enjoyed some delicious ice cream from Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream. A chunk of ice cream dipped in their delicious chocolate then covered with whatever toppings you wanted.

Food + Drink 

Two places I highly recommend checking out if you are in the area are:

  1. Stockholm’s Restaurant & Brewery 
  2. Portillo’s 

Day Three

Starved Rock State Park

Before heading to Fort Wayne, Indiana we stopped at Starved Rock State Park. We spent several hours hiking and exploring the beautiful scenery and waterfalls in the area.

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

This was the kids first “true” hiking experience. Although we had a few complaints, overall they were champs and had a great time. I highly recommend exploring this area. There are so many little creeks, beautiful views, and waterfalls to see.

 

Day Four 

We spent the entire day in Fort Wayne, Indiana and it was filled with fun, family-friendly attractions.

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo was filled with animals, attractions, rides, and more. The sea lion show was probably my favorite of all. I was impressed with what they had to offer.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Science Central 

Science Central had several hands-on exhibits. You could easily spend a day exploring everything. They also had an awesome slide that went from the top level to the main level. Definitely, a must do when you are in Fort Wayne.

Science Central, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne TinCaps 

Even though we were not able to stay to watch the TinCaps play due to rain, we did have a chance to explore the TinCaps beautiful Parkview Field and hang with Johnny the mascot.

Food + Drink 

  1. The Yummi Bunni
  2. Trubble Brewing
  3. Conjure Coffee
  4. DeBrand Fine Chocolates
  5. Penn Station

Day Five

Day five of our trip would not have been possible without the help of Visit the South Shore Visitors Bureau.

Indiana Dunes

The Indiana Dunes were a fun thing to see! We had fun exploring the area and saw some fun creatures such as salamanders.

I think the highlight was Lake Michigan. The kids gathered rocks and got their feet wet or entire body wet. Unfortunately, due to the waves being too high we were not able to swim.

Beaches

My friends at Visit the South Shore were super helpful when planning our stay. They suggested two great beaches that we were able to visit.

  1. West Beach: Secluded, has a lot of rocks and in the midst of the Indiana Sand Dunes.

West Beach, Indiana Sand Dunes, South Shore

  1. Whihala Beach/WhitingLakefront Park: The perfect spot to watch the sun set over the Chicago skyline.

BellaBoo’s 

An indoor discovery center any child would love. There are places to play, dress up, build, face painting, storytime, cook and more. A hands-on experience for any imagination.

Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill Tavern

After an afternoon of hiking and running around in water we were starved! Bartlett’s was the perfect place to fuel up. They offered unique and delicious entrees. Bartlett’s is hidden in the woods near the Indiana Dunes.

Albanese Candy 

I will be honest, I thought people were crazy when they told me that Albanese had the best gummy bears. I couldn’t imagine I would be able to tell the difference, but boy was I wrong! These colored, little gummy bears are truly the best. Do not visit South Shore without giving them a try!

Day Six

Traveled home!

Planning a road trip? Let me know what questions you have. I would love to help!

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