Majestic mountains ensconced in a veil of clouds. Sparkling water on sandy beaches. Tranquil lakes with wildlife surrounding their shores. When I think of taking a vacation, oceans, mountains, or lakes come to my mind. When given a choice, I like to head east or west or–if I’m fortunate–out of the country altogether for a vacation. COVID-19, though, has reshaped my view of vacation destinations. Stay in the Midwest? Sure! Stay in the state of Indiana? Why not? Stay landlocked? Let’s do it! My family has enjoyed three different vacation destinations that we may have overlooked had COVID-19 not encouraged us to stay close to home. We explored the following three destinations over long weekends this past summer, fall, and winter.
Bedford, Indiana: We made our way to Bedford during the summer for a farm stay. We found an Airbnb on a farm where cows strolled in our backyard. The farm, which had been in the family for generations, had a creek, multiple streams, and steeper acreage within the partially-forested cow fields for us to explore. We ventured to Spring Mill State Park (gorgeous!) and saw the mill and splashed in the idyllic stream on a sweltering day during our farm stay. Though we did not experience it ourselves, we heard amazing reviews about the Bluespring Caverns Mystery Voyage Ride. Exploring an underground river is right up our alley, but children under four are not currently allowed on this ride. We found this midwest town slower-paced and relaxing.
Madison, Indiana: We stayed in an Airbnb in downtown Madison over the long Thanksgiving weekend. We were a mile away from Clifty Falls State Park’s entrance and within walking distance of a few coffee shops and restaurants on the edge of Madison’s downtown. Downtown is eclectic and well-curated, and we could tell that Madison residents took pride in their shops and services. We wandered along the Ohio River on a path designed for walkers, runners, and bikers and explored Hanover College with its scenic midwest views and park-like setting. My husband raved about the coffee each time we tried a new shop, and I loved all the chocolates we bought and sampled.
Yellow Springs, Ohio: This town sits just outside of Dayton and is actually considered a village due to its size. We became familiar with it after watching David Letterman interview Dave Chapelle who counts Yellow Springs as his home. Chapelle touted the town as welcoming and progressive, and we found he was absolutely right. Our Airbnb was situated in the heart of the village, and all shops were within a five-minute walk. All shop and restaurant owners were friendly and helpful, and people were serious about staying safe from the coronavirus. There was a town parade to celebrate Martin Luther King on the morning of his official holiday that we watched from our balcony. We hiked one of the trails in Glen Helen Nature Preserve that leads you to the town’s namesake: the Yellow Springs. This trail was family-friendly as we were able to hike it in the snow with our three-year-old daughter, and it was fun to see the springs that David Letterman dunked his head in during the interview with Chapelle.
These three trips in the midwest have made our time at home (because we have had LOTS of time at home) way more palatable. It’s been fun going on “adventures”–as we call them in our family–but also staying close. I would encourage you to look for destinations that may be closer to home and, therefore, easier to overlook. Throughout our midwest adventures, we were able to see sparkling waters (creeks and rivers), majestic mountains (well, hills), and even some cows and wildlife. And you know what? They were magical.