When families explore and discover new places, it helps create strong family bonds and is a great way to get some exercise, learn things, and make new friends. Next time you want to take the family out and about, check out these five great family-friendly Valparaiso, Indiana, destinations.
For an educational outdoor experience, bring the family to Gabis Arboretum at Purdue University Northwest. With over 300 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, a restored prairie, and gorgeous art sculptures placed throughout the property, there’s something of interest for everyone in the family. Hike through wetlands, forests, the gardens, and the prairie land on well-maintained trails. Watch for wildlife and make a game of who can identify the most native plants. You can even bring your leashed dog along the 6 miles of trails.
Be sure to stop at the Railway Garden that features an outdoor G-gauge model train. Read the interpretive displays to learn more about how the steam engine helped shape early America. Kids will enjoy the Treesong Music Garden where they can play instruments that imitate nature sounds. Nonmembers pay a $10 admission fee based on the carload size. If you’re a member of the arboretum, admission is free. You can find Gabis Arboretum at 450 W. 100 North in Valparaiso.
Just a few miles north of Valparaiso is the popular Fireflies Fun Zone. Fireflies is an indoor recreation center that is perfect for bringing the kids when the weather is bad. You’ll find a laser tag arena, a huge playground, and a fun arcade room where kids can win prizes.
Kids absolutely love spending time in the 1,800-square-foot playground area. Two levels of the playground have slides, climbing features, ball pits, and loads of toys for the little ones to play with. The larger playground area has soft mats on the floor to safely play on. Kids really enjoy the spinning teacups, the trampoline, and playing with the kinetic sand.
The family can interact with each other in the 4,000 square feet of floor space in the Laser Tag Arena. The custom-designed arena features blacklights, special effects, and a state-of-the-art sound system. Laser tag is so popular that in the future, Fireflies will be hosting laser tag leagues. Older kids get a kick out of the arcade room with retro-style games like PacMan and modern versions of pinball, air hockey, Skee-Ball, and other arcade attractions. Winners of some of the arcade games can redeem tickets for fun prizes.
Fireflies Fun Zone is the perfect place to hold a birthday party. You’ll find three unique party rooms, each painted in a different theme. You can have the party catered with food from Fireflies Fun Zone or their associated restaurant, Tiger Lily. Party rooms require a minimum of 10 kids, and they are available seven days a week. Take a break from playing and enjoy snacks such as chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza, panini, wraps, and ice cream created to order.
For an $8 entrance fee, the little kids can spend the whole day playing in the playground. The laser tag area and arcade room are priced according to participation numbers. Find Fireflies Fun Zone at 1505 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton.
For a fun day outside, take the family over to Foundation Meadows Park located at 3210 N. Campbell St. The 20-acre community park offers picnic areas with shelters, beautiful walking paths, and two playgrounds. Three levels of slides dominant the larger playground, and the area is covered with rubber pellets to soften the kids’ falls. Clean public bathrooms are available and in the future, the city of Valparaiso plans on planting native shade trees to help restore the ecosystem. One of the highlights of Foundation Meadows Park is the Butterfly Garden where the rides are decorated in butterfly themes.
When the summer heat builds up, take the family to Deep River Waterpark at 9001 E. Lincoln Highway in Crown Point. Catch a wave in the Rip Tide wave pool area, slip and ride through enclosed water slides at the Storm area, and release the Kraken in you with the mat slide racer. Catch speed on the Dragon speed slides, and for the little kids, have them play in Mayor Byrdovich’s Courthouse interactive playground. Additional features include the Bayou River ride, Paddles PlayZone, and the Double Dueling Bowl rides.
Get out of the sun by renting cabanas that have tables, chairs, and lounge chairs. You can also rent a locker to store your possessions, and after playing in the water for a few hours, stop by one of the snack shacks for food and beverages. Admission fees are $20.95 per person, and the location is open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Children under 1 year of age enter for free.
For a fun family destination, take the gang to Zao Island. For $6, you can rent go-karts and zip around a 25-foot-wide, 1,110-foot-long track with high walls to catch you when you whip around hairpin turns. Try your hand at mini-golf for $7 per person. Over the two courses, you’ll find 20 waterfalls and a 30-foot stone dragon.
For $7, you can play seven minutes of laser tag, or for $3, try making your way through the high-tech laser maze. Feel like a baseball star in the batting cages where you get 15 pitches for $1. Zoom down the giant slide for $3 per slide, enjoy the arcade room, and pet the alligators. Zao Island is the perfect Valparaiso destination to book a party. They offer several birthday party packages as well as packages for groups, team building, and even for weddings. Find Zao Island at 1050 Horse Prairie Ave.
We hope you enjoy these five recommendations of places to have fun with the entire family. If you have other ideas or recommendations or wish to comment on our suggestions, feel free to contact us and leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.