25 Things To Do in French Lick Indiana | Our Favorite Places to Stay, Play, and Eat

25 Things To Do in French Lick Indiana | Our Favorite Places to Stay, Play, and Eat

French Lick is one of those places that I can think of a million reasons and occasions to visit. It is a hot spot for the wealthy and famous to visit (with world-famous resorts and spas, hot springs, and a casino) but not at all out of reach or out of touch with what typical families are looking for (horseback riding, water parks, lakes, and animal encounters). The countless adventures you’ll find and the unique things to do in French Lick Indiana – with or without kids – will leave you planning your next getaway before you’ve left to come home.

French Lick is a small town in Southern Indiana known for its natural mineral springs, the French Lick Scenic Railway offering rides on vintage diesel locomotives, hiking in Hoosier National Forest, and winter skiing and snowboarding at Paoli Peaks. Visitors come from all over the country to witness the stunning French Lick and West Baden Resorts and the Pete Dye golf course. There’s also a drive-through safari and an indoor waterpark perfect for families in summer or winter.

Things to do in French Lick Indiana

If you’re looking for relaxation and indulgences, French Lick is the perfect destination for you. With world-class spa facilities, famous golf courses, a casino, and wonderful dining options, you’ll never want to leave. If you’re looking for non-stop fun and adventure, French Lick also has you covered.

Drive-Thru Animal Safari

If squeals of delight make your heart sing, the Drive-Thru Animal Safari at Wilstem Wildlife Park is a can’t-miss. Roll down the windows and get ready to have animal visitors pop inside your car to say hi. You’ll see up to 40 species of animals including bison, zebras, cows, ostriches, deer, and alpacas. Many of the animals will saunter right up to your car and eat from your feed cup (available for purchase), stick their face in your windows, and check you out.

Hop Aboard a French Lick Scenic Railway Train Ride

The French Lick Scenic Railway will take you on a ride through the Hoosier National Forest. This Indiana train ride is most popular in the fall while the leaves are changing. Snacks, beverages, beer, and wine are available for purchase. Before the train reverses and returns to the train station in French Lick, you’ll be able to get out and stretch your legs. Experience themed train rides like the beloved Polar Express Holiday Train Ride (typically sold out months in advance), the Easter Bunny Express, Wild West Hold-ups (also known as train robbery excursions, where “robbers” ride up to the train on horseback), and Tasting Train Rides (chocolate, bourbon, wine, scotch, and rum.)

Sample Wine at a Winery

While there aren’t any activities specifically for children, both Patoka Lake Winery and French Lick Winery are kid-friendly. Bring along some busy bags for the kids and then indulge in local wines.

French Lick Winery is a treasure, serving up tastings of their delicious and flavorful wines. Enjoy reds, whites, sweet, and dry wines made from grapes grown just 20 miles away in the Heaven’s View Vineyard. The hosts guide you through your tasting and are a wealth of knowledge on wines and French Lick in general. The Spirits of French Lick Distillery has a tempting selection including absinthe, brandy, bourbon, gin, and other spirits. If you’re ready for a snack, step away from the tasting counter and enjoy an enchanting meal at the French Lick Vintage Cafe.

The Patoka Lake Winery is a hot spot for lakegoers and even offers a wine cruise. With unique accommodations in the silos and lots of lodging areas nearby, this is a busy place. In addition to their luscious fruit wines, you can’t miss the bay of wine slushie machines located in the winery. Try wine slushies in unique flavors, like Peanut Butter and Jelly or Blueberry Pomegranate.

Memorable Animal Encounters

Wilstem Ranch is home to many favorite outdoor adventures near French Lick, including Animal Encounters. These educational encounters allow guests to get up close to some of their favorite animals and learn about their habits, environments, and how to help with protection and conservation. Get friendly with giraffes, elephants, grizzly bears, sloths and kangaroos at Wilstem Wildlife Park.

Hiking in French Lick

With trails ranging from moderate to rugged, both short in length (1 1/2 miles) and longer (5 miles), you can hike in the Hoosier National Forest, which is connected to the French Lick Resort. You’ll see wildlife and beautiful native plants and trees. Patoka Lake State Park also offers hiking trails. In addition to hiking trails, there are gorgeous gardens to walk through at the historic West Baden Springs Resort.

Horseback Riding

Venture into the scenic countryside on horseback. Travel up steep inclines and rugged terrain on paths along the Lost River. Depart from the Stables at French Lick Resort and take in the beautiful views. Keep an eye out for deer, wild turkeys, red-tailed hawks, and other Indiana wildlife. Pony, hay, and carriage rides are also available if you have younger children.

Snow Tubing, Skiing and Snowboarding

Paoli Peaks offers wintertime fun for all ages. Kids and adults love snow tubing at Arctic Blast. Ride the snow escalator to the top of the hill and then hit speeds of 30-40 miles per hour on the 700-foot slope. Thaw out at the outdoor fireplace, warm up with a snack, and do it all over again all night long!

Have a Beach Day at Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake is an Indiana State Park with a giant lake for swimming, boating, and fishing. The public beach has a sand and swimming area. Visitors will also love the hiking trails, paved walking trails, and even camping. Check out the Patoka Lake Marina for boat rentals, boat tours, and cabin rentals.

French Lick Casino

If you got lucky and have a weekend with just adults, head over to the French Lick Casino. It’s one of Indiana’s fanciest and the only fully non-smoking casino. There’s 24/7 fun on the gaming floor with slots, table games, and a sports book. Best of all, it’s part of the French Lick Resort and connected to the Valley Tower.

French Lick West Baden Museum

This museum takes a fascinating look at the history of French Lick and is home to the world’s largest circus diorama. Adults will love perusing the artifacts that tell the story of a resort for the rich and famous, a restful home for the circus in the off-season, and where baseball spring training hit a home run. See what fun discoveries were made in French Lick and learn the stories of its residents and investors. This would be a great first stop, as you won’t look at the city in the same way after. Children AND adults will spend quite a while inspecting and exploring the massive circus diorama setup.


Attention all thrill-seekers! There is a 9-line, 5,000-foot canopy zipline tour at Wilstem Wildlife Park. Soar like a bird above the trees and land in a tree nest! Participants must be between 70 and 250 lbs and must be accompanied by an adult if under the age of 16. Tours take place daily at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and take 1-2 hours.

Resort Activities

The French Lick Resort has so many family-friendly offerings, including Pluto’s Bowling Alley. In addition, guests can partake in fantastic activities like scavenger hunts and “Dive in Movies,” where a movie is shown on a big screen under the swimming dome so you can enjoy a movie while swimming. KidsFest is a special building that’s full of fun for kids! Children ages 6-12 can be signed up for a session with childcare workers and adults can leave to enjoy other resort activities. Children of all ages and their adults can stop by this fun kids’ club and play together.

Rejuvenate with a Spa Day

The Spas at French Lick and West Baden Resorts are the epitome of luxury and feature the “miracle waters” of the area’s naturally occurring mineral springs that were said to cure any ailment. Spend an entire day at the spa and enjoy the lap pool, health spa, and a spa lunch after your services.

Ride the Trolley

Guests can take a ride on one of the French Lick trolleys between resort properties. Choose from the fun trackless trolley shuttles or the antique trolley that runs the rails between properties. If you’ve got a child who loves all things vehicles and wheels, you could spend all day riding back and forth on the various modes of transportation offered by the resort.

Where to Eat in French Lick

One of my favorite things to do in French Lick Indiana is EAT! There is so much great food in a small little town. The resorts offer anything you can think of without ever leaving, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t venture off and try some of the great dining options in French Lick.

The Vintage Cafe at French Lick Winery

Sit for a nice lunch or a relaxing dinner at The Vintage Cafe. Expect the freshest food and the nicest service as you enjoy delicious stone hearth-baked pizzas, savory pasta dishes, and scrumptious sandwiches. Pair your food with your favorite French Lick Wine and you’ll swear you’re somewhere in Italy sitting in a bistro.

33 Brick Street

This sports bar and grill is a great place for the sports fan. Owned by friends of the famed Larry Bird, you’ll see quite a bit of sports memorabilia around the restaurant, especially pieces belonging to Larry Bird. Guests can try on the Larry Bird jersey and pose for photos. We highly recommend the 8 oz. filet and the Southwest burger. If you enjoy craft beer and good food, 33 Brick Street is your place.

Ohana Hawaiian Grill & Bar

Right across the street and walkable from French Lick Resort, Ohana Hawaiian Grill & Bar is a great lunch or dinner option with healthy food options like sushi, salads, fish, and other Hawaiian-inspired dishes. They also serve steaks and burgers and have a full bar so there is something for everybody!

Bagel Bistro Coffee Shop

This cute shop is just a hop, skip, and jump from the French Lick Resort. Enjoy made-to-order coffee beverages, bagel sandwiches, and brunch cocktails. I recommend the Oh Gnome You Didn’t signature sandwich: pepperoni, provolone, smoked cheddar, onion, banana peppers, and pizza sauce on an onion bagel. Also the BALT (Bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and colby and cream cheese on an asiago bagel. My kids fought over the Nutty Monkey, banana slices, almond slices, Nutella, honey, and peanut butter on a cinnamon bagel.

Power Plant Bar & Grill

The Power Plant Bar & Grill is named for the giant electric switchboard on the front wall of the restaurant. Rumored to be the controls for the hotel power grid, it’s a fun space to look at and pose for photos. Enjoy sandwiches, burgers, salads, and other typical American bar food.

French Licks Ice Cream & Coffee Bar

Who can resist the small batch creaminess of artisan ice cream flavors like Dark Chocolate Cayenne, Mississippi Mud, Cake Batter, Strawberry, Chocolatey Chocolate, Pecan Pie, Dark Almond Cherry, Spearmint Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Lemon Sorbeto, and Cranberry Pear Sorbet? Stop in and grab a cold treat or a warm drink and stay to play table top games.

Places to Stay in French Lick

With so many unique and adventurous things to do in French Lick Indiana, you’ll want to stay a while. Make it a weekend trip or spend several days there because the accommodations in French Lick are destinations themselves!

French Lick Resort

You can’t go wrong staying at the French Lick Resort while visiting French Lick. This iconic property has three hotels, the French Link Springs Hotel, West Baden Springs Hotel, and the Valley Tower Hotel. French Lick Resort is known for its relaxing environment, live music, swimming pools, delicious food, luxurious gardens, and proximity to fun. Enjoy live music from the quintessential front porch of the French Lick Springs Hotel or nestle into a plush chair and enjoy harp music under the dome of the West Baden Springs Hotel. Stay at the Valley Tower Hotel to be close to the action at the French Lick Casino.

Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park and Hotel

Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park and Hotel gives you access to year-round entertainment and is conveniently located in downtown French Lick. Most of the rooms at Big Splash accommodate four people and even have bunk beds. Several rooms are larger and have space for larger families or small groups. But you won’t be in the room much! There is a giant indoor waterpark, laser tag, mini golf, arcade, and restaurants on-site. Many families love staying here during the famous French Lick Polar Express train ride weekends during the holiday season.

Patoka Lake Floating Cabins

If you’re always on the lookout for unique accommodations, the floating cabins at Patoka Lake are perfect for your family. The cabins have two or three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, and other amenities to make your lake stay even more fun.

Wilstem Ranch

The perfect property for families or groups who want to camp out in a cabin with modern conveniences. Book a cabin for your family or the lodge for groups of up to 30 people. Your stay at Wilstem lets you easily walk to any of the animal encounters you book, the ziplines and other attractions.


While we enjoy staying in the midst of all of the fun, there are other options for your stay near French Lick. AirBnB lists several options for your stay in French Lick. Find the perfect rental home for your group and enjoy all that French Lick has to offer.

A short road trip, just two hours from Indianapolis, a visit to French Lick is exactly what you need, trust me. Where are your favorite things to do in French Lick Indiana? Share your French Lick photos with us below or tag us on social media using #PLAYindy. Follow Indy with Kids on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest for all of the best ideas and things to do with kids in Indy!

Disclaimer: Our lodging, two meals and wine tastings were provided complimentary during our stay. One of our animal encounters and drive thru animal safari were also provided for the purpose of sharing our visit with you. As always, we only write about the things we love and we skip writing about places that were not a good fit for our audience or our story. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section.

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