In the past, summer time has been a season of day trips, adventures and fun. With the summer of COVID in the rearview mirror, we’re still looking for family excursions that keep us outdoors in the fresh air. We loaded up the Toyota Highlander and took the quick drive to Lake Monroe, located in Bloomington. The week before our trip, we made arrangements to rent a boat so we could enjoy some recreational activities on the water.
Shout out to Toyota for letting us try the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. Instead of spending all of our money on gas, the efficiency of the hybrid vehicle allowed us to use our gas money on gas for the boat! The Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist was a fantastic feature for our route home that took us through some winding back roads to avoid construction. I loved the gentle corrective steering.
Boat Rentals with Kids
Our family spent the day zipping around on the water in a ski boat, swimming to keep cool, snacking while taking in gorgeous views of the Indiana landscape and tubing behind the boat. This was the first time most of our kids have been pulled behind the boat on a tube and they had so much fun! I love seeing their happy smiles and hearing their gleeful laughter and delighted squeals.
Thank you to Toyota for hosting our family during this experience!
Here’s how you can have your own boating adventure on Monroe Lake.
Boat Rentals at Lake Monroe
There are several options for renting boats, both motorized and non-motorized. Paradise Rental Boats was a fantastic company to rent from. Located inside the Fairfax State Recreation Area, you’ll pay a DNR State Park fee of $7 per vehicle (Indiana residents) or be able to use your State Parks Pass.
If you plan on skiing, kneeboarding or wakeboarding, you’ll want a water sports boat with a little more power. However, if your kids are just going to tube or swim or hang out on the boat, a pontoon boat would be a great option.
Paradise Rental Boats Lake Monroe
Choose from pontoon boats and ski boats or even a WaveRunner. Rentals are either four hour rentals from 9 am – 1 pm & 2 pm – 6 pm or eight hour rentals, 9 am – 5 pm. Prior to your trip, adults who will be operating the boat must take an online boater safety course through Paradise rental company. When you arrive at the Marina, you’ll check in and a staff member will take you to your boat.
Paradise Rental Boat staff go over the boat with you and teach you how to use the controls. You’ll be outfitted with your ski vests and children’s life vests when necessary (all children must wear a life vest at all times) and then you’ll be on your way!
When you make your reservation, you can add a two person tube, wakeboard, kneeboard or skis to your reservation for an additional fee. We purchased our own towable tube and rope at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but the rental fee at the marina was only $35. I recommend renting from the marina when it’s available!
What to Pack for a Day at the Lake
You’ll want to be sure that everything you bring is securely packed in a bag, cooler or a tote so it doesn’t go flying off the boat or get too wet.
- Cooler for beverages and snacks — we love the soft sided cooler bags
- Sun protection: sunblock, sunglasses & hats
- Towels & swim suits
- Snacks: chips, cookies, cheese sticks, apples, berries, grapes, sandwiches, nuts, granola bars
- Beverages: water, juice, soda
How to Get to Lake Monroe
There are several areas of Lake Monroe for boating, fishing and swimming. Our favorite spot was at the Fairfax State Recreation area where we picked up our boat. We took I-70 to I-465 to State Road 37 South. The total drive time from near downtown Indy to Monroe Lake was less than 90 minutes.
Other Things to do in Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana is famous for their college football games (oh yeah, and Indiana University) and a growing foodie scene. Try some new restaurants, take a hike and enjoy nature or hit up one of their family friendly wineries. We love taking a picnic to family friendly Oliver Winery.
Also at the Fairfax State Recreation area is Fairfax swimming beach. You’ll find a grassy area and a dirt beach that’s nice during dry weather but a little bit muddy if it’s a day or two after rain. There’s a roped off swimming area and parking is very close by.