Sunday, June 7, 2015

Inside Outside Michiana Summer Guide 2015

Last summer, I made a guide for summer. Find it here. It has been one of the most popular posts on the blog and many moms and grandparents tell me it is an excellent resource. I'm updating it for 2015 as prices change and new areas to explore pop up. This is concentrated on Elkhart County, though there are many great places a short drive away. See other places below the table. Feel free to share additional places we should explore. Thanks!

Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries, and hornets. And any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of education.
 –Luther Burbank

Michiana Summer Guide 2015
By Dr. Carla Gull

53373 CR 131, Bristol

Daily 9 am to sunset
Mill: W-Sun 10-5
23 acres of hills, woodlands, meadows, open marshes, wildlife, wildflowers
Watch the mill in action, hiking trails, waterfall, ponds
-catch (and release) frogs and tadpoles by the pond
-walk across the waterfall
-bring a picnic lunch
North Elkhart along CR 3
Daily 9 am to sunset
160 acres forest, savannah, nature preserve, wetlands, bluebird trail
Hike, picnic, check out the water
--find frogs in the bird houses along the trail
CR 8, Osceola

Daily 9 am to sunset
84 acres of woods, wetlands, 5 acre pond, etc.
Sensory garden, small playground, hiking trails, sand volleyball
--creek stomp as the water is really shallow by the bridge
--check out senses in  the sensory garden
--bring nets to catch insects
304 W. Vistula St., Bristol, IN
Donations accepted
T-Sat 9-5 pm
Traveling exhibits, special programs, three levels of “stuff”
Dress up clothes, discovery activities, scavenger hunts
--check out the historic cemetery and river before hitting the splash pad in the back
1717 East Lusher, Elkhart
M-F 8-5 pm
Old dump site now has a mission to help us reduce, reuse, and recycle
Wildlife viewing windows, pond, trails, etc.
--check out the childrens section in the loft with puppets, books, animals, etc.
CR 23, north of Bristol, IN
Dawn to dusk
135 acres, bog, pond, beaver lodge
Walking the trails, watching wildlife
--big tree down to the left of the entrance. It is a great   place to climb! Better than a playground!
--no facilities (Congdon park isn’t far--great combo!)
429 S Main, Elkhart
T-Fri 10-5
Sat/Sun 1-4
under 5 free
Grandma Moses, Norman Rockwell
Over 6000 work with 900 on display
Art appreciation and observation
--we really enjoyed a docent led program with our preschoolers
--pleasantly surprised!
23427 CR 45, Elkhart
9 am to 7 pm
On the Elkhart river, hundreds of acres
Programs, playgrounds, great picnic place, geocaching
--watch for turtles laying eggs in June
--beaver evidence near the river
721 S. Main St., Elkhart
T-Sat 10-5
Sun 10-4
Adults $6
Children 4-12 $5
3 and under free
Explore the history of railroads and trains in the area
Climb on the cars out back, watch model trains
--play area with trains for the little ones
--consider a membership if you have a large family or plan on returning
Across from Shanklin park
T-Thu 10-3
Environmental education area with nearby trails
Wildlife viewing window, hands-on nature activities
--stop here first, hike along the river at Shanklin, and end at the playground at Shanklin park
511 East Warren, Middlebury
Dawn to dusk
Over 24 acres, river, trails
Playground, hiking trails, river
--great festival in August
Rock Run Park
212 Prospect Avenue
Dawn to dusk
Natural play area
Hills, slides, “towers of imagination”, climbing walls, trails, community garden
--we LOVE this place!
--small pebbles go in the music box for a great sound
--bring paint, paper, and tape to do art on the “windows”
403 E. Wabash , Wakarusa

Depot, several historical buildings, old fire trucks, vet
Explore the past
--visit the cool park and splash pad after
1011 N. Main St., Elkhart
Tues Free
3 - 12 $3
Under 3 free
M-Sat 9-7
Sun 11-5
Beautiful gardens! Historical wellfield
Education programs, great paths, artwork, and views
--stroller friendly (and keeps toddlers contained)
--developing more child friendly areas
--great place for a color walk
604 Woodlawn Ave, Elkhart
Thurs 1-4
Fri-Sat 12-5
Sun 12-4
10 acres of woods in north Elkhart, many Native American artifacts, nature items, wildlife viewing window, etc.
Education programs, natural playscape outside, puppets, native fish
--very play based
--it’s okay to play with nature
--special Nature Play days
--50th Anniversary this year
--consider a membership

Other Ideas in Elkhart County:

Expanding the fun!
Cheese Factory, Shipshewana, IN
Curious Kids Museum and Discovery Zone, St. Joseph, MI
Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, IN, PokagonPotato Creek
Healthworks! Kids Musuem, South Bend, IN
Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Kalamazoo, IN
Rum Village Nature Center, South Bend, IN
Sylvania Fossil Park, Sylvania, OH
St. Joseph County Parks, South Bend, IN

Fun Dates
National Get Outdoors Day—June 13, 2015
50th Anniversary--Woodlawn Nature Center, June 28, 2015
International Mud Day--Woodlawn Nature Center, June 29, 2015
David Rogers Day—August 22, 2015
Envirofest—July 10, 2015
Kids Day at the Fair—July 29, 2015
Riverfest in Middlebury—August 29, 2015
ETHOS Science Sneak Peeks—Third Thursdays of month

Ideas: Make a “Paper Pal” to go on adventures with you during the summer! Scrapbook what you do (or use social media)! Set a certain day of the week for “adventures”.

Frog/tadpole catching
Get a treat like ice cream from time to time
Creek stomp
Find the Science2Go Bus—it always has cool activities!
Service Projects
Fort Making
Make fairy houses and gnome huts
Visit a farmer’s market
Family Nature Club

binoculars—toilet paper ones work great!
scavenger hunts
bug jar
notebooks and pencils

Summer Bag:
A couple of towels
Change of clothes or swimsuits
Bug spray
First Aid Kit
Hats for the kids
Rain ponchos

What do you do in the summer time? Where do you like to go? What do you do for summer fun with the kids?