Santa Claus, Indiana Attractions to Check Out

We are only a few weeks away from Christmas. When people think of Christmas, often times, they will think of Santa Claus and his signature big, white beard. Who knows what Santa may have planned for Christmas? Maybe he will hand out tasty Christmas cookies or maybe sneak in a present or two. People also often imagine a winter wonderland magically happening for Christmas.

What better way to celebrate Christmas than to talk about a charming town in Indiana that just so happen to be named after Santa? Santa Claus is located in the southern part of the US state of Indiana about an hour drive east of Evansville. These are the Santa Claus, Indiana attractions that you should check out.

(Photo courtesy of Sarah Afshar via Wikimedia)

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

(Photo courtesy of Andrew Borgen via Flickr)

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is located on East Christmas Blvd in Santa Claus. This is probably the most well known attraction that Santa Claus has to offer. This attraction is split in two parts. Holiday World is a theme park while Splashin’ Safari is a water park. Holiday World is appropriately named because the theme park is divided into sections, each of which is named for a holiday.

There are four sections at Holiday World. They are Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July. Each section at Holiday World includes attractions that are themed for the holiday of the section. The roller coasters that are available at Holiday World include The Raven, The Legend, The Voyage, Thunderbird, and Howler.

In addition to all of these roller coasters, Holiday World also offers a variety of restaurants, shops, shows, games, and non-roller coaster rides. Arguably the best thing about Holiday World is that you can get free, unlimited soft drinks during your time there.

Over at Splashin’ Safari, there are two water coasters at the water park. The are Wildebeest and Mammoth. In addition to these two water coasters, there are two wave pools. One is known as The Wave and the other one is called the Bahari Wave Pool. A lazy river, called the Bahari River, also winds it way around the water park. There are also a variety of water slides and kiddie pools available at the water park.

The ticket prices for Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari are as follows: $60 per person and $50 for those who are under 54 inches or who are at least the age of 60. Children under the age of two gets free admission. It should be noted that this attraction is only open from April through October.

Santa Claus Christmas Store

(Photo courtesy of Doug Kerr via Flickr)

The Santa Claus Christmas Store is located on North Kringle Place in Santa Claus. This attraction is essentially your one-of-a-kind store for purchasing unique Christmas items that you may or may not be able to find anywhere else. Christmas-related items that are sold here include, but is not limited to, gifts, indoor and outdoor lights, decorations, wreaths, and collectibles.

There is also a sweet treats shop inside of the Christmas store called Mrs. Claus’ Sweet Treats. You will also have an opportunity to meet with Santa Claus himself. This attraction is open from May 1st through December 31st.

Santa’s TOYS

Santa’s TOYS is located on North Kringle Place in Santa Claus. If you are planning on visiting Santa Claus with young children, you will want to check out this attraction. This is a unique store where you can browse and buy toys that are handcrafted by Santa Claus himself. The categories of toys available range from plush and puppet to arts and crafts to girls and dolls.

Young children will also be given the opportunity to play around with some of the toys during their visit to this attraction.

Santa’s Candy Castle

Santa’s Candy Castle is located on State Highway 245 in Santa Claus. This was the first building ever built in Santa Claus. This attraction has a charming architecture that resembles a castle. This is a unique store where you can find a massive variety candies and other sweet treats. There are lots of gourmet confections such as handmade fudges, caramels, malt balls, and toffee.

There are around two dozen flavors of salt water taffy and gourmet popcorn to choose from. A large range of retro candies can be found at this attraction such as candy cigarettes, wax bottles, and whistle pops. There are over 35 flavors of gourmet hot chocolate drinks available to choose from. There are also two entire rooms dedicated to the large section of PEZ and jelly belly sweet treats respectively.

So, there are a lot of candies and sweet treats for you to feast your eyes on inside the walls of this attraction. Oh and also, there is a gift shop located inside.

Santa Claus Museum & Village

(Photo courtesy of millr via Flickr)

The Santa Claus Museum & Village is located on State Highway 245 in Santa Claus. This attraction is where the iconic post office is located. The post office is world famous because this is where thousands of letters sent by children from around the world are sent for Santa Claus himself to respond to every year. You can read some of the letters during your visit there.

Young children will also have an opportunity to sit down at a desk and write a letter to Santa Claus at the post office. You can venture inside the museum to learn about the town’s history and how the town got its iconic name. The most visually striking feature is the huge statue of Santa Claus which stands as a giant at 22 feet tall outside in front of the attraction. This attraction is open from May through December.

These are all of the Santa Claus, Indiana attractions that you should go to during your visit there. Santa Claus is a charming town that has a special connection to Santa Claus himself.

The Hotels

If you are in need of a hotel to stay at overnight, I have got you covered here. You may have to do just a little bit of driving between the hotel and the Santa Claus attractions though. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book with.

Hampton Inn Jasper

This hotel is located on Third Avenue in Jasper, about 30 minutes drive from Santa Claus via US Highway 231. This hotel offers free complimentary breakfast. There is a indoor swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center can also be found here at the hotel. If you are hungry, there’s plenty of nearby restaurants such as Schnitzelbank Restaurant, Brew, and Los Bravos.

All of the hotel rooms comes with mini refrigerators, microwaves, and WiFi. The average rate for a standard room range from $129 to $151.

Comfort Inn Ferdinand

This hotel is located on Scenic Hill Court just north of the interchange of State Highway 162 and Interstate 64 in Ferdinand. That is about 10 minutes drive north of Santa Claus via State Highway 162. This hotel offers free complimentary breakfast. For the hungry, nearby restaurant options include, but is not limited to, Fleig’s Cafe, Tres Agaves, and China Garden.

This hotel also includes an indoor heated swimming pool and a fitness center for your usage. There is also a game room available at this hotel. All of the hotel rooms come with microwaves, mini refrigerators, and WiFi. The average rate for a standard room range from $96 to $143.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever been to America’s Christmas Hometown, as Santa Claus is nicknamed? Feel free to leave a comment right below.

Where To View The Northern Lights In America

Seeing the northern lights grace the nightly sky is a real treat to behold. The northern lights is basically the appearance of natural lights of a color or colors that shows up in the sky at night. These are known as auroras. If you are dreaming of seeing the northern lights, you are probably wondering about where to view the northern lights. Good question as I have got you covered right here.

The United States isn’t as well known for the northern lights as Canada, Norway, or Iceland. But there are places in the United States where you can go to view the northern lights. As a general rule, the further north you go, the better chance you have of seeing the northern lights. For the most part, the time of the year with the best chances of an appearance by the northern lights is during the winter.

In order to get the best views of the northern lights, you will want the sky to be clear of clouds and be free of what you would call light pollution which is more common in towns and cities, especially larger ones. So, with all of this in mind, here are the best places where you can get the best possible views of the northern lights.

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

(Photo courtesy of Denali National Park and Preserve via Flickr)

The Denali National Park is located in the interior of the U.S. state of Alaska approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes drive southwest of Fairbanks via State Highway 3. The national park is home to Denali which is the highest peak in the U.S. at 20,310 feet high. The national park is renowned for its wide open spaces, breathtaking mountain vistas, and plenty of wildlife.

All of this combined with the northern lights makes for a stunning scenery at night. The best chances for seeing the northern lights here is during the fall season. I would recommend that you find a spot somewhere on Otto Lake at the northeast corner of the national park for viewing the northern lights as it will reflect on the lake too as well.

Suggested Hotel: Denali Lakeview Inn

This hotel is located on State Highway 3 about 10 miles north of the road entrance to the Denali National Park on the shore of Otto Lake. The hotel offers complimentary breakfast. There are a few restaurants, stores, and gas stations located a few miles away in the small town of Healy.

The rooms at this hotel are individually decorated and they each have their own compelling names such as Denali Floral and High Cloud. Many of them offer personal decks with views of Otto Lake, Mt. Healy, and Mt. Dora. Some rooms offers recliner chairs and dining tables. All of the rooms are equipped with kitchens/kitchenettes. There is WiFi in every room at this hotel.

The average rate for a standard room at this hotel range from $153 to $257.

Idaho Panhandle National Forests, Idaho

The Idaho Panhandle National Forests is located in the entirety of the scenic Idaho Panhandle region of the U.S. state of Idaho. Coeur d’Alene is the main city in this area. I would suggest that you specifically head to Priest Lake to view the northern lights. Priest Lake is approximately two hours drive north of Coeur d’Alene via State Highway 57.

Viewing the northern lights at Priest Lake also offers breathtaking views of the reflected lake and the forested mountain ranges. The best chances of you seeing the northern lights here will happen during the winter.

Suggested Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sandpoint North

This hotel is located on U.S. Highway 95 in Ponderay, about one and a half hour drive southeast from Priest Lake via State Highway 57 and U.S. Highway 2. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and a hot tub at the hotel. A 24-hour fitness center is also available at this hotel. The hotel also offers complimentary breakfast.

Even though there is no onsite restaurants at the hotel, there are plenty of restaurants nearby, including Sweet Lou’s Restaurant and Bar and Fiesta Bonita. All of the hotel rooms offer WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $98 to $141.

Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, Maine

The Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northernmost corner of the U.S. state of Maine on the U.S. border with Canada. It is about one hour and 23 minutes north of the town of Houlton via U.S. Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 1A. The national wildlife refuge is renowned for its mixture of wetlands, grasslands, and forests.

The best position I would suggest you take up for viewing the northern lights would be along the south shore of Butterfield Brook Pond. This will also allow for breathtaking views of the reflected pond along with the forests and grasslands. The best chances to view the northern lights is in the winter.

Suggested Hotel: Ivey’s Motor Lodge

This hotel is located at the interchange of U.S. Highway 1 and Interstate 95 in Houlton. This hotel offers complimentary breakfast. There is an onsite bar at this hotel. While there are no onsite restaurants at this hotel at the moment, plenty of restaurants await your hungry stomach nearby, including O’Kelley’s Irish Pub, Pizza Hut, and Tim Hortons.

It is also worth noting that charging stations are available at this hotel for these of you who have electric cars. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites offer WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room at the hotel range from $77 to $120.

Superior National Forest, Minnesota

The Superior National Forest is located in the northeastern portion of the U.S. state of Minnesota just northeast of the city of Duluth. the national forest is a scenic forest area that is home to the highest waterfall in the state, at 120 feet high, called High Falls. The national forest is also home to Minnesota’s highest point, Eagle Mountain at 2,301 feet high.

For viewing the northern lights, I suggest that you to head over to the Oberg Mountain which overlooks Lake Superior. That will offer a jaw-dropping views of the northern lights that will also reflect on Lake Superior. Winter is the best time of the year to view the northern lights as this is when it is the most likely to appear in the night sky.

Suggested Hotel: East Bay Suites

This hotel is located on Wisconsin Street in Grand Marais overlooking Lake Superior. At this hotel, you will have access to the beach on Lake Superior which will also include fire pits seasonally. In the Stones Throw gathering room at the hotel, there is a fireplace as well as a variety of other features such as board games, popcorn and hot chocolate bar (Friday and Saturday night), and live music (Friday night).

The hotel also has a gift shop onsite as well. There is unfortunately no swimming pool or fitness center onsite at the hotel. But, you will get a free pass to the nearby YMCA where you can use its swimming pool and fitness center. While the hotel itself doesn’t have any restaurants onsite, you can find plenty of restaurants within a few minutes walk from the hotel such as Blue Water Cafe, Gun Flint Tavern, and Sven & Ole’s.

Many of the suites at the hotel offers a full kitchen, an electric fireplace, a living room, a dining room, either a patio or a balcony. and breathtaking views of Lake Superior. All of the suites at the hotel have WiFi. The average rate for a standard room range from $103 to $238.

Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan

(Photo courtesy of Paul*Nelson via Flickr)

Keweenaw Peninsula is located in the Upper Peninsula region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the northernmost point of Michigan. The Keweenaw Peninsula is renowned for its rugged, forested natural beauty that juts into Lake Superior. I would suggest that you head to the northernmost point of the peninsula to the small, quaint lakeshore town of Copper Harbor at the northern end of U.S. Highway 41.

Once you arrive in Copper Harbor, head up to the narrow Hunter’s Point Park. There, you can soak in the beauty of the northern lights that reflects itself on Lake Superior. Winter is the best time of the year to catch the northern lights there.

Suggested Hotel: AmericInn by Wyndham Calumet

This hotel is located on South Sixth Street in Calumet which is about 45 minutes drive southwest of Copper Harbor via U.S. Highway 41. This hotel offers complimentary breakfast. A few of the nearby restaurants include Michigan House Cafe and Brewpub, Toni’s Country Kitchen, and Cafe Rosetta. This hotel offers an indoor saltwater swimming pool, a hot tub, and a sauna.

All of the hotel’s rooms offers mini refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers and WiFi. The average rate for a standard room at this hotel range from $111 to $713.

These are the best places where you can go and see the northern lights. So, if you are wondering about where to view the northern lights, these places will get you in the best position to see it. What are your thoughts? Have you ever dreamt of seeing the northern lights? Feel free to leave a comment here.

The Two Best Parks in Chicago to Spend Time

There is a saying that Chicago is a “city in a garden”. That saying can be traced back to Daniel Burnham. He was a world-famous architect and urban planner who was responsible for the noted historical document called “Plan of Chicago” in the 1900s. The Chicago of today very much lives up to its proclamation as a “city in a garden”.

Even though there are numerous neatly designed parks in Chicago that are well worth the visit, there are two parks in particular that best captures the imagination when people think of Chicago. Grant Park and Lincoln Park are the two best parks in Chicago in which to spend time at.

Not only are these two parks expansive in size, but they are also packed with many attractions and features that allows you to get the most out of your time at the parks. These two parks also offers some of the best views of the Chicago skyline.

Grant Park

(Photo courtesy of ovenusa via Wikipedia)

Grant Park is a sweeping, scenic park located in between the central and south sections of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Grant Park has been called Chicago’s “front yard”. Attractions and features found here include Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, and the Museum Campus.

Millennium Park

Millennium Park is located in the northwest section of Grant Park. There are a few features here. The Cloud Gate is a giant shell-like sculpture that serves as a “mirror” that allows you to see reflections of Chicago’s skyline on the sculpture itself. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is an outdoors concert venue artistically designed as a place for you to catch concerts, listen to music or just to relax on the lawn under the artistic bandshell.

You can also hang around in the Crown Fountain where two giant LED screens will actually spit fountain water out of the mouths of human beings (yes, really). Another feature of Millennium Park is Lurie Garden where you can find your moment of peace among the stunning, colorful gardens found there.

Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park is the newest addition to Grant Park, having only been built a few years ago. It is located just east of Millennium Park connected by the scenic BP Pedestrian Bridge. There are a variety of compelling features available at Maggie Daley Park for your enjoyment. You can hit a round at the park’s 18 hole mini golf course. There are picnic areas throughout the park for relaxation.

Those of you who want the thrill of skating, running on roller blades, and/or scooting can enjoy them at designated areas at Maggie Daley Park. If you wish to walk, run, or bike, you can do so on one of the paths that winds its way through the park. Children of all ages will find great joy in the park’s Play Garden where they will have an opportunity to play around.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is located just south of Millennium Park. It is accessible from Michigan Avenue. The Art Institute of Chicago houses a large collection of artwork from across the world and spans over 5,000 years of artistic expressions. This is currently the second largest art museum in the United States of America.

Buckingham Fountain

The Buckingham Fountain is located in the east central section of Grant Park just west of Lake Shore Drive. This is a large, breathtaking fountain that is built in the style of a wedding cake. From April to October, there are regular water shows. During the evening, there are colorful fountain displays. The fountain is decorated with festival lights during the winter.

Museum Campus

The Museum Campus is located in the southeastern section of Grant Park right next to Lake Michigan. The Museum Campus is beautifully designed to bring together not just one or two, but three (!) beautiful museums together in one area for convenience.

These museums are the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. In addition to the three museums, there are a network of path for you to walk, run, or bike on while soaking in the beauty of the area.

Lincoln Park

(Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago)

Lincoln Park is a nature lover’s paradise in Chicago. The park, as a whole, technically extends from Ohio Street Beach in the Streeterville neighborhood all the way up to the Edgewater neighborhood where Lake Shore Drive ends.

However, it is the southern part of Lincoln Park north of the Gold Coast neighborhood and east of the Lincoln Park neighborhood that is the most packed as far as attractions and features are concerned.

Lincoln Park Zoo

By far the biggest attraction in Lincoln Park is the Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo is located to the northwest of the interchange of Lake Shore Drive and LaSalle Drive. Admission to the zoo is free. In fact, the zoo is one of the few free zoos in the United States.

The zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from more than 200 species. Perhaps the most compelling feature of this zoo is the Nature Boardwalk where you can go for a walk around a pond and get close and personal with native wildlife including birds, frogs, fish, turtles, insects, and more. At the same time, you can take in breathtaking views of the north section of the Chicago skyline.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

To the northwest of the Lincoln Park Zoo lies the Lincoln Park Conservatory. The conservatory is an artistic glass building built in the Victorian Era style. There are four rooms in the conservatory housing many different exotic plants from all over the world.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Look directly to the east of the Lincoln Park Conservatory and you can find the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. This scenic gem is home to a variety of native plantings throughout its garden and lily pool. The Fullerton Gate is your access point for visiting the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is across Fullerton Parkway from the Lincoln Park Conservatory. There, you can check out the wildlife from the Chicago region. One notable feature here is the butterfly house where you can observe the different butterflies that lives there.

Chicago History Museum

Lincoln Park is also the home of the Chicago History Museum. The museum is located south of the Lincoln Park Zoo on LaSalle Drive. Here, you can explore the history of Chicago and the United States.

These are the two best parks in Chicago for you to spend time at. While there are other scenic parks in Chicago for you to check out, these two parks in particular will give you the most comprehensive experiences that you can get. These parks speaks to the natural beauty that Chicago has to offer.

What are your thoughts? Does any of these two parks come to mind when you think of Chicago? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Chicago for Museums – CityPASS Is the Way to Go

Chicago is an excellent destination for many things. One of the things that Chicago is renowned for is its collection of world class museums available for you to experience. If your time in Chicago will involve multiple museums, then rejoice! For I have something exciting to share with you about this. There is a thing called the CityPASS. The CityPASS is your ticket to Chicago for museums.

In addition to visiting multiple museums, you can visit at least one tower observation deck with CityPASS. By buying the CityPASS, you can earn a saving of around 50 percent for these attractions. The CityPASS will also grant you express access to the attractions, which would allow you to avoid potentially long lines upon your arrival. There are a total of five attractions that you can go to using the CityPASS.

(Photo courtesy of CBS Chicago)

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium offers breathtaking encounters with all kind of animals from aquatic environments. These animals range from sea otters to penguins to alligators to monkeys. The permanent exhibits here include Waters of the World, Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, Wild Reef, and the Abbott Oceanarium.

With the CityPass, you get access to all the permanent exhibits, animal presentations, special exhibit, stingray touching (seasonal) and a 4-D experience. The Shedd Aquarium is located east of Lake Shore Drive directly to the northeast of the Field Museum of Natural History in a beautiful, landscaped area known as the Museum Campus.

Skydeck Chicago

(Photo courtesy of Ken Lund via Wikimedia)

Skydeck Chicago is a tower observation deck located at the top of the Willis Tower which was formerly known as the Sears Tower. The Willis Tower is currently the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. When you are at Skydeck Chicago, you will be treated to a sweeping 360 degree views of not only the immediate surroundings of The Loop, but also as far as four states.

You will be standing on a floor made of glass, known as The Ledge, which offers heart pounding but amazing views far down below your feet. The Willis Tower is located in The Loop on Wacker Drive.

Field Museum of Natural History

(Photo courtesy of unknown via Wikimedia)

The Field Museum of Natural History offers a massive amount of displays showcasing all the amazing wonders of nature. The Field Museum’s signature display is SUE, which is the largest, most completed, and best preserved T-Rex ever discovered.

The permanent exhibits here at the museum are Animal Halls, Evolving Planet, Inside Ancient Egypt, The Ancient Americas, Cultural Halls, Geology Halls, Underground Adventure, Working Laboratories, and SUE, the T-Rex. With the CityPASS, you get the All Access Pass which will grant you access to all the permanent and regular priced ticketed exhibits along with your choice of one 3-D movie screening.

As is the case with the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum is located in the Museum Campus just east of Lake Shore Drive. The Field Museum is the first museum that you encounter when entering the Museum Campus from Lake Shore Drive.

Choose One: Adler Planetarium or Art Institute of Chicago

Option 1 – Adler Planetarium

Here, you have two options to choose from for this attraction slot. The first option is the Adler Planetarium while the second is the Art Institute of Chicago. The first option, the Adler Planetarium, offers exciting hands on experiences and displays showcasing the amazing science behind the space and planets.

The list of permanent exhibits here are Mission Moon, Our Solar System, Community Design Lab, Planet Explorers, Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass, Clark Family Welcome Gallery, and Astronomy in Culture. With the CityPASS, you get admission to all the permanent exhibits, the Atwood Sphere, and your choice of two sky shows.

As with the other two museums previously mentioned here, The Adler Planetarium is located in the Museum Campus just east of Lake Shore Drive. The Adler Planetarium is the museum located to the furthest right in the Museum Campus.

Option 2 – Art Institute of Chicago

The second option, the Art Institute of Chicago, is home to the greatest impressionist collection of art outside of Paris. This museum houses the galleries of art from ancient Greece, Japan, Africa, and the Americas. With the CityPASS, you will get access to all the permanent collection of art, non-ticketed special exhibits, and an audio tour. The museum is located off of Michigan Avenue inside of Grant Park.

Choose One: Museum of Science and Industry or 360 Chicago Observation Deck

(Photo courtesy of Knarfol via Wikimedia)

Option 1 – Museum of Science and Industry

For this attraction slot, you also have two choices. The first choice is the Museum of Science and Industry and the second choice is the 360 Chicago Observation Deck. The Museum of Science and Industry houses a massive collection of showcases in the field of science and technology. This is the largest museum of this kind in the United States.

There are a ton of immersive permanent exhibits housed here. Science Storms, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, and YOU The Experience are just a few of the many permanent exhibits here.

With the CityPASS, you get access to all the permanent exhibits along with one timed entry experience. The Museum of Science and Industry is located in Chicago’s Jackson Park overlooking a lagoon which is about 6.2 miles south of the Museum Campus on Lake Shore Drive.

Option 2 – 360 Chicago Observation Deck

The 360 Chicago Observation Deck is a tower observation deck in a tower that was once known as the John Hancock Center, high above the famed Magnificent Mile shopping district. It offers breathtaking 360 degree views of the area stretching as far as four states.

In addition to taking in the jaw-dropping views, there is a restaurant and bar along with an enclosed moving platform called TILT. The tower is located at the northern end of the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue.

All of these attractions are packed into one package with the CityPASS. The price for the CityPASS is about $108 per adult and about $89 per child. You can buy the CityPASS by going here. This ticket is valid for up to nine days. So, there is no need to rush. Just take as much time as you want.

So, what are your thoughts? Have you visited any of these museums and/or observation decks before? Feel free to leave a comment here.