15 Best Things to Do in French Lick, Indiana

French Lick, Indiana

French Lick is a small but bustling town in southern Indiana.

Fascinatingly, it has been a tourist destination since the middle of the 19th century.

The area was originally a small trading post for the French and was famous for having natural mineral springs.

It was named Salt Spring at the time. Around 1845, the place started bustling with tourists.

It was popularly believed that the mineral springs improved one's health.

Naturally, hotels sprung up for these visitors, and the first golf course came up in the 1900s.

The first of these hotels, the French Lick Resort, is a historic area, but it's also a great hotel to check into and enjoy your vacation.

You can play golf on a course that goes back to 1907 or have a flutter at the historic Casino.

You can also try fun, family-friendly activities like hiking, zip-lining, skiing, and snowboarding.

Start planning your activities from the list below:

French Lick West Baden Museum

Learn about the wild history of this little town!

One of the many family-friendly tourist spots this lovely town offers, the French Lick West Baden Museum began as a temporary project in 2007, at the town’s Sesquicentennial celebration.

Because of the amazing responses from the community, it was turned into a permanent museum in 2013.

Among the many fascinating exhibits is French Lick's casinos' history.

The Museum calls it “Vegas before there was a Vegas.”

Even when gambling was illegal in the state, French Lick town and West Baden Springs still had several documented casinos between 1860 and 1949.

The Museum tells the stories of the fascinating people who owned and ran these casinos.

The Museum also boasts the world’s biggest circus diorama, which is a magnet to kids.

It is over 1000 square feet and 150,000 pieces.

Another popular exhibit is about artists and brothers Henry and Ferdinand Cross, who came to French Lick in the 1800s.

Henry Cross was a painter, and Ferdinand was a stone carver with his amazing Cross columns still famous in the area.

French Lick Scenic Railway

French Lick Scenic Railway
JAMES PIERCE / Shutterstock.com

The Scenic Railways is a living part of French Lick’s history.

It was first established in 1961 in Westport.

It is a popular tourist destination and should definitely be at the top of your list of places to see!

Your amazing rail ride back into history starts from French Lick and runs for about twenty-five miles from Jasper.

The railway is not a museum with displays and glass cases of exhibits.

It is a fun experience, which that learning about history is never boring after all.

The Scenic Railway aims to provide visitors with the experience of living in faraway times when the railway's primary means of long-distance travel.

The museum also has special events, such as the Easter Bunny express for children or ‘Wild West Hold-Ups’, that are suitable.

French Lick Resort and Casino

French Lick Resort and Casino
Andie712b, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The French Lick Resort is itself a part of the town's heritage.

The hotel was originally called the "French Lick Springs Hotel," with three sulfur mineral springs advertised as health spas for tourists.

The first hotel was opened in 1845! Now, the hotel sprawls out over three thousand acres.

It includes not only the two historic hotels but also stables, three golf courses (including the well-known Pete Dye course), and the casino.

The French Lick Resort’s golf courses are as historic as the resort itself, with the Valley Links course going back to 1907.

French Lick Resort and Casino
Andie712b, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you enjoy a small flutter at the tables, the 24/7 casino has you covered!

The casino is fully equipped with games like slots, blackjack, and others.

The Valley Tower and Valley Bar is a short step away when you want to take a break and enjoy a drink.

Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark & Resort

The Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark & Resort has many options for a fun, family-friendly vacation day.

Apart from the attached Laser Tag area and mini-golf course, you can enjoy the relaxing games in the kid’s areas or the adventure space ‘Wilstem.’

Kids will adore the Jolly Roger Jetty water slide and the Pirate’s Plunder water activity.

Even adults will love playing basketball in the Lost Treasure Lagoon.

When you're all tired, you can enjoy lazing around on the Lost River.

For families who love adventures together, the Big Splash's Wilstem is the ideal vacation spot.

It offers plenty of adventure options year-round, like horseback riding, zip line tours, and an amazing Elephant Encounter.

Shotz Laser Tag and Mini Golf

Affiliated to Big Splash Adventures, the Shotz Laser Tag and Miniature Golf course is a great place to play some fun games.

They offer two options for golf courses: an indoor 9 hole golf course and an outdoor 18 hole course.

Both are well-maintained and offer a great afternoon for those who love golf.

Laser tag games are, of course, always a good choice as a vacation activity!

The Donald Ross Course

The Donald Ross course was originally built in 1917 and was restored to its former glory in 2006.

Great effort was made to keep the thirty-five of the golf bunkers in their original style.

You can enjoy trying to spot Ross' iconic bunkers as you make your way through the course.

According to GolfWeek, it is one of the top two public golf courses in Indiana.

No self-respecting golf enthusiast can afford to miss the chance to play at the Donald Ross course.

Of course, every great golf course has a great place to chill out afterward and discuss the game.

At the Donald Ross course, it is Hagen’s Club House, which is also from 1917.

With both indoors and outdoors seating, the clubhouse is a sprawling space with a wonderful ambiance.

Gasthof

A short drive away, you can enter a different world at Gasthof.

This is a 92-acre Amish Village whose aim is to introduce visitors to the Amish world.

The buildings, food, and crafts are all distinctively Amish.

Gasthof is a particular hit to tourists who want a slow and relaxing vacation.

One of the best parts of visiting Gasthof is the hotel’s buffet.

Not only does it have a selection of authentic Amish recipes, but it also serves in a building built by Amish carpenters in the traditional style.

If you love cooking, this is a great opportunity to learn about Amish food.

If you enjoy eating, the Amish bakery serves fresh pies, bread, and noodles along with a selection of other snacks.

You can also check the traditionally made crafts and the antique shop before you head back home.

Buy some gifts for friends, or pick up a few items to brighten up your own home.

33 Brick Street Restaurant

This is a family-owned restaurant that prides itself on its delicious food, wonderful ambiance, and excellent service!

33 Brick Street is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.

The menu is simple but great, with favorites like burgers and steaks made extremely well.

Their Angus beef burgers and steak are popularly recommended, as well as the hand-breaded tenderloin.

If you visit French Lick, you should definitely take out some time to enjoy the great food as well as their sports memorabilia.

For sports enthusiasts, the restaurant's showcase of signed jerseys and other memorabilia from various stars is a great draw, especially the unique collection from NBA star Larry Bird, a local celebrity.

Bear Hollow Wood Carvers

Visit Bear Hollow Wood Carvers to get a fascinating glimpse of the wood carving artists' little-known world.

Bear Hollow has brought together talented wood carving artists who now call French Lick their home.

Whether you are an art aficionado or you're just curious about making art with a chainsaw, you will definitely enjoy a stroll around their gallery.

You can either buy one of the pieces that are on display, or you can custom-order a wood carving piece for yourself or a friend.

The best time of the year to visit is during the annual Block Bash festival, which brings in great artists from across the country.

Spirits of French Lick Distillery

This is a special piece of heritage of Indiana distillers.

The Spirits of French Lick Distillery prides itself on bringing the artisan distilling industry back into French Lick.

The true history of Hoosier distillation is available for you to taste at the Spirits of French Lick Distillery.

The distillery is part of the French Lick Winery and focuses on botanical spirits, American whiskey, bourbon, and brandy.

Along with their pride in Indiana heritage, they also strongly support the local community by sourcing ingredients locally.

They also grow some of their own ingredients and are a Hoosier Homestead-designated farm using sustainable farming practices.

The amazing scope of their vision is inspirational, and everyone who visits them loves their spirit as well as their (liquid) spirits!

Escape rooms

If you want some indoor fun and love puzzles, the French Lick Escape Rooms were made for you.

There are three Escape Rooms, and the games are completely private.

You will not have to worry about having to deal with a stranger at the last moment.

'Al Capone' or 'Gather the Evidence' is strongly recommended by everyone!

All children from 6 years onwards are allowed, and children between 3 and 6 can also be taken in at the parent’s discretion.

The Pete Dye Course

One of three golf courses at the French Lick Resort, the course is named after Pete Dye.

While Pete Dye is well-known to golf fans, the course is otherwise famous for being on Indiana’s highest elevation points.

The unusual course features three lakes, bunkers, and a glorious panoramic view of the countryside.

A great (and historic) course for golfers, it is equally entertaining for visitors who want to enjoy the view.

Hoosier National Forest

For lovers of nature and wildlife, the Hoosier National Forest is a must-see when you travel to French Lick.

There are hiking trails throughout the year, with over ten miles of trail land in the French Lick area.

The Birdseye Trail is a particular favorite for hiking enthusiasts and is challenging during the summer months.

There are also seasonal sports such as horseback riding and biking, camping, and bird watching.

Enjoy exploring the wild beauty of Indiana!

Indiana Cave Trail

Marengo Caves
Iphoto / Shutterstock.com

The Indiana Cave Trail passport is a fun little competition, where you get your ‘passport’ stamped as you finish going through four famous Indiana cave systems.

The Bluespring caverns are an amazing experience.

Unlike most cave trips, on this one, you don't hike; rather, you go on a custom river tour on a boat.

Nearest to French Lick is the Marengo Caves and Squire Boone Caverns.

Squire Boone Caverns
Garrett Wolf Hoffmaster / Shutterstock.com

The Marengo caves are a U.S.National Landmark.

There are fun games available like gemstone mining and cave simulators, along with two easy hiking tours that are good for people of all ages and skill levels.

The Squire Boone tours offer gorgeous scenery with waterfalls and cave formations.

If you have a weekend free, you can go through both and have your cave passport stamped!

German Cafe

The German Cafe is at the top of TripAdvisor’s list of restaurants to try out in French Lick.

The name sums it up.

It’s a little slice of Germany (or Bavaria) on your southern Indiana plate.

The food has universal approval from everyone who enters their restaurant.

It is pocket-friendly as well, which is always a nice bonus.

Although the menu has a lot of variety, the jaegerschnitzel is a must try, as well as their short ribs and German fries.

For anyone who likes a cool beer to accompany your food, you will not be disappointed.

They are vegetarian-friendly, with gluten-free options, and kids will love the food, so you are all set to go.

All we recommend is that you bring a big appetite.