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Budget summer vacation from Chicago - road trip to Santa Claus, Indiana
Chicago is in the unfortunate position of being surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. It doesn't matter which direction you are heading, you'll need to drive several hours till you finally reach something that isn't in the Chicagoland metro area, or anything remotely fun (Sorry Milwaukee, but I don't consider you to be that cool a destination, unless it is during Summerfest).
If you are looking for a fun weekend away (way, way away) from it all, but still within driving range, head down south to Santa Claus Indiana. This quaint little village is home to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari.
Holiday World is where you'll find 4 roller coasters, including the #1 rated wooden coaster in the world, but you'll also find loads of family friendly rides, plus some just for toddlers.
In addition to the rides, Holiday World also offers one of the largest water parks in the Midwest with 16 different rides and attractions.
Admission to Holiday World is $40 for adults and $30 for guests under 54 inches. The admission price includes free soft drinks all day long.
When you are in Santa Claus, the most appropriate place to stay is of course at Santa's Lodge.
This Christmas themed hotel is decorated for the Holiday season year-round. Rooms start at just $79.95 a night.
The hotel offers several indoor and outdoor pools, 2 restaurants and a mini-golf course.
Planning this trip wouldn't be fun if you didn't take advantage of some of the great other attractions on the way to Santa Claus. Your halfway point is Indianapolis, home to the largest children's museum in the world.
Admission to the museum is $14.50 for adults and $9.50 for kids. Be sure to leave enough time in your schedule to see this place, as your kids will need several hours to visit all the exhibits.
With a little bit of luck, younger kids will be so tired from their visit, that they'll sleep for the rest of your drive.
If you don't have any kids (or you left them back home), then you can schedule your halfway stop at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in (where else) Speedway, IN. Just be sure to stay far, far away from this area on race days. The Speedway is home to a museum and "behind the scenes tour", but only on select dates, so be sure to check their schedule.
Finally, adults will be happy to know that the last part of the drive to Santa Claus passes through Louisville, home to the recently renovated Louisville Slugger museum. For $10 ($5 for kids), you get to see where this world famous baseball bat it made, plus you'll be able to visit their factory outlet for some discounted Slugger gear.
Baseball not your thing? The Louisville Museum Row has 8 other attractions all within walking distance.
It would be considered a crime to drive to Louisville without stopping for some authentic Kentucky barbecue! A lineup of some of the best meat in the city can be found here.
So, there you have it - an affordable roadtrip from Chicago to Santa Claus, with 2 awesome stops on the way. Total distance from Chicago to Santa Claus is 360 miles.
Be sure to check out more budget summer vacations here!