Destinations Magazine

Christmas in July: Festive Family Vacation in Santa Claus, Indiana

By Jessicanunemaker @JessNunemaker

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Welcome to little Indiana’s new series: Christmas in July-in June! Plenty of time left for you to plan your Indiana family vacation. Santa Claus, Indiana is the perfect place to celebrate! Here’s how to get in the holiday spirit in just a weekend.

Santa Claus, Indiana: Santa's Favorite Place to Play

Santa Claus, Indiana: Santa's Favorite Place to Play

Pack up and dash off in your one horse open sleigh–just don’t forget your swimsuit! You’ll be fa la la-ing all the way to the most festive summer vacation option out there: Santa Claus, Indiana.

There’s no other Indiana town or, actually, any town in the US that’s like it!

A Weekend in Santa Claus, Indiana

Lights twinkle from shop rooftops, Christmas carols are in every store, and there’s a wreath on every door. No one quite does Christmas like little Indiana–even in the Summer.

How should you play? Well, there’s a lot to see and do here and in the surrounding area! But to get your Christmas in July groove on, you should first head over to the Santa Claus Museum.

Day One: It’s All About Santa

This free activity will let you learn all about the awesome history of the town: The Postmaster who fought to keep the town named Santa Claus and his yearly letter responses to children, Jim Yelllig who became Santa and also answered those heartfelt letters, as well as plenty of memorabilia.

Look carefully at the images in the frames. There are more than a few surprises hanging on those walls. The actual letters from children are fantastic! Ask to see the Player Piano in action. That’s something you don’t see everyday!

Right next door is the Santa Claus Christmas Store. This shop does Christmas right! Stockings, trees, ornaments, lights…it’s all here and then some. Be forewarned: It can get a little tight in there if you’re pushing a stroller. Breakables abound so it may not be the best place for extended browsing if you have little ones.

Santa Claus Museum in Santa Claus, Indiana: Child's Drawing for Santa

Santa Claus Museum in Santa Claus, Indiana: Child's Drawing for Santa

Venture on over to the spectacularly restored Santa’s Candy Castle for snacks. Browse the discounted new holiday books for sale. Make Snow (yes, you read that right). “Chat” with Santa’s Elves. Check out the Lincoln chocolates! Very cool–or should I say, “Yum?”

If you are feeling adventurous, order the Frozen Hot Chocolate (which you should do no matter what) and complete the challenge to get your photo on the wall! You won’t see little Indiana on there…yet. It’s only a matter of time.

Before you head back, look for the in-progress restoration of Santa Claus up on the hill. It will be on your left. Now, on to Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari!

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari

You can’t miss Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari. Just know that in one day (and getting a bit of a late start)–you won’t be able to fit it all in. Our young boys (aged 5 years and 21 months) both had plenty to do! Unlike some theme parks, the costs of Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari are all rolled into one.

You can pick up your discounted tickets all over Santa Claus, Indiana. Seriously. they are everywhere.

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana: Free Drinks, Free Parking, Free Sunscreen

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana: Free Drinks, Free Parking, Free Sunscreen

This park is amazing in so many ways. Free parking, free sunscreen, free drinks, and cleaner than clean. It’s fantastic! I am not too embarrassed to admit that I had just as much fun racing Kid #1 down the just-for-kids and parents water slides as he did!

Here’s a word of advice: Begin at the back of the park and work your way forward. You’ll skip the crowd.

You can eat here at Holiday World (funnel cake!). There are plenty of meal options here even for those with restricted diets (even gluten-free). Otherwise, you can head back to town and dine at St. Nick’s Restaurant (it’s right nearby). It’s very kid friendly!

Spend your day (or two?) here playing. At night, hang out and watch a movie at the Holiday Drive-In Theater or head to Lincoln City for the Lincoln Ampitheater. If you make it in July? The Lincoln Amphitheater has a slew of holiday movies showing–wouldn’t it be fun to watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation on the big screen? A classic.

Day Two: Lincoln City, Indiana

If you only have a weekend, your last day should be spent in (and around) Lincoln City, Indiana. There’s history here! Abraham Lincoln spent the most formative years of his life in this beautiful area. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy Lincoln’s Boyhood Home and the Historical Living Farm.

Begin at the air-conditioned museum. Try to catch the show on Abraham Lincoln’s life in the theater. It’s only about fifteen minutes long and will give you the background on the things you will see. Best of all? It’s narrated by Spock! That’s Leonard Nimoy for you non-Trekkie fans (is there such a thing?).

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and Living Historical Farm in Lincoln City, Indiana

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and Living Historical Farm in Lincoln City, Indiana

When you make your way outside, there are a few paths. Take them all! Visit Abe Lincoln’s sister’s grave as well as his mom’s. Leave behind a penny like those before you.

Little ones will love looking at the farm animals on the Historical Living Farm. I thought we’d have to leave our toddler behind. Big kids? Well, there’s a lot of tools and other things to see and touch.

Believe you me, these re-enactors actually use the tools you see. Ask about the cured meat in the ice house. That’s an interesting story!

Dinner Options: What’s Cooking?

You’ve got two choices for dinner. If you want to take a walk on the wild side, you can visit Buffalo Run Farm, Grill, and Gifts in Lincoln City, Indiana.

If you would prefer outdoor seating, you can take the scenic route. Thirty minutes away you’ll find LakeWood Country Club/The Rustic in Rockport, Indiana.

Lincoln City, Indiana

Buffalo Run Farm, Grill, and Gifts in Lincoln City, Indiana let’s you actually feed these gentle giants (Kid #1? Loved this!). That won’t cost a thing. Inside, well, let’s just say they have a very creative menu: Buffalo Chip Ice Cream, anyone?

Rockport, Indiana

Buffalo Run Farm, Grill, and Gifts in Lincoln City, Indiana: Feed Me!

Buffalo Run Farm, Grill, and Gifts in Lincoln City, Indiana: Feed Me!

If you choose LakeWood Country Club and The Rustic they’ve got superb outdoor seating. Can you say fire pit? You can actually say it twice: They have two of them out there. You’ll have a great view of the golf course and pond.

Before leaving Rockport, head to the East side of Main Street. You are looking for Rockport Bluff, a fabulous vantage point that stretches along the Ohio River. Find the image of Martha Washington across the way and marvel at the craggy cliffs.

Where to Stay in Santa Claus, Indiana

You won’t find a Cambria Suites Hotel in this very small Indiana town, however, you will discover two fun, winter-themed choices: Santa’s Lodge or Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort. These two properties have plenty to do to keep you busy–playgrounds, pool, boating, and more. Santa never had it so good!

Sure, you can go on and spend your summer vacation like you do every summer…or you can try something a little different, a little festive, and get a big dose of holiday cheer! Who said the most wonderful time of the year couldn’t be more than once a year?

See more of Santa Claus, Indiana and other pictures in Indiana on my Flickr photostream.

Santa Claus, Indiana

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