With a wealth of lakes and waterways, the Hoosier State is filled with incredible aquatic experiences
Indiana touches Lake Michigan and is the home of many lakes and historic tributaries. The Hoosier State has a rich water life perfect for traveling groups looking to enjoy river cruises, underwater or cave tours and lake days. Here are some of the many water destinations scattered throughout this great state.
On Patoka Lake (8,800 acres), the second-largest reservoir in Indiana, there are several ways to join the river otters for some on-the-water fun. Your group can rent a boat from Patoka Lake Marina & Lodging, who offers many on-water experiences like wildlife cruises and wine cruises. You can also rent a pontoon from any boat rental service and launch it from one of the 10 boat ramps onsite.
Guiding fishing charters are also perfect for visiting anglers looking for local expertise. Groups can expect to catch largemouth bass, channel catfish, white crappie, walleye, bluegill, redear sunfish, white bass, wipers, and striped bass here. Patoka Lake’s 161 shorelines are made up of great swimming beaches. Make sure to pack a bathing suit (and maybe a few floaties). (in.gov/dnr/state-parks/parks-lakes/patoka-lake)
Rockin Thunder River Tours in Madison provides scenic waterway tours on the Ohio and Kentucky rivers. There are various types of tours including a 40-mile cruise down the Ohio river, a two-day Kentucky River Adventure, and a Lunch Excursion where you will enjoy a riverfront dining experience. Get ready to see historic locations and fantastic wildlife, and even learn about boating. Your captain operating the boat is US Coast Guard-licensed, which means you and your group will be cruising in excellent hands. (rockinthunder.com)
While today the Wabash and Erie Canal is open for recreational cruises, during the mid-1800s, this canal played an important part as a key transportation for trade. Hop on The Delphi, a replica 19th century canal boat, for a fun narrated tour of this canal’s history. The cool thing about this experience is your boat has been authentically crafted to bring you back in time for a smooth 40-minute ride. (wabashanderiecanal.org)
Broad Ripple Boat Company in Indianapolis, is the jewel of Captain Michael McRee, who spent a large part of his life cruising on our nation’s vast river system. His company gives guests a one-of-a-kind paddle wheel boat cruise down the White River. Hop on the esteemed boat Perseverance II, Central Indiana’s only paddleboat, for a four-hour tour of the waters of Indianapolis. (broadrippleboatco.com)
The Elkhart River Queen provides a waterview into Indiana’s charming Amish community. Hop on the Elkhart River Queen for a tour of the St. Joseph River that includes a full-service bar. If you’re looking for a wedding or other special occasion, this on-the-water venue also has catering options for your convenience. (savethequeen.org)
Located just southeast of Lake Syracuse, Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake in the state and welcomes visitors to explore Johnson Bay, party coves, and alluring marinas. You can find boat rentals all along this natural lake’s 25 miles of shoreline. Check out these boat rental services for deals and helpful boating guides: Main Channel Marina, Wawasee Boat Company Inc. and Dream Mobile Marina. Anglers tend flock to Johnson Bay and Conklin Bay to reel in pike and crappie, while all throughout you’ll see people trying out water sports like water skiing. Relax on your boat rental and soak in the sun’s juices or hop on the Wawasee Tour Boat Co. for a leisurely cruise. (wawascene.com)
Indiana Caverns, in southern Indiana, is one of the most unique experiences in the nation. Their boat rides take you through ancient caves to see Ice Age rock formations. Learn more about the origins of these caves, say hello to underworld critters, and fall in love with its enchanting waterfalls and more. This adventure park offers specially priced packages for groups of 12 or more like the Platinum tour which includes the Cave Tour, Bast Chaser, and Gemstone Mining. Needless to say, you can’t find this cruise anywhere else. (indianacaverns.com)
Indiana Dunes National Park hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Explore Lake Michigan with this park’s sandy dunes and unique vegetation. A popular tourist attraction is Porter Beach. At this natural beach, you’ll have a stripe of golden sand to lounge in and an endless view of blue waters. (nps.gov/indu/index.htm)
Indianapolis Canal Walk takes place on the Indiana Central Canal. Similar to the Erie Canal, it was dug in the early 1800s to facilitate interstate commerce. Today, the rejuvenated canal serves as a downtown waterside promenade. On the water, you have pedal boats, which may be rented west of the Indiana State Museum, and beautiful gondolas. Hop on the water for a short stroll on the water as you take Indianapolis’ city views. (visitindy.com/listing/canal-walk/5925/)
By Gabriela Bittencourt
Main photo: Indiana Caverns