Wildlife adventures, concerts, sports and even a water park are all a part of why Columbian Park has been a Hoosier favorite for over a century. A visit to this park makes for a short day trip from Indianapolis, because it’s located just 50 miles northwest of Indy in Lafayette, Indiana. The park offers several unique experiences all in one place, including the Columbian Park Zoo, Tropicanoe Cove Aquatic Center and Loeb Stadium. The park stays open all year round, and it’s available to rent for large events and parties.
Columbian Park features a state of the art playground facility and five thrilling rides, three of which are designed for children. Walkers, runners, bikers and skaters love the Columbian Trail, which weaves all through and around the park. Visitors can also a train-ride tour of Columbian Park. Bird watchers, swimmers, athletes, nature lovers and families can all find fantastic adventures at this 40-acre park.
Lafayette is a funky college town with a happening nightlife scene and plenty of greater Indianapolis things to do for all ages. While you’re up there, visit the home of the Boilermakers on the beautiful Purdue University campus.
Columbian Park Zoo
The Columbian Park Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the Hoosier state, even older than the Indianapolis Zoo. It opened in 1908, and at first it only housed skunks, deer, lynx, pelicans, foxes, prairie dogs and one wolf. Today this spectacular zoo is home to more than 120 animals, and holds regular educational camps and programs for kids.
Kangaroos, wallabies and emus are on display at the zoo’s Wallaby Walkabout exhibit. One of the most popular animal exhibits at the Columbian Park Zoo is a pair of bald eagles. A butterfly walk-through exhibit wows visitors, but goats and ponies need love too. That’s why the zoo features several interactive petting opportunities. Hoosiers can get up close and personal with dozens of animals from all over the globe.
Animal fun for the whole family awaits at Columbian Park Zoo, whether you’re on a college budget, a family budget or no budget at all. Columbian Park Zoo is free and open to the public, making this day trip recession-proof. Winter means hibernation time for most zoo animals, so keep in mind the winter closings when planning a visit this zoo. This year the park will re-open for the spring season on April 24.
Tropicanoe Cove Aquatic Center
Cannon ball into fun at Columbian Park’s aquatic center, Tropicanoe Cove. Swimmers can enjoy a lazy day floating around Cattail Crik, or go the more adventurous route and take a dip down the Banana Peel tube slide. This Lafayette destination is perfect for a day trip or a weekend splish-splash extravaganza, but don’t forget the sunscreen.
The Banana Peel tube slide is a gigantic yellow twisting water tubing ride that stretches on for a massive 299 feet. Even toddlers can can enjoy the sliding fun on the Dolphin’s Delight, a mini-water slide at Tropicanoe Cove. Sunfish Bay is also great for the little ones, offering a full playground of water surprises. More than 600 feet of relaxation take floaters around the lazy river known as Cattail Crik, a super-popular activity after a long day at the park.
Tropicanoe Cove books outrageously fun birthday parties, and there are two different party packages available. To book a private event, swimming lessons or to learn more about Tropicanoe Cove Aquatic Center, call 765.807.1531.
Baseball fans flock to Loeb Stadium each season to root on the home team, the Lafayette Jefferson High School Bronchos. Indiana sports lovers can also catch softball games, IHSAA tournaments, the Colt World Series or American Legion baseball games at this venue. The Loeb Stadium is named in honor of Solomon Loeb and dates back to 1940, when Bert and June Loeb donated $50,000 to build it. During the spring and summer months, the 3,500-seat stadium is often packed with cheering students and fans.
1915 Scott Lane
Lafayette, Indiana 47904