Whether you are in the water or nearby, Indiana is home to a myriad of family-friendly activities.

By Jason Paha

Indiana is famous for a litany of reasons, ranging from legendary basketball and auto racing to fabulous food options and charming covered bridges.

One of the more underrated elements of the Hoosier State, is how beloved it is for its water-based activities.

Certainly, the college swimming scene is acclaimed as Indiana University has captured a slew of National Championships while the Purdue University Men’s swim team recently won the 2023 College Club Swimming National Championship. On the aquatic facility front, the Indiana University Natatorium, on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus, is perhaps the most legendary swimming arena in the country.

As impressive as Indiana is when it comes to competitive aquatic sports, its leisure-based water activities are perhaps even more remarkable. Indiana may not have a coastline, but it still offers a variety of water-based activities the whole family will enjoy. Here are some of them:

Water Parks in Indiana

Some of Indiana’s popular amusement parks feature both traditional rides and water attractions. This combination allows families to enjoy a diverse range of entertainment options, including roller coasters, carnival rides, and water slides all in one location. Some of the more popular water parks include: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari: Located in Santa Claus, this combination amusement park and water park attracts visitors from across the country. Splashin’ Safari is known for its thrilling water slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, and family-friendly atmosphere. It also houses some of the world’s largest water coasters, including the Wildebeest and Mammoth. Deep River Waterpark: Situated in Crown Point, Deep River Waterpark is the largest water park in the state. It features a variety of water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a children’s splash area.  

Indiana Beach Amusement & Water Park: Indiana Beach, located in Monticello, lays claim to a water park that entertains visitors with a range of water attractions, including a four-story water slide tower, wave pools, and a splash pad (a soft foam pad with sprayers, water drops and safe water fun for all ages), all situated along the shores of Lake Shafer. Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park: This 40,000-square-foot indoor water park in French Lick is a popular year-round destination, offering a tropical-themed environment with water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and interactive play areas. Guests can zip down the Jolly Roger Jetty water slide and play basketball in the Lost Treasure Lagoon. Indiana’s diverse aquatic offerings cater to all ages and interests, ensuring every member of the family can find something enjoyable. The state’s commitment to maintaining and enhancing these aquatic attractions, along with its focus on safety and accessibility, makes it a top choice for families seeking memorable and exciting water-based adventures. So, dive into the fun and explore Indiana’s aquatic adventures, creating lasting memories and experiencing the joy of being surrounded by water in this picturesque state.

IU Nat NCAA Swimming

Aquatic Centers in Indiana

Those seeking an aquatic center experience have plenty of choices as many cities in the state feature centers with pools, water slides and other attractions. One of the finer examples is the Monon Community Center in Carmel. Monon’s waterpark boasts a variety of exciting features, including a lazy river where you can float along the gentle current. There are also several water slides, including a thrilling drop slide and a twisting slide that provides a fun and fast-paced ride. Other excellent centers include the recently opened Deaconess Aquatic Center in Evansville, Clarksville Cove Family Aquatic Center in Clarksville, and the Kokomo Beach Family Aquatic Center.

Dunes Beach in Indiana

Beautiful Indiana Beaches

Indiana’s beach scene is esteemed as it boasts several spectacular public beaches along Lake Michigan. The most famous is Indiana Dunes National Park, which is a stunning area located in northwestern Indiana. The park covers 15,000 acres of dunes, forests, wetlands, and beaches and is home to a diverse array of plant and animal species. The park was established as a national lakeshore in 1966 and was redesignated as a national park in 2019. It sports 15 miles of sandy beaches, which are popular for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. Visitors can also hike over 50 miles of trails that wind through the dunes and forests, offering beautiful views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

NCAA team rowing in Eagle Creek

Indiana Lakes and Rivers

With hundreds of lakes and more than 35,000 miles of river, Indiana has an incredible number of areas that are excellent spots for kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing, and even water skiing.

With 10,750 acres of water surface, Monroe Lake near Bloomington is the largest lake that is entirely situated within the state. Its expansive nature makes it a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming. The same can be said of Patoka Lake in Southern Indiana that features nearly 26,000 acres of land and water.

Lake Michigan is unmatched with its activity and beauty as it is home to several species of fish, including salmon, trout, and bass, making it an anglers’ favorite.

Indiana has a multitude of rivers that offer tubing and rafting experiences, such as the Tippecanoe River in northern Indiana and the Blue River in southern Indiana. Many companies in Indiana even offer boat tours of local waterways, including the Ohio River and Lake Michigan.

Indiana still has plenty more to offer travelers, whether looking for sports facilities or other attractions, so be sure to read our Indiana State Guide for more information