Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Day Trips for the Holiday Break
By Marcia Frost

Once the cooking, baking and present opening is done, it’s time to relax and enjoy the holiday break. Unfortunately, that can also bring on cabin fever when there’s a week at home to deal with, especially with children. That’s when it’s time to plan a road trip or two and there are plenty of options from here.

The Covered Bridge Trails
I was feeling a bit bored myself and decided it was about time I checked out the Covered Bridges of Parke Country, Indiana. There is a total of 31 to explore in this scenic area filled with interesting Indiana food stops and trails. I highly recommend Aaron’s on the Square for delicious pizza, and a stop at Tasty Freeze for a huge selection of ice cream as well as food on the go.

I put together my own itinerary for a road trip (details are available below*). You can download a map or request a copy of all the Parke County Covered Bridge Trails on their website. There are many options and you can go many different ways from Central Illinois on a day trip.

Have fun before you go by getting the kids involved in planning your stops. This is a great trip to bring along your furry friends. You can include breaks with some fun time at Turkey Run State Park to get out a little and use up some of the energy from the car ride.

Christmas at the Zoo
This year’s holiday event at the Indianapolis Zoo is the best ever. I had the opportunity to preview Christmas at the Zoo and it was lots of fun, even without children along.

Santa’s Village is a great place to start and they’ve stocked it with things to do, including checking out Santa’s reindeer, visiting Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, and meeting Mr. Claus himself. The Polar Parkway is a popular photo stop, and (weather permitting) penguins are available to meet guests. The light displays throughout the zoo are magnificent and most of the animal exhibits are open during the evening festivities.

You’ll also find special food and drink options during Christmas at the Zoo, such as hot chocolate with $1 refills when you purchase a mug, Reindeer Chow with Chex Cereal, pretzels,

Marshmallows, M&M’s, and chocolate pieces, Holiday Bread Bowls filled with soup, and “Holiday Sundae,” a turkey dinner with the trimmings. Adults over 21 can imbibe with Yuletide Spiked

Cider (Hotel Tango Orangechello and allspice cider) or Marshmallow Bourbon Hot Chocolate (Hotel Tango Bourbon, hot Chocolate and marshmallow fluff).

Christmas at the Zoo begins at 5:00 pm each night and will continue through December 30th.

Head to Peoria
Peoria is just over an hour to get to and has a lot of opportunities for day trip activities. Visit the Riverfront Museum and Peoria Playhouse Museum. Hockey lovers can take in a game of the Rivermen at the Peoria Civic Center, where the Bradley’s Men’s Basketball Team also plays. At night, the East Peoria Festival of Lights will continue through New Year’s.

Wildlife Prairie Park, just outside the city of Peoria, is worth a day trip of its own. This 1800-acre playground is filled with hiking trains, wildlife, and picnic areas for relaxing in between. Check out there website for hours and details.

Bloomington-Normal

The Bloomington-Normal area is a short drive and filled with things to do this holiday season. I love the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal, filled with lots of hands-on activities. Right nearby is the Normal Theater, which is showing classic, family-friendly films through the end of the year. While in Normal, have lunch at Medici, a fun place with great food, and stop at Carl’s for homemade ice cream. In  Bloomington, you also have the Ice Center for skating and the 20,000 square foot Upper Limits Rock Climbing Gym and Iron Coyote Challenge Park,  two places I’m looking forward to checking out.

Chicago
The Windy City is always a great place to visit this time of year. For more ideas on how to spend your break, check out “10 Locations I Love in Chicago During the Holidays.

Be sure to Like  Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost on Facebook for more travel ideas, follow @Spiritstraveler on Instagram or Twitter, and read travel stories at my Wine And Spirits Travel blog.

*Marcia Frost’s Covered Bridge Trail
150 Miles Roundtrip
9 Stops in 8 Hours
6 Covered Bridges
3 Food Stops on Indiana Foodway Alliance
Bridgeton Visit of Waterfall and General Store

  1. Champaign to Dana
    Stop at Off the Tracks Café for pumpkin and cinnamon rolls
  2. Dana to Sim Smith Covered Bridge
  3. Sim Smith Covered Bridge to Phillips Covered Bridge
  4. Phillips Covered Bridge to Mecca Covered Bridge
  5. Mecca Covered Bridge to Downtown Rockville
    Lunch at Aaron’s on the Square
  6. Downtown Rockville to Roseville Covered Bridge
  7. Roseville Covered Bridge to Bridgeton
    Stop at Bridgeton Waterfall and General Store
  8. Bridgetown to Conley’s Ford Covered Bridge
  9. Conley Ford’s Covered Bridge to Montezuma
    Ice Cream at Tasty Freeze in Montezuma