LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Lafayette residents may stay closer to home this summer, the biggest suspects, as the price of gas must be taken into account when planning a trip.
Unlike the college town of West Lafayette, when the number of those connected to Purdue University may disperse for the summer, population counts for Lafayette do not drop as dramatically, said Mayor Tony Roswarski. Factors such as high gas prices and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions may contribute to the number of stay-cations in Lafayette.
“(Our population) does change somewhat,” Tony Roswarski, a senior Lafayette said. “…I would say the population in Lafayette does decrease some in the summer, but nothing like West Lafayette.”
This decrease in population coincides with high gas prices affects many vacation industries, especially hotels.
“As far as inflating gas prices,” Roswarski said, “I do think that it will stop some folks from traveling. I think some people are going to have to make that hard decision on whether to take that vacation or not because of gas prices and even other inflation…
“Inflation has also hit hotel rooms pretty hard,” the mayor said, adding that the price of a hotel room has gone up recently. “We do have the water park, we do have the zoo, the baseball stadium, a lot of those things that people can do on a day drive.”
Not to worry, though, as Roswarski added, there are many local attractions in the Greater Lafayette area for locals to enjoy.
Here are some local highlights to spruce up your staycation.
Wildcat Creek Winery
Wildcat Creek Winery is a Lafayette-based winery that prides itself on producing wine using locally grown fruits. Visiting the antique Hoosier farmhouse, which serves as a tasting room, is a big draw to local visitors.
According to its website, there are multiple ways to visit Wildcat Creek Winery, whether it’s for a tasting, an event hosted by the winery, a private event held at the winery or even a virtual wine experience.
Wildcat Creek Winery is located at 3233 East 200 North in Lafayette. Learn more about visiting on its website, www.wildcatcreekwinery.com/home.
Haan Museum of Indiana Art
The Haan Museum of Indiana Art is home to collections by historic and contemporary Indiana artists, including works by TC Steele and the Hoosier Group, according to its website.
The museum is held within the 15,000 square foot Haan mansion – a 1904 World’s Fair mansion. Paintings, furniture, ceramics and more art work is featured within the museum. Behind the mansion is the sculpture garden; free for the public to peruse.
General admission to the mansion and museum is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-17-years-old. Private and group tours – such as for field trips – are available by appointment.
The Haan Museum of Indiana Art is located at 920 State Street in Lafayette.
Columbia Park Zoo
Since being founded in 1908, Columbian Park Zoo’s population of animals has grown since its original collection of: foxes, skunks, pelicans, deer, lynx, prairie dogs and wolves.
“Columbian Park Zoo’s mission is to encourage the appreciation of the world’s wildlife,” the Zoo’s website says, “to enhance the preservation and conservation of biodiversity and to inspire educational discovery and exploration in a fun, family-oriented environment for all citizens of the Greater Lafayette Area.”
Animals within the zoo come from locations all over the world, such as the United States, the Galápagos Islands and Australia. Emus, Barn Owls, North American River Otters and many more reside at Columbian Park Zoo for visitors to view and enjoy.
The Zoo is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm Visitors ages 3 and up are $2.00 for admission while those 2 and under are free.
Columbian Park Zoo is located at 1915 Scott Street in Lafayette.
Greater Lafayette farmer’s markets
Farmer’s markets are held throughout West Lafayette and Lafayette on Wednesdays and Saturdays, respectively, from May through October.
Lafayette’s market, held from 8a.m. to noon on Saturdays during the on-season, is a historic tradition that has lasted for over 165 years.
A total of 55 local vendors selling anything from fresh produce, handcrafted jewelry and housewares, pastries from local bakeries and much more are on display each Saturday.
West Lafayette’s market takes place from 3:30 to 7 pm on Wednesdays from May through October. Over 50 vendors are available each week to provide fresh baked bread, crafts, wine from local wineries and more.
Lafayette’s weekly farmer’s market takes place on 5th Street along two blocks between Main and Ferry Street and West Lafayette’s market is located at Cumberland Park, 3065 North Salisbury Street.
A nearby nature preserve
Kankakee Sands in northwest Indiana is a nearby nature preserve about an hour away from Lafayette. As the Journal & Courier recently reported, this preserve holds many family-friendly activities for its guests to enjoy.
Buffalo and bird watching and hiking trails are some of the biggest draws of Kankakee Sands.
“It’s an amazing place to see birds,” Melissa Moran, director of community programs for The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, said. “There are different kinds of species year-round…We’ve got a short-eared owl which is a big attraction for some of the birders too.”
A total of 8,400 acres of prairie and wetlands make up Kankakee Sands. This allows for multiple trails, including Conrad Station Trail, for visitors to enjoy.
When visiting Kankakee Sands, visitors are highly encouraged to bring their own water, food and sun protection. There are no bathrooms available at the preserve.
The bison viewing location and entry for Kankakee Sands is located at S 400 W, Morocco, Indiana.
Many events occur throughout the Summer in the Greater Lafayette area. This includes the first and second nationally-touring bands to visit Loeb Stadium this year.
Grammy Award-winning band America will perform at 7:30 pm at Loeb Stadium June 30. “A Horse with No Name” and “Ventura Highway” are two of the band’s most well-known songs. America was nominated for a Grammy in 1973, taking home the award for Best New Artist, as the Journal & Courier previously reported.
Lafayette Parks and Recreation also just announced the second nationally touring artist to perform at Loeb Stadium this Summer, that being country star Justin Moore.
Moore’s previous project “KINDA DON’T CARE,” earned him his third consecutive No. 1 debut album. Fans will recognize his hit songs “With a Woman You Love” and “We Didn’t Have Much”.
Moore will perform at 7:30 pm Friday, September 2 at Loeb Stadium. Tickets for both the America and Moore concerts are available on the Long Center for Performing Arts’ website.
Pools and water parks
As of Memorial Day, many of the Greater Lafayette area’s pools and waterparks opened for business.
Lafayette is home to Vinton Pool, located at Vinton Elementary School on Prairie Lane. Tropicanoe Cove also resides in Lafayette, offering visitors the Banana Peel tube slide, Cattail Crik and more.
Hours of operation and more information for Tropicanoe Cove can be found on its website.
The West Lafayette Municipal Pool was ahead of the game, opening the Friday before Memorial Day. Three heated pools with 250,000 gallon capacity, a baby pool that is less than 1 foot deep, and picnic areas are available to the pool’s visitors.
The Municipal Pool is located at 1200 N Salisbury St, behind Happy Hollow Elementary School.
Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her from her at [email protected] and follow her from her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.