Secret Midwest Staycation Jewel

In this season of graduations, I just enjoyed a wonderful high school reunion weekend in the Midwest. Even with fears of flooding from the Big Muddy, the people here are optimistic, enthusiastic and friendly. They invite you to come and spend time here. So this week, we’ve got some interesting, off the beaten path, Midwest sites to show you just in time for your family summer vacation planning.

Within a few hours drive from Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis and other Midwest cities lies an interesting town, Columbus, Indiana, full of significant modern architecture. If you’re planning a staycation close to home, you may want to include this as a family day- or weekend trip.

One of our friends discovered it on a trip back from visiting their daughter at Indiana University in Bloomington. A city of less than 40,000 residents, it boasts a collection of beautiful public architecture – a library designed by I.M. Pei, a bank by Eero Saarinen (who also designed the St. Louis Arch,) Richard Meier, among many others. In the 1950’s the townspeople had made a decision to live in attractive environment so they contracted with famous as well as up-and-coming architects to create an atmosphere of beauty. They even placed a stunning Rodin sculpture in front of the library.

Finding that their new schools, churches, corporate offices and other buildings would be enhanced by elegant landscaping, they also created lovely gardens and green areas around them. We were struck by the commitment of the townspeople to actively pursue a serene yet rewarding atmosphere for their daily lives.

If you take the kids with you and want to give them a real treat, you can stop for a sundae in a restored early 20th century ice cream parlor, filled with one hundred year old counters, syrup and ice cream machinery, and musical instruments. The vanilla malted milk was delicious!

As we drove out of town, over an impressive, architectural bridge, we thought about how we too could work to add beauty and grace to our daily lives. It may be a slow process but we can build on a strong foundation from the ground up and leave a legacy with our families to make everyone proud.

If you’ve discovered other secret vacation spots, perfect for family staycations, give us a shout out and share them here. With limited budgets and gasoline at over $4.00 a gallon, we need all the help we can get planning special times for our families this summer.

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