Discover the Beauty of Fall in Lincoln’s Boyhood Home
and Surrounding Southern Indiana Area
by Carol Troesch,
Spencer County Visitors Bureau
Southern Indiana is known for its rolling hills, endless outdoor recreation, and great family fun, but did you know that it’s also the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln? Because of the area’s mild autumn days and cool evenings, it also produces some of the most striking and vibrant autumn colors, which makes it a great fall destination!
The fall foliage season, when the changing palette of deciduous trees is full of blazing color, is a terrific time to visit places that can offer not only an amazing views, but also allow you to enjoy some relaxing family activities.
Here, you can enjoy the rich colors of fall as you visit the fertile ground of Lincoln’s childhood home at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City. The memorial is located on the site where Lincoln lived with his family from age 7 to 21. The Visitor Center features two Memorial Halls, a museum with a variety of exhibits, and an orientation film. From the Memorial Center, it is a short walk up the Lincoln Boyhood Trail to the gravesite of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died of milk sickness in 1818.
Adjacent Lincoln State Park, established in 1932 as a memorial to Nancy Hanks, is the ideal place to relish nature. Walk the same trails as young Abe, while enjoying the spectacular color and natural beauty of the land through two scenic lakes, boat rental, camping, fishing, a nature center, walking trails, and picnic areas. The 1,747-acre park is sure to bring your family the relaxation and “down-time” you’ve been craving.
Nearby, Buffalo Run Farm, Grill & Gifts sits on the land where Abraham Lincoln’s cousin, Dennis Hanks, once lived. The theme of this property is commemorative of the Buffalo Trace, which once ran through Spencer County near Buffaloville. You’ll experience the Indiana Frontier, complete with a teepee, cabin, and a live herd. Visit the farm to see, and even feed, live buffalo!
Only a few miles away in nearby Rockport, Indiana, is the Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum. The museum will take you back in time with hundreds of fascinating artifacts from the area’s historic past, including a hutch made by Abraham’s father, Thomas Lincoln. The Pioneer Village also features 14 Lincoln-era replica cabins from throughout the county.
Visitors can also explore the riverfront under the bluff in Rockport and see where Abraham launched a flatboat to transport produce to New Orleans for a local merchant in 1828. Not only is this site rich with history and culture, but it also captures the beauty of the Ohio River Scenic Byway. Lincoln also operated a ferryboat service that carried passengers out to the passing steamboats on the mighty Ohio River. This commemorative spot can be found at Lincoln Ferry Park, a gorgeous shaded riverfront location with a picnic area and shelter house, where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
If you’re in search of some outdoor family fun, travel just a few miles down the road to Santa Claus, Indiana, where you can visit Santa’s Stables for a family-friendly horseback riding experience. Led by trained horseback guides, the wooded surroundings provide a perfect environment with multiple quaint trails. Rides with Peaches the Pony are sure to excite and amuse the younger children and you can also enjoy the ideal fall activity ‑ a hay ride! Frosty’s Fun Center features a Christmas-themed 18-hole miniature golf course, or you can enjoy a round of “real” golf on the Christmas Lake Golf Course, a championship 18-hole course that uses the beautiful southern Indiana landscape with tree-lined fairways, rolling hills, and sparkling lakes. The course also features a practice putting green, driving range, and a full-service golf shop.
You can also stop by nearby Monkey Hollow Winery to enjoy some of their award-winning wines. Nestled in the rolling hills, Monkey Hollow invites you to relax on their patio as you enjoy a pastoral view of the vineyard and surrounding countryside.
Your fall visit to Southern Indiana wouldn’t be complete without a trip to neighboring St. Meinrad, which features the Saint Meinrad Archabbey. The Benedictine tradition came to the Midwest in the 1850s, when the Swiss Abbey of Einsiedeln sent two monks to Indiana to start a new foundation. Today, the monastery of Saint Meinrad is a thriving community of about 100 monks who pray, work and live in community
As one of only two Archabbeys in the U.S. and one of only 11 in the world, your family will enjoy the opportunity to take a walk on the beautiful grounds, pray with the Benedictine monks, or visit the Gift Shop, which features a large selection of inspirational products.
The small chapel of Monte Cassino is located on a hill near the Archabbey. Beautifully surrounded by trees and panoramic views of the Anderson Valley, the shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a testament to the age-old tradition of seeking God.
The history of Monte Cassino Shrine tells how a novena to Our Lady of Monte Cassino is credited for saving the village of St. Meinrad from a smallpox epidemic in 1871. The faith that God's people placed in the intercession of Mary more than 130 years ago has not waned. Since the chapel's dedication in 1870, thousands of people have visited the sandstone chapel to offer their prayers and petitions.
Intermingled with many historic and family-fun attractions, farmland and forests still dominate the landscape in this beautiful part of the state, making it a simply amazing place to visit during the fall season.
If You Go:
The Spencer County Visitors Bureau can assist your family or group with an itinerary, welcome packet(s), lodging information, and a list of events throughout the county. For more information, contact the Visitor Bureau at (888) 444-9252 or visit www.IndianasAbeLincoln.org and www.SantaClausInd.org.