If you’ve previously visited French Lick on a family vacation, you’ll find that French Lick, Indiana offers a variety of activities for all ages for a girlfriend getaway or for a couples getaway.
There are two historic hotels in French Lick, Indiana with an assortment of activities for guests that are perfect for an adults-only getaway.
You’ll find that many of the hidden gems and adventures overlap as something that can also be enjoyed with kids.
I’m sharing more about the best things to do and the best places to visit in French Lick, Indiana for a good time.
Thanks again to Visit French Lick West Baden for hosting portions of our visit. All opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links.
Where is French Lick, Indiana Located?
French Lick, Indiana is located in Southern Indiana in Orange County, along the Hoosier National Forest.
Take A Guided Tour of the French Lick Springs Hotel Or West Baden Springs Hotel
A guided tour is a great way to learn more about the behind-the-scenes stories about the two hotels.
Both of the historic hotels are only a little over a mile away from each other and have incredible architecture and art to discover.
- Guided Historic Walking Tour of the West Baden Springs Hotel – 60-75 minutes
- Guided Historic Walking Tour of the French Lick Springs Hotel – 60- 75 minutes
- Twilight Tours: West Baden Springs Hotel – 60- 75 minutes
- Behind the Scenes Tours: West Baden Springs Hotel – 2 hours
*Special group tours and lectures are available by appointment.
French Lick Hotel previously known as French Lick Springs Hotel was built in 1845 by Dr. William Bowles.
As you walk around the lobby you’ll immediately be drawn to the incredible murals on the ceiling above and the gorgeous mosaic tiled floors.
Self-Guided Tours at French Lick Resort and West Baden Springs Resort
While exploring the grounds of either hotel you’ll find plaques on the Historical Walking Tour providing you with insight into the tidbits about the past.
There is also a complimentary shuttle to transport you between both hotels.
You can pick up a walking tour brochure at the Activities Center or from the French Lick Springs Hotel front desk.
You have to smile at the slogan displayed at the World Famous Pluto Spring.
It says “While here take our mineral baths. When nature WON’T Pluto will. America’s greatest laxative”
Drink Your Vitamins at The Birthplace of Tomato Juice
Did you know that French Lick claims to be the birthplace of tomato juice?
In 1917 tomato juice was first served as a beverage at French Licks Spring Hotel. Chef Louis Perin needed a quick substitute when he ran out of orange juice.
The chef’s drink made with ripe tomatoes, a touch of sugar, and his secret sauce became a success and grew in popularity with Chicago businessmen.
During your visit, you can take a swig in honor of the juice’s roots or enjoy it as your complimentary starter if you’re dining at 1875: The Steakhouse.
They also use tomato juice in their Bloody Mary cocktail at The Steakhouse.
Take the Historic Signature Pluto Bath at French Lick Springs Hotel
The mineral bath was a splurge but we thought that we might as well take advantage of the benefits of soaking in water from the famous mineral springs. Generations of tourists have been drawn to the hotel since the 1800s.
I had previously experienced the full traditional bath treatment at Buckstaff Bathhouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas which is similar to what guests experienced in the early 1900s. I wanted to see how it differed.
The Historic Signature Pluto Bath takes place within an individual room with a private tub.
The best thing about mineral water’s benefits is that it’s known to nourish the skin and help alleviate stress and pain.
Your attendant will give you an overview of what to expect along with instructions for how to make your bath water warmer or colder.
I found the bath experience at the French Lick Hotel to be less primitive and more private than my bath experience in Hot Springs.
Another difference between baths was the smell. The mineral bath was odorless in Hot Springs but in contrast The Springs at French Lick Resort had a slight scent of sulfur
The good news is that you can’t smell the sulfur on your skin even after soaking in the mineral water!
The soaking bath lasts 25 minutes but the parlor is a great place to relax before or after your bath. The mineral water can also work as a bit of a laxative so just a heads up.
Compare the Luxurious Spas at French Lick Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel
Both historic hotels have luxurious spas that offer spa treatments.
The Spa at French Lick Hotel:
- 27,000 sq feet spa 28 treatment rooms
- Luxurious massage, body treatments, facials, manicures, and pedicure options
- Sacred Stone Massage Experience, Aromatherapy Massage, Swedish Massage, Couples Massage
- Signature treatments – Moroccan Rhassoul Clay Wrap is another popular treatment), Scrumptious Body Scrub
- Historic Signature Pluto Bath (25 minutes)
The Spa at West Baden Hotel:
- 28,000 sq. foot, two-level natatorium
- Full-service spa with 12 treatment rooms
- Health club
- An indoor lap pool
- Facial Treatments
- Bamboo Massage, Aromatherapy Massage, Swedish Massage, or Couples Massage
- Signature treatment – Moroccan Rhassoul Clay Wrap
- Historic Signature Sprudel Bath (25 minutes)
*Make sure that you arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled treatment.
A dry sauna is in the men’s and women’s tranquility rooms. You will have access directly before and after your treatment.
Enjoy the Outdoor Activities and Amenities
There are plenty of outdoor activities for visitors and resort guests to choose from at French Lick Resort.
*Access to some activities may be for overnight guests only.
Golf Courses at French Lick Resort
There are several golf courses to choose from at French Lick Resort
- Pete Dye Course (In 2015, this golf course hosted the Senior PGA Championship)
- Donald Ross Course
- Valley Links Course
Additional Activities at French Lick Resort
- Pluto’s Alley – Bowling Alley
- Shopping/ gift shop
- French Lick Casino
- Sporting Range – Archery and Sporting Clays
- Golf Courses
- Indoor Pool
- Outdoor Pools and hot tub
- Bike and Surrey Rental (Spring-Fall)
Buffalo Trace Trails
You have two hiking trail options for Buffalo Trace Trails that are open for hikers and mountain bikers. There is a 5.5-mile loop trail and a 3.5-mile waterfall loop.
Lodging in French Lick, Indiana
The majority of tourists who visit French Lick, Indiana stay at one of the hotel properties at French Lick Resort – French Lick Springs Resort, West Baden Springs Hotel, or Valley Tower Hotel.
Dine or Relax Under the Dome Previously Known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”
The 200-foot dome at West Badin Springs Resort was previously known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” in awe of the architectural accomplishment.
We enjoyed live music while dining underneath the giant atrium dome that opened in 1902.
The dome at the West Baden Hotel was the largest free-standing dome for more than 50 years before modern sports domes used a similar design.
You’ll find plenty of seating throughout the atrium where you can relax and admire the architectural wonder.
For a fun picture of your group, set your cell phone on the ground and set a timer to capture the ceiling of the dome.
If you’re into scary movies you may recognize the hotel as the filming location for the 2022 movie “So Cold the River.”
Look for the Rookwood Fireplace in West Baden Historic Hotel
As a Cincinnati area native, I have to point out the fireplace in the atrium made with Rookwood Pottery a local Cincinnati company established in 1880 by a female entrepreneur.
Additional Dining Options at French Lick Resort
- 1875: The Steakhouse – French Lick Springs Hotel
- Sinclair’s Restaurant – West Baden Springs Hotel
- Table One – West Baden Springs Hotel ( A Chef’s tasting table and a unique private dining experience for groups of up to 10.)
- Power Plant Bar and Grill – French Lick Springs Hotel
- The Grand Colonnade Restaurant – French Lick Springs Hotel
- Pluto’s Pizzeria – French Lick Springs Hotel
- Cafe Sinclair’s – West Baden Springs Hotel
Relax on the Porch of Either Historic Hotel
You can’t go wrong some time spent sitting on a rocking chair on either of the historic porches.
The additional seating area on the porch at French Lick Springs Resort is larger than West Baden Springs Resort.
Each porch has it’s own character and charm so I would try to make time for a few minutes at both if you can.
One of the perks of the porch at the West Baden Springs Hotel is that it overlooks the beautiful gardens too.
Interesting Exhibits in the Historic Hotels
Be on the lookout for an assortment of memorbilia and artifacts on display at both hotels.
The West Baden Springs Hotel Museum has a great collection of artifacts to view.
It’s also fun to see how many guests you recognize on the “Wall of Distinguished Guests at French Lick Springs Resort.
Look for Hidden Notes in the West Baden Springs Hotel Library
8538 W Baden Ave, West Baden Springs, Indiana
Inside the library at the West Baden Springs Hotel, there are books with hidden notes inside.
A hotel employee discovered the first hidden notes in a few books in the library in 2012.
Since then, travelers have been sharing their thoughts, memories, confessions, love letters, and more in notes inside random books, that are tucked away on library shelves.
See the World’s Largest Circus Diorama at the French Lick West Baden Museum
469 S Maple St Suite #103, French Lick, IN
I would recommend visiting the French Lick West Baden Museum AFTER exploring both of the hotel properties to have a point of reference.
You’ll learn more about the history of French Lick and its special mineral water that drew people to the historic hotels.
There are also exhibits about the hometown connection to NBA star Larry Bird who played for the Boston Celtics, and you can see the world’s largest circus diorama.
It took 40 years to build the 1.100 square-foot Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus miniature model.
There are thousands of miniature animals and people between 3 circus scenes (circus by rail, a circus parade, and the circus in action) depicted during the 1920s era.
Take a Ride on the French Lick Scenic Railway
8594 West State Road 56, French Lick, IN
The French Lick Scenic Railway is operated by the Indiana Railway Museum.
Select your train ride of choice based on who you’re traveling with.
French Lick Scenic Railway Train Excursions To Choose From
- Scenic Train Rides – A 1.75 hour, 18-mile round trip scenic train ride that travels through parts of the Hoosier National Forest. It also goes through Burton Tunnel, the second-longest train tunnel in Indiana,
- Chocolate Tasting Train – A 1.25-hour train ride for 21+ and up with chocolate paired with chocolate confections and cocktails.
- Bourbon Tasting Train – A 1.25-hour train ride for 21+ and up with a bourbon tasting paired with a tasting-sized dish.
- Wild West Express -Get caught up in Wild West hold-ups with outlaws and lawmen.
- The Polar Express – A Magical ride to the “North Pole.”
- Dinosaur Adventure Train – A 2.5-hour-long experience that’s filled with a prehistoric adventure. Includes a train ride to and from the Paleo Adventure Camp.
- Summer Splash Bash – A 2.5-hour-long experience that includes a journey to Summerville. Includes time on inflatable water slides, mini-golf, temporary tattoos, a foam canon, and more.
- Easter Bunny Express – A 2-hour Egg-stravaganza that includes a train bound for “Easterhopolis” with an egg hunt for guests ages 0-11.
Try Your Luck at French Lick Casino
8670 IN-56, French Lick, IN
If you like to gamble French Lick Casino has a 24/7 gaming floor with slots, table games, and sports betting for ages 21+.
Guests can appreciate that French Lick Casino is the only fully non-smoking casino in Indiana.
Enjoy a Spirit Tasting or Wine Tasting at French Lick Winery
8145 W Sinclair St, West Baden Springs, IN
Do you prefer spirits or wine?
You don’t have to choose at French Lick Winery that has a tasting room where you can enjoy a tasting of your preference with their wine or products from Spirits of French Lick.
If you get hungry during your tasting you don’t have to go far because the same building also hosts Rishi’s, a restaurant with a Caribbean-inspired menu.
Visit the Tasting Room at Patoka Lake Winery
2900 Dillard Rd, Birdseye, IN
Patoka Lake Winery offers a variety of wines for guests to taste including fruit wines, reds, whites, dry, semi-sweet, semi-dry, and sweet.
A wine tasting includes 8 tastes, wine and wine slushies, and a free PLW glass. The winery tasting room is within a short drive of Patoka Lake which makes for a great stop pre or post-lake day.
Enjoy Time at Patoka Lake
The 8800-acre lake is a hot spot in the summer with 2 marinas, 10 boat ramps, boat rentals, a beach, hiking trails, a nature center, cabin rentals, camping, and more.
Patoka Lake is also a popular spot for viewing bald eagles and even has freshwater jellyfish and no they don’t sting.
You can book a Sunset Wine Tour by Patoka Lake Marina during the summer months or a fall foliage wine cruise in the fall.
Explore Downtown French Lick and Nearby Attractions
Many of the attractions are so much fun for adults and kids. If you’re visiting these attractions kid-free you can have a great time within a short drive of the grand hotels.
8582 W College Street, French Lick, IN
Escape! French Lick LLC offers three themed escape rooms (Where’s Harry, Al Capone, and Time Capsules.) An escape room is a fun and unique way to create team building in 60 minutes or less.
8331 State Road 56, West Baden Springs, IN
The indoor karting facility features a quarter-mile adult track where karts can reach speeds of up to 40mph! There is also a family fun center complete with 30+ arcade games to play.
8529 W. St. Rd. 56, French Lick, IN
Shotz has an indoor and outdoor mini-golf, laser tag, and laser maze.
480 S Maple St, French Lick, IN
If you or someone you’re traveling with is a sports fan, you’ll love the sports memorabilia on display and throughout the restaurant at 33 Brick Street.
Legendz Sports Bar & Grill is another local favorite family restaurant and bar with sports memorabilia on the walls and pool tables.
Ice Cream Stop at French Licks
469 S Maple St., French Lick, IN
This is a great stop for artisan ice cream and specialty coffee. For the best of both worlds order an affogato whitch combines the two.
The Bear Hollow wood carvings displayed by local artisans are incredible. You can see a glimpse of the Larry Bird carving in the image above.
Feed Animals on the Drive-Thru Safari Wilstem Wildlife Park
4229 US-150, Paoli, IN
If you love animals, you’ll experience non-stop laughs as you attempt to feed the animals who come to your vehicle window during the drive-thru safari at Wilstem Wildlife Park.
There are over 30 animals for you to view from the comfort of your vehicle.
You’ll want to hold the cup with two hands because the animals can easily knock it out of your hand within their first few nibbles.
Book An Animal Encounter at Wilstem Wildlife Park
4229 US-150, Paoli, IN
Wilstem offers several options for guests for animal encounters.
I’ve experienced the Elephant Encounter where you can help pamper and bathe an elephant and the Otter Encounter at Wilstem. I think that both experiences were worth the price.
One of the amazing things about interacting with otters is that they are just like toddlers.
Otters are all about eating, sleeping, and having fun which makes watching and interacting with them pure JOY!
The Private Otter Encounter lasts 30 minutes and includes education and an opportunity to feed the otters their snacks.
Additional Animal Encounters at Wilstem Wildlife Park
- Giraffe Encounter
- Sloth Encounter
- Roos and Crew
Additional Activities at Wilstem Wildlife Park
- Zip lining
- Horseback riding
- Light Show
*ATV tours at Wilstem have been discontinued.
Relax and Play at Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark
8505 IN-56, French Lick, IN
You can relax and play in the 40,000-square-foot indoor waterpark.
If you’re feeling daring try the water slides or enjoy a laid-back ride on the lazy river.
Go Skiing, Snowboarding, or Snow Tubing at Paoli Peaks
If you visit in the winter, Paoli Peaks offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.
The highest elevation is 900 feet and the base elevation is 600 feet. There are 15 ski trails, 1 terrain park, and 8 chair lifts.
Artic Blast Tubing Park is the perfect place for winter fun if you want to enjoy the fun of snow tubing without the work of walking back up the hill.
Snow tube rentals are included in your fee and it’s 1 person per tube but snow tubes can be linked together.
There are 10 lanes for snow tubing for guests to choose from.
The snow tubing park is a separate ticket from the lift ticket for skiing and is booked in sessions of 2-hour increments.
After you go down the hill you can take the moving sidewalk back up to the top of the snow tubing hill.
Take a Tour of Marengo Cave U.S. National Landmark
400 East State Rd 64, Marengo, IN (37 minutes away) (12 minutes away)
Marengo Cave is Indiana’s most visited natural attraction that offers two different cave tours to the public.
Crystal Palace tour is a 40-minute that takes guests past flowstone deposits and through formation-filled rooms.
The other tour at Marengo Cave is the 60-minute Dripstone Trail which features a penny ceiling, soda straws, and totem pole stalagmites.
Check out these tips before you visit Marengo Cave.