Hidden Gems and Unique Things to Do in French Lick, Indiana

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.

mural in French Lick Indiana

Thanks again to Visit French Lick West Baden for hosting portions of our visit. All opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links.

West Baden Springs Hotel French Lick Indiana

Where is French Lick, Indiana Located?

French Lick, Indiana is located in Southern Indiana in Orange County, along the Hoosier National Forest.

West Baden Springs Hotel French Lick Indiana

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.

murals on ceiling French Lick Springs Hotel

Both of the historic hotels are only a little over a mile away from each other and have incredible architecture and art to discover.

French Lick Resort

Guided Tours Offered by Indiana Landmarks

  • 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.

Lobby at French Lick Springs Hotel

French Lick Hotel previously known as French Lick Springs Hotel was built in 1845 by Dr. William Bowles.

mosaic tile at French Lick Springs Hotel

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.

Historical Walking Tour French Lick Indiana

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.

shuttle for French Lick Resort

There is also a complimentary shuttle to transport you between both hotels.

the springs Historical Walking Tour French Lick Indiana

You can pick up a walking tour brochure at the Activities Center or from the French Lick Springs Hotel front desk.

world famous Pluto Spring natural spring at French Lick Resort

You have to smile at the slogan displayed at the World Famous Pluto Spring.

World Famous Pluto Springs French Lick Indiana

It says “While here take our mineral baths. When nature WON’T Pluto will. America’s greatest laxative”

tomato juice historic marker

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.

canned tomato juice

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.

mineral bath at French Lick Resort

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.

Historic Signature Pluto Bath at French Lick Springs Hotel

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.

Historic Signature Pluto Bath at French Lick Springs Hotel

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!

tranquility room at French Lick Resort

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.

indoor pool at West Baden Hotel

Compare the Luxurious Spas at French Lick Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel

sign for mineral baths

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.

outdoor pool at West Baden Springs Hotel

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 French Lick Resort

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
 indoor pool at French Lick Springs Hotel

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 hiking trails near West Baden Springs Hotel

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.

 room at French Lick Springs Hotel

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.

dining in West Baden Historic 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.

dessert at Sinclair's Restaurant West Baden Springs Hotel

We enjoyed live music while dining underneath the giant atrium dome that opened in 1902.

atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel

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.

Dome at West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

You’ll find plenty of seating throughout the atrium where you can relax and admire the architectural wonder.

ceiling of atrium West Baden Springs Hotel

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.

atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel

If you’re into scary movies you may recognize the hotel as the filming location for the 2022 movie “So Cold the River.”

Rookwood fireplace in West Baden Historic Hotel

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.

stuff French Toast at Cafe Sinclair's

Additional Dining Options at French Lick Resort

Fine Dining

  • 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.)
drinks at Power Plant Bar and Grill

Casual Dining

  • 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
front Porch at French Lick 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.

front Porch at West Baden Springs Hotel

The additional seating area on the porch at French Lick Springs Resort is larger than West Baden Springs Resort.

West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

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.

grounds for West Baden Hotel

One of the perks of the porch at the West Baden Springs Hotel is that it overlooks the beautiful gardens too.

Exhibit with Pluto mineral water

Interesting Exhibits in the Historic Hotels

Be on the lookout for an assortment of memorbilia and artifacts on display at both hotels.

West Baden Springs Hotel Museum

The West Baden Springs Hotel Museum has a great collection of artifacts to view.

Distinguished guests at French Lick Resort

It’s also fun to see how many guests you recognize on the “Wall of Distinguished Guests at French Lick Springs Resort.

West Baden Springs Hotel Library

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.

Library at West Baden Springs Resort

A hotel employee discovered the first hidden notes in a few books in the library in 2012.

hidden notes at West Baden Springs Hotel Library

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.

world’s largest circus diorama at French Lick West Baden Museum

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.

Pluto water exhibit at French Lick West Baden Museum

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.

world’s largest circus diorama at French Lick West Baden Museum

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.

French Lick Scenic Railway

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

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.
French Lick Casino

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.

Spirit Tasting at French Lick Winery

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.

Patoka Lake Winery

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.

Patoka Lake in Indiana

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.

Downtown French Lick Indiana

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.

Escape! French Lick LLC

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.

French Lick/West Baden Indoor Karting

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.

Cosmic Golf at Shotz


8529 W. St. Rd. 56, French Lick, IN

Shotz has an indoor and outdoor mini-golf, laser tag, and laser maze.

basketball on display at 33 Brick

33 Brick Street

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

Legendz Sports Bar & Grill is another local favorite family restaurant and bar with sports memorabilia on the walls and pool tables.

French Lick's Ice Cream in French Lick Indiana

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.

emu at Wilstem Wildlife Park drive thru safari

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.

camel at Wilstem Wildlife Park drive thru safari

There are over 30 animals for you to view from the comfort of your vehicle.

antelope at Wilstem Wildlife Park drive thru safari

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.

otter encounter at Wilstem Wildlife Park

Book An Animal Encounter at Wilstem Wildlife Park

4229 US-150, Paoli, IN

Wilstem offers several options for guests for animal encounters.

woman helping give an elephant a bath at Wilstem

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.

Otter Encounter at Wilstem

One of the amazing things about interacting with otters is that they are just like toddlers.

otter encounter at Wilstem Wildlife Park

Otters are all about eating, sleeping, and having fun which makes watching and interacting with them pure JOY!

otter encounter at Wilstem Wildlife Park

The Private Otter Encounter lasts 30 minutes and includes education and an opportunity to feed the otters their snacks.

Giraffe at Wilstem

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.

Big Splash Adventure French Lick Indiana

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.

Big Splash Adventure French Lick Indiana

If you’re feeling daring try the water slides or enjoy a laid-back ride on the lazy river.

ski lift at Paoli Peaks
Image Courtesy of Visit French Lick West Baden

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.

Paoli Peaks is also part of the Epic Pass which is a great value for avid skiers or snowboarders who enjoy visiting multiple resorts including skiing out west.

Arctic Blast Tubing Park Snow Tubing Paoli Peaks
Image Courtesy of Visit French Lick West Baden

Arctic Blast Tubing Park

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.

Marengo Cave Park

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.

Marengo Cave Park

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.

Post Office Santa Claus Indiana

Additional Adventures in Southern Indiana

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