Affordable Adventures: Columbus, IN

The Columbus area marked the third stop for the summer road trip series. This region offers a good mix of history, adventure, and fun for families.  It’s easy to get to using Interstate 65. Columbus is a little more than an hour drive from Louisville.

Affordable Adventures: Columbus In. None

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WHAS11) – The Columbus area marked the third stop for the summer road trip series. This region offers a good mix of history, adventure, and fun for families.  It’s easy to get to using Interstate 65. Columbus is a little more than an hour drive from Louisville.

Here’s a quick look at our stops: (Click here to see the trip map)

COLUMBUS, INDIANA

Main Stops:

1.)    Freeman Army Airfield Museum in Seymour, IN

2.)    KidsCommons: Columbus’ Community Children’s Museum in Columbus, IN

Lunch: Zaharakos in Columbus, IN  

Detour: Graves of America’s First Train Robbers in Seymour, IN

Here’s a breakdown of our experiences on the road:

We started our day at our first main stop with Freeman Army Airfield Museum in Seymour, Indiana. The museum offers a rare glimpse into the training that happened there during and shortly after World War II. It also served as the center for the military to take a closer look at foreign aircrafts to get a better idea of what enemies were doing well and also discover their weaknesses in technology.

“Families and people, in general, should come here because we’re the repository of a lot of World War II history. Especially young people these days maybe don’t learn a whole lot about World War II,” curator Larry Bothe said. “If families bring their kids here, they can learn a little something about what keeps our country free these days.”

Cost:

For a family of four to visit the Freeman Army Airfield Museum, it’s totally free!

“Admission is free. Parking is free. What don’t you understand about free? We kindly ask that if you like the place, you leave a donation in the jar, but it’s free,” Bothe said.

For location, hours, and more information on the Freeman Army Airfield Museum, click here

From there, we made a stop at the detour of the day. The graves of America’s First Train Robbers just so happen to be in Seymour, Indiana. They sit on the edge of a local graveyard and have a plaque with the history of three Reno brothers who are buried there.

For location and more information on the graves, click here

From there, we stopped for lunch at Zaharakos in downtown Columbus. This restaurant is so unique and first opened in 1900. It’s an ice cream parlor and museum and offers fabulous food along with its incredible desserts and sodas. The space was restored about a decade ago as part of a passion project of sorts for a local businessman. It’s well-known for its décor all year long, but it goes all out during Christmas time.

“When you walk through the front doors, you are in 1900. You’ve stepped back in time to when they first opened the doors on October 20, 1900,” Zaharakos’ graphic designer, decorator, and historian Debra Slone said. “It’s a little bit like Disney Land. It’s a happy place. How many places can you walk in and just sit at a turn of the century soda bar with the mahogany and stained glass in the back and just have a banana split?”

We got to sample the Gom Cheeseburger for lunch. It’s similar to a sloppy joe and delicious! We also got to try several different homemade sodas and ice-cream treats like a banana split and Green River Float.

Cost:

For a family of four to visit Zaharakos, it’ll cost an average of $40.

For location, hours, and more information on Zaharakos, click here

From lunch, we headed to our second main stop of the day, KidsCommons: Columbus’ Community Children’s Museum. It’s basically a giant play place for kids and adults alike. There are so many fun and interesting activities for families to do in this space. We had an absolute blast and learned a lot, too!

From sliding down a giant toilet to playing with massive bubbles and exploring a replica house you’d see in Japan, we could’ve easily stayed at the museum all day long.

“You’re going to get some surprises,” executive director Ben Wagner said. “Every floor has something new to explore. You could spend quite a few hours here, leave, come back, and enjoy several different visits in one day. There are over 20 companies from Japan that are currently in Columbus right now. You can actually experience a traditional Japanese house, go in, put on Geta shoes, and learn a little bit about the Japanese culture while you’re in having a fun time with your family. Along the way, we’re hoping they learn plenty of things. Sometimes, they might not even know it.”

Cost:

For a family of four to visit the museum, it’ll cost an average of $28.

For location, hours, and more information on the museum, click here

There are plenty of other spots to visit while in the Columbus area. The city is very well-known for its architecture, which can be appreciated all over town. The Bartholomew County Veterans Memorial is free and open 24/7 outside the Bartholomew County Courthouse. We thought this tribute was especially moving. There are excerpts of letters fallen soldiers sent home during their time in the service etched in the giant limestone pillars.

For more ideas, click here

TODAY'S TOTAL:

$68

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Trip Map

An interactive map showing our whole trip.

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