Photo courtesy of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari The flying carousel called the HalloSwings is an enduring favorite at Holiday World.

This holiday-themed fun spot is appropriately located in Santa Claus, Indiana. While its wooden roller coaster and traditional thrill rides are popular, the park is geared toward preschoolers. It's a favorite of parents who enjoy its low-key pleasures.

Built in 1946, the park was first known as Santa Claus Land and was billed as the nation's first amusement theme park. In 1984 the park was expanded to include three holiday motif sections: Christmas, Halloween, and Fourth of July. A water park was added a few years later. Its child-friendly attention to detail makes parents happy: Soft drinks, lemonade, and water are free, and complimentary self-serve sunblock dispensers are found throughout the park. Little kids can sit on Santa's lap year-round and enjoy a wide variety of rides and play areas. Family-friendly shows are a summer highlight and include musicals, professional diving, and Santa himself singing songs and reading stories.

Holiday World

Address: 452 E. Christmas Blvd., Santa Claus, IN

Phone: 812/937-4401 877/Go-FAMILY

Hours of Operation: May - Oct., Hours vary

Admission: $37.95 adults; $29.95 kids

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Indiana State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Indiana, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.