Located across the scenic Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky in Southern Indiana, the region of Clark-Floyd Counties is affectionately nicknamed The Sunny Side of Louisville. This area makes for an enjoyable day trip for Midwesterners or can serve as a starting point for history buffs wishing to follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition. For parents looking for a day of fun with the kids, come along on my family’s sunny side adventures!
A giant mammoth welcomes visitors to Falls of the Ohio State Park’s Interpretive Center
A Mammoth, Fishies, Play Time & Potty Breaks
Our first stop was Falls of the Ohio State Park. In the lobby of the park’s Interpretive Center, we were greeted by an enormous mammoth, as well as replicas of other animals and humans that inhabited this area at various points in time. My husband and I quickly explored the exhibits, keeping a close eye on our wandering toddler. When we got to the end of the exhibit space, we realized there was a great play area for smaller children. If you visit with young kids, I recommend taking turns with another adult watching the kids in the play area, so that you can spend more time learning about this unique riverfront environment. There’s something for everyone, though, and our son did enjoy the large aquariums that feature fish and plants found in the Ohio River. There is also a short film shown in the theatre. Another reason to visit the Interpretive Center? That’s where you’ll find the park’s only restrooms.
My husband and son exploring the fossil beds at Falls of the Ohio State Park
Fossil Beds Exploration
From the center, we headed down toward the main attraction at the park – fossil beds along the Ohio River. If you have young kids, you’ll be glad to know there is a stroller-friendly ramp to reach river level. The fossil beds themselves are somewhat rugged terrain, and since we visited with a beginning walker we chose to use our backpack carrier while visiting the beds. This kept him dry and out of the water (where I’m sure he would have ended up), yet he still got a great view of the gorgeous scenery.
A fossil at Falls of the Ohio
Kids of all ages will be thrilled with the amount of fossils they’ll find. With each step I took, it seemed I was discovering a new fossil. There is also plenty of space to roam. We visited on a busy Saturday morning, and yet it never felt crowded. My only complaint about the park was the lack of an interpreter or park staff down at the river. I would have loved to ask someone a few questions about the fossils we were seeing.
Dining riverside at Rocky’s Sub Pub
Brews & Views
After having our fill of fossils, we were ready for lunch. From the park, we headed just up the street to Rocky’s Sub Pub. While Rocky’s offers gorgeous views of the Ohio River and Louisville skyline, the food was pretty average and a tad overpriced. They do offer a nice beer selection, specializing in microbrews from Indiana and Kentucky.
The beautiful façade of Schimpff’s Confectionary
A Flood of Candies
From Rocky’s, we ventured into downtown Jeffersonville, a quaint town along the river. Our first stop was Schimpff’s Confectionary. This candy shop has been operated by the Schimpff family since 1891. If you have older children, I recommend calling ahead and scheduling a tour since the history of the shop and the building is fascinating. Even if you don’t take a tour, definitely stop in. You can almost always catch a live show of candy making in one of the front windows, and the shop is a bustling hub of activity. Before you leave, look up at the building itself. You’ll see several lines marking various flood levels from the past century.
My son roaming the grounds of Riverfront Park
After picking up a few treats at Schimpff’s, we walked toward the river to explore Riverfront Park and Riverfront Stage. It’s a lovely set up for concerts and shows, with the river and Louisville skyline as your backdrop. There is a marina where kids can check out the boats docked and some open grassy areas perfect for a picnic lunch as you watch boats come up and down the river. We took our time here and let our son run all around the park while my husband and I nibbled on chocolates.
Orchards, Theatre & History
At this point in our journey our little guy was ready for a nap, so we enjoyed a quiet drive home. We’re already planning our next trip to this area. There are several orchards nearby that I’d love to visit next fall, or perhaps take in a show at the Derby Dinner Playhouse children’s theatre. Or maybe we’ll check out the many historical sites related to Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition.
There was more than just sun during our trip to the “Sunny Side of Louisville.” It really is a place with something for everyone, adults and kids alike.
Nicole Wiltrout is a stay-at-home mom and blogger living in Columbus, Indiana. Nicole writes about adventures at home and away with her husband and toddler son at arrowssentforth.blogspot.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @arrowssentforth. She has contributed posts to the Indiana Insider, Visit Indiana, Rookie Moms, and Go Explore Nature.