Not every trip is a vacation. Visits to family often involve shoehorning into their space, their life and their activities. While you may not in fact be working, you are not necessarily footloose and fancy-free. Add to that the need to see everyone you have ever met who lives in town, and this “vacation” has become even less relaxing.
You can still seize opportunities to discover something new. Call it a make-cation day. (Groan, I know, but my propensity for combining words is well documented here.)
I recently headed to central Indiana, and my make-cation took the form of a trip to Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards at the southern edge of the state (the tiny town of Starlight, to be exact). This complex offers so many cool things:
- Local, thoughtfully crafted wines (labels are designed by hometown girl Ellie Thomas, who even creates oil paintings often featured on the labels. Full disclosure: she is my cousin.)
- Their own hard alcohol, made on site at the Starlight Distillery (more on that later)
- A lovely restaurant, the Starlight Cafe
- Scenic outdoor seating under the shade of large trees
A lake filled with friendly koi fish, and surrounded by ducks, geese and swans, all happy to be fed handfuls of snacks from convenient coin-operated dispensers
- A large, well-stocked farm store offering produce, Amish goods, candies, gadgets and more
- An ice cream and cheese shop
- Exceedingly friendly staff
The site also features an expansive kids play area, called the Family Farm Park, where for $5 a person you can explore a bamboo maze (a yearlong alternative to the traditional corn maze), playhouses, a play structure, musical instruments, a giant slide and much more.
Huber’s kicks into high gear in advance of Halloween; I hear it’s very busy during that time of year. It wasn’t crowded on a Thursday in early June for our visit, though I’m sure things pick up on the weekend.
Huber’s already made applejack—a tasty, smooth whisky-like beverage made from bananas (just kidding, it’s apples), and brandy, in addition to various grape and even fruit-based wines. A change to Indiana liquor laws in 2013 allowed for the crafting of grain alcohol, and the company wasted no time. They established Starlight Distillery, and began with non-aged spirits like gin and vodka. They also put bourbons into production, with satisfying results. It will be interesting to see what batches come out in the next few years as they have time to age their product.
I came home with a bottle of Starlight Distillery Bourbon. All in all, we enjoyed a unique afternoon in the country, and appreciate a small local business that is rewriting the typical narrative for life and livelihood in this rural hamlet. It’s definitely worth checking out if you have a free day in the area.