Thu, June 22: Depart Indianapolis via deluxe motorcoach for Aurora, Indiana, “the City of Spires,” in Dearborn County. Meet an artist at the Southeastern Indiana Art Guild Studio/Gallery for a hands-on painting project. Eat lunch in the taproom at the Great Crescent Brewery followed by a beer bread making demonstration. In the mid-19th century, the Gaff brothers of Aurora (one of whom owned the stately Hillforest mansion) launched a beer-making enterprise they dubbed the Crescent Brewery. Proceed to Greystone Farm for a master beekeeper presentation and honey tasting. Shop the farm market and learn about the history and renovation of the owners’ adjacent residence, a former one-room schoolhouse. Return to Aurora to tour the historic jail and Council Chambers with an Aurora historian. Dinner tonight is a real treat! A progressive dinner through two mansions allows you to tour and dine at each. Gather in the double parlors of Hillforest Victorian House Museum for an elegant dinner followed by a tour of the mansion by costumed guides. Home to industrialist and financier Thomas Gaff and his family between 1855 and 1891, the mansion is built in an Italianate-style with unique steamboat-style architecture, and transports you to the time when sternwheelers plied the Ohio River and the town was a hub of progress and industry. After the tour, proceed to Veraestau Estate for a tour and dessert buffet served in the formal dining room. Located high on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River, Veraestau captures a long sweep of Indiana’s architectural history and was originally built in 1810 by Jesse Helman, who helped write Indiana’s first constitution. Both homes are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After dessert transfer to the DoubleTree Lawrenceburg for one night. (Meals: Lunch, Dinner)
Fri, June 23: Check out of the hotel and enjoy breakfast with a County Historian who will give a short talk about the history and future development of the river. Head to Stream Cliff Herb Farm in Commiskey, where you will learn about growing and harvesting herbs and flowers to blend your own potpourri. Have lunch in the farm’s restaurant, Twig & Sprigs Tearoom. There will be time to shop and enjoy a wine tasting in the farm’s winery, too. Transfer to Madison in Jefferson County, known for its location on the Ohio River and its historic shotgun houses. After a city tour with a local guide, you’ll have free time to shop and explore this charming river town. Madison was the hometown of singer and actress Irene Dunne (best known for Showboat, Roberta, I Remember Mama, and her movies with Cary Grant in the 1930s and 40s), and there is a historic marker on East Main Street in front of the town’s Ohio Theatre. Dinner is on your own in Madison before returning to Indianapolis. (B,L)
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Lawrenceburg, Lawrenceburg
Built in 2014, this highly-praised hotel overlooks the Ohio River and is within walking distance to the nearby Hollywood Casino. Highlights: comfortable, spacious guestrooms with modern decor • alarm clocks with iPod docks • in-room coffee makers • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • restaurant • bar/lounge • room service (limited hours) • 24-hour fitness center • snack shop.