I've wanted to visit the French Lick/West Baden area for years, so we decided that it would be a great ride destination. Getting there from east central Indiana took us south and west on Indiana Highways 9 through Greenfield, 44 through Franklin, 37 past Bloomington, and 56 into the Hoosier Forrest. The hills, curves and forest make for excellent riding scenery. You will pass through the Limestone Capital of the world, Bedford Indiana, and you will know it by the signs and rock formation displays. The limestone mined around Bedford is of the quality that has made it good enough to be used in the Pentagon, the Empire State Building, the Builtmore Estate and the Washington National Cathedral.
Many have been draw toward this area of southwest Indiana over it's more than 100 years of rich history. The mineral springs were believed to be curative to bath in and drink. Several smaller hotels sprang up, but the two large hotels now standing, West Baden Springs Hotel, and French Lick Resort, are fully renovated and worth some time to stop and take a look to stretch your legs from the ride. Here's a bit of history. The 1855 Mile Lick Hotel burned in 1901, and was rebuilt at great cost in 1902 with the famous 'world's largest dome.' After the stock market crash in 1929, business declined and the hotel closed in 1932. In 1934 Jesuits bought the hotel for $1 and used it as a seminary until 1964. After years of neglect and attempts at preservation, it reopened in 2006-2007 as resort and casino.
You will definitely want to park in the designated motorcycle parking behind West Baden Springs Hotel and walk through the gardens and paths. Also, a short ride down the street is the French Lick Resort. Across the street is a square with restaurants, French Lick Harley Davidson store (no Harleys, except one on display) with T-shirts, other clothing and merchandise. We parked just beyond the square on Maple Street at a Bar and Grill called 22 Brink street, and enjoyed a pork chop dinner surrounded by sports memorabilia, including much from Larry Byrd. If you haven't had enough riding in by the time you've seen all this, take and extra loop through even more the Hoosier National Forrest by going around Patoka land and the hills and twists by taking 145 South, 164 West, 545 North and back on 56 East. This is the perfect ride and destination for lots of relaxing and getting away from it all, so you may want to take a few days here!