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The iconic dome atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel

The Ultimate Guide to French Lick, Indiana

If you are looking for a sophisticated getaway, look no further than French Lick, Indiana. We were searching for a nearby destination to celebrate my husband’s birthday, and French Lick was the perfect place for a weekend trip, just an hour drive from Bloomington, Indiana. French Lick is a small, charming town located in Southern Indiana with two beautifully restored historic hotels, world-class spas, championship golf, a casino, and so much more. During our visit, we enjoyed relaxing in a beautiful room at West Baden Springs, indulging in amazing food, tasting local wines, and trying our luck at the casino. If you are considering a trip, check out our ultimate guide to visiting French Lick, Indiana.

History of French Lick

Historic image of West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: West Baden Springs Hotel via

French Lick is renowned for its historic mineral springs that made it famous as a spa town. Dr. Williams Bowles originally built the French Lick Springs Hotel in 1845, attracting guests from all over to experience the “miracle waters” from the natural sulfur springs. In 1850 another health resort opened just a mile up the road, eventually known as West Baden Springs. 

Following a fire in 1901 that destroyed West Baden Springs, owner Lee Sinclair rebuilt the resort with the world's largest free-span dome, stretching 200 feet. Meanwhile, the owner of French Lick Springs bottled and sold “Pluto Water,” the hotel’s branded mineral spring water, until its production ended in 1971 after it was found to have contained traces of Lithium. During its heyday, The French Lick resort and casino hosted a variety of guests from Al Capone to Louis Armstrong. Unfortunately, during the great depression, the French Lick Resort was abandoned and left to disrepair.

In 2005,  Bill and Gayle Cook, along with son Carl, from Bloomington, Indiana became involved in restoration of West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Springs Hotel in partnership with the nonprofit preservationist group, Indiana Landmarks. The refurbished French Lick Springs Hotel and its new casino officially opened in November 2006, with restorations on West Baden Springs beginning soon after. Overall, it required about $600 million to restore the resort to its current glory. 

Getting Around French Lick

The beautiful West Baden Springs Hotel and Trolley in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: West Baden Springs Hotel via

French Lick is a very small town and easy to navigate. When staying at the French Lick Resorts, take advantage of the free shuttle service that operates 24/7, transporting guests to all resorts, the casino, local restaurants and more. This service is extremely convenient, allowing you to forget about your car and rely on this service for the duration of your stay. There are designated stops at the resorts and casino where you can wait for the shuttle. If dropped off at an off-site location, like a local restaurant or winery, you can call the shuttle service for a pick-up. During our recent stay, despite extremely cold weather, we were able to stay warm while traveling from West Baden Springs Hotel to the French Lick Springs Hotel, the casino, and other various locations.

Another option for travel between hotels is the French Lick Resort Trolley, a 1930 rail car that operates 7 days a week, 365 days a year. However, be aware that in extremely cold temperatures, like during our stay when it was about 3 degrees Fahrenheit, the trolley may not be running.

Where to Stay in French Lick

The French Lick Resort consists of three hotels: West Baden Springs, French Lick Springs, and the Valley Tower. All three hotels offer complimentary valet and self parking, luggage and golf club storage, concierge services, and are pet friendly with advance notice. The children’s center is also available to guests, offering supervised activities including painting, video games, crafts and board games. Bikes and Surrey carts are also available to rent at the KidsFest Lodge.

The beautiful West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Stay at the luxury West Baden Springs Hotel with its iconic 200-foot free-span dome atrium, once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Ideal for a romantic getaway, West Baden offers an elegant charm with modern amenities. Amenities include a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pool, indoor hot tub, and more. During our stay, we enjoyed a room with an atrium view, daily live music in the atrium from 5-9pm, and a king-sized bed that was one of the most comfortable we’ve experienced. The room also featured amazing views of the atrium, a mini bar, Starbucks coffee, and luxurious robes.

Premium Atrium View King Guest Room

West Baden Springs Hotel Amenities

Beautiful exterior of the French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: French Lick Springs Hotel via

Established in 1845, this charming hotel is perfect for getaways and families with its kids’ activity center and indoor/outdoor pools. The hotel offers a bowling alley/arcade, fitness center, outdoor lawn games, outdoor hot tub, and live music in the lobby from 5-10pm on weekends. 

French Lick Springs Hotel Amenities

New and modern guest rooms in the Valley Tower Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: The Valley Tower Hotel via

The Valley Tower Hotel is French Lick’s newest hotel and is connected to the French Lick Springs Hotel and all its amenities, as well as the French Lick Casino. These modern rooms all have a mini fridge and a coffee/tea maker. 

What to Do in French Lick

Take a trip back in time with tours offered by French Lick Resort, including hotel-specific tours, historian tours, a historical trolley tour, or a self-guided walking tour. Learn about the rich history of this area, including which U.S. President announced his candidacy at the French Lick Springs Hotel. Proceeds from these tours benefit Indiana Landmarks, an organization dedicated to preserving architecturally unique and historically significant locations throughout the state of Indiana.

Play a round of golf at courses designed by Pete Dye, Donald Ross, and Tom Bendelow, all located at the French Lick Resort.

The Pete Dye Course hosted the Senior PGA Championship in 2015 and is known for its 40-mile panoramic views of the southern Indiana countryside. Senior PGA champion Colin Montgomerie called it "one of the iconic courses" in America.

This award-winning course was designed by  Donald Ross in 1917. This par-70 course has been rated the No. 2 public course in Indiana by Golfweek every year since 2011. 

A nine-hole, fully walkable course for golfers of all skill levels and ages.

The Pete Dye golf course in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: French Lick Golf via

Book a massage, scrub or facial at The Spa at French Lick or The Spa at West Baden for a relaxing treatment. Or even relax in a native mineral spring bath unique to The Spa at West Baden. 

The Spa at West Baden in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: French Lick Resort Spas via

Check out the 51,000 sq. ft. casino with 27-foot ceilings and a 9,500 sq. ft. non- smoking room with 1,000 new and classic slots, video poker and 37 table games, including blackjack, craps, roulette and more.

Enjoy an elegant afternoon tea located in the West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium. Enjoy finger sandwiches, scones and other sweet and savory treats, choosing from a selection of gourmet teas while listening to live harp music. 

  • Available from 2pm - 4pm

  • $50 adults; $25 children 12 and younger

  • Reservations required: (812) 936-5579

Afternoon tea in the atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

The French Lick Winery has more than 30 wines available for tasting, from their popular Traminette to their sweet fruit wines. Try any number of their wines for a $6 wine tasting.

Wine tasting at French Lick Winery in French Lick Indiana

This 1930 rail car takes you to and from the French Lick Springs Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel. The service is complimentary for resort guests and operates 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Be aware that in extremely cold temperatures, like during our stay when it was about 3 degrees Fahrenheit, the trolley may not be running.

Take a ride on horseback at The Stables or enjoy an evening tour in a horse-drawn carriage at West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Springs Hotel.

Located in the French Lick Springs Hotel, find the arcade and a six-lane bowling alley and pizza joint, Pluto’s Pizzeria. Rent a lane for $50/hour for up to five people.

Explore 11 miles of trails throughout the property of French Lick Resort and the Hoosier National Forest. 

Trains at this tourist railroad and museum travel 10 miles through a half-mile tunnel. The Polar Express, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the Dinosaur Train are annual special activities the whole family will enjoy.

Explore Patoka Lake

Enjoy water sports, fishing and much more at Patoka Lake. Facilities include a modern 455- site campground, two marinas, nine boat-launching ramps, hiking trails, 17 miles of paved bike trails, an exercise trail, disc golf course, archery range, swimming beach and visitors’ center.

Where to Eat in French Lick

Café Sinclair’s in West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Start your morning at Cafe Sinclair’s where breakfast is served daily from 7-11am. The menu offers classic breakfast dishes, and we highly recommend trying the eggs benedict with the breakfast potato casserole. However, the true highlight of this meal was the delicious stuffed french toast!

Delicious stuffed french toast at Cafe Sinclair's in West Baden Springs Hotel

Maddy and Max enjoying a steak dinner at 1875 The Steakhouse in French Lick Indiana

Situated within the French Lick Springs Hotel and named after the date of the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, this steakhouse serves 100% premium aged Midwest, corn-fed Angus beef. Your meal begins with a unique tradition - a complimentary sample of tomato juice. Tomato juice was created here in 1917 by a resourceful chef who ran out of oranges and squeezed tomatoes instead to serve at breakfast. This zesty tomato juice recipe is now served to every Steakhouse guest upon arrival. We highly recommend the ribeye and NY strip with their wine pairings. For their sides, our favorites were the mashed potatoes and corn ragout. End your meal with a personal treat or indulge in table side bananas foster.

This romantic restaurant is located in West Baden Springs Hotel and offers an impressive menu and wine list. Start your meal with colossal shrimp cocktail, crab cakes or a charcuterie board. Entrees include selections from sea bass, to filet mignon, and sea scallops. 

The elegant Sinclair’s Restaurant in West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: Sinclair's via

The Grand Colonnade Restaurant in French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

This abundant breakfast buffet is located in the French Lick Springs Hotel. Priced at $21 for adults, half price for children ages 6-12, and complimentary for kids 5 and younger. This breakfast buffet includes freshly made waffles, bacon, sausage, eggs made to order, biscuits and gravy, pastries, and omelets made to order.

Indulge in casual dining at Ballard’s in the Atrium, available for both lunch and dinner with captivating views of the iconic West Baden Springs Hotel dome. Select from an extensive menu featuring appetizers, salads, pizzas, sandwiches and delicious dinner entrees. The restaurant and Ballard's Bar pay homage to Ed Ballard, the former owner of West Baden Springs Hotel during its peak in the 1920s and early '30s, adding a touch of historic charm to your dining experience.

Ballard’s in the Atrium in the West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: Ballard's in the Atrium via

Located in Pluto's Alley at the French Lick Springs Hotel, this pizza spot offers a variety of homemade calzones, strombolis, and pizza served whole or by the slice. In the hotel's heyday, the Pluto bar served Pluto water piped directly from the spring. At the time, guests were encouraged to drink the water for its seemingly limitless health benefits.

Pluto’s Pizzeria in Pluto's Alley in French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

Located in West Baden Springs Hotel, Xanadu Coffee & Creamery offers fresh-baked goods, freshly made waffle cones, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and Starbucks coffee. Grab fresh-made breakfast items, deli sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, or ice cream from 6:30am-9pm. 

Xanadu Coffee & Creamery in West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick Indiana

The German Café in French Lick serves authentic German dishes, including spaetzle, schnitzel, and bratwurst. Sample a wide variety with their family sampler platters or stop in for a giant Bavarian pretzel and beer from their extensive beer list.

Interior of the German Cafe in French Lick Indiana

Photo Credit: German Cafe via

Enjoy a meal or snack in the comfort and convenience of your guest room at all three hotels. From a wide variety of breakfast options to pizzas, burgers, and steak frites, you’re sure to find something you like! In-room dining menus vary depending on the hotel.

In-Room Dining spread at the French Lick Resort

Photo Credit: In-Room Dining via

The Ultimate French Lick, Indiana

Weekend Itinerary

Day 1:

  • Arrive at your hotel and explore on your own

  • Take a tour or self-guided walking tour

  • Afternoon Tea at West Baden Springs Hotel

  • Go bowling at Pluto's Alley in French Lick Springs Hotel

  • Dinner and cocktails at Ballard’s

Day 2

  • Room service or breakfast at The Grand Colonnade Restaurant

  • Golf or Hike

  • Dinner at 1875 The Steakhouse

  • Test our your luck at the French Lick Casino

Day 3

  • Breakfast at Café Sinclair’s

  • Explore the gardens or stables

  • Enjoy a wine tasting at the French Lick Winery

  • Lunch at the German Café

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