To tag a little culture onto your family-fun Santa Claus, Indiana, trip, take a scenic drive about 10 miles east along State Road 162 to Saint Meinrad Archabbey, one of only two structures of its kind in the United States.
Founded in 1854 by the Abbey of Einsiedeln Switzerland, Saint Meinrad shelters a community of nearly 100 Benedictine monks who live on-site and serve in local parishes, much like the Monastery of Immaculate Conception houses a small group of nuns in nearby Ferdinand. The handsome campus of weathered stone buildings makes a peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll and includes a seminary and school of theology, gift shop, guesthouse, retreat center, the Abbey Press printing operation and the Abbey Casket production facility.
Public tours are each Saturday at 1:30 p.m., or pick up a brochure for a self-guided walking tour anytime. The public is also welcome to attend weekly Mass and Liturgy of the Hours in the beautiful Archabbey Church, and rosary pilgrimages are each Sunday during May and October at the Monte Cassino Shrine about a mile away. These majestic exteriors and interiors are worthy of appreciation (especially the unexpectedly breathtaking Chapter Room), and the gift shop has a little cafe area where visitors can grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich. The caskets on display in the corner are a little creepy though.