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Some adventures take lots of planning and consideration. For planned adventures, the payoff is a well-organized experience that rewards those planning efforts. 

Other adventures are completely spur-of-the-moment and occur by total happenstance. Sometimes these types of adventures are even more fun! 

Always being ready for a completely unplanned adventure is how we were able to explore the USS LST-325 last weekend!

This past weekend, Adventure Grandpa and Grandma called us up on Saturday to tell us they found something cool. While traveling through Aurora, Indiana, they saw a huge naval ship that was giving tours. 

The Adventure Kids thought this sounded amazing. So we looked up a couple of details online, packed up the minivan, and drove down to Aurora on Sunday.

Where’s Aurora, Indiana? 

Aurora is a cute little town on the Ohio river. It’s about 1 hour and 45 minutes southeast of downtown Indy and 45 minutes west of downtown Cincinnati. 

Along the river, it’s located between the casino towns of Lawrenceburg and Rising Sun, Indiana. 

When we arrived, we found the town had exploded with visitors all there to celebrate Aurora’s bicentennial

A team of Aurora volunteers calling themselves the LST-325 committee worked for a year to bring the LST to Aurora as part of this celebration. We’re so glad they did!

What’s an LST? 

LST stands for Landing Ship Tank. These ships are amphibious vessels that were designed to get troops, supplies, and equipment onto enemy shores without using a dock. 

The LST-325 launched in 1942. She served as a U.S. Navy ship in WWII. 

Then, the ship and its crew continued to work for the U.S. Navy in the arctic in the 1950s. Next, she was purchased and used by the Greek Navy for around 35 years. 

Finally, a group of U.S. veterans brought the ship back to America in 2000.

The ship is now a memorial ship in Evansville, Indiana

Where and when can I take this tour?

LST-325  is the last remaining fully-functioning LST in the country. She is open year-round for guided tours in Evansville, Indiana.

Then, in August and September each year, she takes off to other ports in America to allow others to tour the ship. 

What’s the tour like? 

Since this was a special visit, we were able to tour the ship without a guide. We just followed along in a line with the other visitors.

There were, however, many volunteers throughout the ship that were on-hand to answer questions and point out interesting facts. 

In Evansville, there are guided tours that last about 60 minutes. 

On the tour, you will see:

  • Main Deck
  • Troop Berthing (bunkrooms)
  • Tank Deck
  • Mess Deck
  • Galley
  • Stern
  • Guns 
  • Anchor
  • Wheel House
  • Officer’s Country (staterooms)
  • Captain’s Cabin

We thought the tour was outstanding! It really was a neat way to immerse ourselves into history. 

Seeing how the crew slept and really being inside of the close-quarters gave us adults even more appreciation for our troops and what they endure to keep us safe. 

What’s the cost of the tour in Evansville?

For the 60-minute tour of the ship, the following are the rates beginning October 1, 2019:

Adult (age 18 and over) = $15.00

Young (age 6-17) = $7.50

Children (age 5 and under) = Free

Veterans of WWII, veterans of Korean War, active duty service members, and first responders (in uniform or with ID) = Free

Do you have any tips for those going on the tour?

  1. If you’re going on the tour when it’s hot or cold, make sure to dress appropriately. The ship will be very hot or very cold depending on the temperature outside.
  2. Take water with you.
  3. If someone in your party cannot go up and down steep stairs or doesn’t like to be in confined spaces, then he/she can go on the main deck tour instead of taking the 60-minute tour.

Other Cool Machines in Aurora

There were other machines on display in Aurora for this celebration: 

“Tom’s Joy”

We took free rides on an amphibious tank named “Tom’s Joy.” We walked onto the tank on land, and then went onto the river for a 5-minute once-in-a-lifetime spin.

Emergency Vehicles

The Adventure Kids enjoyed climbing into various Aurora emergency vehicles from different eras.

“Miss Mary”

We also took a free ride on a USS LST-491-4 named “Miss Mary.” With the wind in our hair, it was a fun cruise as well. 

“The Belle of Cincinnati”

Finally, we had dinner in an airconditioned four-story riverboat named “The Belle of Cincinnati.”

This boat was in Aurora for the first time ever to take passengers on a dinner and fireworks cruise. We really enjoyed this excursion!

If you want to try it out, you can find her in Cincinnati. She is the flagship of BB Riverboats. 

After a long, hot day of touring and excitement, it was nice to kick back and relax. We listened to live music, filled our bellies, and watched the sun set on a beautiful day on the river.

To top it off, the town put on an amazing fireworks show that captivated us all!

What else is there to do in Aurora?

We’ve taken the scenic route up and down the Ohio river in this area of Indiana many times.

All of the towns around there are just adorable! They have unique shops and restaurants that are fun to explore.

There are also several clean parks right on the river so the younger kids can play on the swings and climbers while you sit on a bench and enjoy the river.

Another Adventure Kid’s favorite that is NEW in this area is the Rising Star Ferry in Rising Sun.

Right now, ferry rides are free. Typically, they charge $8 for a roundtrip.

You access the ferryboat behind the Rising Sun Casino and golf course area. The ferry, named the MS Lucky Lady, takes passengers across to Kentucky near the historic town of Rabbit Hash.

You just drive your car onto the ferry, float across, take a scenic drive in Kentucky or stop at the historic general store in Rabbit Hash, and then hop the ferry back across to Indiana.

You can even get out of your car and walk around the ferry if you’d like.

It’s so easy and fun! 

We’re lucky to have other adventurers in our family and friend network that find planned and unplanned adventures for all of us to experience!

What’s been your favorite spur-of-the-moment adventure? Do you have people in your life that push you to go on new adventures? Tell us some of your adventure stories. We’d love to hear from you! 

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