Unless you are a huge fan of basketball or the Indianapolis 500, you might not have ever thought of making a trip to Indiana. The Hoosier state has a lot more to offer, though, particularly the capital city of Indianapolis and its surrounding areas. If you are considering heading to Indy with your family, check out these fun excursions the whole family can enjoy!
Best Museums for Families
If you are coming to Indianapolis for one thing (besides sports), it might be to check out a museum. There are a surprising number of large and small museums in Indianapolis, but two in particular are great for families. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a museum for children (and adults) of all ages featuring indoor and outdoor exhibits. My dinosaur-loving preschooler is excited to check out “The New Dinsosphere®: Now You’re in Their World” exhibit. I enjoy “The Power of Children” exhibit, which features the powerful stories of four children, including Anne Frank and Ruby Bridges. The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but get there as early as you can because you can easily spend a full day here.
If you have an interest in art and nature, I recommend checking out Newfields: A Place for Nature and Art. This large campus features The Indianapolis Museum of Art, as well as The Garden and The Park, both of which are perfect to explore when it’s nice outside. My husband and I enjoy going in the wintertime to experience Winterlights, where over a million lights glitter in The Garden. It makes for a great date night or family outing!
Best Playground with a Splash Pad
If you are in Indianapolis in the summertime, I suggest venturing a little bit outside of the city to Mulberry Fields in the suburb of Zionsville. This park features a playground, splash pad and skate park. My family gravitates toward the splash pad, which is part traditional splash pad with colorful sprinklers, and part man-made creek with rocks and stone slabs that are there for kids to explore. The playground is right next to the splash pad, so the kids can go back and forth as they please. If visiting in the wintertime, the large sledding hill is a huge hit!
Best Spot for a Date Night
If the grandparents are with you or you’re able to get a sitter, head to Mass Ave. for a date night. This five-block district of restaurants and shops has convenient meter parking and is easily walkable. I enjoy eating on the patio at Bakersfield and getting ice cream at Sub Zero. It’s also fun to take kids to this area during the day or earlier in the evening, but it can get busy, so be prepared to wait.
Best Outing for Kids Who Love Animals
If you have a child who loves animals, spend a day at the Indianapolis Zoo. Here, you can hang out with orangutans, feed the giraffes, pet a shark, and catch a dolphin show. When you need a break from walking, you can take a train ride or ride the carousel. The zoo isn’t big enough for an all-day affair, so we like to beat the crowds and heat by going first thing in the morning and leaving before naptime. You can bring in your own food, so remember to take snacks or pack a lunch!
Best Place to Burn Energy Away from City Traffic
If you are downtown and would like to stretch your legs without worrying about kids running into traffic, go explore the Canal Walk. This paved, three-mile loop along the water is a great spot to get some exercise. Here, you will see walkers, runners, bikers, Segways and pedal boats (you can rent these!). My husband and I have tried both Segways and pedal boats pre-kids, but for now we stick to pushing a stroller. The Canal Walk is below street level, so it will give you a view of the city that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Indianapolis might not be the largest or most glamorous city, but if you spend enough time here you just might fall in love with it.