This summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Indianapolis with my family. Considering I live in the Chicago area – and it’s only a 3-hour drive from the Windy City – I’m surprised that I’ve never ventured to Indy before. Little did I know that Indy had so much to offer families visiting the area. From parks and museums to festivals and fantastic food, Indy has it all! I broke it down to my family’s Top 5 Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids – do you have a favorite spot that I’m missing?
This small museum is sure to please any fire truck enthusiast in your household. The upstairs is designed like a real, working fire house and you’re introduced to everything from the beds the firefighter’s sleep in, to the uniforms that they wear, and the equipment they use. Located in the trendy Mass Ave. Arts District, there’s plenty to see if you take a stroll afterwards. Have some froyo right across the street at YoguLatte. Their coconut mocha latte is delish!
The Indianapolis Zoo is a must-see in Indy. Their new International Orangutan Exhibit was completed this summer, and a new aerial cable ride (not yet open when we visited, but check the park for current availability) will allow guests to view the animals like never before. We saw orangutans climbing the structure and they are mesmerizing to watch. The zoo’s Dolphin Adventure Pavilion is gorgeous too and their interactive dolphin show is very entertaining.
My 3-year-old had a blast at the Rhythm! Discovery Center, and I’m not gonna lie – I totally did too! We must’ve banged on every drum, shaken every tambourine, and played every xylophone in the place! Probably our favorite parts of the museum were the sound-proof rooms that allowed you to play a real drum set and be as loud as you wanted to be – we felt like rock stars! Handy Tip: Visit this museum late in the day. We arrived about an hour and a half before closing and had the entire museum to ourselves. I’m sure it’s very noisy (and migraine-inducing) at peak times.
Visiting the Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum was, by far, the highlight of our trip – for me at least. We also had two teenagers with us, and they would undoubtedly say the same. The historic aspect drew me in, but there’s so much for kids to experience here too. For one, their indoor Discovery Station is designed for younger kids and allows plenty of room for free-play, exploring, crafting and climbing. The Civil War exhibit even has an outdoor splash pad (open Memorial Day through Labor Day) and an indoor play area with a large climbing structure. All that is really fun for kids, but it’s the people at Conner Prairie that really make this visit worthwhile. They never break character, and you really feel like you’re living in the 1800’s. I cannot say enough good things about this place – get there if you can!
What visit to Indy with kids would be complete without a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis? The almost 500,000-sf facility is the largest children’s museum in the world and is visited by more than 1.2 million people each year. We love visiting children’s museums and I can honestly say that we experienced things here that we haven’t at any other children’s museum we’ve seen. Where else can you let your imagination run wild and run a Chinese restaurant , slide down a long Great Wall of China slide, be transported to the land of dinosaurs, or create a colorful sculpture – all in one place? Only at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
Staying at the Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel was a no-brainer for us. With two teenagers in tow – that had NO interest in visiting some attractions with my preschooler – it was important to me to be located near a place that they would find interest in. Thank goodness for Keystone at the Crossing, a shopping mall located within walking distance of the hotel! The hotel itself was great too – friendly staff, clean rooms, and a nice swimming pool are all things I look for that will be sure to please my family, and the Indianapolis Marriott North Hotel did not disappoint. Be aware, however, that this hotel is located about 25 minutes from the downtown area so plan your excursions accordingly.
I honestly didn’t think I’d be overly-pleased with the food in Indy, but I’m so glad to say that I was wrong. Breakfast at Café Patachou was one of the highlights of my dining experience with their fresh and healthy food (and fabulous coffee too!), dining outside at Iara’s Italian Restaurant with my whole family was fun – and their portion sizes were huge - we definitely did not leave hungry, Shapiro’s Delicatessen was a delicious surprise, and Arni’s Restaurant probably had the best pizza I’ve ever had – and I’m from Chicago so that’s saying a lot! You won’t be disappointed with all the restaurant options in Indy!
As you can tell, we had a fabulous weekend in Indy – and I am confident that we will be back. It would be impossible for me to list all the fun things to do with kids in Indy, and I feel like we just hit the tip of the iceberg on our weekend stay. I wish we had planned on a weeklong visit – there’s still so much to see.
What about you – have you ever visited Indy?
For more information on the Indianapolis area, connect with Visit Indy!
Disclosure: My family was invited to visit Indianapolis by the Indianapolis CVB, Visit Indy, and were provided with complimentary admission to many attractions and a hotel stay. I was not compensated for this post. I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions expressed are my own.