There is so much for families to do in Indianapolis with kids.
I’m sharing the top family-friendly adventures that are perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway.
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3000 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN
There are some children‘s museums where you can see everything in a few hours…this is NOT one of them.
You could easily spend the WHOLE entire day there and not see everything because there is so much to do!
The Children‘s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children’s museum in the world, situated on 29 acres with a 482,950 square-foot campus.
The best part is that there is something for everyone which is great if you have a family with a wide age range.
With that in mind, you may need to visit a few times to see everything.
There is a large assortment of hands-on exhibits, immersive history exhibits, and plenty of areas for play.
How Much Time Do You Need to Plan for a Visit to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis?
At a minimum, you will need 2-3 hours for a visit but you won’t see everything.
For a first-time visit plan 5-6 hours to explore, knowing that there is a good chance that you still won’t see it all.
If you want to see “all the things” during your visit I would recommend starting at the top on the fifth floor and working your way down to the bottom.
That will also give you an opportunity to admire the 43-foot “Fireworks of Glass by Dale Chihuly from every angle.
The tower weighs 18,000 pounds and contains 3200 pieces of blown glass! The lowest level of the museum allows you to see the sculpture from underneath.
If you stay until closing time, make sure that you catch the End-of-the-day Parade with Rex on level 4 at 4:45.
The Children‘s Museum of Indianapolis has both special exhibits and a permanent collection of exhibits that kids and adults will love seeing again over the years.
I found the “Power of Children” immersive exhibit really powerful.
The exhibit focuses on the lives and impact of Ryan White, Ruby Bridges, and Anne Frank in a way that kids can understand.
You won’t need to spend a lot of money once you are inside the museum. Carousel rides are only $1 and they are free for museum members.
Can you pack lunch at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis?
Yes, you are permitted to bring your own food to eat at the museum Food Court area.
If you don’t want the hassle of packing a lunch you’ll find plenty of options in the Food Court in the museum. There are also outside options at the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. (more about that area later)
It’s helpful to have a food plan before you go so that you don’t have to deal with meltdowns from “hangry” kids or adults.
Plan Ahead and Save on Admission to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
You will want to purchase your tickets to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in advance for the best value and to guarantee admission on your desired date.
A general admission ticket gives you access to all 5 floors and the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience.
Visitors can save up to 25% by purchasing tickets at least 2 weeks in advance.
Parking is free at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. There is a large parking garage that connects with a walkway to the museum entrance.
The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience
You get two incredible experiences at one location. The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience is located at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.
The complex is a sports lover’s dream and fun for all athletic levels and ages.
Make sure that your kids wear close-toed shoes so that they can enjoy all of the areas for play.
Kids and adults will be inspired to get moving and engage in 12 outdoor sports experiences and 3 indoor experiences located on 7.5 acres.
If you are visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for the first time, make sure that you allow for a few hours to spend at the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience.
1200 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN
One of my favorite things about the Indianapolis Zoo is that it allows you to view bottlenose dolphins up close.
It’s rare to see a dolphin at a zoo in the Midwest, which makes their daily Dolphin Presentation even more special.
If you want an even more immersive experience with dolphins check out the Dolphin In-Water Adventure program.
The Indianapolis Zoo is open year-round with 64 acres of indoor and outdoor exhibit spaces with 1200+ animals.
Be on the lookout for a white rhinoceros, red panda, Pacific Walrus, pythons, orangutans, meerkats, zebra, Gentoo penguin, stingrays, cheetah, California sea lion, African elephant, griaffes, and more!
The platform at Giraffe Exhibit allows guests with tickets the opportunity to hand feed giraffes, weather permitting and seasonally.
How to Save Money on Indianapolis Zoo Admission
Save money by planning ahead and purchasing your tickets in advance from the Indianapolis Zoo website. Prices online are cheaper than at the gate.
If you plan on purchasing tickets for rides like the “Skyline” gondola-style ride and animal feedings, the best value is to add on the Total Adventure Package, or “TAP.”
“TAP” is all-inclusive with unlimited rides and giraffe and bird feeds available from mid-spring through early fall.
Your admission includes full access to all exhibits at the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens including keepers chats, demonstrations, and presentations.
White River State Park, 700 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN
This is a great stop if you have family members who are big fans of college sports.
Plan for around 90 minutes to explore two floors of exhibits at The NCAA Hall of Champions.
The first level has current team rankings, video highlights, and trivia challenges.
On the second floor, there are lots of interactive exhibits and hands-on sports simulators including a ski simulator.
Basketball fans of all ages will enjoy shooting hoops in a 1930s retro gymnasium.
This museum is especially inspiring and encouraging for student-athletes with dreams of playing sports in college.
Explore the Indianapolis Canal Walk and Play at White River State Park
801 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN
Kids and adults will enjoy lots of wide-open spaces along the Indianapolis Canal Walk at White River State Park.
Tour around the area with Wheels Fun Rentals including Surreys, City Bicycles, a Chopper, Quad Sport, or Deuce Coupe.
Kayak, double kayaks, and pedal boat rentals from Wheel Fun Rentals are also very popular activities for families on the canal.
I LOVE that they support Big Brothers Big Sisters by offering free rentals to the volunteers and the underprivileged children they mentor.
Check out their website for discounts on rentals with additional savings offered midweek.
There are art installations and scenic views throughout the park so have your camera ready. This is a great area for a family picture.
Located about 30 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, and the drive to Conner Prarie is totally worth it!
We’ve previously stayed at a BnB across the road if you are looking for a close place to stay.
Conner Prairie in Fishers is an interactive history park that makes learning both interesting and FUN!
The historical actors are really good at staying in their character and engaging with kids.
They won’t acknowledge anything outside of their time period which makes for some fun converations.
A Tethered Ride on the 1859 Balloon Voyage
If you love unique adventures you definitely want to take a ride on the 1859 Balloon Voyage if you visit during the summer.
Even though the 1859 Balloon Voyage looks extreme, you will find that the tethered balloon ride is very kid-friendly, smooth, and relaxing.
If you get the chance to go up in the balloon you will love the views!
The average ride lasts 10-15 minutes for up to 20 people which includes ascending and descending.
The 1859 Balloon Voyage will not operate if the weather conditions are not safe.
While you are in the area, I also highly recommend visiting the aerial park at Koteewi Archery Park that has 60 treetop trails and zip lines.
Mug n’ Bun Drive-In
5211 W 10th St, Speedway, IN
Mug n’ Bun Drive-in has been serving families for over 50 years with American menu classics.
You can’t go wrong with a tenderloin sandwich, hand-dipped onion rings, coneys, homemade rootbeer, or a milkshake.
Sweet Stop at Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream
6020 E 82nd St, Indianapolis, IN
This is a great stop for a sweet treat while you are in downtown Indy.
Watch as your custom ice cream creation is made in front of you with liquid nitrogen at Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream.
Find a Memorable Drink at Rocket Fizz
55 Monument Cir #52, Indianapolis, IN
If you are checking out the observation deck at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Monument Circle, stop by Rocket Fizz for a one-of-a-kind drink afterward.
There is also a large assortment of candy, perfect if you are craving either sweet or sour flavors.
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