More than just a Midwestern city, Indianapolis, Indiana offers families an opportunity to play, learn, and enjoy a multitude of new experiences both indoors and out. While known as the host of the world famous Indy 500 each May, the city also boasts parks, museums, and even offbeat options to delight every member of your family. Most of these attractions are located just a short distance from a wide range of Indianapolis vacation rentals. With that said, here are the most prominent points of interest in Indianapolis.
1. Walk Among the Dinosaurs at the Children’s Museum
From brachiosaurs lifting the roof to peek inside to an interior filled with prehistoric artifacts and sci-fi fantasy vehicles, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum provides an entire day’s worth of hands-on activities and fantastic family fun. Divided into multiple floors, the museum features permanent exhibits going as far back as fossils and Egyptian art alongside an ever-changing array of temporary installations. Don’t forget to hitch a ride on the Broad Ripple Park Carousel that graces the top floor.
2. Bring the Past to Life
Experience history as it happens – again – at Connor Prairie. This interactive outdoor adventure takes you back to the Civil War period and beyond to see firsthand what it was like to work and live before modern technology took hold. Leave your smartphones at your Indianapolis vacation rental, and head into a time where everything was done by hand and conversations happened face to face. Kids enjoy farming activities and lessons on colonial cooking, and full-scale re-enactments of Civil War battles often go on outside.
3. Enjoy a Sweet Serenade on the Water
Unwind after a day at play with a gondola ride along Indianapolis’ canals. Crafted to resemble Venice’s famed vessels, these quiet boats are steered by singing gondoliers who can carry a tune. Lull the little ones to sleep while you take in fabulous views of the water and the Indianapolis skyline. Private tours and shared experiences are available through Old World Gondoliers.
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4. Talk to the Animals
Zoos are always a hit with kids from babies on up, and the Indianapolis Zoo is sure to enthrall everyone in your crew with experiences that include touching a shark and racing a cheetah. This expansive zoological park features standard favorites, such as lions and giraffes, alongside thrilling adventures that include a roller coaster and 4-D theater. Stop by the splash park to cool off between exhibits.
5. Appease Your Need for Speed
Considered by many to be the gem of the city and a valid reason for a visit, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway welcomes visitors year round. Not just a track, the renowned complex features a full museum and hall of fame. See original Indy race cars, and learn about the speed-obsessed men and women who take off at the checkered flag. Hop aboard a shuttle bus, get a feel for the track and then grab a snapshot of your family at the famous Brickyard finish line.
6. Drum Up Some Fun at Rhythm! Discovery Center
Parents and grandparents may want to bring along the earplugs for an immersive visit to Rhythm! Discovery Center. Another interactive museum, this fun center lets kids and their people enjoy a hands-on experience with a variety of different drums. From the tonal sounds of African talking drums to banging away like a rock star on a modern drum set, the exhibits here let everyone explore the history of percussion. Take part in a traditional drum circle with your fellow museum-goers, and make music alongside memories.
7. Drive in for Dinner
Fuel up for fun and food with a visit to Mug-n-Bun, a throwback to true drive-in diner service. Kids can see an early precursor to today’s modern drive-thru fast-food, and everyone can enjoy a frosty mug of root beer alongside a burger or hot dog. The restaurant offers dine-in service as well, and take-out is always available if you’d rather eat back at your Indianapolis vacation rental.
8. Bike or Walk Around White River State Park
White River State Park offers tons of activities from a simple stroll to bike and Segway tours for older kids. Check out a summer concert series, and take in multiple art installations that line the park’s pathways. The park connects many of the city’s major attractions, including the Indiana State Museum and NCAA Hall of Champions, making it the perfect place to start your visit.
9. Stroll Along the Canal Walk
Easily accessible from within White River State Park, the Indy Canal Walk is made up of 3 miles of pedestrian walkways and bridges for your family to explore. Walk alongside historic canals dug to facilitate early 19th-century trade before you duck into one of the several restaurants for a bite to eat. Many of the cafes offer outdoor seating during warmer months.
10. Interact at the Indiana State Museum
Ever wonder what it was like to live in the Ice Age or what a giant squid really looks like? A visit to the Indiana State Museum answers multitudes of the questions that young minds come up with. See what life was like for early inhabitants of the Hoosier state, and check out Abraham Lincoln’s mallet before catching an IMAX film. This wide-ranging museum covers myriad scientific and historical aspects of Indiana.
11. Visit with Champions
Get your game face on and head to the NCAA Hall of Champions to learn about the organization’s 24 recognized sports. Featuring highlights of historic games from basketball to football and beyond, this interactive museum offers something for every age. The younger set can enjoy exploring the mascots of every college team, while older kids can hop on skis for a simulated run.
12. Bowl a Strike
Rainy days in Indy are made for Fountain Square and a visit to Atomic and Action Duckpin Bowling. The two alleys occupy the same building and offer a fun way for families to learn a 1920s version of bowling related to 10-pin. Using smaller balls with no holes and shorter squatter pins, the game offers an afternoon of fun with your family and friends.
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