I reach over to push the button on my phone as the annoying beeps start to scream out. If it was any other day, I would probably hit snooze a few times, but today we leave for Indianapolis with our nephews for a four-day summer getaway. It’s seven in the morning and we want to get an early start so we can see a few things on our travel day.
It will be an easy task if we can get the car packed and get out on the road since Indy is only a 3-hour car ride from Chicago.
I load the address in my phone and since we are coming from the south suburbs and there is morning traffic, I am guided to take country roads the first two hours of the drive.
“This will be a nice and relaxing ride.” I think to myself.
And I was right. We hop in the car and the landscape could not have been more serene with the swaying corn stalks and cycling windmills we pass by. We break for a picnic lunch before heading to our first attraction, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
And so our trip begins…
Here are the top things to do in Indianapolis with kids and adults!
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Besides being the world’s oldest continuously operated racecourse, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also home to the largest one-day sporting event anywhere. The Indianapolis 500 has been running for over a hundred years and it is legendary.
As we drove under the bleachers, we realized the Hall of Fame Museum is actually situated inside the 2.5-mile track. That alone had the excitement meter kicked up a notch.
Check out trophies, advertisements, engines, racing gear, and over 75 cars as old as 1911 – some past Indy 500 winners – or take a lap around the celebrated racetrack. C’mon, how can you be in Indy and not stop at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Address: 4790 W. 16th Street, Indianapolis, IN
Phone: (317) 492-8500
Parking: Free parking at the Museum during non-race days. Parking is inside the track between turns 1 and 2 by Gate 2 on the north side of 16th street.
Best Time to Visit: Any day when no race or event is taking place.
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The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
If you only have time to do a few things, make sure the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is at the top of your list. Introduce the kids to one of the coolest museums in the Midwest and make sure to plan for an entire day. After almost eight hours, our nephews did not want to leave.
From touching real dinosaur bones; uncovering Terra Cotta soldiers; traveling to China; and shooting off to space, there’s nothing you can’t do.
You can interact, play, and build in EVERY exhibit. The museum caters to all ages and will keep the family entertained throughout.
Don’t forget to read our tips for your visit to the Indy Children’s Museum to make sure you are prepared!
Address: 3000 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN
Parking: Free on-site.
Best Time to Visit: During the week in the spring, summer or fall.
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Conner Prairie Interactive History Park
Not only can you fly up in the sky on a tethered huge helium air balloon, but you can go back in time to live like a Lenape Indian, experience a thriving community of rural Indiana in the 1800s, and discover how the Civil War affected the state.
Conner Prairie does an excellent job at recreating the past in an interactive and fun way. It is another attraction in Indianapolis that should be at the top of your list.
The boys were enthralled from the very beginning when we entered the park and saw the balloon voyage take its first flight of the day.
We move on to the early days where Indians and American fur traders clashed over territory disputes. The camp teaches us how they survived back then.
Next, the boy’s run-up to the open barn doors to find goats of all shapes and sizes wandering around. We were able to pet the animals and talk with the caretakers.
Afterward, we visited Prairietown, a 19th-century village with citizens living their everyday life welcoming us to experience what it was like to live in Indiana in 1836.
Every person we came in contact with stayed in character which had the boys’ undivided attention. We learned from the innkeeper what the difference between an inn and a hotel is, the blacksmith illustrated how to make a skewer from iron, the woodworker explained how he built each house in the community with his bare hands, and the teacher taught us basic arithmetic.
Connor Prairie is an ideal way to spend the day with your family.
Address: 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers, IN
Phone: (317) 776-6000
Parking: Free on site.
Best Time to Visit: During the week.
The Canal Walk
The 3-mile promenade right in the middle of downtown will have you feeling as though you wandered into a quiet canal town of Europe. Gondolas and kayaks whiz by on the water as bicyclists and walkers stroll along the pavement.
Take in lunch at one of the patios overlooking the canal or pack your own lunch and soak in the atmosphere. Either way, the Canal Walk should not be missed.
Address: Downtown Canal Walk Map
Parking: Metered street parking is available or parking in the White River State Garage at 650 West Washington Street.
Best Time to Visit: Any time.
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The Indiana State House
Unfortunately, we only had time to stop quickly at Indiana’s capitol building instead of taking a tour. It will definitely make our to-do list next time we are in the city.
Built in 1888, it is one of few historic capitols that house all three branches of state government. The architecture is impressive; constructed with local limestone and adorned with huge columns and striking sculptures.
Address: 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN
Phone: (317) 233-5293
Parking: Metered parking.
Best Time to Visit: Monday – Friday from 9 am – 3 pm.
There’s a lot more to see at the Indianapolis Zoo other than lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Don’t miss the opportunity to feed a lorikeet, pet a shark and watch dolphins swim overhead in the underwater viewing dome. Curious cheetahs and hungry giraffes are always an amusing sight. There are also elephants, rhinos, orangutans, and penguins.
It’s a great way to get outside for the day and enjoy some beautiful creatures.
Address: 1200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN
Phone: (317) 630-2001
Parking: Fee required.
Best Time to Visit: Ticket Prices are based on day, check the calendar for discounted tickets – usually weekdays.
White River Gardens
White River Gardens is right next door to the Indianapolis Zoo and admission is included in your zoo ticket. Make sure to walk over and explore the 3-acre attraction. The botanical garden is lush with green shrubs and popping with colors from the flowers.
The seasonal Butterfly Kaleidoscope is an up-close-and-personal way to watch the winged insects buzz around in an indoor tropical forest. Watch out though, I had one try to come home with us!
Address: 1200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN
Phone: (317) 630-2001
Parking: Fee required. Same parking lot as the zoo.
Altogether, Indianapolis provided an action-packed family getaway and we cannot wait to get back to explore more of the city.
What are your favorite things to do in Indianapolis for the next visit? Tell us in the comments below!
How nice of you to include your two rambunctious nephews on your mini trip to Indianapolis! You always seem to uncover and experience some of the best things to do in any given city you choose to visit. Indy certainly had many interesting things for the boys to enjoy!
Thanks so much Chris! Traveling with kids always adds a special element; it’s fun to experience things through their eyes.