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The Top 5 Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana

Helena Ricketts lives in Indiana and has a passion for travel.

The Indianapolis Children's Museum

The Indianapolis Children's Museum

Best Things to Do in Indianapolis: Children's Museum

The Indianapolis Children's Museum is a great choice for something that the entire family can enjoy together. Located in downtown Indianapolis, it is the largest children's museum in the world. There is always something to do at the Children's Museum and always something to learn!

The museum began in the mind and heart of Mary Stewart Carey. She wanted to create a museum specifically for the children of Indianapolis. In 1946, the museum opened in the current location at the corner of 30th and Meridian Street in Indianapolis. Generous donations and renovations over the years have led to the current 472,900 square feet of learning and fun for not only the children of Indianapolis but for children that visit from all over the world.

There are permanent as well as traveling exhibits so there is always something new going on with every visit! Dinosaurs, a visit to Egypt, biotechnology, Mr. Bear's Playhouse and All Aboard are just a few of the exhibits that the whole family can participate in together when visiting the museum.

Museum hours are daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Mondays from September to the end of February. If any of the free days fall on a Monday, the museum will be open on that Monday. The museum is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. There are certain days for free admission to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. The first Thursday of every month from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. are free and Christmas Eve, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President's Day and El Dia de Los Ninos are free admission days.

The Indianapolis Children's Museum also participates in the Access Pass Program which is a special, $1.00 per family member admission price to families who are using Hoosier Healthwise Health Insurance or receive TANF or Food Stamps. You will need proof of assistance and a valid Indiana State-issued ID card to qualify for the Access Pass Program.

You can call the museum at (317) 334-3322 to double-check and make sure they are in fact open on the day that you would like to visit.

Admission Prices to the Indianapolis Children's Museum

AgeCost of Admission

Children age 2 to 17


Adults age 18 to 59


Seniors over age 60


President Benjamin Harrison's Home

President Benjamin Harrison's Home

Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States. Construction of the home was completed in 1875 and with the exception of when he served as President and as an Indiana Senator, Harrison lived in the home from the completion in 1875 until his death at the home in 1901.

This historic home contains quite a bit of the Harrison family's original furniture, artwork, décor and personal items including political memorabilia from when President Harrison was running for public office.

Tours of the home start on the hour and half hour during the museum's hours of operation. Visiting the President Benjamin Harrison Home is a great history lesson for children and adults alike. Since the tour of the home only lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, it is a good activity for younger children that have shown an interest in history but still have a shorter attention span.

There is also a permanent exhibit that may be of special interest to girls and women that is located in the Carriage House of the President Benjamin Harrison Home. It is called Bustles to Ballots and features artifacts from the Women's Suffrage movement, their right to vote.

The Harrison Home is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm and is open on Sundays from 12:30pm to 3:30pm during the months of June and July. The last tour starts at 3:30pm. It's best to call the museum at (317) 631-1888 before visiting because these hours can change if there is an event going on at the home.

Admission Cost for President Benjamin Harrison Home

AgeCost of Admission

Children 4 and Under


Students age 5 to 17


Adults age 18 to 64


Seniors age 65 and Over


Group Rates

Available, call for details.

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Garfield Park

Visit Garfield Park

Garfield Parkis the oldest park in Indianapolis. It was established as a public park in 1881 and is 136 acres of public space. There is much more to do in Garfield Park than playgrounds and picnics, although both would make for a fantastic family afternoon activity!

The park not only has playgrounds but there are many programs going on at different times of the year for families to take part in. The Garfield Park Arts Center provides many activities for kids and adults to expand their knowledge of many forms of art including visual and performing art.

Speaking of performing art, there are occasionally free concerts that are great for the entire family a few times a year at the Garfield Park MacAllister Amphitheater. Children and adults will both enjoy a nice summer or fall evening outdoors listening to great music. Picnic baskets, blankets and lawn chairs are all welcome at these free concerts.

The Sunken Gardens and Conservatory bring an interesting botanical show where children can learn about flowers, gardening and enjoy the ornate fountains (viewing only, no wading or swimming in the fountains). The Sunken Gardens and Conservatory are open with free admission daily from 10am to 5pm and from 1pm to 5pm on Sundays.

These are just a few examples of what is available for families to do at Garfield Park in Indianapolis. Garfield Parkoffers so many more year round activities than what have been mentioned here including the sledding hill, sports participation, the tennis courts, public library and more.

A Boat Ride on the Canal in Downtown Indianapolis

A Boat Ride or Surrey Tour of the Canal

The canal that runs through Downtown Indianapolis is actually the remnants of what was supposed to be a connection between the Wabash and Erie Canal to the Ohio River. Obviously, the project was never completed and construction came to a complete stop in 1837.

The canal has been used for different things over the years. The company that used to be known as the Indianapolis Water Company used the canal as a power source for their West Washington Street pumping station when part of the canal had to be diverted underground because of the construction of Interstate 65 in the late 1960s. It currently is being used to house six species of turtles that are studied to evaluate the impact on wildlife by urban environments.

In 1985, the City of Indianapolis decided to give the canal a new look and repairs. They decided to drain the portion that runs through the downtown area, rebuild it and refill it. The project took some time to complete but the ending result is the major portion of the beauty of the canal that we all see today.

Taking a tour of the canal in Indianapolis has become more family-friendly and can be done by paddleboat or with a ride in a Surrey. If you are looking for something that is kid-friendly and completely different then one of the options you have is renting one of these interesting contraptions and taking a spin around the canal.

Obviously for young children, this may not be such a great idea but for an older child that is interested in nature and would appreciate a different view of the city, this is a perfect opportunity for an activity that is not only different but educational. In a paddleboat, there is the opportunity to teach the purpose of canals in general along with looking to see if any of the turtles can be spotted. If the tour is by Surrey, the conversation can be about the many plants that are in the area, do some turtle watching and a stop for lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants along the way.

The canal downtown is definitely an overlooked source of kid-friendly family activities in Indianapolis.

The name of the company that runs the rentals for the canal is Wheel Fun Rentals. Their hours vary depending on what time of year it is but they are always open by noon each day and close no earlier than 7pm. August 27th starts their fall season and they are only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the following May.

You can call the company at (317) 767-5072 to confirm that they will be open on the day and time that you would like to tour the canal.

Cost of a Boat or Surrey for Touring the Canal


4 Seat Surrey

$30.00 per hour

4 Seat Paddle Boat

$30.00 per hour

2 Seat Surrey

$20.00 per hour

2 Seat Kayak

$15.00 per hour

The Indiana State Museum

The Indiana State Museum collection of Indiana artifacts was started all the way back during the Civil War in 1862 by R. Deloss Brown. He collected many geological and mineralogical specimens in an attempt to preserve them. Eventually a Geologist was hired by the Indiana General Assembly to catalog and preserve the specimens and at that point, the Indiana State Museum was born.

The current location in the White River State Park houses a vast collection of Indiana History. Geological, social and environmental history of the state can be viewed at many of the museum's permanent exhibits. The museum has a vast collection of examples of Indiana history. So vast that even in the permanent exhibits, the artifacts are exchanges approximately four times each calendar year. It is estimated that only approximately 3% of the actual collection is on display at any given time.

Special exhibits are on display at the museum at different times of the year and may require an additional admission fee. These exhibits rotate on a regular basis so there is usually a good selection to choose from throughout the year. There is also an IMAX Theater attached to the museum but admission to the theater to watch a show is an additional cost.

Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Saturday from 11am to 5pm. The museum is closed on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. Hours may vary depending on events happening downtown that interfere with traffic on the streets around the museum. If you aren't sure that the museum will be open when you decide to take the kids for a visit, you can call them at (317) 232-1637 to confirm their hours of operation for that particular day.

Admission Cost to the Indiana State Museum

AgeCost of Admission

Children age 3 to 12


Adult age 13 to 59


Seniors age 60 and Older


Special Exhibits


Artifact of the Month- Tad Lincoln's Toy Solders at the Indiana State Museum

Indianapolis Destinations

© 2012 Helena Ricketts

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