Top Things to Do with Kids in Indianapolis

A top-notch children's museum, a zoo, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other kid-friendly destinations will keep your family busy during a weekend getaway in Indianapolis.

Attractions - White River State Park - Indianapolis
White River State Park. Photo: Courtesy of Lavengood Photography

White River State Park

Block off an entire day to explore this sprawling 250-acre park and its museums. The Indiana State Museum's exterior offers a Where's Waldo-like hunt for limestone blocks representing the state's 92 counties, and the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center's 3-D You Are There exhibit takes you back to earlier decades with misty projections of historical photographs you can walk through. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art provides a moving look at Wild West culture. Sports fans will want to shoot some hoops at the NCAA Hall of Champions and take in a game at Victory Field, home to Indianapolis Indians Triple-A baseball. Tired of walking? Rent a pedal boat to cruise the canal for some outstanding photo ops of the downtown skyline.

Indianapolis Children's Museum Sports Legend
Courtesy of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis 

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The world's largest children's museum added even more fun with a $38.5 million sports-theme addition. Kids can play on a mini Colts football field, Indy 500 pedal cars and mini golf courses. Also at the museum: a Power of Children exhibit celebrating the lives of young people who've changed the world, a Dinosaur Dig excavation, a brilliant Chihuly-inspired Fireworks of Glass display, hands-on science experiments galore, a full-size indoor carousel and a Playscape section specifically geared toward babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Indianapolis Zoo
Courtesy of

Indianapolis Zoo

Pet a shark, race a cheetah (NASCAR driver Tony Stewart narrates the feature), hand-feed a giraffe, and stand just inches away from a majestic Amur tiger at the Indianapolis Zoo. Book ahead for special adventures with sloths, rhinos, aardvarks, elephants and more (including creating art with animals!).

Conner Prairie near Indianapolis
Conner Prairie. Courtesy of Lavengood Photography

Conner Prairie

This living-history museum is a standard stop for school field trips, but the storytelling keeps the experience fresh for both kids and adults. Homespun costumed interpreters are on hand to immerse guests in 1836 pioneer life at the Prairietown area; you can also check out a Lenape Indian Camp, nature walk and more.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

When in Indy, you must go to the site of the legendary Indianapolis 500. Check out the 75 or so race cars within the Hall of Fame Museum; see the faces of past Indy 500 winners on the Borg-Warner trophy; and take a lap around the storied racetrack. When standing on the hallowed "yard of bricks," it's up to you if you want to kiss them like the racing champions do.

Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park Indianapolis Newfields
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Art museums don't often rank high on most kids' to-do lists, but this one should. Yes, there are several floors of gorgeous galleries and a well-vetted gift shop, but the IMA also gives antsy kids something to do at the refreshed Star Studio, with an art-making station, digital garden and oversized search and find. Afterward, let little ones loose in the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, where they can play around large-scale sculptures and installations.

Books and Brews

Parents will enjoy craft beer and literary-themed snacks at Books and Brews; the whole family can browse for second-hand books, and on Sundays, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.

Indianapolis IMAX Theater
Courtesy of Indianapolis IMAX Theater

Imax Theater

On the second floor of the Indiana State Museum in White River State Park, this six-story movie screen is the biggest in Indiana. The sound and pictures are so lifelike, they may be a little too intense for some youngsters. But if you're in the mood for a memorable 3-D film experience, this theater is the best in town.

Mug N Bun

The kids will think it's fun to pull up, park and flash your headlights for carhop service at this classic Hoosier drive-in, but the outdoor picnic area is also a decent place to sit when the weather's nice. Load up on traditional diner fare like burgers, fries, hot dogs and onion rings washed down with a milkshake or a frosty mug of the secret-recipe root beer (the stuff's so popular, you can buy gallons and half-gallons to-go).

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