School is out for the summer, and it’s probably going to take your kids about three days (tops) to get restless and bored.
If you’re like most parents, you’re already scoping out new things to do with the kids and the best ways to make the most of the family time you get in the summer. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options here in Indianapolis when you’re looking for family fun.
Here are some of our top ideas for great places to visit and cool things to do with your entire brood:
Take in the Sights at the Indianapolis Zoo
It’s a zoo, an aquarium and a botanical garden – all rolled into one great place for families to visit! While you’re there, make sure you check out the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, which serves a vital role in the conservation efforts surrounding these amazing animals.
Among other things, you can also see the crazy hijinks in the Penguin exhibit, some amazing coral seascapes in the aquarium and gorgeous plant life inside the Hillside Conservatory’s White River Gardens. This is a fantastic place to explore again and again with your family, so consider a family pass for the season.
Explore Everything at Conner Prairie
This is another spot that you need to visit more than once – because there’s simply no way to experience everything Conner Prairie has to offer in one trip! There are water cannons, woodland play areas, nature walks and animal encounters that will delight kids of all ages.
If that’s not enough, there are classes, camps and interactive historical experiences, like the Lenape Indian Camp, the Civil War Journey and a working Prairietown set in 1836. You and your kids can learn, play and even shop in the unique, handmade gifts and special treats while you’re there.
Visit a Different World at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
What’s not to love about the biggest and best museum of its kind? If you’re planning on taking the kids to see the new Jurassic World movie this summer, maybe follow up with a visit to the Dinosphere to see fossils, recreations and a real paleontologist or two!
There are playscapes, science centers and even the recreations of a real space station, which means you can transport your family from the ancient past and into the future just by moving from one exhibit to the next. Plus, there are all kinds of seasonal exhibits and special summer events – so keep checking the calendar as you make your plans.
Wander the Indianapolis Hiking and Biking Trails
Do you feel like you need to get the kids out of the house, away from their electronics and immersed in the natural world for a bit? Well, you have plenty of options: Indy has some amazing parks, with all kinds of attractions.
White River State Park will take you past everything from the NCAA Hall of Champions to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians, while Eagle Creek Park & Marina offers pedal boats, kayaks, ziplining and more. You can find slide towers, explorable tunnels and a climbable spider web at Holliday Park, or just find a great place to walk or bike in one of the many other parks the area has to offer.
Play Games at Midtown Plaza Carmel
Have you considered taking the family to Carmel for the day? The Midtown Plaza in Carmel is part of the effort to revitalize the area, and it’s got a fantastic interactive play area that can appeal to adults and kids alike (not to mention some great places to eat and shop nearby).
Grab your family and check out the outdoor billiards, ping-pong tables and cornhole boards, and check out the Arts & Design District or City Center for more unique ways to spend some time.
Take a Picnic to the Children’s Garden at Coxhall Gardens
The Children’s Garden at Coxhall is perfect for the miniature explorers in your midst, with hills, bridges, sandpits and playhouses – plus there are rainbow paths to walk and rocks to climb for tons of unstructured playtime.
This is one of the best spots in the area to fly a kite, look for butterflies or just have a relaxing picnic with your family. (They also have numerous scheduled programs and events and you can even take a tour of Coxhall Mansion while you’re there.)
Let Your Imagination Run Wild at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
Have you really explored Indy if you haven’t explored everything Newfield’s has to offer? If you have a budding artist in the family (or just want to encourage your kids to appreciate art or explore their creativity) there are thousands of permanent and rotating exhibits to see throughout the museum’s many galleries.
No visit to Newfields with the kids would be complete, however, without a stop at the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. The place is filled with interactive sculptures: Bring a basketball and play a game around the Free Basket art collective and climb all over Funky Bones, the art made famous in the novel “The Fault in Our Stars.”
Show Off Your Teamwork at an Escape Room
You can escape boredom pretty fast around here, but can you escape The Escape Room? Each of the facility’s rooms has a unique theme, and finding the keys and making your way back out within the 60-minute time limit will definitely require some teamwork.
This is a wonderful place to go if you have pre-teens and teenagers in your household and you’re looking to foster communication and cooperation as a family unit. If you’re ready to take “family game night” to a whole new dimension, this is the place to start.
Indianapolis has become one of the most vibrant cities in the entire Midwest, so don’t let inertia or boredom drag you or your kids down. Get out there while the weather is nice and learn more about this amazing world we live in – because family time is always fun time!