Whether you’re looking forward to the end of summer or are dreading it, August is your last chance in 2020 to spend some hassle-free time with your family before the fall school season is underway.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made it easy to find ways to either relax or build happy memories this summer. Safety concerns have prompted many of the season’s regular festivals and attractions to be canceled. Many indoor attractions have also closed their doors this year. That’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, so we’re focusing our guideline primarily around things that can be done largely outdoors or in private groups.
The Escape Room
Escape rooms are physical adventure games that start out with the players locked in a staged room together. Using only your creativity and wits, you’re asked to look for clues and solve puzzles that will eventually lead you to the way out — if you can do it before your time runs out.
They’re a lot of fun for families to do together, and they can be great for laughs and bonding experiences. The Escape Room Indianapolis is open right now — although they have made significant changes to their operations to ensure their guests’ safety. Rooms are thoroughly sanitized between guests and all experiences are limited to private groups.
Shipshewana Trading Place
Home to the Midwest’s largest flea market, along with regular auctions, Shipshewana Trading Place is always an ever-changing adventure that the whole family can enjoy.
There will be fewer vendors on-site than usual, and guests are naturally being asked to follow any state mandates or guidelines regarding masks that may be in place. Just the same, if your family loves the thrill of a treasure hunt, this is definitely one place you don’t want to miss this summer.
The Indy Zoo is open — and there’s plenty to do while you’re there! Guests, and everyone in their group over two years of age, must obtain a timed-entry ticket through the zoo’s online reservation system to enter, and masks are required. None of that should stop your family from enjoying the Giraffe Feeds, Flamingo Mingle and other encounters, however.
You may also want to reserve time to experience the Dolphin In-Water Adventure, which is distinct from the rest of the zoo and can accommodate groups of no more than eight at a time. This is the only place in the entire Midwest where you can actually wade into the water with dolphins — making it an amazing experience that you simply don’t want your family to miss.
Perseid Meteor Shower & Stargaze
Also known as “The Tears of St. Lawrence,” the Perseid meteor shower appears every August. Pandemic or not, you can expect the shooting stars to put on a spectacular show. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is hosting a viewing event and constellation talks (complete with telescopes) at the Indiana Dunes State Park on August 15.
This is an outdoor event, so guests will be able to maintain safe social-distancing while they lounge in their folding chairs or on beach towels to listen to the folklore surrounding the display and watch the sky.
Indianapolis Museum of Art: Newfields
Looking for someplace a little more “adult” to visit in August once the kids are busy with schoolwork again? Consider heading to Newfields, the 152-acre campus that houses the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Beer Garden and The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park.
Much of the fun is located outdoors, which makes it easy to maintain your distance from other guests. Like many other venues, Newfields is also requiring guests to plan their trip ahead and use timed-entry tickets. That helps eliminate large crowds and may make for a particularly pleasant experience as you wander the grounds.
Sick of being in the house but don’t really want to be around strangers? Just looking for something really neat to do with your family? Try joining the world’s largest treasure hunt — known as geocaching. All it takes is a smartphone and a few minutes to get started, and you’re automatically joining a world-wide community of adventure-seekers.
Once you’ve got the app, you can look up a list of geocache locations in your area and use your phone’s GPS to track it down. What will you find? Nobody knows until they get to their destination — and that’s part of the fun. When you find a cache, you can sign a notebook to show that you’ve been there, photograph your find for proof (and bragging rights), trade whatever trinket is there as a prize for something else, and more. (This is definitely the sort of thing that will get you nominated for “Cool Mom” or “Cool Dad” of the year by your kids.)
We all know that 2020 has been a little stressful for everyone — but you can still squeeze a lot of enjoyment out of these last few weeks of summer with a little bit of planning!