We’re pretty darn lucky to live just a few miles from one of the largest children’s museums in the world. It really is a huge attraction and whether you have a membership as a local or you are coming for a vacation, it can be a little overwhelming. I’ve put together my top ten things you need to know in order to come prepared and make your trip a success. Trust me, if you’ve got kids, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is place you don’t want to miss!
10 Things You Need to Know Before you Visit
1. Try to park on the 2nd or 3rd floor of the parking garage The walkway into the museum is between these two floors and you’ll avoid some extra steps at the end of a long day.
2. Get there early You can get a head start on the crowds especially at busy times like Spring Break and Christmas by arrive about 15-20 minutes before the museum opens. The main atrium is open early so you can use the restrooms, grab a locker and pick up your tickets.
3. Take a look at the schedule ahead of time There are several dozen interactive experiences throughout the day and sometimes it’s worth having a rough outline of what you’d like to catch. There are STEM focused activities scheduled in Science Works for older kids. For younger artists, you don’t want to miss the studio time in Playscape. Grab a schedule while you’re waiting, or better yet, hop online and look at the offerings before you arrive.
4. Show your kids an employee badge Just in case you get separated from your child, it’s a good idea to show them what a Children’s Museum employee ID looks like. It helps your kids know who to ask for help from and the employees are trained in the lost child policies of the museum. It’s a simple thing to do but might end up saving you some worry later in the day.
5. Bring some hand sanitizer The museum has restrooms and sanitizing stations all over but I like to tuck some extra of my own in our bag. With thousands of hands touching all the exhibits, it makes me feel a little better knowing we can keep washing up as as we go…at least that’s what I tell myself!
6. Take a Break A full day the museum can wear you out so schedule some breaks. The planetarium shows are usually about 30 minutes and we’ve enjoyed all the Children’s Theater productions as well. Both are a nice chance to sit down and rest your feet and nobody will judge if you close your eyes under the stars for a few minutes.
7. Bring a snack and water The food court really quite good and offers lots of kid-friendly items as well as some healthy choices too. However, the museum is a huge place and sometimes we have a hangry meltdown far away from the cafeteria so I like to have some simple snacks like raisins or cheerios with me just in case. I’m not sure what the official policy is on food but I’ve never had a problem grabbing a small snack in an out of the way place if needed.
8. You don’t need much cash once you’re in the door While the price can be steep for this attraction, I do appreciate that once you’re in the door, everything is included. Parking is free and other than a small fee to ride the carousel, there are no hidden charges. We’ve been to other attractions with a lower price point but then several of the activities are extra. I like that I don’t have to spend the whole day saying no. If you’re looking to save even more money, the museum just introduced flexible pricing, giving a discount on tickets that are purchased further in advance.
9. You won’t be able to see it all Yes, it really is that big so help temper any disappointment by talking with your kids about their priorities before you arrive. We always have our kids pick 1-2 exhibits that are most important to them so we make sure to hit those first. Don’t try and rush from one exhibit to another to fit it all in. You’ll end up missing all of the great details and joy of playing that make children’s museums so special.
10. Leave slowly to avoid a meltdown Tired and overstimulated kids are always so willing to leave the museum….oh wait, my kids have a meltdown each time we have to go! I’ve found that a slow, gradual leaving works a bit better for us. We typically stop in the gift shop (not to purchase anything) but because they have several train tables and toy car ramps set up in the back of the store. It’s almost always deserted and there’s a quiet bench under a big tree where I can sit for a few minutes. I find this is a helpful way for us to decompress as we’re leaving the museum. The Info Zone library, located at the top of the ramp to the parking garage, is also another decompression zone and you don’t have to be a local to take advantage of the puzzles and computers on your way out of the museum. The calmer atmosphere of both of the places makes it a bit easier for us to slowly leave. They still complain but we don’t have full on nuclear explosions any more.
Have you been to Indy’s Children’s Museum? What the best place to take your kids in your town? Leave a comment below!