What do you get when you combine a pet goat, a runaway cart, and a grandson named Baby? I’m guessing a presidential history lesson didn’t come to mind, but that’s exactly what we got when we recently toured the home of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States.
And while the historic home of Indiana’s only president might not sound like a kid-friendly Indianapolis attraction, it’s actually a great place to for kids see how history can come to life
Things to do in Indianapolis: Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Special thanks to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site for hosting us and providing a copy of Old Whiskers Escapes for our review. All opinions are my own. For more information, see my full disclosure policy.
Location: Less than a mile north of downtown Indianapolis in the Old Northside neighborhood (13th and Delaware)
What: Includes the family home of Benjamin Harrison, rotating special exhibits, and events throughout the year
For up-to-date information on hours, ticket prices, and special events, visit the Benjamin Harrison President Site website.
5 things to know before visiting The Benjamin Harrison House with kids
Start in the Red Barn
There are a handful of parking spots behind the house and plenty of street parking nearby. Look for the red barn at the back of the property for the entrance. Here’s where you’ll purchase your tickets and be assigned a tour time. There’s a small gift shop and a room to the right with rotating exhibits. When we visited they had just opened an exhibit on election materials and my kids were delighted to try out some of the old voting machines they had on display.
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Tours begin every half hour and take between 70-90 minutes
When you purchase your tickets you’ll be assigned a tour time. You cannot view the house without a tour guide but we found the guides to be a huge asset for the tour.
Our guide was full of fun facts to keep the kids interested and knew when to speed up or slow down. We recommend the tour for ages 6+ who are able to stand still and be polite listeners. There are no restrooms on the tour so make sure to visit them across the parking lot from the red barn before you begin.
Check out the Special Exhibits
The historians at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site do a fantastic job of creating rotating special exhibits in both the 3rd floor ballroom of the house and the Red Barn welcome center. We got some hands-on experience with old voting machines in a special exhibit about election security. For more information, see what special exhibits are currently on display.
Make sure to go over the rules for visiting any kind of historic site with our kids. We always remind them about things like keeping our hands to ourselves, not sitting on any of the furniture, raising your hand if you have a question, etc. My kids get excited in these situations and it helps to talk through our expectations beforehand.
Tell Some Stories
Talking about history can be a little bit boring for kids, (and some adults) so spend some time prepping your kids with a little background knowledge about President Harrison. One of our favorite ways to do that is to read stories that make an historic figure come alive. We read the story of President Harrison’s pet goat who escaped down Pennsylvania Ave. with his grandson in tow! It helped to spark their interested and they spent lots of time on the tour asking about both the goat and the grandson. We even managed to find a picture of both of them on the tour!
We Recommend: Old Whisker’s Escapes by Donna Griffin (Amazon affiliate link)
Visiting the Benjamin Harrison House with kids
Whether you want to learn more about how President Benjamin Harrison brought electricity to the White House or you’re curious how a man from Indiana became the Commander in Chief, a visit to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is the perfect way to bring history to life for your kids!
Looking for more ways to explore Indianapolis – don’t miss A Mom’s Guide to Popular Indianapolis Attractions
Have you visited this historic Indiana attraction? What presidential site is on your bucket list? Leave a comment below!