Touring a new city with your kids can be a little stressful. You have to navigate the hustle and bustle of busy downtown, figure out transportation, and map out your route to avoid meltdowns. I love exploring cities but I know it’s not as worry-free when I’m with my kids since I’m usually keeping one eye on the map and the other on making sure everyone stays together. But urban city centers offer lots of family-friendly fun, especially if you have a plan. One of the best cities for families to explore is downtown Indianapolis, with its affordable attractions and easily managed size. Want to give it a whirl? Here’s a sample itinerary for your tour of downtown Indianapolis with kids.
Parking is usually pretty affordable unless there’s a big event. I recommend parking at White River State Park. It’s close to many attractions and the beautiful urban state park located along the White River is a great place to start the day.
If you’re skipping the morning attractions or the weather isn’t great, park at Circle Center Mall which connects you to many downtown buildings and hotels via indoor walkways.
Located in White River State Park, you’ll find several attractions that are just a short walk from where you parked. Pick one that fits your family and spend the morning exploring.
- NCAA Hall of Champions – great for sports fans but more geared towards older kids since there are lots of things to read
- The Eiteljorg Museum – one of the world’s largest collections of Native American and Western Art with fun interactive exhibits for kids and usually smaller crowds
- The Indiana State Museum – learn all about the Hoosier state with fun and kid-friendly exhibits, an IMAX, and old-fashioned tea room
- Indianapolis Zoo and White River Botanical Gardens – perfect for families of all ages and includes a free dolphin show with admission. Check website for best advanced-ticket pricing.
Go for a Ride
Rent a yellow bike from Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program. There are stations located throughout downtown that allow you to ride for up to 30 minutes at a time. Need more time? Just hop off and exchange for a new bike at any station. Your 24-hour pass lets you have unlimited exchanges.
Once you have your bike, you can pop onto the Cultural Trail, a beautifully landscaped and art-filled biking trail that connects the Downtown cultural districts. Head towards Mass Ave to grab lunch. If you’d rather, you can drive over and find street parking. It’s about a mile away.
Mass Ave Restaurants
Massachusetts Ave (Mass Ave for short) is a hopping shopping and cultural district full of restaurants, independent boutiques, and theaters. There are lots of options for family-friendly dining so after you’ve parked your bike head to Bru Burger for delicious and unique burgers or try Mimi Blue Meatballs for a fun take on this Italian staple. If you have some time, stop into a few of the shops, filled with items made right here in the city.
Take Me Out to The Ball Game
If you’ve still got some steam in you, you can go back to another museum at White River State Park or grab tickets for the Indianapolis Indians, the city’s minor league team. The stadium is just across the street from where you parked in the morning and tickets start an an affordable $10. The atmosphere of the ball park is 100% geared towards kids and families and makes the perfect finish to the day. Many evening games end with fireworks as well so you can celebrate your downtown tour in style.
If baseball is not your thing, you can also continue your tour in Fountain Square, another cultural district just southeast of downtown. It’s full of fantastic restaurants, shops, and even a duckpin bowling ally. Fountain Square is connected to downtown via the Cultural Trail so feel free to stay on your bikes to keep exploring.
All of these activities can be customized and rearranged to make your own unique itinerary. You can also check out Visit Indy for more ideas and for information on events. There are tons of festivals during the summer so make sure you check their calendar before you visit.
Downtown Indianapolis is a friendly urban center that makes it perfect for families who want to explore a new city. Whether you’re coming from a suburb or from across the Midwest, you won’t be disappointed with a tour of Indianapolis, especially now that you have a plan to follow!
Make sure and let me know if you try out this plan. I’d love to hear if it worked for your family. And leave a comment if you have other great stops for kids in downtown Indy!