I heard my first rustle of scatter-blown leaves the other day as I took our dog out for a walk. And these last few mornings I’ve had to grab a sweater as I’m leaving the house to ward off the chilly mornings. All the signs are there that fall is indeed just around the corner, even if some of the summer heat seems determined to hang on.
So what are the best kids fall activities in Indianapolis?
Whether you have a long weekend, a week-long fall break or just a Saturday to explore, here’s how to experience the best of autumn in Indianapolis.
Best Kids Fall Activities in Indianapolis: A Weekend Itinerary
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We were hosted by Lark Ranch as part of a media preview and received complementary admission during our visit. As always, reviews and opinions are my own.
Start with a trip to this family-run pumpkin patch just east of Indianapolis in Greenfield, IN. When you arrive at Lark Ranch you’ll have to decide whether you want to visit the corn maze, let your kids jump on the air pillow, meet the animals, or try the super fast grain sack slide first. Don’t worry, there’s time for everything! My kids could easily spend a half day or more checking out all of the attractions.
And the best part is that you only pay one admission price and everything is included, except for the price of your pumpkin. I love that I don’t have to keep track of tickets or tokens or say no to a bunch of extra costs. Snacks are available for purchase as well (very reasonable prices) and I highly recommend grabbing a dozen of the mini apple cider donuts.
Make sure you hop on the train for a trip around the farm and if you’ve got older kids, they’ll love the gyroscope and rock climbing wall. There isn’t much shade so pack the sunscreen and be prepared for crowds the closer it gets to Halloween. Their website has a full list of hours and attractions, and you can purchase tickets ahead of time.
Zoo Boo at the Indianapolis Zoo
After a day at the pumpkin patch you’ll want to unpack your costume and prepare to walk on the wild side at the Indianapolis Zoo’s Zoo Boo. It’s one of the top fall activities in Indianapolis for lots of families who make it an annual tradition to visit the animals in their costumes.
Kids can trick or treat through the Savannah and experience special shows and rides (extra cost). There are bonfires to warm up on chilly nights and plenty of indoor exhibits if it’s really cold. Plan for extra time to find a parking spot since it gets busy and pack a few snacks since lines can be kind of long for food.
A few glow necklaces from the dollar store usually keeps me from having to buy expensive light-up souvenirs for my kids so throw some in your bag if you think your kids will get a case of the gimmies.
Haunted House at the Children’s Museum
If the weather isn’t cooperating or you’d rather do something a little spookier, don’t miss the annual Haunted House at The
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The world’s largest children’s museum doesn’t do anything in a small way, which means this Halloween favorite is just as over the top as the rest of the museum. This is a fundraiser for the Children’s Museum Guild so there’s an extra charge but you do not have to purchase admission to the museum to visit the haunted house.
This year’s theme is Hotel of Spells and you can choose whether to visit during friendly lights-on hours or scary lights-off times. While there’s nothing overtly scary during the friendly hours and kids can look for a pumpkin pet in each room while collecting candy and other prizes, the decor can be kind of gruesome so it might be best to skip for sensitive kiddos.
Related Post: Downtown Indianapolis with Kids
Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast at Lincoln Square Pancake House
Start the day at a local breakfast chain that serves up some of the best pumpkin pancakes in the city. Lincoln Square Pancake House has locations all around town and if you start early you shouldn’t have too much of a line. They have a great kids menu and lots of options for everyone so it’s always a hit with my whole family.
Hike at Fort Ben
Time to burn off some of those donuts from yesterday. Head to the northeast corner of the city to Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park, a former military outpost. You’ll find paved and unpaved hiking trails, playgrounds, and plenty of fall color to get out and explore.
Pack some snacks and hit the trails to soak in all the lovely displays mother nature puts on this time of year.
Related Post: Best Indiana State Parks
No, you don’t need to purchase a new iPhone. This Apple Store is a special seasonal offering on the grounds of Conner Prairie, a living history museum in Fishers, IN. Stop in to grab a caramel apple and other seasonal treats. I love the apple cider and pumpkin donuts as well and your kids can sample a cider slushee as well.
You do not have to pay admission to Conner Prairie to experience the Apple Store.
Piney Acres Farm
Need even more pumpkin patch fun? Opening Sept 29th this year, Piney Acres Farm in Fortville, Indiana has hayrides, barrel trains, jump pads, and corn mazes galore! Plenty to keep your whole crew happy and filled to the brim with fall favorites! Their signature Fall Funnel Cake is also worth a nibble.
For more info about all the fall fun you can find at Piney Acres, check out from friend Shelly from DIY Mama’s post about their recent trip to Piney Acres. She’s got great tips for your visit.
Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie
Your last stop for the weekend is a special event at Conner Prairie. The Headless Horseman is a fun and slightly spooky event that lets families experience the legend of Sleepy Hallow in a magical way. There are daylight hayrides earlier in the evening for younger kids but it can still be kind of spooky with a few surprises hidden in the woods.
Hayride tickets are given out as you arrive so you’ll need to get in line early to get an earlier time. This is a super popular event that’s only held for three weekends in October so make sure you plan ahead and purchase tickets. In addition to the hayride, you’ll also find several shows, fun games for kids, and a corn maze. Food is available to purchase at both the Apple Store and from food trucks.
Hotel Recommendations in Indianapolis for Kids
Depending on what area of town you’d like to be in, I recommend the JW Marriott or Homewood Suites (click for the pricing info) for downtown accommodations. They’re both kid-friendly and offer lots of walkability to downtown restaurants and attractions.
If you’d like to stay in the suburbs and avoid higher parking charges, I love the Drury Inn in either Castleton or Carmel (click for pricing info). Both locations have easy access to the interstate and you can’t beat the free breakfast and night time “happy hour” that’s included at all Drury Inns.
Related Post: Getting Your Kids to Sleep in Hotels
Want more ideas for your fall weekend with kids in Indianapolis?
Check out these great ideas for touring downtown, a list of our favorite area attractions, and some super helpful tips for visiting the world’s largest Children’s Museum. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also see our list of amazing fall break vacations!
What’s your family’s must-do fall activity? Are you planning a fall weekend getaway with kids this year? Leave a comment below and tell us where you’re headed!