I heard my first rustle of scatter-blown leaves the other day as I took our puppy 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.
Now that everyone’s settling into a school routine and we’ve been home for several weeks, it’s nice to start thinking about some fall outings that get us out enjoying all the great things the season has to offer.
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.
Your Ideal Itinerary for a Fall Weekend With Kids in Indianapolis
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. This post may contain affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on your purchases, at not cost to you. For more information, please see my full disclosure policy.
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 a favorite 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.
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 an cider slushee as well.
You do not have to pay admission to Conner Prairie to experience the Apple Store.
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 there is never anything gory that jumps out at you or gets too intense.
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. It is extremely well done and I’m always impressed with the new features they add each year.
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. And remember you can always leave a comment below with any questions about your itinerary and I’ll make sure to respond!
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!