Top 20 Places to Take Kids in and around Indianapolis
2020's Best Places for Kids in the Indianapolis area!
Here are the Top 20 places to take kids in and around Indianapolis, based on KidsOutAndAbout's annual reader survey. But there is LOTS more to do locally "out and about"! Get great ideas here at KidsOutAndAbout.com! What is listed below are just the starting point: Browse through our site and calendar to find lots more, sign up for our fabulous weekly e-newsletter, and be sure to click on Everything That's Free!
Since opening in 1964, the Indianapolis Zoo has emerged as a world-class facility, and it hosts more than a million visitors annually. Located in White River State Park since 1988, the 64-acre Zoo was the first to be triple accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums as a zoo, an aquarium and a botanic garden.
Indianapolis Art Center
At the Indianapolis Art Center, it’s always about Your Art, Your Way! In offering quality learning for everyone from curious beginners to seasoned professionals, our state-of-the-art studios provide artists and students alike with a transformative environment for learning new skills and crafting creative connections with others. Staying dedicated to building community through art, we strive to inspire creative expression in people of all ages through our Access Art tuition assistance opportunities, outreach programs to underserved audiences, and year-round classes and exhibitions.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is extraordinary—always! Through its world-class exhibits, the museum strives to excite and encourage family learning and curiosity by providing limitless opportunities to create memories and foster a sense of discovery. The mission of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is to create extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families.
My Local Library
Of course, the libraries in the Indianapolis area are not really ONE place, but MANY places... but it's important to emphasize how valuable libraries are for family learning and fun. The libraries in our area are wonderful about posting their events to the KidsOutAndAbout calendar so you always can get ideas for free things to do with your kids that celebrate education and imagination. KidsOutAndAbout.com takes this opportunity to salute the wonderful children's librarians who serve our community with such dedication. They're proud that locals voted them #3 in best places to take kids this year!
Spanning more than 1,000 wooded acres in Central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes more than 400,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically-themed encounters and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today. Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization – accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Visit connerprairie.org or call (800) 966-1836 for admission dates, hours, ticket prices and opportunities to donate and volunteer.
Indiana State Fair
The Indiana State Fair is the state’s largest multi-day event celebrating Hoosiers’ spirit and agricultural heritage. These 17 days celebrate Indiana agriculture and promote it to hundreds of thousands of people across Indiana, and beyond. Nationally recognized for offering great entertainment, showcasing youth, interactive agriculture education programs, premier facilities and a variety of unique, fun foods, the Indiana State Fair has been an annual attraction for generations of Hoosiers since 1852. For information on the Indiana State Fair and year round events, visit www.indianastatefair.com.
One of Indianapolis’ oldest parks, Holliday Park is located just six miles north of downtown and encompasses 94-acres of beautiful green space. Visitors can explore the nature center, play on one of the city’s best, hard-to-leave playgrounds, hike more than 3.5 miles of picturesque trails or take a stroll around the one-of-a-kind Holliday Park Ruins.
Zip City Indianapolis
Zip City is an indoor adventure park. From our indoor zip line park to our indoor trampoline park with trampoline dodgeball, it’s a place where you can be active and social while challenging yourself and others. You’ll find a ropes course, climbing walls and laser tag in our over 70,000-square-foot facility, offering a mix of fun and challenging attractions guaranteed to get you moving all year round.
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Located in the charming hamlet of Santa Claus in southern Indiana, this theme park/water park combo offers families a great getaway with all sorts of perks. Did you ever think a theme park would give away soft drinks? And not charge for parking? Use of inner tubes in the water park is free—and so is sunscreen! No wonder Consumers Digest magazine has repeatedly named Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari the Nation’s Top Value Park! And USA Today named Splashin’ Safari the best water park in the nation!
Newfields / Indianapolis Museum of Art
Newfields offers dynamic experiences with art and nature for guests of all ages. The 152-acre cultural campus is home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is among the ten largest and ten oldest general art museums in the nation; the Lilly House, The Garden, featuring 40 acres garden, a working greenhouse and an orchard; as well as The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres, one of the largest art and nature parks in the country. Throughout campus, guests young and old are invited to interact with art and nature in exciting new ways. From discovering new ideas in the IMA Galleries to getting fresh air in the art and nature park, there is truly something for everyone at Newfields.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum’s mission is to preserve and share one of the world’s premier collections of automotive and motor racing vehicles and artifacts, with special emphasis on the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Opened in Located within the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, the IMS Museum collection encompasses automobiles and artifacts representing more than a century of Indianapolis 500 culture, drama and competition, plus vehicles representing NASCAR, Formula One, American short-track racing, drag racing and motorcycles.
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra / Symphony on the Prairie
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is Indiana’s largest performing arts organization! For families, we recommend our Teddy Bear Series, our annual Yuletide holiday performances and Film concerts. For those who want to experience music through education, check out MYO - youth and family development program of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The program uses the life skills learned in music instruction to engage youth in activities that discourage at-risk behaviors and keep them committed to staying in school. You can learn more about all of our performances by visiting https://www.indianapolissymphony.org/education.
The Center for the Performing Arts
Located in Carmel, IN, we are a three-venue, world-class performing arts center that includes the Palladium, the Tarkington, and the Studio Theater.
Old National Centre
The Old National Centre, formerly the Murat Centre, is a beautiful multi-purpose facility that provides versatility for events of all sizes. Since constructed in 1909, the Old National Centre has been a significant architectural and historical landmark in the city of Indianapolis. From the luxurious Grand Lobby to the unique Middle Eastern stylings of the Egyptian Room, the Old National Centre always provides exclusive experiences unlike any other. No matter what size or style we are here to make your event a success and your vision a reality!
Butler Arts Center
Since 1991, the Butler Arts Center has presented curriculum-based, culturally diverse, fully accessible, and age appropriate performances and programs to all-aged audiences. Live performances and programs enrich audiences with a variety of learning styles and approaches, exposing and introducing students to specific art forms (dance, music, theatre, visual arts, and media). At the Butler Arts Center, our commitment is to providing a positive artistic experience through live performance, ultimately educating while entertaining.
The Smiley Center
Smiley is a 25,000 sq foot facility in Castleton filled with the latest Virtual Reality technology. We have very rare and unique interactive games and rides for children of all ages. Our playgrounds are for age 9 months to 10 years old and our VR spaces are for ages 9 years and up! We also have an enormous indoor playground with trampoline basketball, tubes & slides, rock-climbing, obstacle course, fast raceway slides, and MUCH more! Our state of the art facility has a food court serving a variety of delicious treats like bubble tea, and Thai rolled ice-cream!
BounceU started out of a love for kids, and truth be told, we're all still young at heart! That's why we created the funnest, most happiest private party place in the universe for kids.
(Note from early 2021: Unfortunately, BounceU permanently closed due to COVID)
Indiana State Museum
Located in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum brings the best of the museum world to Indiana. Spanning three floors, the museum tells the story of the Hoosier state, and features a year-round calendar of exhibits that explore Indiana art, science and culture. Constructed completely from Indiana materials – including limestone, sandstone, steel, brick and glass – the building itself is a work of art, with icons representing each of Indiana’s 92 counties integrated into its exterior walls. Step inside, and you’ll be invited to experience Indiana’s past, present and future through scientific, cultural, history and art exhibits that help define our place in the world.
Action Duckpin Bowling
Located at the intersection of Virginia Avenue at Shelby and Prospect Streets, the Fountain Square Theatre Building opened in 1928 as a place for entertainment, shopping and professional offices. Today, after undergoing renovations started in 1993, the building once again houses events and entertainment such as Friday Night Swing Dance in the Fountain Square Theatre, duckpin bowling in two vintage alleys, a BBQ restaurant, seasonal Rooftop Garden Cocktail Lounge, Imbibe Lobby Bar and Game Room and overnight accommodations at the Fountainview Inn.
Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, located at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, is one of the nation's longest continuously operating community theatres. Civic produces both large-scale musicals and popular plays, and offers year-round education programming.
Winners in Special CategoriesIn the second part of our survey, we asked readers to select their favorites in six categories. Here were their choices.
Favorite Arts EducationBallet Theatre of Carmel Academy
The Ballet Theatre of Carmel Academy (BTCA) provides high quality dance education for boys and girls ages 3-18, in a nurturing and supportive environment. Programs include preschool through pre-professional classes, a Day Intensive Program, and a Soloist Initiative, and training methods include the American Ballet Theatre® National Training Curriculum. Faculty members come with a rich professional performance background in ballet, and delight in sharing their insights and expertise with their students. BTCA is also the home of Ballet Theatre of Carmel - a pre-professional ballet company presenting two full length productions annually.
Favorite Sports/Physical EducationStony Creek Swim Center
Stony Creek Swim Center has set the standard for swim instruction in central Indiana since 1989. Our lessons are taught by caring, mature instructors who have your child’s best interests at heart. Children learn best when they feel safe and loved. Each student has a unique personality as well as individual needs that must be considered. Our instructors make sure that each child learns at their own pace, in a positive and rewarding manner.