I have always held a fond place in my heart for the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. As a child, we would visit every couple of years. So when my husband and I were trying to come up with a fun family day trip for Father’s Day, we decided to return for a visit. Indianapolis is about 2 1/2 hours from us. So it’s far enough away that we don’t visit very frequently, but yet close enough for it to be a day trip.
(Do your kids love to pose for goofy pictures as much as mine do?)
We hadn’t been to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis since 1998. All the exhibits were different, so it was a whole new experience for us. Of course they still do have some of the old favorites from my past visits – like the Polar Bear, Indy Race Car, the Carousel, and the giant Water Clock.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is definitely not just for young kids. Parents and older kids will enjoy it as well. My husband and I especially enjoyed the exhibit dedicated to toys from past generations. We got a kick out of playing Pong again and seeing toys that we had when we were little. My 14 year old son, who is at that age where he doesn’t want to spend time with the family, even enjoyed himself. That was due in large part to the Lego exhibit that is currently there!
We started off our visit in the Dinospere exhibit. This is a must-see if your child loves dinosaurs. They will likely be excited from the moment they see the gigantic dinosaurs bursting through the museum’s exterior. So count on the fact that they will probably drag you to the Dinosaur exhibit the minute you walk through the door! What I loved about this exhibit is that you truly feel immersed in a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. From the ceiling that changes colors to simulate twilight, to the scent of the plants that surround you, to the roars of the dinosaurs, it truly was a unique experience that made you feel you stepped back in time millions of years. Also if you have a Harry Potter fan in the family, you have to see the dinosaur discovery that was named in honor of the popular children’s book series.
Next our band of intrepid explorers headed off to explore the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth Exhibit. Children will get a feel for what it is like to be an archaelogist in this exhibit that allows you to explore an Egyptian Pharaoh’s tomb, dive to discover Captain Kidd’s shipwreck, and unearth China’s Terra Cotta Warriors. With lots of hands-on activities, your children will get to feel a bit like Indiana Jones!
While you are at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, you should also check out the Hot Wheels for Real exhibit, which will be at the museum until January 17, 2013. It was neat to see life-size versions of the cars my son used to play with when he was little. Younger kids will enjoy the multiple play areas set up throughout the exhibit that allow you to race Hot Wheels cars down hills and through loop-de-loops. Be sure to keep an eye open for the Hot Wheels car that is covered in diamonds! It was also neat to see the Hot Wheels toys from decades past that they had on display. There were a couple of pieces that either my husband or my brother had played with as a child. Is it just me, or do you feel incredibly old when you see toys you played with as a child on display in a museum? LOL.
If your child is a Lego fanatic like my son is (and my husband too), then you will want to be sure to head to the Lego Travel Adventure exhibit which is running until July 22, 2012. They had all sorts of Lego vehicles from a Model T, to the Wright Brothers Plane, to a San Francisco Cable Car, to a Blimp. My son was particularly amused by the Lego Storm Trooper going down a ski jump. The incredible attention to detail in the displays was amazing!
There was so much to see in each Lego display that we could have spent a lot longer in this exhibit if we had the time. There is also a large play area which allows your child to build their own Lego creations. We had to literally drag the girls away from it as the museum was closing!
Tips for visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- Visit for free. Our family of 6 paid around $90 for admission. You could save a substantial amount of money by visiting on one of their free admission days. They have a free family night each month, and also there are several days each year when admission is free. You can check out when the next free day is at this link – http://www.childrensmuseum.org/free-and-special-days
- The museum is huge so be prepared for a lot of walking. Make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes. As my younger daughter found out, flip-flops are not ideal for traipsing around a 5-story museum! Bring a stroller for younger kids, but be aware that you may have to park them outside before exploring some areas of the museum
- Food is expensive at the museum food court, so eat before you go. We paid around $50 for the equivalent of a fast food meal. Save yourself the money and eat elsewhere. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t worth what we paid.
- Pick up a map when you get there and come up with a plan of attack. The place is enormous and it can be difficult to see everything in a day, especially if your child stops at every computer they come across to play the educational games. We planned to hit the Lego exhibit last because we knew the kids would spend more time there. We wanted to make sure that we had time to see all the other exhibits too. If you have younger kids, you might want to save Playscape for last for the same reason.
I would highly recommend the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as a great day trip for families. Unlike other children’s museums we have visited, this one will keep children of all ages engaged and interested. With so much to do and see, you will wish you had more than one day to visit!