Eyes widen and children stand in awe as they travel through displays like the Age of Ice and discover fascinating creatures that walked the earth over 11,000 years ago such as the mastodonts. Interactive exhibits like Make a Quake thrill smaller children, while older kids enjoy exploring the many fossils in Birth of the Earth. In addition, the on-site IMAX Theater presents fun educational films in 3-D!
Fill a free afternoon with a trip to Kids Ink Children's Bookstore. Owner Shirley Mullin has stocked every nook and cranny with carefully selected books little ones will certainly love. Browse the shelves with your kids, and then settle down in one of the reading areas to enjoy your unique finds. The cute independent bookstore also sells games, puzzles and creative educational toys, so be prepared to find something your child can't live without.
Just outside of the city, families can take a step back in time to travel through 1800s America. Learn more about what it was like to live in the Midwest two centuries ago by talking to the people in the village, or just explore Discovery Station, where preschoolers can join older kids in stocking market shelves, dressing up as Victorian farmers and ladies and baking pies in a country kitchen.
If the kids are itching for a theme park experience, but you don't want to pay the theme park price, head over to Greatimes Family Fun Park. This five-acre park has a 22,000-square-foot arcade center sure to please the gaming child, while younger ones love the multilevel Indoor Playland. The whole family can join in on the fun with a round of Miniature Golf or compete two-on-two in the Bumper Boats and Go-Karts.
Inspiring the next generation of percussionists, Rhythm! Discovery Center has over 150 interactive displays for kids to experiment with. Learn how different cultures create percussion instruments, hit the famous, eight-foot Big Drum and see how sound effects are made for films. Stop by the Hands On Area to try a variety of drums, shakers and bells, or spend time in a practice space with technology that can change the acoustics of the room.
Sports loving kids can't get enough of the NCAA Hall of Fame. While smaller children enjoy the Mascot Mix-Up room, where they can create their own mascot, older youth delight in challenging others to a contest of free throws or soccer goals. Step into one of the hall's four theaters to watch a presentation on NCAA athletes, or venture up to the second floor to play on the simulated sports machines.
Give the kids room to run around and stretch their legs at White River State Park. Bring the football or Frisbee and hit the green expanse of Celebration Plaza. When stomachs start growling, head over to the picnic area, but don't leave without riding down the park's Central Canal in a pedal boat. Happen to be visiting during the summer? Enjoy performances for all ages at the free Family Arts Series.
At the Indianapolis Zoo, kids squeal in excitement when they learn they can actually touch real sharks and journey under water to watch polar bears and sea lions swim in their habitats. While children are mesmerized by the animals, they also love cooling off at Splash Park and touring the zoo on the White River Junction Train. Come prepared to stay all day and catch a few shows like the Penguin Feeding and Elephant Bathing.
As the largest kids' museum in the world, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a must- see for families. Eighteen different exhibit areas keep little ones entertained all day long and leave them begging to come back tomorrow. Kids can learn more about the solar system in the SpaceQuest Planetarium, dig for fossils at Dinosphere, shop at an Egyptian Market or dress up like Barbie for a live fashion show.