Finding things to do with your grandkids can be a bit challenging. What can be done to keep them engaged? Is there a way to have fun and make memories while also providing some educational value? Indianapolis is an awesome city filled with incredible green spaces, memorials, and waterways, and it has tons to offer in terms of ways to spend your day. From exploring the Indianapolis Zoo to stepping into an immersive historical experience at Conner Prairie, all of these sites are great ways to get out, get active, get engaged, and most importantly, make some memories with your grandkids.
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a crowd favorite. Any age, any interest: your grandkids will love everything that this massive museum has to offer. If this is your group’s first time, it’s recommended that you plan a full day to truly explore every nook and cranny. And, since this adventure takes all day, you don’t have to plan anything else (especially since this museum has everything you might need—including an extensive food court).
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has something for every age and interest. The Playscape, for instance, is specifically designed for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. A whole room built especially for youngsters, the Playscape includes an attraction where your grandbabies can play in water and sand one minute, and then move on to the play music and make art the next minute. For grandkids that are a little bit older, Treasures of the Earth lets visitors go full-blown archaeologist. Complete with a bumpy elevator ride that leads to a digging site, this bit of the museum is jam-packed with Indiana Jones vibes from start to finish. You also have the option to go back in time to the Dinosphere, where you can see full-size dinosaur skeletons and dig for dinosaur bones. Feeling like a trip? The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has recently opened an exhibit specifically focused on discovering the culture of contemporary Greece. Everywhere you look, all of the exhibits offer an interactive, touchable, and completely discoverable experience that you and your grandkids will remember for years to come.
Indianapolis Museum of Art (Newfields)
The Indianapolis Museum of Art, also known as Newfields, offers 100 acres of art and views for you and your grandchildren to enjoy. And what’s more: admission is completely free. Grandkids can climb, explore, and admire the art from dawn to dusk. As you walk the winding trails and soak up the breathtaking sculptures and artwork, feel free to interact with the art pieces and nature while you make memories.
One of the best parts of this attraction (on top of the unbeatable price for admission) is that you can stay as long as you like. Since the Indianapolis Museum of Art is free to enter and roam about, you can take a hike for as long as you’re happy and the weather is good. Maybe pack a picnic and hunker down amongst the scenery after you’ve taken a bit of a stroll among the acreage. Or simply take a walk, then turn around whenever you’re ready to grab a bite to eat. From staying all day and watching the sunset to stretching your legs after lunch, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is a great site if you’re looking for something flexible, but fun—just make sure you bring sunscreen!
The Indianapolis Zoo is a fantastic fusion of everything you might want in a trip of a half-day or more. Whether your grandkids are interested in being outside in the sunshine while feeding the giraffes or enjoying the many rides that the zoo has available, you’ll find that there is something for everyone at this zoo. Of course, there are plenty of animals to peer at, admire, and learn about: from elephants to tigers, orangutans to dolphins, there’s so much to discover and enjoy. And, here’s a tip: be sure to get your free ticket to the dolphin show as soon as you enter the zoo. Seating to the show is first-come, first-serve, so be sure to get there early to get the seat you want (especially if that seat is in the splash zone—a nice, refreshing dousing of water is always welcome on a hot day!).
There are attractions, rides, and exhibits covering every square foot of this zoo. In the Oceans exhibit, you can find the shark touch pool (the largest shark touch pool in America), which includes a school of smooth-to-touch dogfish sharks that all ages can personally encounter and interact with. In the Budgie Aviary, you and your grandkids can shake a seed stick in the hopes of a budgie landing on your hand or your shoulder to get a nibble of some seeds. Or, of course, you can stop by the Plains exhibit to feed the giraffes and see these massive creatures up close and personal. There’s so much to discover, and endless memories to make, at the Indianapolis Zoo.
Just a half an hour drive outside of downtown Indianapolis lies an immersive museum steeped in history. Driven by its mission to get people-especially kids-excited about history, Conner Prairie is unlike any other museum. It’s completely interactive: complete with actors that perform their roles within the town and answer questions about the town’s history, this destination is an exciting fusion between old buildings, historical artifacts, and immersive theatre. Here, the actors act out what they might have experienced during 1836 in this prairie-town village, and they more than welcome questions and interaction from visitors. You and your grandkids can experience the wonder of stepping into this whole new world and discover what there is to learn and explore in 1836.
On top of the fascinating interactions between the actors and the visitors, Conner Prairie also features a petting farm, a Civil War area, a hot-air balloon, and a hands-on experimental center. You should plan for at least half a day enjoying this immersive experience and partaking in the many pioneer activities, like candle-dipping. No matter the age of your grandkids, there’s something educational and fun for everyone on the grounds of Conner Prairie.
Whether you’re looking for a full-day excursion or a quick afternoon trip, there’s plenty to be discovered around Indianapolis. Bring your grandkids to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to soak up some sunshine and culture, or touch a real-life shark in the nation’s largest shark tank at the Indianapolis Zoo. Whatever you choose, it’s going to be a day to remember.
Article written by Rhianna DeVries