Staycation Fun in Indianapolis

Staycations aka vacation in your own state or area, has gained popularity over the past few years. This year will be no exception with the expensive gas prices around the country. Today, I’m going to share some of my favorite places to “Staycation” in the Indianapolis area. If you aren’t local to Indianapolis, don’t worry as I will be sharing links to other “Staycations” areas tomorrow including locations that are close to Indianapolis like Dayton and Cincinnati, OH.

I’ll be sharing quite a few of our favorite places. However, the top two that always come to my kid’s mind are the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Indianapolis Zoo. I’ll be updating this list all summer long so you may want to bookmark this “Staycation Fun in Indianapolis” page for easy access.

This summer, you can visit for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum for FREE courtesy of Target on the first Thursday of every month from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Start your summer vacation enjoying the Dinosphere, Dora & Diego, Train Exhibits, the ScienceWorks interactive learning center among just a few of the favorite exhibits. If you can’t make a free night, admission is $11.50 (children) or $16.50 (adults) which includes free parking.

Our next stop would be the Indianapolis Zoo. If you have a Indianapolis Area Entertainment 2011 book, you can use a $2 off admission coupon for up to two guests. With your paid admission, you can enjoy a dolphin show (which my kids love!), watch the penguins swim under you, pet a shark, and much more. On hot days, your kids can cool off in the Splash Park.  Last year, we were also given quite a entertaining and educational show by the baboons, which is not quite appropriate for a family blog! ;)

If your kids love sports, there are two fun options for your family this summer to enjoy a professional or semi-professional team for less. If you want a fun, fast paced atmosphere with dedicated fans, check out a Indiana Fever game. While these games are economical compared to men’s professional basketball, you will enjoy a hard working team in a fun atmosphere at Conseco Fieldhouse.

If “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is more your style, you will want to check out the In-Store only Christmas Price Guarantee. It is not something we’ve done with our kids yet but I have fond memories of going to Indianapolis Indians games with my parents and brother as a child. You will find a complete list of promotions including Monday Dollar Menu, Indy Star 2 for 1 Tuesday, and more at the In-Store only Christmas Price Guarantee website.

If you want to head to my neck of the woods and enjoy some tasty pizza, you can take the Pizza Train from Noblesville to Tipton on Saturdays. This popular train trip will bring you to small town Tipton and you will have your choice of restaurants. Children under the age of 2 are free, $10 (children 2-12), and $16 for adults (age 13 and up). I would suggest putting your order in for Pizza Shack “By the Tracks”, which has the best salad bar in town along with a dinner buffet with something for everyone.

Conner Prairie, a Interactive History Museum, is usually on the list of yearly school field trips for my kids. Experience 19th century United States in a fun way. Use your Buy One, Get One coupon from the Indianapolis Area Entertainment 2011 book.

Another family favorite is visiting the Indiana State Fair during the month of August. For 2011, you can enjoy a daily parade, Hot Air Balloon Race, Riley Fun Park, which includes the Little Hands on the Farm, along with concerts, livestock, and other exhibitions. Keep your eyes out for a FREE admission coupon in the Indy Star like they have given out in the past.

Grab your bikes and take a ride on the Monon Trail. Then cool off in the Monon Community Center with over 161 acres of water fun!

Head downtown to visit the Indiana State Museum with your B1G1 Free coupon of course from the Indianapolis Area Entertainment 2011 book. Then take a walk along the Canal or rent a paddleboat. Make sure to stop by the Creations Cafe for a deliciously creative lunch. Next, jump over to the NCAA Hall of Champions for a interactive experience about intercollegiate athletics, which may inspire the budding athlete in your household. There is plenty to do in the country’s only cultural urban state park – White River Park.

Again, bookmark this page “Staycation Fun in Indianapolis” page for easy access all summer long!

Central Indiana readers: Tell me your favorite places for the summer!


  1. 13

    Bridgett Miller says

    Awesome Ideas! Indianapolis is great for an overnight trip for us. I will be taking the kids to Childen’s Museum this year!

  2. 14

    wendy aka frugalhomeschooler says

    I second the Rhythm Discovery Center! Our 20 month old and 12 year old both loved it. The hands on percussion section was both their favorite! My husband and I enjoyed the exhibits. We had bought a discount online, similar to a groupon discount but through someone else, that helped us saved some money on admission.

  3. 15

    Duffy Teague says

    Here’s another fun thing to do!
    Rhythm! Discovery Center
    110 W. Washington Street, Suite A
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
    Phone: 317.275.9030
    Located in downtown Indianapolis adjacent to the Artsgarden and directly below Weber Grill Restaurant at the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets.
    Hours of Operation:
    Monday – Saturday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
    Sunday: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
    Admission Prices:
    Student……….$5.00 (with valid student ID)
    Child……….$5.00 (children 5 and under are FREE)
    Rhythm! Discovery Center is a place for visitors of all ages to experience rhythm and percussion. Explore our wide variety of percussion instruments and artifacts from around the world through unlimited hands on access to interactive exhibits and dynamic multi-media experiences.

  4. 16

    Angie @ Many Little Blessings says

    I would add that families on a budget should try to bring along a lunch to the zoo for sure. We recently went there for the first time and were kind of horrified at how expensive the food was. (I told the kids they all had to drink my bottled water because I wasn’t buying anyone sodas at $3.19 each. That’s practically the price of a kids meals at the Children’s Museum.)

    • 17

      Briana Carter says

      I agree! I also like to bring along a couple reusable water bottles that we can refill during the day to save on unnecessary bottled water costs! When they are thirsty enough, they will drink it! :)

  5. 20

    Sara says

    I’ve been to almost every place you mentioned and they are all great! Indy really has awesome things to do. I would also include the IMA! It is a terrific FREE art museum and the grounds themselves (which include the Lilly Mansion) are fantastic. My friends and I love to picnic and throw a Frisbee around there. Last summer, they also had movie nights on Fridays and I don’t think they were too expensive.

  6. 21

    Kevin Bell says

    I totally agree with you about going to see the Indianapolis Indians play! Victory Park is such a great place to go! Our girls used to dread when we told them about going to see a baseball game, but they can’t wait to go now! They especially love Rowdie, the team mascot. He is one of the best mascots I have ever seen and works very well with kids!
    One other note if you’re planning to take in a few games: Buy each of your kids a “Knot Hole Club” membership. It’s only $15 each and the kids can get free lawn seating (or a regular seat for a $2 upgrade), a free T-Shirt, and other benefits of the club, like being able to run the bases on the field after certain games.

  7. 22

    Jamie Taylor says

    Love this, but wanted to let you know and hopefully others that if anyone in the household is on Hoosier Healthwise you can get what is called an Access Pass that gets you into the Children’s Museum, Conner Prairie, and a few other museums in the Indy downtown area for $1 per person! Here’s the website telling about it via the Children’s Museum :
    Please feel free to share this with other’s. I didn’t know about it until a few months ago, but once I learned about it I was able to take my kids to the Musuem!

  8. 23

    Janet says

    Great post! Looking forward to seeing what other places you add. I’m in western KY, but was actually in the Indy area this weekend for a family get-together. Lots of great places to visit in Indy for a staycation.

  9. 24

    jamie says

    I love this we are actually in IL but right near the border. We camp alot on our summer vactaion but during our week lng vaction we always head to Indy to visit the new attractions at the zoo and the childrens museum, this year I am going to have to chec out that train ride my so would love that (my husband too)! Thank you!
    PS I tried to get my hubby to vaca early so we could go to the race this weekend but its always easier to watch from home with little ones.

    • 25

      Briana Carter says

      I completely agree! My husband is camping out again with his friends in their RV…and I have tickets…not sure if I’m going to take our boys or not! We will see if I’m brave enough! :)

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