This Children’s Museum Will Knock Your Socks Off
Once upon a time, we heard tales of this mystical place south of Michigan, where fairy tales and lands untold come to life.
But, in a time where it seems that many things are over-hyped, we were skeptical. Could the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis really be worth hours on the road?
We set off with high hopes for our museum visit. And, when the museum came into sight, giant dinosaur neck careening from the building, we knew we were in for a special kind of treat.
It turns out we were right! We’ve visited several times now, in both the winter and the warmer seasons, and can emphatically say: the place is worth it no matter the time of year.
If you’re thinking about visiting, here’s the experiences and exhibits your family can look forward to inside of the Indianapolis Children’s Museums’ four levels of fun and learning.
In this Article
One of the newest parts of the museum, this must-see prehistoric playground puts you on the ground, at night, in the middle of a crowd of gigantic dinosaur skeletons.
Interact with the displays and ask the staff questions as you learn about what it was like in the prehistoric times when the dinos roamed the earth.
Strap on goggles and get busy at the archaeological dig site, using real tools just like the pros. Upstairs, bring your own dino art to life in the Dynasphere art lab.
Real-life paleontologists work at the museum, and you get to watch them hammer and chisel and uncover secrets from the dinosaur bones in their laboratory.
Honestly, the interactive programming here is super engaging, and I appreciate that it’s completely free with admission.
WinterFaire: If Frozen Came to Life
Next we took the elevator up to the third floor and stumbled upon the magical land of Winter Faire.
I imagine that, if you walked into Anna and Elsa’s village on during a festival, this is what it would be like. The whole room is a fairy tale come true, with a magical fountain centerpiece that only comes to life when you work with friends to make it sing.
Whimsical winter-themed carnival games fill the space, inviting you to land rings on cute little penguins in the ring toss game or beat your kids at skee ball, among other things.
This rotating exhibit is here during the winter months and serves as the museum’s holiday exhibit. In fact, from March 9–Sept. 2, 2024, the museum will host a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exhibit!
American Pop Culture: Nostalgia Overload!
This exhibit was a total throwback for me.
Displays of iconic characters like Spider-Man and nostalgic toys like Atari and Cabbage Patch Kids took me back to my childhood and even made me feel a little old!
The comic book station is cool – not only can you read the comics, you can create your own comic book covers, starring YOU. Plus there are a lot of interactive spots that invite you to get into a decade or a character.
This exhibit certainly is a fun way for adults to bond with kids over the pop culture of their own childhood. If you go, you’ll have so many “OMG, I had that toy!” moments.
Both peaceful and enlightening, Sacred Places takes visitors on a journey around the world to significant places from across cultures and provides a wonderful opportunity for us to understand and appreciate the beliefs and traditions of our global neighbors.
Interactive displays focusing on special sites (and the people who cherish them) from India, Nepal, Jordan, the United States, Thailand, Japan, and more are featured.
This exhibit is so well done.
Take Me There: Greek Adventures!
Next, we stepped into a replica airplane and ‘flew’ to Greece in the “Take Me There” exhibit.
Step off the plane and you’re in a Greek town, complete with homes, shops, markets, and restaurants. The hands-on elements put you in the center of Greek life. “Make” olive oil, whip up gyros, and go about daily life, as you would in Greece.
Next, help save turtles and then play in a pretend Greek restaurant. The level of detail and authenticity in this exhibit was spot on.
Playscape for the Littles
This area is specifically designed for ages five and under and features a water playground, a pond-themed climbing area, a music studio, and even a sandbox.
There’s also a dedicated Babyscape area for babies and toddlers.
The vibe here is calmer than in other areas of the museum.
The Power of Children
This one is primarily for the older kids. “The Power of Children” exhibit is profound and impactful.
It showcases the incredible stories of four young people who made a big difference in our world. When you follow their pathways, you get a taste of the challenges they overcame.
Each story is a powerful reminder that a young age doesn’t keep us from making positive impact.
Level Four: A Whirlwind of Activities
The fourth level of the museum is a treasure trove of activities. What’s up here? In addition to the skylight, there’s an old-fashioned carousel ($2 to ride), a STEM lab complete with a giant water table, and a variety of retro puzzles and arcade games.
The interactive village and the tunnel of Amazing Mirrors are also a good time, as is the geology lab. Kids can dress up as geologists, explore a cave, and even try rock climbing.
Lower Level: Trains, Space and Archaeology
Trains take up a good part of the lower level, along with the archaeology exhibit and its mysterious mummy display.
The Space Station exhibit, Beyond Spaceship Earth, is also down here. If you want to feel like astronauts exploring the unknown realms of space, this is for you.
Maybe my favorite? Recline on the chairs of the “In the Fireworks of Glass” exhibit and try to match glass formations on the screen with those in the ceiling.
(Really, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Everything here is so well done and so much fun. It’s worth the drive to get the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis!)
Chihuly Fireworks of Glass Sculpture
Soaring through the Sunburst atrium up to the skylights, the five-story tall Chihuly glass sculpture is a mesmerizing sight. This gigantic artwork stretches from the top floor to the lower level, where a surprise seek and find activity is waiting for you.
Grab your crew, recline on the circular sofa, and get busy matching the shapes on the wall to the shapes in the ceiling.
Outdoor Sports Legends Experience
This amazing section of the Indy Children’s Museum features 12 sports experiences that are open spring, summer and fall. In 2024, they will reopen on March 16, 2024 (just in time for spring break!)
Access to all 7.5 acres of the Sports Legends Experience is included with museum general admission.
Sports Experiences: Fun sports you can do here include soccer, football, golf, basketball, tennis, pedal car racing, hockey, track and field, and even a giant fantasy treehouse that you can climb.
Be prepared: Bring a refillable water bottle (no glass) and wear closed-toe shoes for both racing experiences.
Accessible equipment: Adaptive equipment is available for each sport activity. Brightly colored balls assist visitors with low vision, and soft material balls are outfitted with easy-grip holes. Adaptive fitness pad equipment and sport wheelchairs are also available.
Dining, Shopping, and Practicalities
Food Court: The Food Court is located opposite the giant water clock in the main hall.
You should know that this food court is super allergy-friendly. They can even accommodate visitors with uncommon allergies as long as you give them a heads-up call a few days in advance of your visit.
Shopping: The Children’s Museum store is packed with cool merchandise related to the exhibits.
Rentals: And for convenience, there are lockers, strollers, wagons, and wheelchair rentals available.
Parking: There’s a free parking garage just across the street, connected to the museum by a 2nd floor skyway. Arrive early for the best parking spots during busy times like spring break.
Timing Your Visit: This museum is a hotspot, especially during spring break, so plan for a crowd.
How Long Does a Visit Take? You’ll want to spend the whole day at the Children’s Museum. Even if you’re here for the day, it’s not likely you will be able to fit everything in. Just visiting the sports complex will take several hours. If you think you will be in town long enough to visit two or more times, look into saving money by purchasing a family membership. A basic family membership is $230 as of Jan 2024.
Location: 3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208.
Hours: Tues-Sun from 10 AM to 5 PM. (First Thursday of the month, open late til 8 PM.)
Closed Mondays during the fall, winter, and spring, with some exceptions.
- Save by booking early! The earlier you buy your ticket, the better your price.
- Prices start at $19.50 for youth, $24.50 for adults. Free for kids under 2.
- Special $6 pricing on the first Thursday evening of each month from 4-8 PM.
- If you will be in town long enough to visit two or more times, look into saving money by purchasing a family membership. A basic family membership is $230 as of Jan 2024.
Check childrensmuseum.org for detailed schedules, special hours and to purchase tickets.
Where to Stay: Our hotel & vacation rental recs
Have you visited this great place? If you find yourself at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis drop us a comment and let us know how it goes!
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