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Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

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Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

staying at marriott downtown with 3 small kids

any fun good restaurants and what to do

zoo - children's museum

what about race park??

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1. Re: Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

Hi Mary. I think I responded to your other post with recommendations on where to stay, but sounds like you've already decided. You'll be glad you chose downtown. The Marriott is just a block or so from White River State Park. You just cross a street and you're in the park. Don't think trees and trails. It's greenspaces, a long pedestrian canal (paddle boats, bike rentals), museums, the zoo, public sculptures, that kind of thing. You can walk around, take it all in, and go to some museums and the zoo. The NCAA Hall of Champions is a lot of fun if the kids are into sports, and it's only $3 or so. Next door, you can hunt for sculptures on the outside of the Indiana State Museum for free. There are 92 sculptures integrated into the building and surroundings. You can get a map inside the museum for free and go hunting, or just look for them yourself. Each one represents a place in Indiana and has an explanation.

TGI Fridays just reopened in White River State Park. Good for families.

As far as restaurants downtown, almost every place is kid-friendly. Old Spaghetti Factory, Hard Rock Cafe, and Chammps probably top the list, but only a few are probably too upscale for kids.

Go to Monument Circle and get ice cream at South Bend Chocolate Cafe. Sit outside on the Monument steps. Nice thing to do in the evening.

Comedy Sportz downtown is family-friendly improv. Lots of fun.

The Children's Museum is definitely worth a visit. Even older kids will like it.

Circle Center Mall is just a few blocks from your hotel, too. Actually, it's connected by skyways. It has an arcade, movie theater, restaurants, and lots of shops.

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2. Re: Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

Would be helpful to know the timing of your visit to better advise you, but in addition to what Megan said, the Zoo may be worth a visit depeding on how much your kids are into the zoo stuff. We're members of the Zoo and Children's Museum so we go all the time. With the zoo, just keep in mind that the tropical animals are not out in the winter, but some of the colder climate animals are actually much more active in the winter than in the summer. For example, based on my visits during the summer, I was convinced that the Red Panda was stuffed or the laziest animal on the planet (just sleeping at the top of his tree 24/7 but in the winter he was walking, climbing, etc. The polar bear, needless to say, also is much more active as are the brown bears from Alaska. The Children's Museum is fantastic (the largest and the pacesetter in the USA) - just check to see what special exhibit is ongoing while you are here (Bob the Builder, currently).

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3. Re: Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

I feel no hesitation in saying that you should schedule everything around the Children's Museum. It is outstanding.

Restaurants downtown for kids . . . a lot of people like to take kids to the Old Spaghetti Factory downtown. Pretty good place; has a trolley car inside. When my kids were pre-school age, they liked to go to the Hard Rock Cafe. They liked seeing all the stuff on the walls. Most of the really kid-oriented restaurants are out in the suburbs . . .

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4. Re: Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

We have nothing like the Rainforest Cafe like in Orlando, but we have some restaurants that are more kid-friendly (attitude and menu) than others. Here's my recommendations for restaurants downtown for kids:


Quick - Einstein's Bagels, on Illinois (about 3 blocks from Marriott), Panera Bread on Illinois (also about 3.5 blocks away), Paradise Cafe on Ohio (5 blocks) or Dunkin Donuts on Washington (about 5 blocks)

Sit down: City Cafe on Pennsylvania. Very kid friendly restaurant, thanks to it's owners. It's about six blocks away, but if you're heading to the Children's Museum, it's a great place to stop for a good breakfast.


Quick - Panera Bread in Embassy Suites. Good, healthy variety of foods.

Sit down - Sky City Cafe at the Eilteljorg, just across the street from the Marriott. It has a variety of kid-friendly food (quesadillas, corn dogs, etc.) and the patio overlooks the canal. Don't need to purchase admission to go there. Same thing with the LS Ayres Tea Room at the Indiana State Museum. Also a kid-friendly lunch destination.


Quick - Anything in Circle Center mall (Johnny Rockets) or food court. Panera also works for me (can you tell I like their food?)

Sit down - Weber Grill is suprisingly kid-friendly. Portions are huge where two kids could split one child's meal. Iaria's, which is about a mile east. Very kid friendly attitude...they even have coloring books/crayons under the server table. Spaghetti Factory always works, but get there early or you will wait. Depending on how old the kids are, Jillians is another place that has game room, bowling. Keeps the older ones entertained.

Have fun!

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

A uniquely Indy option (vs. a chain), and not at all fine dining, is the Atomic/Action Bowl on Fountain Square in the near Southeast Side. It's not fancy (in the slightest), but combines a relatively unique activity (duckpin bowling) with basic kid food (burgers, dogs, fries, pizza, etc.).

It's a short cab ride away, in an area that's still struggling to find it's "renovation mojo". It is most definitely a hole-in-the-wall type place. The Action Bowl is in the upper floor of the building, and is an "old school" alley, with old bowling memorabilia as decor, much wood trim, old style wooden benches and tables along the alley, and a moderately decrepit gathering area with a very nice view of downtown Indy (and a creaky old manual elevator ride up to the alley). The Atomic Bowl is in the basement, and has a 50's theme to it. Food is minimal, but kids don't really notice as they're usually having a blast throwing the small duckpin balls down the alley towards the small duckpins (rules VERY similar to regular bowling, except you get a third roll in each frame - as it's MUCH harder to knock all ten pins down - strikes and spares scored the same as regular bowling).

The area is still a little rough in appearance - but not dangerous. The Fountain Square district (the alley is just off the square) is in a period of renovation that has been drastically slowed by the recession. If you're looking for a totally clean, flawless dining/entertainment experience, this ain't it. But this is a "never fails to please" adventure for our family and friends. We used to live in the suburban north area and brought adult friends, and/or friends of the kids, to this great little quirky spot for a REALLY different evening. We would usually reserve a lane for two hours, and eat sometime in the middle. Food service is spotty/slow, and the quality is average - but the kids, and likely you, won't mind too much; you'll be having a great time.

There are many other uniquely Indianapolis things to do and experience with children (with the Children's Museum at the very top of the heap). As much as I dislike recommending chain restaurants, they're likely the best option for a kid-friendly meal in downtown Indy - and there's a #$*& load of them.

western WA
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6. Re: Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

I'd also recommend Shapiro's -- an old-timey cafeteria line with Dessert First! - for kids. It is not old-timey by design, but because it has actually been around for a long time (no comparison to the one in the airport, so don't think you've seen it if you got a sandwich there).

Same for the Rathskeller. They have a good kids menu that doesn't just have fried mystery units with fries on the side. Lots of interesting artifacts in a cool old building, located in a neighborhood that is fun to explore.

They might like the City Market too, which has homemade potato chips and other things at various stands.

7. Re: Best Kid's Restaurant in Indianapolis

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