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Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Akron, OH
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Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Going to be spending 3-4 days in Indianapolis in early August, and are already planning to visit the Children's Museum and Zoo. What are other recommendations that our 6 year old daughter might enjoy? More into art than sports, and anything with animals is a hit. We are considering the Conner Prairie Park. The Indianapolis Art Center looks interesting, but I can't figure out what you would do there as a tourist and when and how much it costs. Also, does it make sense to give 2 days to the Children's Museum or Zoo? What are we missing?

Bloomington, Indiana
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1. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Here's a few (semi) random comments, observations, suggestions, etc:

1. You've hit the big two (in my mind), Children's Museum & the Zoo and, if it has interest, I'd put Conner Prairie up there too. Thus, I think you've done a good job and gotten a good start. The White River Gardens are located directly east of the zoo and might be worth checking out. In the past they've had a walk through butterfly "thing," which I have always enjoyed. You might want to check it out.

2. Arts-wise, you might consider 2 of the downtown museums. The Indiana State Museum is located in downtown (a little bit east of the zoo) and often has some of the popular "big" traveling exhibits. Also has an Imax theater and is next to the Central Canal which has a walking "trail" along it too. Directly east of the State Museum is the Eitlejorg (think that's the spelling) one of the best museum for western & native american art in the US (world?).

3. The third one that comes to mind is the Indianapolis Museum of Art ("IMA"). It's located NW of downtown on 38th(?) Street & Michigan Road. It's got a little arts center that is kid oriented (hands on type stuff) and also the "100 Acres" which is an outdoor exhibit area with a trail that goes around a lake, through some woods, etc. Also has some associated gardens, the Lilly(?) House and more.

4. I think that 1 day is probably enough for the zoo (maybe even a little less, maybe 1 day for it & the White River Gardens). One of the things I actually like about the zoo is that it isn't too big. It's big enough to have a little bit of everything, but not so big that it takes multiple days and/or that you wear yourself out doing it.

5. You'll have to decide on whether the Children's Museum is worth 2 days or not. Certainly over an extended period it's worth multiple visits (as exhibits change), but not sure it's worth 2 back-to-back days.

6. You might want to check out Mass Ave. It's located a little bit NE of the circle (walkable, but a little bit of a hoof) and has a bunch of independent/local shops, restaurants, etc. The main reason I mention it is that it has "Mass Ave Toys" (or something like that) an interesting toy store that your daughter will probably enjoy (and there is plenty of things to keep Mom & Dad interested too, both in the toy store & other things). If you search the forum, you'll find Mass Ave discussed in other threads at least one of which includes a link to a website has all the businesses, a map, etc.

7. While you said "less' to sports, you might check to see if the Indianapolis Indians are playing while you're in town (Indy's minor league). They have a nice (relatively) new ball park in downtown and it's pretty fun to go to a game. Often have post-game fireworks and/or other special things going on.

Lastly, where are you staying? I ask because that might influence suggestions.

That's all I've got off the top of my head & time for right now - maybe more later - hope it helps,

hlo

Akron, OH
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2. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

hlo, thanks for all the great advice. We're staying NW of town about 10 miles, in the Pike Township area.

Bloomington, Indiana
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3. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Your location will put you semi-close to the IMA, so that one might move up my list a little bit. Also happened to think that the IMA has outdoor movie nights during the summer. Don't remember any details on how frequent they are, what nights, how kid friendly, etc, but you might want to check that out as a possible nighttime activity. Here's a link to the IMA website:

/www.imamuseum.org/

Also, being in the NW area, Eagle Creek Park is semi-close and you might want to check that out. Fairly large lake (99% sure they rent boats), thousands of acres of woods with hiking trails, etc. While it has some traditional "park" stuff (playgrounds, picnic tables, shelters, golf course, etc) it's much more of a nature/"wild" park with a nature center, animal habitat areas, etc. Here's a link to the website if you want to check it out:

indy.gov/eGov/…EagleCreekPark.aspx

hlo

Indianapolis...
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4. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Hi. Father of two here - one of which is a 9yo girl. As indicated - the children's museum, zoo, and conner prairie are going to be great for your family. While at the zoo, for an extra $10, she can be an assistant "Dolphin Trainer". If she's an animal lover - she'll need to do this. They all get credentials, and the assistant trainers get to go up front and learn some basic hand commands to make the dolphins do some tricks. She'll love it.

If she's like my daughter, she might like to imagine about fairies. The Kile Oak tree in Irvington is said to be the home of a population of tree fairies. The tree has been around for over 300 years - I couldn't imagine a better home for the small folk. irvingtonhistorical.org/a_articles/a_kile_oa… A visit to the Kile Oak is a bit far from where you'll be staying (it's on the East side of town), but it isn't too long of a drive, and it's really a fairly quick visit. If you go downtown, you're more than half way there.

IMA is a good option. Plan on 2 hours or so for a visit. At the downtown canal, you can rent a paddle boat and go for a ride up and down the canal. There is the State Museum, as well as the Eiteljorg Museum. The last time we were at the Eiteljorg, they had a craft area where kids could make various crafts related to the exhibits. Not sure if they still have that - was probably 2 years ago.

There's a place on the southeast side (Beech Grove) called Great Times. You can see reviews of it here on TA. They have a couple of mini-golf courses, go karts, bumper boats, and games inside. It's always fun, and is actually very well maintained. There is also a smoke-free bowling alley and lazer tag place right beside it.

Hope there's some info you'll find useful. Have fun!

Indianapolis, IN
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5. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

As an Indy parent of two children who were once 6, I definitely endorse the options provided above -- excellent suggestions. The only thing I would add to the zoo advice is that it will be quite hot in August and many of the animals will be out-of-site in the shade of their enclosures, which makes doing the dolphin training that much more exciting. Two other possible options would be morning 'hikes' in Holliday Park, a city park in Indy that has many shady areas, a very nice, large playground and a nature center with animal exhibits (plus it's all free!) or at Eagle Creek Park, another city park, although much larger and with many more trails. Eagle Creek also has a nature center but there's a five or ten dollar admission fee to the park. Finally, if it's just too hot to do anything outside, your child might like Pottery by You http://www.pottery-by-you.com/ (or a similar paint your pottery place). My daughter, who also loves animals and art, loves Pottery by You, and we've been taking her there for years. Plus, Lulu's cafe and coffee shop is literally next door for a quick snack or lunch. Finally, Traders Point Creamery http://www.tpforganics.com/tours/ might be a possible destination -- great, if expensive, ice cream and your daughter could take a tour of the dairy, which has cows, etc.. Last time we went, children were allowed to pet some of the animals (but that was awhile ago). And one more idea: the Indiana State Fair! http://www.in.gov/statefair/fair/ It will probably have begun when you're in Indy -- animals, rides, food -- it's definitely an experience. There's something for everyone.

Carmel, Indiana
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6. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Wonderful suggestions above and I can't think of much more to add. 1 day each for the zoo and children's museum is plenty. Connor Prairie is a must..you will enjoy it also. Eagle Creek would be nice in August, they have a specific area for swimming and a lifeguard there (and it's close to Pike township). There is a restaurant right on the water that you will definitely enjoy called Rick's Boatyard. Tons of outdoor seating if it's not too hot..inside if it is. That gives you 4 activties for 3-4 days, then you can just fill in.

Oh, someone said the state fair...I went to check the dates. It's running from August 2 - 18. I'd do that before Eagle Creek and maybe just go to Rick's for dinner some evening to check it out. Have fun! Makes me wish my kids were 6 again.

Bloomington, Indiana
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7. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Ooooo, I must say to that it was a good pick up on the State Fair.

I didn't consider any special events and, while we don't know the OP's specific dates, given the early August time frame with multiple days, I think it's pretty likely that there will be some overlap with the State Fair. The only thing I'll add to this is that if the weather is *really* hot & muggy, I would probably lean towards Eagle Creek for swimming & shade rather than the fairgrounds which can be pretty oppressive heat-wise.

Lastly, regarding special events you might give the specific dates and or check other websites if you're interested in doing an "one-time" sort of special events. (I often use the Nuvo website, it's the local alternative weekly newspaper, so is skewed somewhat for adults, but also has kids things too.)

hlo

Edited: 19 July 2013, 18:02
Carmel, Indiana
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8. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Just to add to the previous post's suggestions about the Indiana State Museum: the State Museum has lots of dinosaur and geology exhibits, so offers lots of dinosaur bones and rocks to look at--pretty rocks, interesting rocks, amazing dinosaur fossils. It also has a very straight-forward area on native Americans and when and how they lived in the area. I think those exhibits would be particularly eye-catching for a 6-year-old. Most of the exhibits do have cool things to look at: antique toys, clothing, decorations, machines, and a car and tractor or two. I would have taken my daughter there when she was six, except the museum didn't exist there at the time. (We spent many a day at the Children's Museum and the zoo, though!)

You also might like Conner Prairie. It's not far--in an adjacent suburb--and it features pioneer-era exhibits, such as blacksmiths and townfolk (real people, not animation), and assorted related activities. (They have a website.) In the summer, Conner Prairie also operates its fixed-base hot air balloon rides. The balloon and basket are attached to the ground and then raised up a fixed, preset distance, before returning to the ground. It's not like being in a freeflying hot air balloon, but it's a pretty good simulation without the ungodly heights of a freeflying ride. Also, the basket is huge and fits many people. (I'm not suggesting the height is wimpy, because they raise you a pretty decent amount; but it's not like the hot air balloons you see flying so high that they're a little speck in the sky.

Btw, kids tend to like the Spaghetti Factory restaurant downtown, if it's still there. I'm not a big fan of it, but our daughter loved it when she was little. Johnny Rockets in the Circle Center food court also was a hit with my daughter and her friends when they were little. (That one, I liked. Good burgers!)

For the record, the Circle Center Mall downtown has a large multiplex, so it will be showing whatever the current kid-friendly movies are.

Indianapolis...
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9. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

Spaghetti Factory is still going strong and is a family favorite in Indy. Good food at family-friendly prices. It is also a good starting point for a short walk north to Monument Circle for some downtown sightseeing.

10. Re: Top Indy Attractions for Family with 6 year old.

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