One of the things we liked about Columbus before moving here was that it’s pretty central to some other major cities. We can get to Detroit, Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis within a few hours drive. Chicago and Nashville aren’t too much further. Because of its proximity, Indianapolis became the perfect near-mid-way choice to spend spring break with our friends from St. Louis. I plan to share about our whole trip in another post, but I wanted to dedicate some time to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. They say it’s the biggest and best in the world, so there’s no way we could skip it on our first visit to Indianapolis. We spent an entire day there and I have to say, you shouldn’t miss it either.
I heard from several people that you can easily spend more than a day at the museum. So we decided to get there as soon as it opened. This gave us the option to leave early if we decided we were done. Spoiler alert: we stayed all day.
We didn’t really have a game plan for the day. And with four adults and three kids of varying ages, we weren’t exactly sure if we would all stay together or split up either. It felt easiest to start at the Chocolate Slide. It’s the first thing you see, since it’s right by the entrance. You can’t miss it and the kids were begging to go. Okay, adults too. Liam was too short to ride by himself, but I don’t think he minded going down with Jamie at all. They both had a great time going down it. The Chocolate Slide is at the museum until April 23 if you want a chance to check it out.
It was hard not to miss all the signage for the museum’s Circus exhibit, so it felt like the natural next step for our visit.
It’s actually quite an incredible setup. A performer greets you at the entrance and invites you into the room. A circus starring….YOU! In the room, there are tons of interactive activities that kids can do that are typically part of the circus. Like walking a wire tightrope, balancing on a unicycle and becoming a human cannonball. They’ve got costumes where kids can get lost in their imaginations and even a virtual reality section for those who love adding technology to their adventures.
If you’re having lots of circus fun and don’t want it to end, you can even be part of a circus performance. We decided to move on to a different exhibit because we didn’t think Liam would be able to manage the time commitment. But our friends did and they had a blast! It sounds like they had so much fun and perfect for kids who are just a touch older than Liam is.
While our friends performed, we moved on to the dinosaurs. One of the things I really appreciate about this exhibit (all of them, really) is that they have a variety of activities for all different age levels. For a child Liam’s age, there are still plenty of things to touch and see even though he can’t quite understand the science of it all. Liam’s dinosaur matching game skills are pretty impressive.
The dinosaur exhibit led right into the trains, so that was the most natural next stop. Liam loves trains and he says that this exhibit was his absolute favorite from the day. He had fun punching us train tickets in the train station and watching the light show on the steam engine.
We met back up with our group and had lunch in the museum’s food court. Planning to eat at the museum seemed like the easiest thing for us. There are so many options that everyone in our group was able to get something they were happy with. The food court also has gluten-free options and choices for those with food allergies and sensitivities. As a mom to a child with a food sensitivity, I really appreciate the extra step the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis takes to accommodate guests of all needs and abilities. Sometimes these options are hard to find, so it was nice to see.
After lunch, all the kids were really excited to check out the indoor carousel. I’m not sure what it is about carousels. Whatever it is, they’re magical. I love riding them too and they make me feel like a little kid again.
The room with the carousel also has a ton of other things to do. Including a treehouse, ice cream parlor and a maze of mirrors. The maze is one of the few things we didn’t do that I wish we had. It was past nap time and Liam had a little meltdown. We decided that he needed a little break instead. Luckily, benches are easily found inside the exhibits and out in the halls.
After our quick break, we checked out the ScienceWorks exhibit. Again, I was surprised at how many hands-on things they had to do at every age level. Their climbing wall (both vertical and horizontal options) isn’t just for the big kids. You can transport materials with boats along a water system. Or “drive” a John Deere combine through a field. Or sit at a kitchen table and show your kid what a balanced plate of food can look like. All of this can be easily adapted for learning at any age. Liam had fun choosing food for our plates. There’s even a part where you can “grow” fruits and vegetables and then harvest them. It’s a great visual to teach kids about growing your own food at home.
If it’s hard to visit every exhibit in a day, it’s also hard to put into all into a single blog post too. I have tons of info and photos to share still. Stay tuned for part 2 coming later this week!
Have you visited The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis before? What was your favorite exhibit?