We’re still talking about our trip to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis around here. It was such a jam-packed fun day and far exceeded all our expectations. Admittedly, my experience with children’s museums are fairly limited. But the fact that there was plenty for everyone (even adults) makes it a win in my book.
Here’s part 2 of our visit that I promised you. We have so many photos from our visit to the children’s museum that there were just too many for a single blog post. I also plan to recap our entire trip to Indianapolis in a later post. It may be a couple weeks, though, since we’re officially less than two weeks away from C’s due date.
When I last left you, we were learning about agriculture, geology and water ways in the ScienceWorks exhibit. From there, we stopped so Liam could take a spin in a race car before checking out the Playscape area.
The Playscape was the perfect place for Liam to run off some extra energy. Designed for ages 0-5, there are plenty of hands-on and sensory activities for little ones. Liam was instantly drawn to the large water table “creek” they have towards the entrance. They do have water-proof smocks available. Of course, my kid refuses to use one so his shirt got soaked. Thankfully, they have blow dryers nearby to help you dry off.
Liam was a little intimidated by the climbing/play section, but he eventually found his way through it. The more adventurous kids can find their way to a sailboat at the top. Even if they don’t, there are plenty of ways to get up, down and around all the leaf steps. Liam’s favorite, though, was the Sandbox. He could have stayed there all afternoon if we’d let him.
There’s also an art studio and a music room. While we were there, they even had a music class going on. I think if we lived in Indianapolis, we’d be regulars in the Playscape. If you’ve got really little ones, this area also has private nursing areas, family bathrooms and diaper-changing stations. They also have a separated section for babies. This way, they have a safe place to play and explore apart from the bigger kids.
While Liam played in the sand, I snuck over to check out the Power of Children exhibit. The exhibit is recommended for ages 8 and older, because it deals with some pretty heavy stories from the last century. It takes you on the journey of three children – Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White. Really they’re three incredible stories about discrimination and intolerance. All of which we can learn so much from. Not only does the exhibit do a great job at telling their stories, but it also highlights how we can make a difference for the future.
Then, we headed off to China. Okay, not literally. Although I would love that. Maybe someday. The children’s museum’s Take Me There: China exhibit takes you soaring across the ocean, high over the Great Wall and lands in China.
Once inside, the exhibit introduces you to Chinese music, art and modern culture. You can eat noodles at a Chinese restaurant, feed a baby panda bear, practice writing your Chinese characters or play a Chinese instrument. Jamie and I were able to explain to Liam about how his Tai Po (my grandmother) spent her childhood in China, returning to the United States as a teenager.
We remembered that we hadn’t had time to visit the Beyond Spaceship Earth exhibit before lunch, so we headed back down the the first floor. Here, kids can don space suits, fix their space shuttles and learn about life aboard a spaceship. There are plenty of hands-on activities in this area, so you could easily spend a good chunk of time learning about NASA and space exploration. If you have the time, you can also check out the Schaeffer Planetarium.
Since this was towards the end of our day, we were all a little tired from walking around. The theater was the perfect opportunity to sit down for a minute and take a break. Currently, the Schaefer Planetarium has the famous Liberty Bell 7 on display in the theater. It was pretty cool to see up close. We only stayed to see a small portion of the video (because, toddlers) but it was interesting to see some of Gus Grissom’s story. There’s even a light show to go along with it.
Next to the space exhibit is the Treasures of the Earth exhibit. This exhibit was probably one of my favorites, because it offered a really good look at some of the world’s most incredible artifacts. Kids can “explore” a deep sea shipwreck, complete with the required scuba gear to find it. Or navigate their way through an Egyptian tomb. Or help reconstruct an ancient Terra Cotta Warrior (something that’s on my bucket list to see in person someday). Just a warning – those Terra Cotta Warrior pieces are quite a bit heavier than they appear.
There’s also a science lab in this exhibit. We missed seeing any work actually being done here, but it was still pretty cool to see a real pirate cannon on display. Apparently the cannon is from a ship commandeered by Captain Kidd in 1699.
We needed another break after this. We stumbled upon the Fireworks of Glass exhibit. We’d passed this area several times throughout the day, but it was always crowded with families. In the late afternoon, though, we had it all to ourselves. It’s the perfect place to just sit and take in some beautiful glass art. Chihuly is one of my favorite artists. I was first introduced to his work when we lived in Nashville and he had an exhibit at Cheekwood. I’ve been a huge fan ever since. At the children’s museum, you can definitely spend a ton of time looking at the 43-foot Chihuly sculpture that rises up through the whole museum. But you can also create your own sculpture using plastic shapes that look just like the real thing.
I didn’t to a ton of research on the children’s museum before we went, so I didn’t realize how they end every day. Do you know?
It’s a parade! They end every day with a parade. And not the kind that you watch – the kind that you get to be a part of. It’s a blast for the kids. But really, I can’t think of a better way to ensure that everyone gets out of the building at closing time. It was one mass exit and into the gift shop (for a souvenir or two). And it was so much fun. Liam loved waving good-bye to all the staff and holding his flag.
A few tips to note, if you’re planning to visit the Children’s Museum:
- Buy your tickets early to save money. The earlier you purchase tickets, the more you save. Prices go up the closer you get to the day you want to go. For instance, our friends purchased their tickets the week before we bought ours. We ended up paying about a dollar more per ticket than they did. Of course, buying early also means that you’re locked into the day you chose. The day we decided to go to the children’s museum ended up being the nicest day of our trip. If you prefer to have more flexibility in your schedule and want to see what the weather’s like the week you plan to go, you may prefer to wait.
- Plan to get there early. Not because there’s a line, but because there’s so much to do and see. You can always leave before closing time if you decide not to spend the entire day there. But getting there as soon as the museum opens allows you the opportunity to maximize your time there.
- Do your research. There is so much to do and see at the museum that you may want to go with a (flexible) plan. Make sure you know which exhibits you don’t want to miss and which ones you don’t mind skipping if you run out of time. If you’re more local to Indianapolis and plan to visit the children’s museum regularly, know which exhibits are leaving when. Visit your favorites as much as possible until they’re gone.
- Leave your expectations at home. All-day excursions like this can be overstimulating for many kids. Especially littles like toddlers who will skip nap time as the result of a long day. Be flexible in knowing that things may not go as you planned. And be aware when your child needs a little break before heading into another exhibit.
Are you planning your own trip to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis? Let me know how much fun you have! And if there are any new exhibits we should check out on our next visit! Or have you been there before? What’s your favorite part?