by Jaye Mooney Rodenbush
Looking for kid friendly things to do in Indianapolis while here for NAYC?
Welcome to all my UPCI friends coming in town for NAYC. We really hope you’ll enjoy our great city of Indianapolis. While you’re here, we thought you might look for family-friendly places to go, things to do and food to eat. Here are some recommendations taken from some of Micki (13) & Robbie’s (9) favorites. These are mostly limited to DOWNTOWN locations. If you have any questions or need suggestions for other areas of town feel free to ask. Indy friends…add your additional recommendations in the comments.
My Dad, Paul D. Mooney, and sister, Adena Pedigo, both have made restaurant guides. Just ask.
AND…don’t forget IBC Concert on the Circle Wednesday after church.
A really great zoo! You won’t be disappointed. Has a full dolphin show with a beautiful aquarium. Rides, carousel, train, and more. Lots of interactive exhibits. It’s a bit expensive, but well worth the admission (However, prepare to have a little extra if you plan to ride rides, feed animals, etc). Plan to eat BEFORE or AFTER the zoo. Zoo food is mediocre at best, and pricey.
This amazing place, founded in 1925, is the LARGEST children’s museum in the world. Don’t miss the 30-foot water clock and planetarium. You can’t see everything in one day. Get a map and plan ahead. The museum is a bit pricey, but once you’re in most things are included and the memories will be worth your money.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
A bit of a drive from downtown, but you can’t leave the Speedway off an Indy tour list. This is probably more fun for older kids. Has a museum and you can take a bus ride around the track.
Downtown Canal Walk & Surrounding Areas
This is a great area for memorable outdoor activities right in downtown Indy. Rent a pedal boat, Segway, bikes, surreys, ride in a beautiful gondola or just walk along the path and enjoy the scenery. I think the season ends this month, so you might make a reservation and/or check times and availability.
Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument at the Circle
Of course IBC will host our FREE concert Wednesday night at approx 9:30 pm after the service — But…during the day you can go to the TOP of Monument Circle for an amazing view of the entire Indy downtown. Museum inside is free and the observatory at the TOP is FREE too IF you take the stairs. For $1 you can take the elevator. If you want you can ride up and walk down. FYI – 330 steps!
Okay…this can be a really fun experience and it costs $0! Our family has decided that the downtown Indy Hyatt has the best elevators in the city. They are fast and if you get to the top…the ride down is super fun— if you don’t have to stop on every floor. You might have to try a few times to get a non-stop ride. Don’t go at lunch time or end of business day. The hotel is home to many businesses so if they are crowded it’s not really the same. Revolving restaurant at the top, sometimes you can take a quick tour during day time. Beautiful views, food is average at best and very overpriced.
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
This is really a special museum, unforgettable really. It doesn’t take a long time to browse through. Probably best suited for older kids or adults, unless they have a real interest in Native Americans. They have a beautiful boutique-like gift shop. Admission is comparatively low.
Indiana State Museum & The NCAA Hall of Champions
Both of these museums are reasonably priced and unique. They are nearby each other and are in the Canal / White River Park area. NCAA is nice for sports fans.
Hoosier Trail Rides at Fort Harrison State Park
In just about 20 minutes you can escape the city and relax in the beautiful scenery of Fort Harrison State Park. They have a great novice horseback riding trail and the rates are very reasonable. Lots of history at this former Army training camp established in 1902. (If you’re looking trails for more experienced riders, PM me.)
Family Friendly Food Stops
This is an experience… If your kids have never had Greek food, here is the place to introduce it to them. Make sure you get Saganaki, my kids called it “OPA CHEESE.” The flaming cheese dish is a kid favorite. The owner, Big George and his Sister Angela Stergiopoulos will likely be there and they will treat you like family. Tell them the Mooney’s sent you.
Giorgio’s Pizza is right off the circle. You can eat outside or in. Great Italian food. The salad and lasagna lunch special is really good. Don’t miss the house-made creamy Italian dressing.
Quick service, at lunch it’s really fast paced, don’t hold up the line…lol.
Famous Kosher deli near downtown. Huge portions. Plan to split the gigantic entrees, you can’t eat it all anyway…and it can be a bit expensive. We love the Rueben on a Kaiser roll, with extra Swiss, a potato pancake and carrot or cheesecake. There are lots of kids meal choices and they are very reasonably priced. After the kids eat, send them to the cookie counter and they are allowed to pick a FREE cookie for dessert. It’s not advertised, but trust me…they will get a cookie.
Old Spaghetti Factory
As a foodie, this one is tough to put on the list. It’s not bad really, but definitely average, although I do like homemade salad dressings (1000 Island & Blue Cheese). However, as a mom…this is a great place to take kids. Food is inexpensive and if you go at the right time or call ahead you can eat IN a train-car. Kids love it.
Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yogurt
This is a fun place! Watch while you’re ice cream is frozen on-the-spot with liquid nitrogen. Dessert and a science lesson!>
So this one isn’t really right downtown, but if you’re in Indy you REALLY owe it to yourself to stop at Longs Bakery for donuts. Several polls rank them in the TOP 10 DONUTS in the USA. There are two locations 16th St. and Southport Rd. so just put it in your GPS and see which one is closer to you. These donuts are simply THE best. Order the glazed yeast donut, chocolate dipped yeast or the chocolate dipped cake (if you prefer a cake donut over yeast). They do have other bakery items: the alligators, pecan rings and cream horns are all great. For large orders call ahead and they will have them ready for you and you can jump the line (there’s almost always a line). PLEASE NOTE…They are very inexpensive, but completely CASH ONLY- no matter what! Plan ahead. It’s no fun to wait in line to get you’re donuts and get them taken away because you forgot to go to the ATM.
This fun stop on Monument Circle is a soda and candy paradise. Super fun.
A memorable Monument Circle café for ice cream, desserts and our favorite, the hot chocolate.
The place to go for the perfect Instagram photo & baked goods. So pretty.
Consider Indianapolis UBER drivers. Easy to use, very reasonable rates.
Self-serve pick up and drop off right down town and around the city.