Let's face it--taking your kids to a lot of the local attractions can really add up. But having fun in Indy doesn't have to cost you a fortune. This list gives suggestions on things you can do in Indianapolis with your kids that are completely FREE.
We all know how proud Indy is to boast the largest children's museum in the world. And when it comes to places to take your kids in town, this one always tops the list. While regular admission can be costly, the museum does offer a free night once a month that while crowded, is a great money saving way to enjoy one of Indy's top attractions. In addition to the monthly free evening, free general admission is also offered on select holidays.
When: The first Thursday evening of every month, 4-8 p.m. Free admission offered on MLK Jr. Day, Presidents Day, El Dia de Los Ninos and Christmas Eve.
One of Indy’s greatest gems, the beautifully renovated art museum has something for everyone. For older children, spend an entire day indoors, marveling at the art which ranges from the Old Masters to very modern works. If you want to be outdoors, the Oldsfield Estate features beautiful grounds. Younger children will enjoy 100 Acres. Located adjacent to the museum, 100 Acres is an outdoor park featuring woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a large lake. The park hosts many exhibits which kids can touch and in some cases, even climb on! Picnics are allowed on the grounds. Best of all, the Indianapolis Art Museum is completely free—even the parking!
When: Admission is free during normal operating hours.
When outdoor weather is not cooperating, sometimes you have to find ways to let your kids work off their energy indoors. Snapperz, an indoor fun center offers lots of inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses. Located at Clay Terrace in Carmel has free admission every Monday evening. While the fun center has many other activities that do cost, playing on the inflatables and the large indoor playground is completely free. The 33,000 square foot facility is clean and prices for the activities and snack bar are budget-friendly.
When: Monday evenings from 5-8 p.m.
Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens is located within the 136 acre Garfield Park, on Indianapolis' near south side. Special workshops, gardening demonstrations, youth education and guest lecturers on horticulture and landscaping are offered throughout the year. Admission to the park is free and admission to the conservatory is $1 which includes a free garden tour.
When: Free during normal operating hours. $1 for conservatory admission, which includes a tour.
A great way to spend a Saturday morning, Lowe's stores offer free Build and Grow clinics where children are taught how to build various wooden projects. Each participant also receives a free apron, goggles, a project themed patch, and a certification of merit upon completion of their project. Different projects are offered twice a month. You must register your child in advance with your local store to be ensured a spot. You can register on their website.
When: Every other Saturday. See website for details.
Home Depot also offers free workshops. Their Kids Workshops offer useful projects including the creation of toolboxes, fire trucks and mail organizers, as well as more educational projects, such as a window birdhouse, bughouse or Declaration of Independence frame kit. The workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety. In addition to the newly constructed project kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron and an achievement pin.
When: The first Saturday of each month. See website for details.
The first Tuesday of each month the LEGO® Store, located at Castleton Square Mall, offers a mini model workshop. Kids are invited to build a mini model and take it home - all for free! Quantities are limited and offer is good only while supplies last. A new model is available every month, based on a theme for the month. The workshops are open to children ages 6 to 14. The events begin at 5 p.m., until supplies last.
When: The first Tuesday of each month, 5 p.m.
Michaels offers a variety of craft activities for children. The projects vary per store but are often on the weekends and provide free materials and instruction. Many of these activities are for children ages three and older. See your local Michael's website to see what's being offered this month.
When: Projects, dates and times vary for each store.
During the school year, Cool Creek Park hosts their monthly Pajama Rama. Held the first Friday evening of every month, this family event is for parents and their toddlers and preschoolers. Kids are encouraged to come in their pajamas with their blankets to enjoy songs and stories about some of their favorite animals. This event is perfect for kids ages 1-7. Pre-registration is required and can be done on the website.
When: First Friday of every month during the school year from 7-8 p.m.
The Indianapolis Artsgarden hosts over 300 free performances and exhibits every year. Owned by the Indianapolis Arts Council, this 17 foot glass structure is an architectural beauty, hovering over Illinois and Washington Streets downtown. The Artsgarden connects to Circle Centre mall and Embassy Suites. Kids will enjoy being able to stand above traffic, looking out from the glass structure and with so many exhibits and performances, there's almost always something happening at the Artsgarden.
When: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., Sunday, noon - 6:30 p.m.