Indianapolis weekend getaway itinerary
Adventures in the Midwest,  Family Travel,  Indiana Trips,  Travel,  Weekend Trips

Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary With Kids + Best Tips For Your Visit

Are you looking to put together the perfect Indianapolis weekend getaway itinerary with your family, in addition to discovering the best things to do in Indianapolis with kids?

Known for the Indy 500, this racing town has more to offer guests, including the world’s largest children’s museum! With this Indianapolis weekend itinerary, you’ll enjoy the best of Indy with kids and leave with incredible memories.

Visit Indy sponsors this post. As always, opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

Indianapolis weekend getaway itinerary

When Is The Best Time To Visit Indianapolis

Indianapolis is the capital city of Indiana, located in the center of the state. The town experiences typical Midwest weather, with the most pleasant temperatures being late spring and early fall. However, the summer months can be an excellent time to visit for a weekend getaway, especially if the plan is to visit indoor museums.

If choosing to visit during March- April or October-November, the weather can vary drastically in a single day. This means that visitors could experience all four seasons in one day. Pack accordingly and dress in layers.

Tip: While visiting during the hot summer months, plan your outdoor activities, such as the Indianapolis Zoo, for the morning before the temperatures start to get too high.

Things to do in Indianapolis with kids: Outdoor Sports Experience at the Children's Museum
Outdoor Sports Experience at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary Ideas

Indianapolis is one of my favorite getaways from Cincinnati because it is a quick two-hour drive and is home to so many family-friendly attractions.

Only a half-hour north is the charming town of Carmel, Indiana, with the Monon Trail, an beautiful art district, and Conner Prairie.

Things To Do In Indianapolis for families
Monon Trail

There is a wide variety of attractions for families to experience. Below you can find suggested Indianapolis family getaway itineraries. Since each family has unique interests, varying budgets, and amount of time to spend in Indianapolis each itinerary may be different. We have added a few additional attractions so that you can create the perfect itinerary for your getaway! We also included a few backup activities in case of a rainy day!

Our two-night itinerary includes a visit to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Zoo, The Rhythm Discover Center, and New Fields, among other things.

Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary With Kids: Day 1

  • Arrival
  • Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
  • Lunch at the Children’s Museum
  • Explore the outdoor sports experience of the Children’s Museum
  • Check-in To Bottleworks Hotel
  • Dinner at the Garage across from the Bottleworks Hotel

Planning Your Arrival in Indianapolis

A key component on when to start your itinerary is when you arrive in Indianapolis. We often hit the road for a quick two-hour drive from Cincinnati by 8 am or 9 am, arriving at the Children’s Museum when they open. Having the flexibility of driving at your pace allows for rest stops, a lunch break, or roadside attraction stop!

Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Our first stop is always the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The museum closes at 5 pm, so we try to get a full day at the museum to see as much as possible. As the world’s largest children’s museum, there are five levels of exhibits, including an outdoor sports experience.

The museum always has new and exciting exhibits lined up. While we were there, we got to experience the Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience allows guests to be anything they want to be and explore new dreams. From piloting an airplane to taking photos as a wildlife photographer, the sky is the limit!

Inside the museum is a cafe that is the perfect stop for a quick lunch before venturing back out into the museum.

Children's Museum of Indianapolis weekend getaway itinerary
The atrium of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Plan by reading our tips for visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, including what to expect, safety policies, exciting exhibits, and more.

Tip: Get your tickets in advance, especially if planning on visiting during a weekend. Don’t forget, parking at the museum is FREE.

Where To Stay In Indianapolis

The Bottleworks Hotel

Once an old Coke-A-Cola manufacturing building, the Bottleworks Hotel has restored its historic charm while offering guests a top-notch luxury experience. The architecture and style of the Bottleworks are in a league of their own; add in spacious terrace rooms, marble bathrooms, along with a cozy robe for a dream come true.

Bottleworks Hotel in Indianapolis
The Bottleworks Hotel

This boutique hotel is a treat for the parents. While the hotel does not have a pool, being able to retreat to a terrace after the kids have fallen asleep is priceless. The rooms are enormous, giving families space to spread out. There is a billiard table in the lobby as well for guests to use.

The Blue Collar Coffee Co. is attached to the hotel, serving craft coffee beverages, breakfast sandwiches, and more.

Bottleworks Hotel in Indianapolis
The Terrace King Room At Bottleworks Hotel

The Bottleworks Hotel is located in the Bottleworks District. This newly developed area is full of restaurants, entertainment, and a food hall called the Garage. The Garage has a variety of dining options available, including an ice cream spot called Lick.

Tip: We know that a hotel with a pool is a priority for many families. If a pool is a must-have on your hotel checklist, consider staying at the Hyatt Place Downtown or Home2Suites Indianapolis Downtown.

Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary With Kids: Day 2

  • Breakfast at Blue Collar Coffee Co.
  • Indianapolis Zoo
  • Lunch at Cafe Patachou
  • Rhythm Discovery Center
  • Dinner at Giordano’s 

Make breakfast a breeze by visiting the  Blue Collar Coffee Co. that is attached to the Bottleworks hotel. They serve craft coffee beverages, breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and more. Carry out your breakfast to enjoy in your room, or grab a table to dine in.

Indianapolis Zoo

Take a walk on the wild side with a visit to the Indianapolis Zoo. The Indy zoo is home to the Midwest’s only in-water dolphin program for the public, allowing guests to interact with the dolphins in their exhibit.

Dolphin show at the Indy Zoo: Indianapolis weekend getaway itinerary
Dolphin Show at the Indianapolis Zoo

Catching one of their dolphin presentations during your visit is a must. It comes included in your ticket, so don’t miss out. After the show, venture underneath the pavilion to see the dolphins in their underwater habitat.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is an exhibit you don’t want to miss! This world-renowned facility is not only home to the largest group of Orangutans in any American Zoo, but they are also a hub for cognitive research of great apes. Visitors can watch as scientists and zoologists work with great apes to test their skills.

Another favorite exhibit is the walrus. I have always had a fond adoration of these creatures, which makes seeing them swimming and splashing around so incredible.

Indianapolis weekend getaway itinerary
Indianapolis Zoo Plains Entrance

Tips: The zoo currently is taking reservations. When purchasing a general admission ticket or using a pass, a reservation is needed to enter the zoo. As of this article, masks were not required for fully vaccinated patrons.

A quick 6-minute drive from the zoo with have you enjoying lunch at Cafe Patachou. This popular breakfast and lunch spot has a variety of options for both adults and kids. Healthier options are available, including avocado toast, fresh salads, and fruit. Remember that Cafe Patachou closes at 3 pm.

Rhythm Discovery Center

The Rhythm Discovery Center is a unique and exceptionally kid-friendly museum located in the heart of Indianapolis. Founded in 2009, it is the world’s first drum and percussion museum that offers guests opportunities to explore the world of percussion through hands-on experience. 

Curiosity is rewarded as visitors, young and old, delight in discovering their rhythm by exploring many percussion instruments. The interactive exhibits spark the imagination and bring out the inner musician in us all.

Rhythm Discovery Center: Indy with kids for the weekend
Rhythm Discovery Center

What makes Rhythm Discovery Center so remarkable is how interactive and educational it is. By offering hands-on experiences in each exhibit encourages everyone to become a percussionist. Whether it is sounding the eight-foot drum gong, playing a tam-tam, or stepping foot into a sound-isolating room to unleash the drummer within.

Across the street from the Rhythm Discovery Center is Giordano’s. This Chicago deep-dish style pizza will be a favorite after a long day of playing. It typically takes 45 minutes for a pizza, so be sure to order an appetizer while you wait for hungry tummies.

Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary With Kids: Day 3

  • Donuts at Jack’s Donuts
  • Newfields Art Museum
  • Lunch Flatwater
  • Canal Walk At White River State Park
  • Head Home

A family getaway to Indy is never complete without donuts! We recommend visiting a local favorite, Jack’s Donuts, for delicious homemade donuts. Arrive early to get the best selection.

Newfields

Newfields is home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, the Lilly house, and beautiful gardens. In addition to the art galleries, exhibitions, and gardens, Newfields is home to performance spaces, a beer garden, a cafe, and a gift shop.

Newfields: Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary With Kids
The Front Entrance To Newfields

Newfields brings in top-notch exhibitions, such a Private Eye: The Imagist Impulse in Chicago Art; it is home to masterpieces from Rembrandt and Picasso along with a diverse collection of art spanning a variety of styles, ages, and cultures. The famous Indy Love sign is found inside the museum, making it the ideal backdrop for any visit to Indianapolis.

Follow the green line on the first floor of the museum to the entrance to the gardens. Once in the gardens, signs will guide you to the Lilly House, Beer Garden, Greenhouse, and Nature Park. Stroll the picturesque gardens while admiring flowing fountains bubbling up next to rows of beautiful blooms.

Guests are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance. They do have a policy that allows exchanges up to a week before your ticket time for no fee.

Newfields Gardens
Newfields Formal Gardens

Sit out on the waterfront deck and watch the ducks fly in and skid across the canal at Flatwater while you enjoy lunch al fresco. Flatwater is a great restaurant featuring a relaxed American-style menu with options for kids.

Canal Walk At White River State Park

Walking along the canal in Indianapolis is an activity that should be added to any Indianapolis itinerary. While we added it as a way to get that last energy burn before a car ride home, the White River State Park can easily be added to any itinerary. A morning stroll with coffee, afternoon paddle boating on the canal, or a leisurely evening stroll with ice cream in the evening.

White River State Park Canal
Photo Courtesy of White River State Park

White River State Park is home to a plethora of attractions and events, including the Indiana State Museum, The Eiteljorg Museum, NCAA Hall of Champions, Victory Field, The Indy Zoo, and a concert venue! Discover what is happening at White River State Park during your visit by checking out their calendar of events.

Hop on the Urban Wilderness Trail provides extensive access to a 250-acre urban oasis in downtown Indianapolis along the White River. Visitors can explore a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, get a scenic view of downtown Indianapolis along with spotting a variety of wildlife along the White River.

What To Do In Indianapolis When It Rains

Indianapolis is bursting with award-winning museums, historical landmarks, and indoor play areas ideal for visiting when it rains. Depending on the interests of your traveling companions, you may end up leaving Indy with a more extensive bucket list than when you arrived.

to do in Indianapolis when it rains
Chihuly Glass at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Here are few great things to do in Indianapolis when it rains:

  • Eiteljorg Museum- The museum is dedicated to sharing diverse stories about the history and cultures of Native Americans and the American West.
  • Indy Island- Indoor aquatic waterpark featuring two indoor pools, a small slide, water geyser, 150-ft. spiral slide, 3-lane lap pool, and hot tub.
  • Smiley Indoor Playground and Arcade-Trampolines, massive ball pits, jungle gym playground, building block room, interactive rice pit, and interactive floor and wall games.
  • Indiana State Museum- The museum houses exhibits on Indiana’s science, art, culture, and history from prehistoric times up to the present day.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum-Located at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the museum’s exhibit space features cars, trophies, photographs, racing records, memorabilia, and fine art to interpret motorsports’ national and international significance.
  • Discover more great things to do in Indy at Visit Indy!

Additional Vacation Planning Resources

Tip For Taking A Toddler On A Road Trip 

7 Fun Couples Road Trip Games To Play 

Road Trip Goodie Bags 

Don’t Have Time To Read It Now? Pin It For Later 

Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary With Kids + Best Tips For Your Visit

Planning a perfect trip to Indianapolis with kids

We are an inquisitive family seeking to discover, create and inspire unique adventures and experiences. Our mission is to motivate families to collect moments and not things. Our family travel blog explores places off the beaten path that will spark your curiosity and provide inspiration for families traveling with children. We are not full-time travelers, just the everyday family that makes the most of each day off. When we are not traveling we enjoy being a tourist in our hometown of Cincinnati.