A quick two-hour drive from Cincinnati will have explorers at the front door of the world’s largest children’s museum; The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The museum makes the perfect family day trip from Cincinnati any time of the year.
With new exhibits rotating through, unique hands-on experiences in addition to an incredible outdoor Riley Children’s Sports Legend Experience®, it is easy to see why the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a family favorite. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis sponsors this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
Things To Know Before You Visit The Indy Children’s Museum in 2021
Where To Park For The Children’s Museum
As visitors arrive at the museum, they are greeted by the resident brachiosaurus peering into the museum. The ideal spot to park while visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the FREE parking garage. The garage is located right across the street from the museum, on the left side of Illinois St. just north of 30th St. Additional museum parking lots also offer free parking; the Water Clock Lot, Train Lot, Polar Bear Lot.
The parking garage and the Water Clock lot have ADA parking spaces available, along with elevators, ramps, and stairwells in the garage.
There is a skywalk that connects the garage to the museum. Illinois St. is very busy, making it difficult to cross. Access the skywalk through the garage for quick access to the museum.
Mask Policy and Health And Safety Procedures
The Museum’s Mask Policy currently requires all visitors over the age of 2 to wear a mask if they are not vaccinated. The mask must be fully covering your nose and mouth and must be worn at all times. Masks are not required outdoors, including the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend Experience®.
The museum takes the health and safety of its visitors seriously. They have limited capacity, a mask requirement, enhanced cleaning, and sanitizer and wipes throughout the building.
The Dinosaur Exhibit is Under Construction
The beloved Dinosphere is currently closed until March of 2022. It is getting a facelift with many fantastic new experiences for the dinosaurs fans, including giants of the Jurassic. A few dinosaur experiences are still available, such as SUE meets Bucky along with interactive dinosaur programs throughout the day.
In the meantime, the museum offers a variety of fun Dinosaur Content Online.
Buy Your Tickets In Advance
Buy your tickets in advance. As of June 2021, the museum operates at 50% capacity to give families plenty of space to spread out. Running at limited capacity means that tickets could sell out during the summer as many families are traveling.
The museum uses a Plan Ahead Pricing model, which allows you to save up to 25% by buying general admission tickets at least two weeks in advance. Prices will never fall below what is listed today but will increase until the visit date—so you can lock in the price by purchasing that day: Get Your Tickets Here!
Additional Tips For Visiting The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- For less crowded times, consider a visit during a weekday.
- Your general admission ticket includes the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend Experience®.
- Check their website for updated hours before planning your visit.
- Family restrooms are located throughout the museum. A private nursing area can be found In the Playscape area on Level 3.
- Have children wear closed-toe shoes, especially if they are planning on enjoying the sports experience. They are mandatory for racing experiences.
- Bring a refillable water bottle!
- Don’t try to see the whole museum in one day. Go in with a plan on what exhibits and displays your family wants to see and attempt to stick to the plan as best as possible. It gives you a great reason to return another day.
- There is a sensory map available that indicates which areas of the museum are sensory-heavy, as well as those that are less stimulating.
- There is a special branch of the public library located inside the museum. InfoZone was one of the nation’s first- and remains the only free, fully serviced library located inside the museum. The library can be located in the main atrium before entering the museum.
- Lockers are available for rental.
- There is a food court available with a good selection of hot and cold entrees.
5 Reasons Why The Children’s Museum Of Indianapolis Is The Perfect Day Trip From Cincinnati
It is the World’s Largest Children’s Museum
The Indianapolis Children’s Museum holds the World’s Largest Children’s Museum title, which encompasses the museum itself, 12 sports experiences, and three exhibits in the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend®.
The 482,950 square-foot campus sits on 29 acres which is humongous. Through the years, the museums have acquired various unique items and displays. Currently, the collection has grown to over 120,000 artifacts!
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!
The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend Experience®
Crossing over the sky bridge, one can’t help but notice the Sports Legend Experience outdoor exhibits. Children can shoot hoops, throw a football, or discover the secrets hidden in the massive Tree House of Sports.
This fun-filled exhibit encourages physical fitness, all while children learn about sports history and health education. After learning about their favorite sports heroes, children can experience the same sport they excelled in and more.
During the winter months, only the indoor exhibits are open. However, the outdoor experiences reopen in the spring. Accessible opportunities are available throughout the exhibit, including a lift into the treehouse.
Toddlers get a chance to be part of the team as a few of the sports exhibits have been designed with them in mind. There is a toddler golf course, 4-foot basketball hoops with tiny basketballs, and a toddler slide in the Tree House.
A friendly reminder that Masks are NOT mandatory outdoors, just optional.
Take Me There® Experiences
The Indianapolis Children’s Museum has an incredible exhibit that gives guests the chance to experience another culture without ever leaving Indiana. During our recent visit, the exhibit was Take Me There®: Greece, sending visitors into vibrant streets of Greece with the backdrop of the ancient Greek world.
Begin your journey on the airplane, then step out to marvel at the Greek city. Prepare a traditional Greek meal at the terrace cafe, learn how olive oil is made then care for the sea turtles at the hospital. Additional Greek events such as a Taste of Greece and Make Your Own Myth happen throughout the week.
There Are Exhibits For The Whole Family
Kids of all ages will find plenty to explore at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Throughout the next few weeks, the museum plans to bring back more hands-on experiences to various exhibits. A detailed list can be found on their website.
Stepping into the museum, guests should check out the fantastic water clock located in the atrium! A glance around the atrium yields large exhibit entrances that command your attention. A bit of advice: Try to plan out what exhibits you want to see this trip. Chances are you will not get to everything on your list, but having a guide to help keep you on schedule.
Exhibits For Tiny Guests
The youngest patrons will love the Playscape, which is home to the beloved water table. The Playscape also offers a variety of experiences centered around younger children. Venture to the Lilly Playhouse area near the carousel (set to open back up the week of June 28th) for more creative play options.
Toddlers will also enjoy the Dora and Diego: Let’s Explore exhibit. Many of the experiences are hands-on, easy to navigate, and imaginative. A favorite is the flower garden, giving littles a chance to “pick” as flowers, be a pirate or help animals in need.
Exhibits for Older Children
Throughout the museum, there numerous exhibits and displays aimed at children over eight years old. A popular exhibition is the Scienceworks that showcases the powers of science in our everyday lives. Other popular exhibited for older children include; Beyond Spaceship Earth, The Power of Children, and Popular Culture Exhibit.
No trip to the museum would be complete with a ride on the historic carousel. Dating from 1917, the carousel animals were salvaged from the original ride in Broad Ripple Park. A machine (which takes credit cards, even!) is available in line for you to purchase your ride tokens at $1 per person.
Find The Best Toys At The Children’s Museum Store
One of the best places to grab a unique gift is from the Gift Shop inside the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Ensure to allocate at least ten to fifteen minutes to browse the wide variety of toys, many of which can be found to compliment their favorite exhibit. The selection of dinosaur toys is one of the best I have seen.
Turn Your Day Trip Into A Year Of Fun
After visiting once, your children will be asking when they can return. While it is difficult to see everything in one day, purchasing a membership will allow your family to return for unlimited visits for an entire year! If you plan on visiting more than once a year, it is the way to go!
You can also apply your general admission tickets towards a membership for up to two weeks after your visit. This allows families to check out the museum first before diving into a membership. As an avid fan of everything, the Children’s Museum has to offer, along with the other fun activities in Indianapolis, getting a membership will ensure a handful of family fun adventures each year. Discover more Fun Things To Do In Indianapolis!