Want to spend a day outdoors breathing in the fresh air, but aren’t sure where to go? Look no further. Indianapolis offers zip lines, nature trails, lakes for fishing, creeks for stomping and so much more for people of all ages to enjoy.
To help you find the ideal spot for outdoor fun, we have compiled the Indy’s Child list of 10 Places to Explore Nature in Indy.
Cool Creek Park and Nature Center
Address: 2000 East 151st Street, Carmel
This popular, scenic 90-acre park features 4 miles of wooded trails for walking and jogging, as well as paved trails for biking and blading. But that’s not all. At Cool Creek you will also find a playground, picnic shelters and pavilions, basketball court, soccer field, a prairie, a creek for stomping, an amphitheater where evening summertime concerts are performed and an indoor Nature Center. Inside the Nature Center, you can: learn about creatures you may encounter in the forest and the importance of caring for their natural habitats, make a craft, play with puppets, hang out in the observation room and more. Be sure to check out their website or Facebook page for a list of events and programs.
Eagle Creek Park
Address: 3840 West 56th Street, Indianapolis
This 3900-acre park is one of the largest city parks in the country featuring trails, bird watching, picnic spots and a 1,400-acre lake with fishing areas and a beach for swimmers to enjoy. Want to spend a day on the water? Eagle Creek Outfitters rents canoes, single and double kayaks, SUP boards, paddle boats, pontoon boats and sailboats as well as bike rentals for the land-lovers. On Wednesday evening, Eagle Creek Outfitters also offers a Guided Sunset Paddle Program and on Friday and Saturday evenings during the full moon cycle they offer a Guided Full Moon Paddle Program. These programs are limited to 35 participants, so call now and make your reservations.
Fort Harrison State Park
Address: 5753 Glenn Road, Indianapolis
This 1,700-acre park has plenty to offer nature lovers year-round with hiking and bike trails, paved trails, picnic sites, a nature center, dog park, saddle barn with horseback riding and hayrides, shelters and recreation buildings, access to Fall Creek for fishing (and ice fishing for those who can brave the cold), sledding hill, cross country skiing, two national historic districts and a golf course. Visit their website for information on upcoming events and programs.
Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden
Address: 2432 Conservatory Drive, Indianapolis
This park was established in 1889 – making it the oldest park in Indianapolis. Garfiled Park features both a conservatory and sunken garden. The 10,000-foot conservatory houses hundreds of plants from around the world and is open year-round. Visiting the 3-acre sunken garden is like taking a trip back in time to a classic European formal garden. Originally designed in 1910, the park has attempted to maintain the charm of this era with beautiful fountains, flower beds and concrete urns and bowls filled with a wide variety of flowers. The park also is home to the MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts, outdoor pool, walking trail, picnic shelters, tennis, horse shoe courts, basketball, playgrounds and a sledding hill. Visit their website for more information on a wide variety of events and programs offered year-round.
Go Ape! Treetop Adventure
Address: 5855 Delong Road, Indianapolis
Want to channel your inner monkey? Located in Eagle Creek Park, Go Ape! Treetop Adventure is for those ages 10 and over who want to spend 2 to 3 hours seeing the forest in a whole new way. This high ropes aerial adventure features 5 zip lines and more than 40 treetop obstacles.
Address: 6363 Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis
Just six miles from downtown Indianapolis, you will find this 94-acre gem offering fun for nature lovers of all ages. With an incredibly impressive playground, a brightly-colored two-level nature center, picnic area and pavilions, ruins to explore, 3.5 miles of trails for hiking, natural springs and wetlands, a pond, access to the White River and plenty of green space – you can easily spend an entire day enjoying this park. Visit their website for information on upcoming family-friendly events and programs.
Morse Park & Beach
Address: 19777 Morse Park Lane, Noblesville
If your family likes to spend the day fishing, boating, hanging out at the beach or splashing in the water – Morse Park & Beach may be just the spot for you. Located in Noblesville, this 23-acre park features a boat dock, disc golf, gaga ball pit, playground, picnic area and pavilions, fishing, volleyball, trails, a beach and an aqua park with inflatables for kids both little and big to enjoy. The cost for one hour at the park is just 4$ and if the slide isn’t out, this price decreases to just $2. Want to spend a day on the boat? Visit the Morse Lake Marina for information on pontoon boat rental. (The Morse Beach is temporarily closed for the 2018 season with hopes to open again soon. Check with the Hamilton County Parks and Rec Department for information on when the beach will be reopening.)
Sodalis Nature Park
Address: 7700 South County Road 975 East, Plainfield
This 210-acre park is home to a wide variety of Indiana wildlife, a 5.5 acre pond and 3.5 miles of hiking trails. The park also features picnic areas and a dock that is perfect for those who love to fish.
The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park
Address: 1850 West 38th Street, Indianapolis
Located behind the Indianapolis Museum of Art you will find one of the largest museum art parks in the country. This 100-acre park where art and nature combines is a thing of beauty featuring a 35-acre lake (so don’t forget your poles and bait), woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a wild grass labyrinth. For the bird lovers, this park offers plenty of bird houses and feeders, bird viewing stations as well as a nesting platform suitable for several bird species. Want to learn more about the park? On the first and third Saturdays of the month at 11:30am a free guided walking tour of the grounds is offered.
Treetop Outpost at Conner Prairie
Address: 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers
The 4-story treehouse located in Conner Prairie is a nature-loving child’s dream come true. With places to climb, build, play, create, explore, read and even play the drums – this area is sure to leave children (and adults) of all ages smiling. While you are there, be sure to check out the trails that wind throughout the grounds at Conner Prairie, visit with the farm animals and take a trip back in time at Prairietown and the 1863 Civil War Journey. Want to see the world from above? Take a ride on the 1859 Balloon Voyage. For information on programs and events, be sure to check out their website.
As you can see, Indianapolis has plenty to offer nature lovers both young and old. The sun is shining and the great outdoors is calling. It’s time to put down those devices, lace up the sneakers and head outside for a hefty dose of vitamin D and some memorable family fun. An added benefit? A day spent outdoors usually means a good night of sleep for the little ones – which means the parents can hopefully get a good night of sleep, too.