With so many festive ways for families to celebrate this time of year, it can be hard to choose what to put on the “must-do list” for the season.
It would be nice to try it all, but let’s face it – that just isn’t possible.
To help eliminate some stress this holiday season, here is a list of some unforgettable family-friendly activities in the Indianapolis area. With only 12 days left before Christmas, it is time to pick and choose what you just can’t live without in 2016. And if you don’t get to everything on your list, don’t fret – there is always next year.
Beef & Boards brings the magic of Christmas to life with this joyful family-friendly production. Celebrate in style with this annual crowd pleaser – a glittering array of music and dance numbers, presented in a variety show format. An evening at Beef & Boards is the perfect holiday tradition for this wonderful time of the year.
A Beef & Boards Christmas runs through December 23. Visit beefandboards.com for showtimes, pricing and to purchase your tickets today.
Address: 9301 Michigan Road, Indianapolis
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Watch the timeless tale of the cold-hearted miser Ebenezer Scrooge unfold in this unforgettable production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (adapted by Tom Haas.) Journey with Scrooge as he travels with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and is reminded of the things that truly matter in life – like family, friends and a generous heart. Attending A Christmas Carol at the IRT is sure to become a family tradition for years to come.
A Christmas Carol runs through December 24. Visit irtlive.com for ticket pricing, show times and to purchase your tickets today.
Address: 140 West Washington Street, Indianapolis
Lions, tigers, polar bears – and Santa Claus! Oh my! See the animals during the day and stay as the sun goes down – watch as the Indianapolis Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland before your eyes. While you are there, try a delicious sweet treat and a yummy cup of hot cocoa – or two (refills on hot beverages are free), warm yourself up by one of the two campfire locations and listen to the joyful songs of the Christmas carolers who will perform at the back campfire from 6:00pm-8:00pm. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a chat with Mr. Claus, so be sure to stop by Santa’s workshop at the White River Gardens to give him your list and tell him “Merry Christmas.”
Christmas at the Zoo is included with regular zoo admission and is free for zoo members. This dazzling event runs through December 30 and is open from noon to 9:00pm Wednesday through Sunday with festivities from 5:00pm-9:00pm.
Address: 1200 West Washington St, Indianapolis
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Seeing a beautifully decorated, brightly-lit tree is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face – even the grinchiest of Grinches. What about 72 beautifully decorated, brightly-lit trees?! Find out for yourself how spectacular this sight is to behold – head over to the Indiana Historical Society where they have filled the building with 72 elaborately themed trees. Maybe you will be inspired to come up with some decorating ideas of your own?
The Festival of Trees is included with the price of admission. In addition to the regular hours of 10:00am-5:00pm Tuesday through Saturday, the History Center is open from noon-5:00pm on Sundays until Christmas. The Indiana Historical Society is also offering Twilight Tuesdays (now through Tuesday, December 27) where families can see the splendor of the trees while enjoying local musical talent, presenting songs of the season. Be sure to visit indianahistory.org to find out about other fun activities taking place during the season.
Address: 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis
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There is so much to do this time of year at Conner Prairie Interactive History Museum. It truly is a winter wonderland with activities for people of all ages to enjoy. While you are visiting Conner Prairie, be sure to admire all of the intricate gingerbread houses displayed in the Gingerbread Village. No matter how tempted you are to take a nibble – remember look, but don’t touch! Bundle up, head outdoors and experience an 1836 winter season with a visit to homes and businesses in Prairietown. For those of you looking for a more structured program, Conner Prairie by Candlelight is a family-friendly 90-minute walking tour that takes you back more than 175 years ago to Christmas Eve at Prairietown.
Conner Prairie is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm. Entrance into Holiday Adventures and the Gingerbread Village are free with admission. Conner Prairie by Candlelight has two dates remaining, December 16 and 17 from 6:00pm-9:00pm. Visit connerprairie.org for tickets and pricing.
Address: 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers
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All aboard Jingle Rails for the great western adventure! Watch as nine model trains make their way through downtown Indianapolis past local landmarks such as the Eiteljorg Museum, Monument Circle, Union Station, the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Lucas Oil Stadium, where you will hear veteran Colt’s radio announcer Bob Lamey call the game. The trains then head through the west zooming past beloved national treasures like Mt. Rushmore, The Grand Canyon, an erupting Old Faithful geyser, Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam and the Las Vegas strip. The intricate details of the terrain and landmarks are all created from natural materials by Paul Busse and his brilliant team at Applied Imagination.
Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure is included with the price of admission and runs through January 16. The Eiteljorg is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am-5:00pm and on Sunday from 11:00am-5:00pm.
Address: 500 West Washington Street, Indianapolis
The beloved Jolly Days Winter Wonderland exhibit at the Children’s Museum brings joy to guests both young and old alike. Make memories this year as you take a trip down the two-story Yuleslide, make it snow in the Giant Snow Globe, “ice skate” in your socks and visit with Mr. Claus himself. These are just a few of the many fun-filled activities taking place in celebration of the season. While you are there, see the musical performance of Elves and the Shoemaker. The show is free with admission, but tickets are required for this event. For more information on showtimes, visit www.childrensmuseum.org.
Entrance into Jolly Days and the performance of Elves and the Shoemaker are free with admission. The Jolly Days exhibit runs through January 8. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm.
Location: 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis
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The Santa Claus Christmas Celebration takes place in America’s Christmas Hometown of Santa Claus, Indiana during the first three weekends of December. There is much to do and see in this jolly town located about three hours south of Indianapolis. Be sure to check out santaclausind.org to find out all of the happenings in Santa Claus, IN. With a name like that – it has to be good!
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We would love to hear about your family’s favorite traditions during the holidays. Please comment below or email [email protected] and let us know your family favorites.