Spring has sprung and there is no better time to pack up the kids and head out for a weekend getaway. Indianapolis’ central location puts us smack-dab in the middle of the action when it comes to family-friendly destinations. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Chi-town, Second City, the Windy City – no matter what you call it, Chicago is a mainstay of family fun. First up on the must-see list is the Museum of Science and Industry. Plan to spend the better part of the day exploring more than 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits, including an authentic German submarine, a 40-foot indoor tornado and a mind-boggling mirror maze. Be sure to check out the amazing LEGO structures in the Brick by Brick exhibit on display through September 4.
Millennium Park offers a wide-open space in the heart of the city perfect for exploring. This unique green space is home to an outdoor concert venue, an interactive fountain, gorgeous gardens and the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture, more commonly known as The Bean. Immerse yourself in the skyscrapers by taking a stroll along the Magnificent Mile, the section of Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River that boasts numerous galleries and shops, including the multi-story American Girl store.
Located just east of Michigan Avenue on the shores of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions. Stroll through a six-story indoor botanical garden, ride a whimsical carousel and catch fantastic views of the city aboard the 150-foot Centennial Wheel. Children 10 and under will also love the Chicago Children’s Museum, located at the pier.
For a unique perspective of the city, catch a ride on the Chicago Water Taxi. An all-day pass is just $9 per person, making this a cost effective way to take in the city’s unique architecture by boat (and give your feet a break!) The route covers all branches of the Chicago River, including a stop in Chinatown (another must see).
Where to stay: Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown puts you in the middle of the action. The two-room suites include free breakfast and free happy hour with complimentary drinks and snacks for all ages. There is also an indoor pool.
Fort Wayne, IN
While it does not have the bright lights, big city vibe of Chicago, Fort Wayne is chock-full of family fun. At Science Central kids can learn about weather phenomena in Zula Patrol: Mission Weather, take a ride on the High Rail Bike, interact with sea creatures at the Tidal Pool and play a tune on the giant keyboard in Kid Central – a space designed specifically for ages 2 through 7 and their grown-ups.
Visitors of all ages will enjoy the unique garden designs, art displays and exhibits at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Their captivating butterfly garden is always a favorite.
A trip to Fort Wayne wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Come face-to-face with kangaroos in the Australian Adventure, hand-feed giraffes in the African Journey, spy orangutans in the Indonesian Rain Forest and get an aerial view of it all on the Sky Safari.
When you are ready to give your feet a rest, head to Parkview Field to cheer on the TinCaps, the city’s minor league baseball team. Tickets start at just $5, making it an inexpensive outing for the whole family.
Before you head off on your Fort Wayne adventure, be sure to check out www.VisitFortWayne.com/Festivals for a list of festivals that take place throughout the spring and summer.
Where to stay: Visit Fort Wayne offers a number of hotel packages that allow to you bundle your entertainment and accommodations (many with indoor pools). Visit www.VisitFortWayne.com for more information.
Much like Indianapolis, Cincinnati is jam-packed with family-friendly fun that can be found in every corner of the city. Not to be missed is the Cincinnati Museum Center – a one-of-a-kind, multi-museum complex housed in the historic Union Terminal. Highlights include the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science and the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater.
View more than 500 animals at the Cincinnati Zoo, including Henry and BiBi, residents of Hippo Cove, the zoo’s newest exhibit. For more animal encounters take a quick trip across the state line to the Newport Aquarium in nearby Newport, Kentucky.
Sports enthusiasts will love exploring the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame Museum. Put your pitching speed to the test in the Strike Zone, peruse an eclectic assortment of memorabilia in the Ultimate Reds Room and play the afternoon away in the Kids Clubhouse, perfect for visitors 6 and under.
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Step into the American Sign Museum. There you will find yourself surrounded by three-dimensional works of art that recall a bygone era with iconic imagery that blinks, flashes and spins.
And last, but certainly not least, thrill seekers will want to head into neighboring Warren County to spend a day at the Largest Amusement & Waterpark in the Midwest: Kings Island.
Where to stay: The Ramada Plaza Cincinnati Sharonville is home to Splash Cincinnati Water Resort – a 50,000-sqare-foot indoor water park, complete with palm trees, tons of water attractions for all ages and a year-round 84 degree climate. Visit www.splashcincinnati.com to find your Splash and Stay package.
And there you have it: three states, three destinations and a whole lot of fun. Where will your next weekend adventure lead you?