2020 has put a damper on so many things, including many families’ winter break getaway plans. But not to fear: Indianapolis offers lots of fun opportunities for winter ‘staycation’ fun — you just need to know where to look!
Devote a staycation weekend to these incredible family-friendly places in Indianapolis. (Please note: most of these attractions have special COVID-19 policies in place, so be sure to check websites ahead of time and plan your trip accordingly!)
Full STEAM Ahead
Indianapolis is home to the world’s largest children’s museum, and winter break is the perfect time to really experience it. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is home to an ever-changing carousel of special exhibits. Take Me There: Greece will satisfy your appetite for travel without ever leaving Indiana and Barbie: You Can Be Anything packs a girl-powered punch of nostalgia. Permanent exhibits include Dinosphere and an out-of-this-world space station.
And if you’re in the mood for a drive, buckle up! The Muncie Children’s Museum is an easy 70-minute trip from Indy, and is especially fun for the 6 and under crowd. Or head west to the Terra Haute Children’s Museum, three floors of STEAM-powered fun.
Take a Walking Tour
Not to brag, but downtown Indianapolis is kind of the coolest. We’ve put together a fun scavenger hunt across Mile Square, and as an added bonus, all of these attractions are free to check out. Start at the heart of it all — the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument. From the monument’s Observatory, you can experience panoramic views of the city skyline; it’s free to experience and can be reached via elevator or a kid-friendly, 330-step climb.
From there, head to University Park and go sculpture sighting. Have kids find sculptures in honor of presidents Benjamin Harrison and Abraham Lincoln, and former vice president Schuyler Colfax. And of course, stop by Depew Fountain for a family selfie!
All this exploring is sure to work up an appetite, and luckily, Jack’s Donuts is a quick, quarter-mile walk from Mile Square. (Get a dozen tiger buns — you won’t regret it!)
Visit Fun Tourist Attractions
Cars and basketball: That’s what Indy is known for! Revel in racecars by visiting Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and Dallara IndyCar Factory, two surefire crowd pleasers. Then show your Hoosier pride at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
And for a primer in all things Indiana, look no further than the Indiana State Museum. The coolest part of this museum is actually outdoors: along the exterior of the museum, there are artworks representing all 92 counties in Indiana.
Finally, for foodies, there’s no better place than Indianapolis City Market. This public market is a big source of Indy pride — it’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a vibrant downtown event destination (see: the 2012 Super Bowl). Be sure to stop by Gomez BBQ for the best pulled pork sandwich in town.
Looking for an outdoor adventure? Head to Perfect North Slopes! This 200-acre ski and tubing resort offers fun for the whole family. Child, adult and adaptive lessons are offered, with a lesson included for first-timers with every lift ticket purchased. Feel the need for speed? Sign up for racing lessons. Training and practice sessions are available for ages 7 and up. Don’t leave without taking a ride down one of their 26 tubing lanes, including “super lanes” that allow your entire family to slide down together.
Meanwhile, hit the rinks at a local ice arena; the Fuel Tank at Fishers and Carmel Ice Stadium are two fun, indoor options for families. (And if you’re feeling a little extra, take a drive to see the Veal’s Ice Tree, one of the area’s coolest winter attractions.)
But don’t let the cold keep you indoors — bundle up and take a hike this winter! Holliday Park, Eagle Creek Park and Newfields boast picturesque parks and trails perfect for enjoying when the weather turns cold.
Next-Level Staycation Ideas
Are you the kind of person who puts holiday lights up Nov. 1? Then you’ll love Santa Claus! This close-to-home destination is all Christmas, all the time. In December, the Santa Claus Land of Lights is perhaps the best outdoor light display in the area. Rent a cottage and enjoy a cozy, Hallmark-movie-level getaway in this charming city.
Or, stay closer to home and book a night or two at one of Downtown Indianapolis’s dazzling hotels. Downtown Indy boasts an amazing skywalk that connects hotels to the convention center and other attractions, so you can explore without having to brave the cold. And as you start making your winter break staycation plans, be sure to look into an Indy Attraction Pass. This new pass offers families the opportunity to plan a day (or weekend) of fun at discounted rates. Participating attractions include the Children’s Museum and Indianapolis Zoo. Check it out and save big on the city’s best attractions. Plus, passes are delivered to your phone for easy, touch-free admission.
2020 is finally coming to a close, and that’s surely something to celebrate. So, organize some staycation plans and make it your best winter break ever!