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The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

April 9, 2014

  • 3000 N. Meridian Street
  • Indianapolis, IN 46208
  • (317) 334-4000
  • Website

Way back in 2011, when J was pregnant with L, she joined a Facebook group for Mothers expecting in January of 2012.  Over the next several years, the group all got to know each other and their families through the power of social media.  Only a few of the ladies had actually met each other and it has prompted a few get togethers for families in different parts of the country.

This past weekend, one of the ladies from Florida was going to be in Indianapolis.  She put out the call to see if anyone wanted to meet up.  J wanted to, but Sunday is a hard day for us even though it’s our only day off together.  I get home after midnight from work the night before and J has to be at work very early in the morning on Monday.

About the middle of the week, J realized she had Monday off.  She asked if I’d be interested in a mini road trip.  I wasn’t going to get much sleep Sunday night, but it would do us good to get out of the house and get L around kids her own age.

We got our butts up before the crack of dawn Sunday morning and headed off on the four hour trip from Kalamazoo to Indianapolis.  Our final destination, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

We arrived to the Museum, located on Meridian Street on the north side of town.  We found out later in the day it’s only about a ten minute drive from the heart of the city.  We were a little early as the museum doesn’t actually open until 10:00, but the free parking ramp across the street was already open.  We easily found a spot near the second level sky walk.  It also just happened the another member of our group pulled in right behind us.

After getting L out of her pajamas and in to some real clothes, we headed across Illinois Street via the sky walk to the museum.  The lobby and ticket area is on the main floor, so you do need to walk down a ramp to get back down to street level.  The big centerpiece of this area is a giant Bumblebee (from Transformers) that is probably pretty close to “life size.”  

The group was scheduled to meet up at 10:00 AM so we had a little time to wait.  Everyone was assembled just a little after 10 and we headed in to the museum.

We lucked out since we were going with a large group including a couple Indy natives.  A couple of the families had memberships that included guest passes.  We were able to take advantage of that and avoid paying the admission fee which saved us quite a bit of money.  Adults are $19.50 and kids are $14.50, so that saved us about $55 just to get in the door.

Once past the turnstile, you walk in to a huge atrium that gives you a little glimpse of what’s ahead.  There are five floors of interactive exhibits.  Right inside the atrium is the gift shop and the food court (which we took advantage of later).  At one point, they even had a dinosaur show in the atrium that was viewable from the floor or the balcony’s on each level overlooking the atrium.

The first thing we did was head up to the second floor and start in the Animal Secrets.  This area explores the life of forest creatures.  L was really intrigued by the hollow tree where the chipmunks and squirrels “lived.”  She also enjoyed trying to make the baby eagles fly out of their nests and putting ants together.

We spent a little time in there then moved on again.  This time to the area we had a hard time getting the kids out of….The Playscape.  When you think of Children’s Museums, this is the area you usually associate with them.  There is a giant water table where L “caught fishies” over and over.  There are sand tables.  There’s a building block area and a wind tunnel where you can play with scarves.  There’s also an art area where staff members lead children in an art project.  Unfortunately, the pace was pretty slow and L only made it about halfway through before getting bored.  They talked too much about what they were making instead of actually making it and buy the time we started building with clay, she was ready to go.  From the art area, she made a beeline for the climbing area.  L hopped right in and started climbing up, over, and through the large, netted play area.  When we visited the Curious Kid’s Discover Zone in St. Joseph, I had to climb in to one of these things to get her out.  A year later, she was cruising through it and problem solving her way to one end and back.   This room by far was the biggest hit for the kids and we probably spent the most time here, but this was the exhibit kind of geared toward their age group.

We left the Playscape to head up back downstairs for lunch.  We had already spent almost two hours in the museum and everyone was getting a little hungry.

The food court is on the main level of the museum and is huge.  They have a number of options from the greasy burger to the healthy salad and everything in between.  The space is set up like a mall food court.  There are four different stands that offer different types of food.  The difference between this place and a mall food court is that you pay at one central counter, so you can get one thing and the kids can get something else.

J started at the Dino Deli and went with a salad and sandwich combo.  She got The Taste of the Southwest Salad and the Roast Turkey Ciabatta Club.  The salad is spinach, black beans, corn, jicama, scallions, red peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro tossed in a Southwestern Vinaigrette.  The sandwich is a ciabatta roll with turkey, dijon, cheddar, bacon, lettuce, and tomato.  She said her meal was delicious and not something you’d find in a museum food court.  The only downfall was that she was still hungry after finishing.

I headed over to the Burger Works and got a Custom Grind Angus Cheeseburger Basket.  The basket includes a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a pickle as well as an order of natural cut fries.  While J thought her meal was unfood court like, I felt mine was exactly what I’d expect from a food court.  It was fine and tasted good.  It just didn’t have anything really special to it.  Like J, I left hungry, but I sort of expected that.

While I was getting my sandwich, J got in line at the Kids Zone for L.  She got L the Cheese Quesadilla which came with sliced apples and a juice box.  L was having too much fun with her new friends to really eat.  They were “roaring” at each other like lions for some unknown reason, but she had a little bit of everything and had no complaints.

The meal set us back about $28.  It’s a little pricey, but it’s quick and convenient and there’s really no way to visit all of the museum without getting hungry.

After lunch, we headed downstairs to the All Aboard exhibit.  Well, that’s where most of the kids headed.  L got really distracted underneath the Fireworks of Glass sculpture that towers through all four stories of the museum…and it’s a Chihuly.  On the lower level, you can sit underneath the scultpture and look at the glass.  There’s also an interactive display of plastic glass that could be used with pegs on the wall or peg towers to create your own sculpture and that’s what L wanted to do.  She ran all over the area collecting as much of the “glass” as she could to create her masterpiece.  Once she was finished, we were able to join the rest of the kids at the trains.

The train section is really cool if you like model trains.  There’s also a real locomotive and tool car on display.  The engine is the Reuben Wells which was used in nearby Madison Hill in the late 19th Century.  Unfortunately, you can’t climb in to this one, but in the next room is a tool car which you can go in to.  There are real train sounds and one side of windows has display screens that make it look like your riding along the countryside.

Next stop was also on the bottom floor at the Dinosphere.  This exhibit is geared towards kids a little bit older than our group, but L found the one place she could play and get dirty.  There are actually several dinosaur skeletons on display including a mummified dinosaur, but all L wanted to do was go dig for dinosaur bones.  There’s a little interactive area where the kids can grab a pair of goggles and a paint brush and brush away some sand to uncover a dinosaur.  L wasn’t so much dusting for the dinosaur as much as she was just dusting up the sand that got on the ledge.  Either way, she didn’t want to leave and we stayed there for quite a while.  This is the point we actually said goodbye to most of our group.  It was past nap time for almost everyone, so those that were done said their goodbyes.  All the ladies and the kids got in for a picture together before we let L climb back in to the dinosaur dig area.  Of the five that started the day, there were just two left standing and one more floor to go.

Our last stop was the very top floor.  We raced up the five floors of ramps to the top where the Broad Ripple Park Carousel stands.  L saw the carousel at the top of the ramp and immediately ran towards it.  J grabbed her and got in line to buy a couple tokens so they could ride.  Since L was getting towards her limit anyway, there was a little bit of a meltdown when the ride ended, but we were able to distract her with the other exhibits in the area, but we did have to take one last carousel ride before heading to our hotel in downtown Indianapolis.

We had a pretty amazing day at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  I’m really quite jealous of those who live close enough for memberships.  There are so many great things for the kids to do and I don’t think we even got through every exhibit in the four hours we spent there.  From Southwest Michigan, this is a place you need to put on your to-do list.  It’s only four hours away and it’s worth the mini vacation to take the kids.  The price is a little scary, but it’s worth it.  You will be able to spend all day there and walk away with a smile on your face.

Bumblebee

Animal Secrets

Playscape

Food Court

Dino Deli and Playscape Pizza

Kids Zone

Taste of the Southwest Salad and Roast Turkey Ciabatta Club

Custom Grind Angus Cheeseburger Basket

Cheese Quesadilla

Fireworks of Glass

All Aboard! The Reuben Wells

Dinosphere

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