8 Free Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids

free things to do in indianapolis with kids

We live about 20 minutes from the heart of downtown Indianapolis, but rarely take it in from a tourist perspective.  During our spring break last week, we decided to take the day to go exploring in our own city and find some free entertainment as a family.  I asked received some awesome suggestions on the 4tunate Facebook page, and we had a few additional things in mind that we wanted to try, which completely filled our day! 

Here’s 8 FREE things that have kept us happily freely entertained in downtown Indianapolis and a couple of things we plan on trying out soon with our kids!


riding the iu health people mover 

1. Ride the IU Health People Mover (Monorail)

Most people don’t realize that the IU Health People Mover downtown is free and open to the public.  It travels from the Riley Hospital Campus to Methodist, and also stops at University Hospital.  We found free 2 hour visitor parking at the Fairbanks building, and rode back and forth between for a few tours.

2. Check Out Central Library

Central Library is a great pit stop to check out the beautiful building, and stop for a read. They have tons of activities for kids (especially in the summer months) that include exhibits, speakers, concerts, and movies.

visiting the indiana state house with kids

3. Visit the State Capital

The Indiana State House is rich in history and beauty. Guided tours and self-guided tours are free and offered daily. Often times you can peak in on house and senate in session.  The staff was very accommodating and welcoming to our entire family.

4. Browse Mass Ave Toys

Mass Ave Toys has a variety of classic and unique toys that make it a fun destination downtown for young and old.  You’ll find things you played with growing up and awesome new inventions that your kids will love trying out!

visiting monument circle with kids

5. Visit Monument Circle

The Solider and Sailor’s Monument is a beautiful landmark through every season. You can take the 330 steps up to the observation platform, or just sit for a spell on the steps and people watch. There are some great shops and treats on the circle that are fun to visit as well, including South Bend Chocolate Company and Rocket Fizz.

6. Kid’s Story Time at Indy Reads Books

Indy Reads Books is an independent book store that hosts a free Kid’s Story Time on Saturdays at 11:30 am.  We’re planning on taking advantage of this soon  and donating some of our used books while we’re in the neighborhood.

walking the canal downtown indianapolis with kids

7. Take a Walk Along the Canal

The canal is one of our favorite spots in the summer.  We love playing in the fountains, feeding the ducks, and taking in the great views along the way.  {We also had a BLAST renting a surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals last year!}

8.Take An Elevator Ride to the Top of One of the Tallest Hotels

Our pick was the glass elevator at the Indy Hyatt. Great views were to be had from inside the elevator and the top floor looking down. 

What are your favorite kid-friendly FREE spots in Indianapolis or where you live?

14 thoughts on "8 Free Things to Do in Indianapolis with Kids"

  1. Rachel H. says:

    The observation deck at the top of the City County building is a wonderful way to see all views from downtown!

  2. Cris says:

    What great ideas!!

  3. Crystal says:

    I’ve never had a desire to visit Indianapolis before, but this blog makes me want to!

  4. Ree says:

    Thanks! I always mean to comment and never do! We love to visit Indy! My husband and I met at Butler. We are close enough now in Dayton to visit for the day or a weekend! My boys will love to check these things out and best part they are free!

  5. So fun! We really need to try the monorail someday soon. When Leilan was taking classes at IUPUI he had a student bus pass- the kids had the best time just riding around with him…

  6. Love all these suggestions! We will definitely be using some of these ideas soon! Thanks Jen!

  7. Crystal says:

    Can’t wait to take my boys to story time at Indy Reads Books. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. nicole says:

    my friends and i were trying to kill time downtown one night and they decided riding the elevator at the hyatt would be fun .. not so much! 🙂 i’m so scared of heights i was a party-pooper and sat in a chair on the first floor while they took their ride. my poor kids are going to be stuck with having a mom who’s scared of everything! 🙂 luckily their dad is all about stuff like that. 🙂

  9. Nicole says:

    A friend of mine from VA sent a link to your page because I live in Indy (well Fishers). Anyway I started a blog and facebook page (mostly for me to share with friends and family) that I thought you might want to follow. I post all sorts of local free events and kids eat free and anything that i do with my kids that i think others would like to know about. Feel free to check it out. p.s. there is WAY more on the fb page than the blog because I usually just click the share button 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/ChangingtheWorldPebblebyPebble

  10. Kelly says:

    Don’t forget– The Indianapolis art museum is free, and you can park for free if you don’t mind a short stroll. Every first Thursday of the month, the Indy children’s museum is free from 4-8 pm. You should also walk the canal, and there are free concerts every Saturday during the summer. Many fun festivals and fairs are about to start now that it is warm, and many museums are free to the public on certain holidays (Eiteljorg, state museum, etc.). In the circle center mall, there are many free concerts, and don’t forget to visit the area’s parks, many which are accessible from a free parking space. Finally, I suggest investing in a family pass for a year to the zoo, which costs as much as two visits for four.

  11. Angela says:

    My four year old and I did three of these today. It was a lot of fun and at 6pm she leaned over the ottoman and fell asleep! Thank you for the suggestions.

    1. Oh great! Thanks so much for the positive feedback – we can’t wait to repeat several of them again!

  12. Hannah B says:

    Ok. Now I am excited!! 🙂 I have a 3 yr old and 18 month old, and we are going to be spending a week in Indy in Nov, Dec, Jan, & Feb! It will be fun to check those out!! Thank you!

  13. Cheri says:

    Also, the Soldiers and Sailors monument on the circle has a Civil War museum in the basement that is free. Well worth the time to check it out.

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