Indianapolis is a bustling and ever-growing family-friendly destination. A three-hour car ride is all that stands between Chicago families and a long weekend of getting to know and love Indy.
Do it for the ‘gram!
Share your photo on Instagram using the #LoveIndy hashtag.
When you get into town, book your stay at Crowne Plaza Indianapolis-Downtown-Union Station (123 W. Louisiana), home to the first Union Station in the world. Your choo-choo-obsessed kids won’t believe they’ll actually be sleeping in an authentic Pullman train car.
Conveniently connected to Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indianapolis Convention Center, and just a few blocks from downtown Indy, you’ll be in a prime location to easily access restaurants, entertainment, shopping centers and more.
A short walk from Crowne Plaza is Rhythm! Discovery Center (110 W. Washington). This hidden gem (you’ll find it tucked away on the lower level of Circle Centre Mall) is a hands-on, music-making wonderland. Find the beat and feel the vibrations of drums–big and small–from around the world and learn about their evolution over time. Best of all, you can be as loud as you want, so it’s a great opportunity to get out wiggles and shouts after the ride from Chicago.
About 25 minutes away, in Zionsville, Trader’s Point Creamery (9101 Moore Road) offers a truly unique family experience. The operating organic dairy farm and artisan creamery produces 100 percent grassfed products, including beef, milk, yogurt and some of the creamiest ice cream you’ll ever taste. Schedule a tour to explore the pastures and make sure to find time for a live cow milking demo (evenings only).
For dinner, The Loft Restaurant, is an exquisite example of farm-to-table dining. Housed in an on-site barn, originally built in the 1860’s and beautifully restored, it’s a perfect landscape to enjoy locally-sourced and seasonally-inspired dishes. The staff is wonderful, knowledgeable and will make you and your littles feel right at home (Even filter-less four-year-olds who can’t stop talking about cow poop.). If you can, request a table near the cheese cave for a glimpse at the aging process. Also because, cheese.
Begin the day at the Indianapolis Zoo (1200 W. Washington). The small-but-mighty attraction (64 acres, compared to Brookfield’s 216) packs a ton of fun into an easily accessible space. Highlights include coming face-to-face with orangutans and watching them swing freely high above your head, hand feeding giraffes, seeing elephants and wandering through the beautiful White River Gardens, a three-acre botanical garden dreamland.
Head back midday for naptime and a dip in the Crowne Plaza indoor pool, then make your way to downtown Indy for a soulful dinner at Georgia Reese’s Southern Table& Bar (14 E. Washington) You may go there for the food (Alligator bites are a must-try!) but you’ll stay for the music. Live musicians play smooth jazz while you dine. And here’s a fun fact for football fans: the restaurant is owned by former Indianapolis Colts linebacker, Gary Brackett, and is named after his daughter.
Monument Circle is the center hub of downtown Indy. Make a quick stop at The South Bend Chocolate Company (30 Monument Circle) for dessert and enjoy it while you people watch on the steps on the Soldiers’& Sailors’ monument.
Before heading back to the hotel, snap a photo at the “ndy” sculpture on the corner of Washington and Meridian streets (You become the “I”.) and share it on Instagram using the #LoveIndy hashtag.
Grab breakfast at Milktooth (534 Virginia Ave.), a short 5-minute drive from Crowne Plaza in the historic Fletcher Place neighborhood. The vibrant local favorite doesn’t accept reservations so head there early to avoid a wait. (Heads up for picky eaters: They also don’t accept substitutions.)
The part-diner, part-farmstyle kitchen eatery gives off a quirky vibe with it’s off-the-wall decor and mix-and-match furniture, but the overall atmosphere is warm and friendly. The menu–lovingly crafted by Indiana native, chef Jonathan Brooks–features fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and an extensive coffee list. Don’t leave without trying a dutch baby pancake (toppings change seasonally) and a cup of coldbrew.
Post-breakfast, devote the rest of your day to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (3000 N. Meridian St.). Not only will you need that time to make your way through all five floors of the world’s largest children’s museum, you’ll want every minute you can get.
Dale Chihuly’s ‘Fireworks of Glass’ sculpture (stunning!) and the 30-foot-tall water clock are sites to behold, but the real draw for families are the world-class exhibits. From journeying through modern day China and traveling back 77 million years to the days of dinosaurs, to a sensory-rich area for babies and toddlers, there’s something for kids and adults of all ages to enjoy.