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The best of Indianapolis for free this weekend

Looking for a quick-get-out-of-town weekend trip before the holidays really leave you frazzled and not break the budget? Indianapolis, just three hours from Chicago, is worth a visit, especially this time of year. Its best attractions, including The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and NCAA Hall of Champions, have teamed up to offer 12 free days Christmas beginning this week.

To get the most out of your “free” weekend, visit this weekend, Dec. 17-20. Other days’ offerings can be found at visitindy.com/12free.

While there, be sure not to miss the city’s Circle of Lights, which features 26 large toy soldiers and sailors, 26 peppermint sticks, 52 garland strands with 4,784 colored lights from the top of the Soliders& Sailors Monument and 90,000 lights along the walkways.

Begin your visit Friday, when from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., you can experience the holiday season in the 1875 home of 23rd President Benjamin Harrison, featuring feather trees, Harrison family toys and ornaments, plus a replica of the first decorated White House Christmas tree. Finish the afternoon out with free skating at the Pepsi Coliseum, noon-2 p.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m. Skate rental is available. in.gov/statefair/fairgrounds/skating/.

On Saturday morning, get a jump-start with a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The museum, inside the famous Indy 500 2.5-mile oval track, features 75 automobiles and motorcycles.In the afternoon, 1-4 p.m., head out to the Indianapolis Airport, for a special holiday program, photo ops, activities, visits with celebrities and Santa. You might even win merchandise and trips.

On Sunday, head to the NCAA Hall of Champions from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Explore the 1930s’ retro gymnasium, interactive sport simulators, competitive gear used by student-athletes and more. The NCAA Hall of Champions is located in the White River State Park just north of the Indiana Convention Center.

You’ll be home before bedtime, with lots of new things to talk about with your kids.

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