Searching for “airplane watching near me?” I know first-hand how much kids — and adults — love the thrill of watching airplanes take off and land.
After I buckled everyone into their car seats one day, my three-year-old informed me, “Mommy, we want to go on an airplane.”
I had no idea where that thought came from. We’ve traveled plenty with our children and airplane rides occur several times yearly. But that day it was a direct request and said in such a way that it made me think that the three kids had been discussing this before presenting their request to me.
Airplane Activities Kids Love — Without Leaving Indy
Airplane travel just wasn’t in the plans that day. Instead, we hit the pavement in the “mommy bus” and found some places to fill their airplane craving. And let’s face it — if we’d really hopped on a plane, they’d be screaming to get off of the airplane by the time we took off.
We love watching airplanes take off and land. Even the whole taxiing thing is pretty cool to see. If your kids are equally aviation-obsessed, here are some great airplane activities near Indy for you to try.
Airplane Watching Near Me
Indianapolis International Airport Civic Plaza
My children enjoy seeing the luggage loaded onto the bottom of the plane, the mechanics working on the airplanes, and the general business of the airport.
The best place to see this happen is at the Civic Plaza at the Indianapolis Airport. You’ll pay a small fee for parking but there’s plenty of space for kids to explore and often there are some great photo ops and art to look at. Enjoy a snack or cup of coffee while you look out the giant windows. Watch as large passenger jets are loaded, unloaded, and prepared for flight.
Best Views of Take Off and Landing
If you want to watch airplanes take off and land from your car in Indianapolis, the best spaces are at the Indianapolis International Airport’s cell phone lot (free) and in parking lots located on West Washington Street, but you might not be permitted to stay long. You can also check out the top level of the parking structure.
Experienced airplane watcher, Laura Dunham says, “Pack a picnic and hang out at the park at Eagle Creek airport – you can want them taxi, land, and take off right next to you.”
Blackerby’s Hangar 5 Restaurant
4770 Ray Boll Blvd., Columbus
You’ll find Blackerby’s Hangar 5 in Columbus, which is a manageable one-hour drive from Indianapolis. This diner is located at the Columbus Municipal Airport. Restaurant guests get a front-row seat of all the airport comings and goings from the comfort of their tables. Long glass windows stretch the length of the dining room and look over the runway, so you should have a steady stream of planes to watch as you nosh on classic breakfast or lunch diner delicacies.
Also at the Columbus Municipal Airport is the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum. Get a close-up view of preserved military aircraft from WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War on display at this free, volunteer-run museum.
Watch Model Airplanes
Radio-controlled airplanes are a big deal. Indianapolis has several fields nearby that are designed with runways for these planes to take off and land. Here are some nearby airfields for remote-controlled planes.
Airplane-Themed Experiences and Activities
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – Take Me There
3000 N Meridian Street, Indianapolis
If your kids are more interested in the travel aspect of flying than the actual airplane, you can always head to the Children’s Museum for a simulated international vacation. Hop aboard the pretend jet plane and feel the excitement of take-off as you watch the city grow smaller beneath you on the screen outside your window. After your “flight,” explore the homes, businesses, animals, and culture of another country. The Take Me There exhibit has featured Greece for several years now but has taken visitors to China and Egypt in the past.
Grissom Air Museum
1000 West Hoosier Blvd, Peru
A little over an hour north of downtown Indy, in the city of Peru, is the Grissom Air Museum. See dozens of historic Cold War-era aircraft up close and learn how they were used in the past. Guests are invited to climb the guard tower on-site, experience a flight simulator, and maybe even climb in the cockpit of one of the planes. Please note that the planes are outdoors, so plan your visit around the weather! The museum is open daily during the summer, but dates and hours are more limited between Labor Day and Memorial Day.
111 E 16th St, Indianapolis
You won’t find any real airplanes here, but this themed ice cream shop is sure to thrill any aviation fan. The shop’s owner and founder is passionate about aviation, as well as youth mentorship and entrepreneurship, and the shop promotes both of these values. From the store’s decor to the names of the ice cream flavors to the name of the shop itself, everything here is airplane-themed!