Growing up so close to Lake Michigan, I definitely took for granted the beautiful beaches and being able to play in the sand almost daily in the summertime. Now that I have little ones in Indy, I’m always looking for beaches and sand play areas for them in between vacations! They just love playing with sand and could do it for hours on end. Sometimes no beach is needed! Just some sand, buckets, and shovels!
Play in the Sand near Indy
Here are some places in Indy where you can play in the sand, whether on a beach or in a sandbox.
19777 Morse Park Lane, Noblesville
Located on Morse Reservoir in Noblesville, Morse Beach is the perfect destination for a beach day. The large sandy beach will provide for hours of sand castle building fun. The water is swimmable with a large roped off area on the lake. There are restrooms and a playground at the entrance to the beach. There is even a dock if you’re arriving via boat! Morse Beach is open daily from Noon to 6 pm. The admission fee is $4 for those 2 and older.
13358 Pennington Road, Fishers
Saxony Beach is a unique place to visit if you love a sandy beach and non-motorized water sports. The small 20-acre lake in Fishers has a 300-foot beach. It is surrounded by apartment buildings and Saxony Hall, a rentable event hall overlooking the beach. Edge Adventures rents kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and canoes right on the beach (next to the port-a-potty bathrooms). Saxony Beach is open daily from 11 am-7 pm. Admission is free for Fishers residents and $5 for non-residents.
11677 Towne Road, Carmel
Beautiful Coxhall Gardens in West Carmel is home to walking trails, a fishing pond, amphitheater, event center, and a children’s play area. In addition to a mini children’s village and natural playground, there is a large sand pit. Kids love kicking off their shoes and digging into the sand, building castles and moats. There is a restroom and parking adjacent to the children’s play area. Coxhall Gardens is open from dawn to dusk.
11675 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel
Founders Park on the east side of Carmel has a great sand play area that is right in the middle of their playground. It goes from one end of the park to the other with plenty of space to spread out. In addition to the park, there are walking trails, sports fields, picnic table shelters, restrooms, and a shower station to wash off the sand before getting into your car! Founders Park is open from dawn to dusk.
11171 Florida Road, Fortville
Fishers Agripark is a new 33-acre urban farm featuring public fields and gardens, animal encounters, and a children’s nature play area. The children’s area has a mud kitchen where kids can get imaginative and messy! There is also a giant sandbox with a tire climbing structure in the middle of it. Hours vary and they often close unexpectedly due to weather, but generally speaking they are open Tuesday and Wednesday 10 am-2 pm and Thursday through Sunday 10 am-6 pm.
13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers
There are so many things to do at Conner Prairie in Fishers! One activity my kids are always drawn to is the sand table area at the treehouse. After exploring the inside of the giant tree, kids love digging up treasures in the sand boxes. They have tools to use and hidden objects for kids to dig up and bury again. Conner Prairie hours vary by the season. Summer hours are Tuesday through Sunday 10 am-5 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door or reserve online to save $2 per ticket.
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
3000 N Meridian Street, Indianapolis
On the second floor of The Children’s Museum in downtown Indianapolis is Playscape, a special exhibit just for preschoolers aged 5 and under. A popular experience within Playscape is the sand table. There are two long tables set at different heights with chairs, scoops, shovels, spinning tables to pour sand on, and fossils to uncover with brushes. This is a great place to play with sand in an air conditioned space with family bathrooms, changing tables, and nursing rooms within a few feet. The Children’s Museum is open everyday in the spring and summer, and closed on Mondays in the fall and winter. Hours are 10 am-5 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door or you can save up to 25% by buying tickets in advance.
Smiley Indoor Playground
5729 E 86th Street, Indianapolis
Smiley Indoor Playground is is a 25,000 square-foot indoor playground in Castleton with a huge ball pit, jungle gym, trampolines, and arcade. On the interactive play side, there is a giant area filled with millions of grains of rice! The kids play with it as if it is sand, but it doesn’t stick to them! There are all kinds of trucks and sand toys to use or they can just swim around the pit! There is a café on site with food and drinks. Their hours vary and they sometimes close for birthday parties, but generally they open from 11 am-8 pm They are closed on Tuesdays and stay open later on the weekends. Tickets are sold by the hour and socks must be purchased and worn while playing. It’s pricey but I always find a discount with Groupon!
Don Challis Park
1100 S 9th Avenue, Beech Grove
Located in Beech Grove, Don Challis Park is a 14 acre park facility. It features a playground, sand volleyball court, picnic tables and shelter, restrooms, and an open lawn area. Kids love playing in the big open sandbox. Bring buckets, shovels, funnels, and sifters for hours of sand play! Don Challis Park is open from dawn to dusk.
White River at the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple
820 E 67th Street, Indianapolis
At the intersection of the White River and the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple you will find a bridge that overlooks the river. On either side of the bridge you can wander all the way down to the river to throw rocks, wade in the water, and play with the rock/dirt mixture. If you park near the Indianapolis Art Center, you can walk right down to the river or you can cross the bridge to hike down through the woods. My kids love grabbing the sand and letting it fall through their fingers as the water washes it away. As a bonus, there are also a lot of shells they can collect if they’re into that! Afterwards, grab a bite to eat in downtown Broad Ripple!
Other Ways to Play with Sand
When heading out for sand play, I always prepare by packing extra clothes to change into, a towel to dry off or wipe sand off with, and sand toys such as cups, buckets, shovels, funnels, toy trucks, and sifters.
If you are unable to travel to a beach or sandbox, there are options for sand play at home. You can purchase a small sandbox and fill it with sand purchased from Lowe’s, grains of rice, or kinetic sand.
Sand is an excellent sensory material for young children to explore. Whether on the beach or in a sandbox, be prepared to stay for a while as your kids create and experiment with sand play!