Free and Cool (Cold, that is!) Places to Play in Indianapolis

free cool aircondition places play indy indianapolis hamiton county carmel johnson museum fun kids child moms
You’re hot and your kids are bored. You’ve exhausted the splash pad options but you don’t want to spend any money. Here it is. The list of free things to do. Inside. With kids. Think air conditioning and don’t break a sweat mom & dad! Don’t break the bank either! Did I mention they’re free?

  1. Check out an indoor play area and let the kids burn off steam while you stay cool. See our list of five free indoor play areas in Indy!
  2. Visit the mall, just for the play area. Castleton Square Mall (browse the American Girl store) and Greenwood Park Mall have spaces for young kids to play. Also, check out the fun family amenities at the Fashion Mall at Keystone. There’s always speed walking, people watching, or Christmas-list making to be done! You can also find a nice play area at local Chick-Fil-A restaurants and some McDonald’s locations.
  3. Many Indianapolis museums offer free admission (although donations are accepted.) Check out the Indiana State Police Museum, the Hamilton County Museum of History and Old Sheriff’s Residence and Jail, and the Carmel Fire Buffs and Fire Department Museum. You can see antique fans at the Fan Museum at Fanimation. Visit the Indiana War Memorial and Museum, or the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (but climbing this one will be HOT) and Civil War Museum. All. Free.
  4. Check out a new library. They’re not just for books anymore! Many local libraries have play areas for the younger set (check out Fishers and College Branch Indy). Most have computers and internet available, and they also have fantastic programing. From music classes to reading with therapy dogs to wild animal presentations to free family movie nights (and days) check out what the library has to offer your family. And if you haven’t been toCentral Library yet, please go!
  5. Visit the Humane Society ( or a pet store to visit the animals. My personal favorite of the stores for browsing is Uncle Bill’s in Carmel with a great selection of fish and many cats and dogs in accessible cages. They also open earlier than many locations which is great for long mornings with early risers!
  6. Visit a nature center. Cool Creek Nature Center in Carmel and Holliday Park Nature Center offer free and interesting activities for kids of all ages.
  7. Get your art on! Visit the Indianapolis Art Center or the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s free to explore the exhibits. You never know what you might find!
  8. Take advantage of a museum free day. The Indiana History center is free on Thursdays during the outdoor concert series (but you can hang out inside until 8pm). Visit the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on the first Thursday of each month for Target Free Family Night from 4-8 pm. The Eiteljorg Museum is free on the first Tuesday of every month. See this list for additional free days at area attractions.
  9. Get the kids bowling! offers children two free games of bowling a day through August 30th.
  10. Take advantage of shops that have play areas and explore without giving up your hard earned cash. Barnes and Noble bookstores have children’s areas with legos, train tables, and other kids’ activities (depending on the store). Mr. Muffin’s Trains in Carmel has an extensive collection of model trains which will impress locomotive lovers young and old (they are running trains on July 23rd and 30th — after that they’ll be moving to Atlanta, Indiana). Mass Ave. Toys will keep you entertained while you try out all sorts of neat play things, and my husband always enjoys checking out the gadgets at Brookstone or the Microsoft store in the Fashion Mall.

We want to know where you’re staying cool while having fun. Connect with us on Twitter & Instagram and share your photos using #PLAYindy
free cool aircondition places play indy indianapolis hamiton county carmel johnson museum fun kids child moms

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