FREE Places to Play in Indy

A day off! You plan to tackle that pile of laundry and those long neglected dishes. Yet, they’ve already fought over the remote, campaigned for donuts, and have lasted all of 10 minutes with the paints or play-do sat out for them. You look at the clock. What? It’s not even 9:00 am yet? “Kids, get your shoes. Let’s go DO something.”

But the problem is this:  Where? Sometimes finding a new adventure that breaks the mold but not the bank can be a challenge. The next time you’re on the hunt for a budget-friendly, family-friendly outing, try one of these Indianapolis favorites

Central Library – The children’s area of the downtown Central Library has long been a favorite for my kids. The interactive green and computers loaded with games keep my boys entertained for hours. My daughter prefers to curl up with a good book in one of their pod chairs by the windows. Farther than you want to drive? Check out a local library in a neighboring town. We love our local library’s play area, but sometimes we visit other libraries just to enjoy different activities that our library doesn’t offer. (Note: The collections at Central have been moved in 2017 to better serve the patrons, so your favorite books or movies may be in a different place. Make an adventure out of this and explore something new!)

Monon Trail – We have been parents in this city for over 12 years. While Indy has many destinations that our kids request again and again, with three kids of such varied ages, we have to re-think how we spend our time at some of these destinations. Recently we sat out on the Monon Trail but, this time, we equipped each of the kids with a camera enabled device with the charge to photograph anything that captured their interest. It was fascinating to see the same short walk from 5 such varied perspectives.

Indianapolis Arts Center Grounds – Have you ever explored the gardens behind the Indianapolis Art Center on the north side of Broad Ripple Village? The sculptures, landscaping, and, our personal favorite, the “upside down house” provide a perfect back drop for hide and go seek and imaginative play. It’s one of our favorite places for a Friday night pizza picnic.


100 Acre Woods – Just down the hill to the west is the Indianapolis Art Museum’s art park. The easy walking trails lead you to various permanent exhibits that are fun for the whole family to explore.


Soldiers and Sailors Monument – Need to wear out energetic kids? Try the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The steps, giant statues, and a handful of pennies for the fountains outside the monument might be enough to intrigue your little ones. If your kids need an extra challenge, the 300+ stair climb to the top is an aerobic workout for all and the views at the top are totally worth it. Not interested in a 600 steps? There’s also an elevator that gets you almost to the top for $1 per person. Check out the free war museum in the basement of the monument before you head home.

Book Stores –  Often stocked with much more than just books, local book stores often offer a fun family stop when you’re out and about.

Indy Reads Books – Check out their “Paws to Read” events every first and third Saturday.

Have you tried the child-centric Kids Ink on Illinois Street? The ladies in there are always spot-on with their book recommendations.

Is there a Barnes and Noble near you? When they were younger, our kids loved their train table and little stage for pretend performances.

What are your favorite free places to play? Share below!

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