As a mom of four kids, with one on the way, I know how hard it can be at times to find places to go that are fun, convenient, and don’t break the bank! Individual admission into attractions and events can get expensive quickly when you have so many people to pay for! I was born and raised in Indianapolis, and then moved back here with my husband to start a family. My mom also raised five kids here in Indy, and I’ve taken a few tricks from her playbook for successful family outings.
M.E.L.S at the Starlight Drive- In Theater is a great place to take the family this summer! Located in Thorntown, right outside of Lebanon, its an easy 30-60 minute drive from the Indianapolis area depending on where you are coming from! The admission is $25 per car load, and includes two movies! There are concessions on site, including your traditional popcorn, soda, and candy, as well as sandwiches and other dinner items. Established in 1946, this is a long time favorite and a local small business that is well loved! You should definitely add this to your list this summer!
Looking for a more movie options? Check out our list of free and cheap summer movies for kids!
State and City Parks
Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park is the perfect activity for an entire day of family fun! It is conveniently located on the Northside of Indianapolis, and open year round! Admission is $7 for Indiana licensed vehicles, and $9 for out of state plates. That admission will get you access to multiple hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, a dog park and more! For additional fees you can also access fishing, horse back riding, boating, and many more activities. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy, and you can spend the entire day there without burning a hole in your wallet!
Do you find it hard to go out to eat without spending a hundred dollars? We’ve been there! Our boys eat so much food, and our two-year-old daughter has a hefty appetite of her own! Chile Verde off of 75th street and Shadeland Avenue has a wonderful Mexican lunch buffet every day (including weekends!) from 11 am-4 pm and it is only $7.99 per person. They offer an impressive spread of food and selections, at a price you can afford! If Mexican food isn’t your thing, there is also an awesome Pizza Buffet at Mama Nita’s that is offered at lunch and dinner! They are conveniently located in Greenfield, Fishers, and New Palestine, and are locally owned and family operated. The pricing is $5.99 for the lunch buffet, $7.49 for dinner, and $3.99 for ages 4-10 all day long. They make the deal even sweeter on Tuesdays, offering a special kids eat free promotion with the purchase of an adult buffet!
Summer Bowling for Kids
Have you ever signed up for free summer bowling? It’s a great way to build in some fun family time. At participating locations, children receive two free games of bowling daily, all summer long! Our family lives in Fishers, so we participate in the program at Pinheads. However, there are multiple locations throughout the city, and many even offer a discounted bowling pass for parents that works all summer also! We love to go on a really hot or rainy day, to get a break from the weather and enjoy each other! To find the most convenient bowling center location, and to register your children, go to www.kidsbowlfree.com/.
Find a summer bowling location near you!
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Who doesn’t love a great baseball game? One of our very favorite family activities is going to an Indianapolis Indians game. When you think sports, you think expensive, however there are ways to get more for your money! The lawn seats are only $8 for children, $9 for adults, and 2 and under are free! If you go to a Sunday home game, every child 14 and under receives a voucher for a free hot dog, chips, and water bottle, plus you can bring your own coolers and snacks to have a picnic on the lawn! Sunday is also when they host character meet and greets! Paw Patrol, Daniel Tiger, and other characters will be at Sunday home games this season. If you would prefer to go during the week, Tuesday home games are 2-for-1 Tuesdays. Visit any McAlister’s Deli in Indianapolis, to pick up a voucher for buy one seat, get one free! This promotion can also be redeemed online for advanced seating using the unique code on the back of each voucher.
I know it can be so stressful to plan and budget for family fun, especially when you have multiple children to pay for. These activities are kid tested and approved, and my bank account thanks me too! I love that Indianapolis has so many fun places to make memories with your family. Feel free to share all of your family adventures with us using the hashtag #PLAYIndy, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!