Plan on spending your entire day at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. A family can easily spend a few hours inside the main museum and another three hours outside in the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. After all, it is the WORLD’S LARGEST CHILDREN’S MUSEUM !
Arriving at The Children’s Museum
Before you even park your car at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, you’ll get a sneak peek of what’s inside—just set your GPS to reach the museum via south-bound Meridian Street. On Meridian you’ll pass the Schaefer Planetarium and Space Object Theater complete with astronauts peeking in the dome’s window. Hook a right onto 30th Street and see the dinosaurs making a break from the DinosphereⓇ exhibit on the corner of 30th and Illinois streets. Heading north on Illinois, pass the main entrance complete with dinosaurs sneaking into the top of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The parking garage is on the west side of Illinois Street; drive under the skywalk, which is covered with bright, colorful advertisements for current and upcoming exhibits.
As you enter the FREE parking garage, an attendant will greet you with a daily schedule of special events and answer any quick parking questions you may have. The parking spaces are tight and there are a few ‘compact car’ spots along the curves.
Be mindful of the traffic pattern, the pedestrian walkways, and of course, watch out for little ones. Note that there are two exits from the garage so think about your next destination before you leave the garage—you will either have to head north on Illinois Street or west onto 30th Street, both are one-way streets.
The Skywalk to The Children’s Museum
After you park, head to the skywalk—access to the skywalk is on the second floor of the garage. There is a ramp from the top to the bottom of the garage along with a couple elevators to get you there. Take the ramp if you can. You will want an up-close look at the statue—it’s a massive 26-foot tall statue of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. It can be a bit intimidating for little ones but it’s really cool.
Enter the skywalk and check out the traffic below. To the north you can scope out all the awesome outdoor sport options at the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends ExperienceⓇ. To the south, grab a closer view of those sneaky dinos entering the lobby windows.
There is a street-level crosswalk but for safety concerns—and for the really cool view—we recommend entering the museum from the skywalk. If the parking garage is full, or if you prefer, there is a surface lot just to the north of the garage entrance and exit, also on Illinois Street. If both the garage and Water Clock surface lot are full, attendants will guide you to the overflow parking lot. There will likely be an attendant to help you cross the busy street if the surface lot is being used for overflow parking.
Admission to The Children’s Museum
Once you are in the main building your kids will want to run down the wide ramp in anticipation of what’s to come. Before you head into the actual museum, there is a branch of the Indianapolis Public Library called infoZone. Museum admission is not needed to enjoy this 3000 square foot space. infoZone features early learning computers, interactive features, children’s programming, and an expansive book selection (books can be returned at any Indianapolis Public Library location).
Continue down the ramp to the ticket counter, seasonal displays, and more. Staff are usually stationed at the bottom of the ramp to greet you, offer a museum map, a guide of the daily schedules, and answer any questions you may have.
Personal Services at The Children’s Museum
Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Stroller rental, a coat check, and lockers are also available for an additional fee for you to stash your coats, bags, and whatever else you don’t want to lug around for hours. Compose yourself, use the restroom, fill your water bottle at the drinking fountain, and take in the fun features you’ll experience before you even get your tickets scanned! Check out the larger-than-life Bumblebee Transformer rotating in the middle of the entryway. He’s an actual prop from the movie Transformers!
After you have your tickets—purchase online or from the ticket counter—you have to decide if you want to visit the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends ExperienceⓇ indoor and outdoor exhibits or the primary museum first. Your ticket includes both experiences, but the entrances are separate; you will need your tickets for entry into both areas. Do not throw away or lose your tickets if you want to get from one side of the museum to the other. Tickets purchased online in advance can be scanned directly from your phone.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Museum entry turnstiles are just past the exit of The Museum Store. Have your tickets scanned and enter into the Sunburst Atrium where you can catch interactive shows from dinosaurs and superheroes, to sports and music. Check the daily schedule to see what’s happening that day. Check the time on the two-story Water Clock—try to catch it when the hour changes; it’s really cool to see the water empty into the basin.
The Café at The Children’s Museum
The Café offers a variety of sweet and savory treats. The café is completely nut-free which is comforting to those with peanut and tree nut allergies. Patrons are allowed to bring in their own food though, so be mindful that there is still a possibility of those allergens on the premises.
The DinosphereⓇ is just to the right of the café. Stairs heading to the second floor are behind the water clock and you will find a few sets of elevators just past the atrium. Another option is to take the four story ramp up or down as it circles the Fireworks of Glass installation.
What’s on Level Two of The Children’s Museum
The second level is home to the rotating exhibits. With the DinosphereⓇ temporarily closed, the museum has invited a few prehistoric friends to hang out for a bit. Patrons can get their dinosaur fix by checking out “Bucky” the teenage t-rex (on display through mid-September 2021) and Dracorex hogwartsia.
Also, on the second floor you’ll find seasonal exhibits. In years past you could find themes like DC Superheroes, a circus big top, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pirates & Princesses, a Weather themed exhibit and more. There is usually an exhibit for the toddler-preschool set like Dora the Explorer, author and artist Mo Williams, and Paw Patrol. In the fall and winter these rotating exhibits leave to make way for the Haunted House and Jolly Days, and then new exhibits are installed after the New Year.
Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience
Kids and adults alike will love walking through the history of the Barbie doll, finding inspiration for their own future dream jobs and interacting with things like flying an airplane, rock climbing, or surfing. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has had other fun and interactive experiences in this area throughout the years; we can’t wait to see what comes next!
You can find a lot of MARVEL and DC comics in the American POP exhibit. American POP showcases pop culture from movies and television to comics and fashion. Browse the displays and see if your favorite childhood toy is featured. Relive some fantastic or horrible fashions of the past and reminisce with music and movie memorabilia. American POP also has a little play table with Little People type toys for toddlers to play with.
Take Me ThereⓇ: Greece
In 2009 this exhibit started as Take Me ThereⓇ: Egypt and transformed into Take Me ThereⓇ: China in 2014. Take Me ThereⓇ: Greece opened in 2019. Hop on an airplane and see your destination from the plane windows as you make your descent. Step into the homes of Greek families and learn about their daily lives. Buy food in the market and order Greek food at a restaurant. Learn about sea turtle conservation. Kids and families can fish, bottle olive oil, shop, celebrate, and learn about Greek culture.
Stories from our Community
The Art of Protest
This is a new exhibit expected to be here until 2023. Hear stories from local Black artists, learn about their lives and discover how they came together to create a colorful mural in Indianapolis during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Also on the second floor, a temporary exhibit featuring the work of local artist Nancy Noel will open Nov. 13, 2021. Over decades, Noel sold millions of prints, published eight books, and created more than 1,000 original works. Her paintings hang in the homes of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Robert Redford. Check out her beautiful pieces and learn more about this Zionsville mother who recently lost her battle with cancer.
What’s on Level 3 of The Children’s Museum
The Power of ChildrenⓇ
This exhibit is recommended for ages 8 and up as some topics can be sensitive. Visit Ann Frank’s attic, Ruby Bridges’ school room, Ryan White’s bedroom, and Malala Yousafzai’s home. Step into their worlds and experience the challenges that these influential children faced at such a young age.
See and hear Anne Frank’s story—how she and her family occupied their time, what it felt like to be in hiding that long, and how her writing continues to make an impact.
Hear Ruby Bridges’ story—how she felt being the first Black student to integrate into an all-white school, what public reaction was to her being at that school, and how her teacher and classmates responded to the new girl.
In the early 80s, there was a lot of fear and misinformation surrounding AIDS. Ryan White was chastised by classmates and even kicked out of school. Learn about how he contracted the disease through a medical procedure and how he fought to return to school. Step into his bedroom and see how he lived his short life.
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is the fourth child featured and the most recent addition to The Power of Children exhibit. Malala is a Pakistani activist for female education. Learn about her life, the challenges she faced as she attempted to get an education, and the positive impact she continues to have around the world.
PlayscapeⓇ is a special area reserved for kids 5 and under. Park your stroller outside the entrance and prepare for fun. As you enter, you will find restrooms, drinking fountains, and mother nursing rooms, complete with changing tables on the left.
To the right, after you enter, is “block-opolis.” Here they have some large Duplo-like blocks and soft blocks to build with. Practice counting with your little one and see how tall they can build a block tower.
The pond is a multi-level water table with a waterfall and plenty of water toys to choose from. Paper towels are available to dry off.
The sensory world in babyscape is perfect for the little ones. There’s a soft padded area for crawling babies and there are ramps, steps and “logs” for toddlers to discover and test their skills. A favorite activity in the babyscape area is light switches that little ones can flip on and off and light up little birds on the wall (because we know babies like to play with light switches).
There are two huge sandboxes that offer children a way to uncover some hidden treasures. Lots of shovels and toys will occupy the little diggers.
Daily, PlayscapeⓇ has creative programming and story time in the art studio. Check the schedule for all the daily activities. The art studio is closed unless there is special programming scheduled. The music studio is temporarily closed as a COVID safety precaution.
What’s on Level Four of The Children’s Museum
Corteva Agriscience ScienceWorks
Discover how rivers flow through Indiana when the kids play on the giant water table. Learn about levees and dams, and have children create their own waterway systems to transport boats.
See how weather stations work and create a forecast using Doppler radar and even test the water quality in the pond. Can you find the fish, the frogs, and the turtles?
You can “drive” a John Deere combine through a cornfield, check your seeds, and then see how your crops are growing. You can also check your soybean crops for caterpillars with an interactive, instructional video.
See if you can figure out what the critter is under the house. The plumbing needs work in the bathroom; put together the pipes so they fit tight.
Climb the hillside. See how old rocks are like limestone and discover what critters live underground. Discover how caves are formed and who lives in them.
There is also a short play table for little ones to drive toy tractors along.
Slow down and examine these intricate setups. There are many “hide-and-seek” clues in the Mini Masterpiece collection of miniature rooms. Design your own room when you get creative with the interactive computer. Use elements from different design eras. Email your masterpiece to yourself when you’re done.
Carousel Wishes and Dreams
Check yourself out in the wobbly, fun-house mirrors before you enter the Mirror Maze. The maze has several escape routes if it’s over stimulating or the kids get scared. Take a break from the maze and sip tea with a family of bears. Don’t miss the huge kaleidoscope.
Behind the maze is an arcade full of nostalgic puzzles and games. Adults and big kids love playing vintage video games.
Adjacent to the arcade is a great spot for littles to burn some energy. Kids can climb, crawl and slide in the play area. Serve ice cream from the retro diner or play in the tree house. Don’t miss the topiaries along the benches; they are so cute.
The feature of this area is the Carousel. Originally located in Broad Ripple Park, the Carousel was salvaged and rehabilitated for the top floor of The Children’s Museum. It is a favorite stop for young and old alike. Rides are free for members, otherwise it’s one dollar per person over the age of 2. You have the option to clean your animal before you get on it if you would like. The last ride is 15 minutes before closing every day.
What’s on the Lower Level of The Children’s Museum
DinosphereⓇ is closed until March 2022 while the museum makes some major upgrades, but you can find various dinosaur fossils scattered throughout the museum. We can’t spoil all the surprises but we’re sure you’re going to love it.
Before construction started you could examine a t-rex bone on a huge sliding x-ray.
Read the signage along the perimeter of the Creatures of the Cretaceous experience and note which of the displayed dinosaur bones are real and which bones are replicas to complete the model.
Immerse yourself in the exhibit as the incoming rainstorm lights up the sky. There is a warning sign “sound and light immersion experience” so visitors can avoid the “storm” if they’d like.
Visit with paleontologists as they continue to discover more about these fascinating creatures.
Different touch screens throughout the Dinosphere allow guests to learn about specific bones with educational quizzes and useful tidbits of knowledge. Test your sense of smell, dig for fossils and more.
For the train-loving kids of all ages, All Aboard! features big trains, small trains, real trains, and toy trains. Check out the most powerful locomotive in the world at the time, the Reuben Wells—straight from Madison, Indiana. Transport back to the 1890s when you buy a ticket and hop on the train for a quick ride through the countryside. Step inside a huge mini-model train set up, play with toy trains, operate control lights and signals on the tracks, and design your own railroad on a computer.
National Geographic Treasures of the Earth
Three different experiences await you in the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth exhibit. Don’t miss the lab where actual archeologists are working to uncover some of the Earth’s secrets.
Dive deep into the Valley of the Kings and discover hidden mysteries as you crawl through a tunnel behind the tomb. Help solve the mummy’s identity. Explore Egyptian wall etchings and put a sarcophagus back together.
Captain Kidd’s Shipwreck
Discover shipwrecked items and watch scientists uncover treasures pulled from the depths of the ocean off the coast of the Dominican Republic. Read old maps and help excavate an underwater site.
Head to China and stand with an army of recreated Terra Cotta Warriors. Piece together the broken pieces and learn about these ancient artifacts.
Enjoy live stage performances that will engage the whole family while bringing familiar stories to life. Productions change throughout the year. These short, family-friendly shows are a great way to introduce youngsters to live theater.
Beyond Spaceship Earth
Each section offers something for the whole family. Kids and adults will enjoy learning about NASA’s Project Mercury program, which sent the first Americans into space, to the International Space Station, seeing actual artifacts from space and catching up on space travel history.
International Space Station
You can hear Indianapolis born astronaut, David Wolf, talk about what they eat and drink, and how they stay fit in space. See how they grow food and conduct scientific experiments. Learn about the mechanics of a spaceship and space walking. Test your skills at different interactive activities.
Schaefer Planetarium & Space Objects Theater
In an immersive sound and light experience, hear from original Star Trek cast member, George Takei (Sulu), on how pop culture has predicted our current technology. Check out a small exhibit featuring artifacts and costumes from different movies like Star Trek and Star Wars along with the Buck Rogers, War of the Worlds, and different memorabilia. Entry into the presentation is included with museum admission. Check your daily schedule for specific times.
Astronaut wall of fame
Explore artifacts and get to know the astronauts and other scientists from the Hoosier state who have impacted space exploration.
Fireworks of glass
Artist Dale Chihuly created over 3,ooo pieces of colorful glass for this 5 story, can’t-miss display. The base of the artwork sits at the ground floor of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Visitors will find a few interactive plastic “glass” pieces to create their own original Chihuly works of art. You will also find smaller pieces of Chihuly art on this ground floor alcove. Kids can virtually learn about glass blowing on available consoles. Fireworks of Glass makes a really cool backdrop for fun photo ops as well.
Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends ExperienceⓇ
From the first floor of the main entrance head to the North, away from the Box Office. The Sports Legends Experience has its own entry gate. There are three indoor exhibits and an entire days’ worth of outdoor fun ahead.
Baseball Boundary Breakers (Indoor)
This special exhibit opened in the summer of 2021. Hear the stories of incredible athletes who faced adversity and discrimination, yet were able to succeed at the highest levels of America’s pastime. Check out historical objects, interactive experiences,and biographical stories of these boundary breakers..
The World of Sport (Indoor)
Step into a variety of sports as the athlete, the sportscaster, or the announcer calling the plays. Check out local memorabilia. Record yourself calling a big moment from a historic game from the press box. Grab your team for a larger-than-life table hockey game. Practice your basketball pass and take a shot. Sit at the news desk and record yourself reporting the sports news. Get in the pit stop and change a tire on a replica Nascar racecar and so much more.
National Art Museum of Sport (indoor)
Sculpt, draw, design, and soak in the beauty of paintings, drawings, and other pieces from moments of sports history documented throughout time.
Outdoor Exhibits (Open May-October)
Immerse yourself in all things sports! Kids and parents alike can participate in ten different sports with equipment and challenges for all ages and abilities. Sports-themed music plays throughout the experience on the speakers from popular movies throughout history. Each sport includes fun signage sharing equipment and safety gear used in that sport and great fast facts to teach the basics. The staff that works in each sport offers skills clinics once a day staggered throughout the day.
As you make your way to the back of the experience you realize you’re on the Old National Bank Avenue of Champions. Pass by statues of sports legends all with ties to Indiana.
The Children’s Museum Guild’s Fantasy Tree House of Sports
This is a 25ft-high treehouse with multiple levels to climb, a couple slides, a net to climb and lots of different viewpoints. There is an elevator for all accessibility. See if you can identify all the sporty items the tree is made of. Grown-ups, there is plenty of room to climb with the kiddos!
Church Brothers Collision Repair Drag Strip Experience
Bicycle pedal these “cars” as fast as you can and see which of the four race cars will get the checkered flag. You can find First Aid and a restroom here at the drag race entrance. Closed toe shoes are required for drivers.
Replica of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pagoda
In between the Drag Strip and the Oval Track is a small scale replica of the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pagoda. Sit inside a racecar and snap some fun photos in the winner’s circle.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pedal Car Racetrack Experience
Race a pedal car around the Oval Track and try to claim the checkered flag! Ask to wave the checkered flag if you’re not competing. Closed toe shoes are required for drivers.
The Pete and Alice Dye Golf Experience presented by Henry and Christine Camferdam
Head over to the golf pavilion and perfect your putt. Find the right-sized club based on your height and pick from any four courses. Mini golf courses range from toddler to more experienced, professional level mini golfers. Little inspirational signage along each hole helps keep attitudes positive. Two of the nine-hole courses are mini replicas of famous golf courses around the world that were designed by Pete and Alice Dye.
The Seymour and Rheta Holt Tennis Center
In Tennis, you can choose from four different sized rackets and three different-sized courts. Standard-sized rackets are great for adults and smaller-sized rackets are perfect for small kids. Check out the half court option and try hitting the ball against a wall instead of to another player across the net.
Indy Fuel Hockey Experience
In Hockey, you can shoot the puck into different sized goals. Drop the puck and play a half-rink game, or go full-size if nobody else is there. Can you score a hat trick?
SubwayⓇ Soccer Experience
On the Soccer field, you can practice your shot, work on your dribble, pass to your teammates, and see if you can score a goal.
Wiese Field donated by Elizabeth Bracken Weise and J. Frederic Wiese Jr.
Baseball is fun for different skill levels, too. They have a tee for the little ones or feel free to pitch the ball yourself to the kids. Work on your form and hit it out of the park. The balls are lightweight and shouldn’t hurt if someone gets tagged with a wild pitch or a fly ball.
Indianapolis Colts Football Experience
Football is all about the Indianapolis Colts, of course! Punt, pass, catch and kick like a pro. Run routes and catch the ball from dad or pass the ball to #13 himself, T.Y. Hilton. Kick the ball through the uprights; they have a big and little option.
Jane and Steve Marmon Run-Walk Experience
Along the outskirts of the outdoor experience you’ll find a track with a walking path and a running path, along with different exercise options along the way. This 1/10 mile track is littered with fitness challenges like a long jump, stationary bikes, shoulder wheels and air skiers. Train your core muscles. Learn how exercise can improve heart health and reduce stress.
Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever Basketball Experience
Take the passing challenge with the Indiana Fever. Shoot hoops at different basket heights, the smallest size is perfect for toddlers, older kids will have fun perfecting their layups on the and big kids (aka grown-ups ) will feel right at home on the full size hoops. Hit the button to start the clock and have your own free throw, shot clock shoot out.
Outdoor Restrooms & Concessions
Restrooms are on the east side of the building between Golf and the baseball diamond. Restrooms have changing tables in both men’s and women’s, and also a dispensary if you need to buy Chapstick or ibuprofen. Additional restrooms are inside the main entrance next to the Baseball Boundary Breakers exhibit.
The concession stand is next to the baseball stadium with the Dippin’ Dots, slices of cheese and pepperoni pizza, hot pretzels, walking tacos, pulled barbecue pork sandwiches, uncrustable sandwiches, cotton candy, chips; typical things you would find in a ballpark concession stand. Gatorade and bottled water are also available for purchase. This is the only place that offers a peanut product on the museum grounds and it’s the uncrustable kind, but because they’re individually packaged it is said to be safe. There is no cross contamination to worry about. Just a heads-up if you have a peanut allergy.
You will find friendly reminders to stay hydrated throughout the park. Drinking fountains and water bottle fill stations are scattered throughout. Due to COVID-19 the drinking fountains are closed and only the water bottle fill stations are available.
Restrooms can be found throughout the museum. They are complete with changing tables and many are “family” style. Water bottle fill stations are nearby.
Throughout the museum you will find special, interactive shows scheduled throughout the day. For example; in Take Me ThereⓇ: Greece, visitors can learn traditional Greek dances. Refer to the handy schedule you were given upon your entrance and plan your museum route accordingly as there is limited room and it is first come first served. Daily schedules are also posted within each exhibit.
All levels of the museum are available by ramps or elevators. Most of the exhibits are accessible to everyone. Care providers are offered a complimentary ticket to assist their paying guest. Service dogs are allowed per the ADA policies. Check the website for up to date policies on masks and COVID restrictions.
Sensory maps are available for download prior to your arrival or you can pick one up at the concierge desk. The maps provide info about the upcoming exhibits including which may be sensory heavy or less stimulating. Check your map for indicators of loud noises, strong smells, bright or low light and various tactile opportunities LINK from their website. Quiet spaces are available; just ask staff.
Special Events at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Haunted House
This year’s haunted house is called The Frightful Frontier. It will be open from October 9-31. Round up the crew for a spook-tacular fright. Little ones and those that frighten easily may enjoy the “lights on” time slots. Do you dare to conquer the Frightful Frontier in the dark? Check the museum website for specific hours and ticket info.
Celebrate winter traditions in a very special, annual exhibit. The staircase at the main entrance transforms into a Yule Slide sledding hill. Visitors can meet and chat with Santa. There is a play area with ice castles to climb and slide, kids can brush and feed the reindeer, or go ice fishing. Check the museum website for Jolly Days hours.
The first Thursday night of each month guests can get in for only $6 a person. Check out the museum in the evening light and enjoy a potentially cooler visit to the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend’s Experience (May-October).
StarPoint Summer Camp
Kids 6-12 years old who are residents of the museum’s neighborhood are invited to experience this awesome educational camp. Choose from one week long sessions or attend them all. Themes vary for each week. Lunch and snacks are provided and summer camp is affordable for all. Check the museum website for more info.
Museum educators have an abundance of material for in person and virtual homeschool children. Material is “kit-based,” allowing students to get hands on both in person and virtually. Check out their website for more homeschool information.
Tips and Tricks for Visiting The Children’s Museum
It is highly recommended to purchase your tickets ahead of time. Military and Access Pass Card holders can get discounts on tickets. Buy tickets at least two weeks in advance and visitors can save up to 25%. Membership is available and special perks are offered to members only. Neighborhood residents living in one of the six surrounding neighborhoods, receive free memberships.
Hit the outdoor attractions early, like when they first open. Head to the very back and hit the race cars and Tree House before the lines get too long.
Slow down the day with a round of mini golf.
Wear comfy, closed-toed shoes. Adults get in on the action too; wear your gym shoes and be prepared for some family friendly competition.
Bring refillable water bottles.
Bring sunscreen if you plan on being outdoors.
Check their website for up-to-date information on any coronavirus health concerns, mask policies, and capacity limitations. Note that some exhibits may be temporarily closed or limited due to the coronavirus. The website also has sample itineraries for different age groups. This will help you decide what is appropriate for your kiddos and what you should check out.
Don’t forget to visit The Museum Store before you leave to pick up fun, educational and imagination sparking gear inspired by your day.
Voted “the best family museum in the county” by USA Today, one of the “10 best museums worth traveling for” by Trip Advisor and one the “top ten children’s museums” by Parents magazine. We can’t possibly tell you about all 130,000 artifacts and attractions this museum holds; you will have to make some of your own discoveries. Plan your next “yes day” at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis now!
3000 N. Meridian St