Written By Erin Dague
Pack your bags, grab the kids, and hit the road for the perfect family day trip to Columbian Park Zoo! Nestled just an hour northwest of Indianapolis in Lafayette, you will find a zoo that has something for all ages, and the best part about it, is free admission! That’s right, free admission, and free parking, makes this a low cost and socially distant option for family fun.
Columbian Park Splash Pad
When you arrive at Columbian Park, you will find street parking available towards the front of the property. They do not have a designated parking lot, but there is plenty of street parking to choose from. As you approach the entrance, to the right will be the playground section, and to the left will be the entrance to the zoo.
Your kids will love the interactive animal themed splash pad section at the entrance! The dancing water jumps from animal to animal, and sets the tone for the hands on and immersive encounters available at the zoo. Columbian Park is geared towards children, and you will find most things easy for even small toddlers to be able to see and do on their own.
Columbian Park Zoo
The wallaby exhibit was our first stop, and it did not disappoint! Here you are able to go inside and be a part of the wallaby habitat, and freely walk around and observe these beautiful animals. Your kids will love the opportunity to be up close and personal with the wallaby’s, and it makes for some awesome photo ops!
Family Friendly Farm Exhibit
If you have a child that loves farm animals, the Family Farm exhibit is a must do! You will find llamas, ponies, pigs, and an entire area with more goats than you can count! You can purchase feed for a small price, to feed the goats, or you can just go in and play with them. On our visit, there were several baby goats, and our kids loved them! The staff are so friendly, and will take the time to answer questions, and help your children in this interactive exhibit.
Kid Approved Zoo
Afterwards, we washed up in the handwashing station, and went to explore the rest of the zoo. We saw monkeys, otters, ferrets, and went inside the butterfly house to observe the butterflies! Throughout this section of the zoo, you will find large windows, and enclosures that are up close and at eye level, which make it easy for your children to learn and engage. In addition, there were viewing tunnels available for several animals, where your child can observe from under the animals habitat!
The zoo itself is relatively small, but very interactive and offers unique and personal experiences with the animals. We can’t wait to go back, and check out their penguin exhibit that is set to open this summer. We saw the enclosure while we were there, and it looks awesome! There is a great picnicking area where your family can take a break and have lunch, before continuing on to the park!
Columbian Park Playground
The park across the street is part of Columbian Park Zoo, and is a great play space for all ages. In the middle of the park, you will find a main play structure set atop a large hill, with different play areas located on all sides at the bottom.
This park is unique, as it offers play sets based on age and ability. There is an infant, toddler, preschool, elementary, special needs, and teen section clearly marked for easy access. You will love the signs that guide you on the recommended age for each space. It is nice to have clear separation for infants, and small children, so that your kids can play without having any collisions with larger children.
You will find a wide variety of options for your children to pick from during your visit to the park. If you have a child with special needs, this park will be a great fit! There are handicap accessible swings, multiple adaptive play structures, a sensory section with saucer swings, and more! I also loved that you could see each section of the playground clearly from the main playset at the top of the hill.
What to do near Columbian Park
If it’s a hot day, and you are looking to cool off, Tropicanoe Cove is a huge waterpark that is within walking distance of Columbian Park Zoo. They have water slides, a lazy river, splash pads, toddler pools, and more! The price of admission varies depending on the height of your child, and the day of the week. You can find out all the details on their website.
Are your bags packed yet? You don’t want to miss out on this day trip! Your kids will have a blast, and at a price you can’t say no to. Free! For hours of operation, special events, and educational resources, check out the Columbian Park Zoo website. Make sure to share your memories with us, by using the hashtag #PLAYindy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
1915 Scott Street