Metamora is a small historic town a little over an hour east of Indy, and their FREE Children’s Day offers lots of fun for families. Here’s what you can expect when you visit on this day in late summer:
Horse-Drawn Canal Boat Ride
For us, this is the highlight of any trip to Metamora. You do have to pay for this 25-minute ride, but on Children’s Day, the tickets for kids are half price. Boats leave every hour which is really convenient. The section of the canal you will ride is part of the 14 miles of the historic canal that is now managed by the state of Indiana; it’s officially called the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site. On this canal ride, you will travel about a mile on the horse-drawn, open-air Ben Franklin III that holds 75 passengers. During the trip, you’ll go through the Duck Creek Aqueduct. This is a covered bridge with water in it to carry the canal 16 feet over Duck Creek. It is the only structure like this in the whole country! The ride is casually narrated by a crew member who explains some of the history of the canal, the boat, and the horses pulling it. Riders can ask questions of the crew during the ride as well.
The kids had lots of fun watching the trains come in and out of town throughout the day. The trains in Metamora are run by the Whitewater Valley Railroad, and on Children’s Day, there are two options for riding: the local trip or the day trip out of Connersville. If you’re wanting to ride the local train, you can pick up a $5 ticket at the train depot on main street in Metamora and take a 30-minute train ride; this local option leaves every hour, on the hour. The day trip option, called the Valley Flyer, leaves Connersville (about 30 minutes north of Metamora by car) at 12:01 pm EST. The Valley Flyer will take you to Metamora for a 2-hour layover and then take you back to Connersville, leaving Metamora at 3:30 pm and arriving back at Connersville Depot at 5:00 pm. The Whitewater Valley Railroad has lots of other train ride opportunities through the year, such as their Day Out with Thomas event, so you should definitely check them out if you or your kids enjoy train rides.
The most iconic building in town is the grist mill, which is still operating and producing corn meal and flour on some days. You can walk right in and check it out for free.
Games and Giveaways
On Children’s Day many of the shops and restaurants in town have free games and giveaways for the kids. Our kids played ring toss and various other similar games, had their faces painted for free, and ate free candy, popcorn, and slushies. They also received free “surprises” like bubbles and toy cars at several of the shops. We don’t trust our toddlers in some of the stores because we don’t want them breaking the handmade and delicate items that are often for sale, so we were relieved that the shop owners had their games and giveaways out on the sidewalks in front of their shops. Speaking of shopping, there are many unique, locally made, and one-of-a-kind items and gifts that can be found throughout town.
The town also provides free entertainment for kids during Children’s Day. This year, we were delighted to see Dan and Zan Raynor from Stevens Puppets perform “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” The kids loved watching the marionettes and getting to see behind the scenes after the performance. The show was held right on the main street in the Masonic Lodge, which provided a casual environment of shade and chairs so that everyone could take a rest and watch the show.
There are a few dining options in town, including a European Coffee Bar called The Smelly Gourmet. We have eaten at Smelly’s a few times and have really enjoyed that experience and the food offerings there. Another restaurant you could check out is the Martindale House, which is a family-friendly restaurant and tavern that offers a nice variety of good food in a clean environment that will take you back in time to when the structure was built in 1838. Mr. Fudge’s Confectionery is another clean and friendly spot that sells homemade fudge, candies, and ice cream in a nostalgic environment. If you want to save money and enjoy the outdoors, you might choose to pack a picnic lunch and eat next to the canal at one of the picnic tables available to the public.
Possibly the quirkiest creatures you’ll see along the canal are the Muscovy Ducks, which everyone calls the “ugly ducks.” Bring along some duck food or buy a bag from one of the local stores so that you can get up-close to these funny-looking birds.
Good To Know
Metamora also has a gem mine, a hiking and biking trail along the canal, horseback riding, a playground, and a shelter. The town has other events throughout the year that you might need to add to your calendar as well. Be sure to check their website for event dates, times, and pricing.