Play It Cool at These Indiana State Fair Buildings and Shaded Retreats

Every year brings new exciting exhibits and adventures to the Indiana State Fair buildings and grounds, but the event is also packed full of beloved annual traditions. Visiting the animals, hitting the Midway, and grabbing a tasty deep-fried treat are always crowd-pleasing favorites. A somewhat less-popular Indiana State Fair tradition? The heat! With dates in late July and throughout August, you can almost always count on toasty temps when you visit the fairgrounds.

Luckily, there are plenty of shady or air-conditioned retreats you can make a beeline for when the warmth is starting to affect attitudes or energy amongst your group members. Duck inside one of these Indiana State Fair buildings, find some shade, or snag a cool treat to keep comfy at the fair!

Indiana State Fair Buildings and Cool Places to Hang Out

The Ag Hort Building

Even if you think that Agriculture and Horticulture are not your things, after a visit to the Ag-Hort Building, you’ll have a new appreciation for the sciences! This air-conditioned building offers a lot of free make-and-take opportunities, cooking demonstrations (with samples and bench seating), CAN-struction displays build entirely out of canned foods, and some of the biggest and best vegetables and plants grown in Indiana.

Find Indiana State Fair buildings with AC, shady spots around the fairgrounds, and cool treats.

The Fair Tractor Shuttle

Some kids love the Tractor Shuttle at the Indiana State Fair even better than they love the midway. Breeze through the fair at a nice pace as the wind blows through your hair. Did we mention this service is free? There are ADA-accessible options too!

Pathways to Water Quality

What could be cooler than a whole area dedicated to water quality? Take a stroll through this area that’s mostly shaded throughout much of the day. Get splashed by a spray of water if you wish, learn about how water quality can be protected, and fill up your water bottles with fresh well water pumped right before you.

The Glass Barn

Many of the buildings throughout the Fair have their A/C on full blast. One of our favorites is the Glass Barn. This State Fair building offers seating, hands-on activities for the kids, and daily chats with Indiana Farmers live from their farms. You can even earn milkshake coupons for answering questions. Play the BEANgo game to get a hat that will provide you with portable shade. Don’t forget to snap a family photo in the photo booth.

Find Indiana State Fair buildings with AC, shady spots around the fairgrounds, and cool treats.

FFA Building Playground & Mini-Golf

On the north side of the fairgrounds, the FFA building has a free game of (mostly) indoor mini golf and an indoor, farm-themed playground with benches for seating. Cool off in the shaded, open-air building for a change of pace.

DNR Building

The Department of Natural Resources State Fair building on the north side of the fairgrounds has a sculpture in front that has mist for the kids to walk around. You won’t actually play IN the sculpture, but you can catch a breeze of mist as you walk around it. Inside the DNR building, you’ll learn about butterflies, birds, and everything in between.

Fair Rides

Grab a handful of tickets or go on a wristband day so you can fly through the air. Get wet on the Log Flume ride and catch some air on the swings.

Find Indiana State Fair buildings with AC, shady spots around the fairgrounds, and cool treats.

Misting Fans

They’re found scattered throughout the fairgrounds and when you approach one, you’ll likely see a group of people standing in the fine mist spray of water. Most of them will be adults. It’s hot at the fair! If you want to hit the motherlode of misting stations, there are a few ez-up tents and fans set up along the alley on the west side of the Glass Barn building.

The Gimme S’More Bourbon Shake

Urick Concessions offers up a grown-up milkshake that will make you the talk of the fair — meaning, everyone will talk to you as you walk around with it. The shake is an entry in the 2023 Taste of the Fair food competition and may just earn your vote. Cool vanilla ice cream is blended together with milk and local Hotel Tango’s Shmallow Toasted Marshmallow Bourbon, then topped with s’mores fixin’s.

Vote on new Indiana State Fair foods.
Photo courtesy of the Indiana State Fair.

Hooks Drug Store

This drug store and museum is open daily during the Indiana State Fair. Stop into this state fair building and enjoy an old-fashioned ice cream soda from the recreated Victorian Soda Fountain. Soda jerks will craft your drink by hand and you’ll want to visit more than during the State Fair.

The Indiana Dairy Bar

A meal and a cold treat at the Dairy Bar are among the top fair traditions for most Indiana families. The meals and entrees are priced just right and their annual grilled cheese sandwiches of the year are always delicious. In addition, the Dairy Bar always has a featured milkshake flavor. This year, the Thin Mint Milkshake returns to pay homage to a favorite chocolate-and-mint cookie.

Find Indiana State Fair buildings with AC, shady spots around the fairgrounds, and cool treats.

Indiana Beer, Wine, & Spirits in the Grand Hall

Visit the Tap Room in one of the favorite state fair buildings for adult fairgoers. This air-conditioned hall is open for those 21 and over. Fairgoers under 21 years of age can enter with an adult. Visitors can purchase tastings of Indiana beer, wine, and spirits or buy their favorites by the glass.

The good news is, when you need to beat the heat at the Indiana State Fair, you have plenty of options. Enjoy all the refreshing air-conditioning in the State Fair buildings. Take advantage of a perfect excuse to indulge in some ice cream. There’s fun to be had and sights to be seen at every turn, so you won’t waste a single moment of your summer day.

Book the babysitter for a date night out at the Indiana State Fair.

Find cool places to play indoors around Indianapolis.

Read our top tips for taking babies and toddlers to the fair.

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