4 Days Exploring Indianapolis With Kids

Last week we hit the road for a 12-hour road trip from New Jersey to Indiana to visit family who recently moved to a suburb just outside of Indianapolis, and enjoyed a few days exploring a new-to-us city.

We absolutely love traveling as a family and have always made it a priority. We think experiencing and getting to know new places is not only an incredible way to bond as a family, but we believe that it builds character as well as an appreciation and respect for ways of life unlike our own.

I typically plan a balance of relaxing downtime with lots of sightseeing and exploring on foot, and during this trip we were lucky enough to stay with family so we had a comfy home base to return to between our adventures. Since we also had a car, exploring was easy and I feel like we made a lot of our four days.

Indy is a small city and it seems to take about 20 minutes to get pretty much anywhere by car. We traversed a good portion of the downtown area encompassing at least three different neighborhoods on foot and subtracting stops for playing and checking out attractions even that only took about 20 minutes.

Keep scrolling to see photos from our adventure.

indianapolis road trip

We left home at about 9p.m. and drove through the night. Can you tell from my face and Dan’s desperate coffee slurping?

indianapolis road trip

It took missy a few hours to stop waking up every 45 minutes but then she slept about 45 minutes straight. Could have been worse! Abel slept all the way through the night, but I expected that.

When we arrived, we were pretty wiped out so after heading out for breakfast we pretty much chilled at the house for the rest of the day and my sister-in-law made tacos for dinner. I may or may not have napped on the couch in the middle of the day–so not my usual, but it was awesome!

The next morning we went for donuts at General American Donut Company and it was a great experience, and obviously a popular spot.

general american donut company indianapolis

When we arrived there was a short line and all of the handful of tables were occupied, but by the time we got our donuts and coffee some of the tables had cleared and the line was much longer!

general american donut company indianapolis

They had a communal kids’ table and a bunch of toys for kids to entertain themselves with, which was a nice and totally unexpected perk. There was a great community feel and we even got to chat up some locals.

general american donut company indianapolis

My two favorite doughnuts were the salted caramel and the coffee and cream. Super-delicious, light and fluffy. Basically the reason I don’t worry about diet and exercise when I’m on vacation.

Next up we headed to see the ruins at Holliday Park which were stunning. It’s an art installment in the middle of a gorgeous botanic park that features ruins from a former New York City skyscraper that were transplanted to Indy after an architect won a design contest with the idea.

indianapolis road trip
indianapolis road trip
indianapolis road trip

We stumbled upon some locals making a splash pad out of the fountain at the ruins and much to the delight of our toddler, we decided to just go with it.

indianapolis splash pad

We also came across two huge playgrounds and stopped to let the kids enjoy them until everyone was ready for lunch. After lunch we drove back home and rested for a bit before heading out for rthe evening. We decided to head downtown and rent a pedal boat on the Canal Walk. It was fun even though we got caught in the rain!

indianapolis road trip

After our pedal boat ride we walked around downtown just to check it out.

The next morning we went to the Indianapolis Zoo and had a blast! It’s a relatively small, well-appointed zoo that can easily be walked within half a day.

I’ve been to quite a few zoos and the animals surprisingly seemed more content than at others and were very lively–almost putting on a show for us! The zoo is massively involved in conservation efforts and does a lot to educate its patrons.

I honestly have a ton more pictures and videos from the zoo, but this post is already incredibly long. Don’t miss the dolphin show! It’s free with admission, but you have to request tickets for it at the admission desk.

On our last day we went to 100 Acres at the Indiana Museum of Art. It’s a free outdoor art exhibit and play area for kids. We absolutely loved it and got in lots of interactive play.

Afterwards, we returned to Indy’s hipster neighborhood (not sure if it has an official name), where there’s lots of great food, bars, art and adorable shops.

We did end up skipping the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, which is one of the biggest and best in the world because admission was nearly $30 per person on the day we wanted to attend. Maybe another time…