Monday, August 2, 2010

Travel Notes: Indianapolis

I lived in Indianapolis for nearly 2 years after college, but it was such a different experience visiting with kids.  I had no idea what to expect in terms of child-friendly places, as my time pre-dated family activities.   I was very impressed.

WHERE TO STAY

We chose the Candlewood Suites, which ended up being a remarkable option.  It was the size of an apartment and had a full kitchen (sans oven, but included dishwasher and full fridge/freezer).  Only $103 a night, which seemed like a steal.  Free laundry too, which was a highlight for me.  :)  It's intended for longer-term stays (we met a few persons who'd had housefires or staying near the hospital).  No breakfast, but you do have the kitchen and they have a 24-hour pantry downstairs with quite a variety of food.

I later learned about a theme-suite hotel about 15 minutes south of Indianapolis.  We're doing a Pirate Suite in Cincinnati tonight, or I might have considered this one.

WHAT TO DO

INDIANAPOLIS CHILDREN'S MUSEUM

Our favorite thing, hands-down, was the Children's Museum.  Their Egypt exhibit was top-notch.  You board an Egyptair plane, and then enter a large area set up like a village.  A rural home, city home, clothing store, restaurant, grocery store.  I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot.  I would love to see more exhibits like this, of countries around the world.  Wouldn't that make a great museum of its own?

It was also hosting the Star Wars exhibit, which made my children's day (perhaps Andrew's entire life).  But even non-Star Wars fans will love it the museum.

RHYTHM DISCOVERY CENTER

I'm not impressed by their website, but the actual museum is excellent.  When you enter the museum, the kids have 3 different styles of giant gongs to try.  They also had a large drum circle with about 12 drums.  But the best part was the hands-on area, which was a large space with all types of instruments for the kids.  Steve also liked the sound rooms with the real drums to play, so he could pretend to be a rock star. :)  I liked how much the kids could just touch and play with that entire area. 


CANAL WALK

I wish we'd gone down to the Canal Walk more when I lived there, when Steve and I were dating.  On this trip, we rented paddleboats with the kids ($30 for an hour, although we only did 30 minutes due to Littles).  Such a great urban area. 






This is a western and Native American art museum, but it was so much more than I expected.  I was stunned by the quality of artifacts they had there.  They have AAA discounts of $2 of the price (regularly $8 for adults, $5 for children). 

We loved the upstairs area with the outfits, tools, and hundreds of other items on display.  But they also have a downstairs area that is hands-on for children, including a great stagecoach.  Both levels of the museum were excellent, just a different style.




The two things we skipped but will do next time are:

CONNER PRAIRIE:  An interactive historical park.  We were planning to go Monday, and then learned they were closed Mondays.  But I'd love to try the hot air balloon.

INDIANAPOLIS ZOO:   Supposedly has one of the biggest shark touch tanks, and also a submerged dolphin tank so you can watch them swim up close.  It was *freakin'* hot the day we considered going, and a zoo would have been a disaster.  So...next time. :)

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