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Tuesday Travels: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

tuesday travelsWelcome to Tuesday Travels, a summertime series at Traveling with Baby.  This season, my son and I are excited about sharing some local day trips and field trip ideas for families with little ones.  This weekly series will also feature travel tips for families with kids-in-tow and related product reviews and giveaways.  I enjoy hearing about your traveling adventures, too.

Last week, Calvin and I traveled to Indianapolis to visit my sister and her family.  I hadn’t seen my 2 and 1/2 year-old nephew since he was 6 months old.  Besides having fun watching Calvin play with his cousin J, I was excited to meet my new niece A.

My sister and her husband have a family membership to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, a highly-acclaimed one-of-a-kind hands-on museum.  There were rooms and exhibits for all ages.

Rousing greeting by a trooper captain

Rousing greeting by a trooper captain

Before we even made it through the admission turn-style, we were greeted by storm troopers, jedis, and some adults dancing to a raucous Hannah Montana song at the Disney radio booth.  I think all the commercial hype was around to entertain the very long line of folks waiting to purchase day passes to the exhibits.

Since we’re talking commercial in a Disney or Lucasfilm reference, the Children’s Museum was like Walt Disney World’s Epcot park, without the thrilling rides, and it’s definitely geared for younger audiences.

Cousin J enjoys the light sabre

Cousin J enjoys the light sabre while Calvin is distracted by a life-sized brontosaurus climbing in through the window.

While we walked through the main atrium, I saw folks nabbing photo opps with Darth Vader and Star Wars bounty hunters.

The floor-to-ceiling Dale Chihuly sculpture was breathtaking.  It could be viewed from the escalating ramp that spiraled through five floors of exhibits (similar to New York’s Guggenheim museum).

Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture in Indianapolis

Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture in Indianapolis

The first room we visited had an area where children could watch and participate in a very large rube that moved billiard balls in conjunction with clanging pipes and dinging bells.  Children also shoveled and dumped buckets of sponges camoflaged like stones and rocks.  In that particular room, most of the exhibits were too old for Calvin, although he and Cousin J had fun helping build the arch.

kid's eye view of a fish pond

kid's eye view of pond life

Calvin’s favorite attraction was the pond with a small window just at his level where he could gaze at the fish swimming underwater and the monstrous bullfrog sitting on a rock.

The boys loved sitting in an real Indy 500 race car.  They both bawled their eyes out when we removed them from the drivers’ seat and told them someone else needed a turn.

Calvin and Cousin J in an Indy 500 race car

Calvin and Cousin J in an Indy 500 race car

Next, we ventured to the playroom for babies to children aged 5.  This room had some fun climb-on toys, but it was mostly a large playroom with many commercial toys that you’d find in most toy stores: trains, sand toys, water toys, and more.

Calvin gravitated to the trains over and over again.  But, he also had fun playing in the sand box and water trough with his Cousin J.

Water fun at the Children's Museum

Water fun at the Children's Museum

There were many more exhibits, and Star Wars themed crafts and science projects that kids could build and take home with them, but patience was tried when we were pushing two toddlers past lunch AND nap time.

If I lived in Indy, I’d definitely want an annual pass to the Children’s Museum.  Unfortunately, it’s not a member of the national chain of children’s museums where a membership to one affords you admittance to all.

If you have children between ages 2 to 16 and you’re in the Indianapolis area, it’s definitely worth a visit.  Don’t miss it!

–By Dr. Dolly
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