The weather in Indianapolis can be extreme, but don't let that stop your family vacation. This wonderful city boasts plenty of indoor attractions that will help you beat the heat of summer or thwart the biting cold of winter. In fact, many climate-controlled facilities—like Pinheads Entertainment Center or the Garfield Park Conservatory—can provide hours of fun for both young and old. Bowl a few rounds, take a romp on a trampoline park, or engage in some of the city's finest cuisine with no care given to what's falling from the sky.
The whole family will enjoy hanging out at the IndyCar Factory. A ticket into the facility allows you to lay down a hot lap in one of their racing simulators. Kids love the factory's interactive zone, which features box cart simulators, an IndyCar Factory theater, and hands-on exhibits that teach the science and technology behind IndyCar racing. And when you've had enough indoor fun, try one of their street-legal two-seater racing cars on the Speedway at their facility.
Sky Zone's indoor trampoline park offers a "3D play experience." Activities include freestyle jumping, volleyball, and dodgeball. Jump sessions run every 30 minutes and online reservations are recommended, as jump times regularly sell out. The facility is also a fitness center that's open to people of all ages and fitness ability levels, so, parents can join in on the action too.
The historic Indianapolis City Market opened in 1886 as a one-stop shop for fresh produce, local meats, fish, dairy, and baked goods. Today, this indoor food mecca and downtown destination boasts a wide variety of eateries and a craft beer bar housed inside a large brick open-air hall. From barbecue joints to a juice bar, the cuisine is varied and interspersed between jewelry and fresh flower vendors. The over-21 crowd can head to Tomlinson Tap Room and enjoy locally-crafted beer in their bar or outdoors on City Market's expansive property.
Choose Your Route at Climb Time Indy
Both experienced rock climbers and newbies should check out Climb Time Indy. Open to climbers of all levels, the gym offers more than 30 ropes, 4,000 different holds, and 8,500 square feet of climbing surface. The routes change weekly, so once you master one, try another. The gym also features a members-only workout area, a free-hanging climbing rope, and a rappelling area.
Indianapolis, together with Indiana State University, hosts a 10-day film festival each March. This event aims to entertain, challenge, and expand the perspectives of those who attend. The films are held throughout the city at indoor theaters and venues. So while you may have to go outdoors to get from one location to the next, the bulk of the viewing can be enjoyed inside. If you're not around in March, the Indy Film Festival also holds events throughout the year. Attend the family-friendly Cereal Cinema at the Indianapolis Museum of Art or Rock + Reel, featuring movies about music and held at the White Rabbit Cabaret in the heart of Fountain Square.
At 472,900-square feet, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the world's largest museum for kids and it's one of the most entertaining things to do in Indianapolis. The museum boasts unique indoor playground options and on-your-feet activities spread throughout five floors. On the first Thursday of every month, the museum offers five-dollar admission from 4 to 8 p.m. But despite the museum's large size, it can be packed on these discounted days. If you don't mind the crowds, this inexpensive event also includes free parking.
There are several bowling alleys throughout the Indianapolis area, but Pinheads Entertainment Center—complete with a luxury arcade and private rooms—is one of the best. Located in the suburbs in Fishers, Pinheads offers 32 open bowling lanes and two private bowling suites with four lanes each. Kids can enjoy duckpin bowling, an arcade, and indoor sand volleyball. And parents can relax and with a craft brew or cocktail at Alley's Alehouse, the joint's on-site restaurant that also serves up artisan burgers, pizza, and tacos.
Crowne Plaza Indianapolis isn't just a run-of-the-mill luxury hotel. It's deep roots in the city's history date back to 1988 when it was the first union train station built in the U.S. This 100-year-old building has gone through two renovations, making it the three-story hotel that it is today. And while most of the original building is now used for weddings and events (in the Grand Hall), you can actually book one of 26 train car rooms, too. Train car rooms house guests in the actual steam trains that would come in and out of Union Station. Choose a room on the blue, green, or red line for a step back in history.
Garfield Park Conservatory is a bargain. A two-dollar admission gives you access to 10,000 square feet of tropical plants from all over the world. And they're always in full bloom, making it a great reprieve on a cold winter day. Interactive educational displays and programs teach kids about the plants they are seeing and displays change throughout the year. Even if you live in the city, there's always something new to discover here.
Nothing puts you directly into the action like an IMAX movie, especially with the technology that delivers crisp audio and immersive experiences. At the Indiana State Museum, you can journey into space alongside astronauts, explore engineering marvels like the Great Wall of China and underwater robots, and get up close and personal with Marvel Comics' real-life crime fighters. Choose from a standard engagement (60-minute movie or less) or a special engagement (60-minute movie or more) show, with discounted tickets for children and seniors.
Football fans will love a behind-the-scenes tour of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. Tours of this domed facility last about 90 minutes and include a personal look at the playing field, an NFL locker room, the press box, and other unique areas (depending upon availability). If you've never stood on the 50-yard-line of an NFL field, this tour gives you access. Tours are typically conducted at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Cabaret in Indianapolis takes theater-going to the next level. With table-style seating—complete with full meal and drink service—you can sit back, watch the merriment, and fill your belly. But this is no tame experience. Spend an evening at the Cabaret and you will see highly-acclaimed Broadway performers and jazz musicians from across the nation.