When you live in Indiana, sometimes you have to be a little creative with your fun, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of activities to do! There is more than corn here, but only true Hoosiers know where to find those fun, thrifty family activities! Here’s our “secret list” of 9 fun, thrifty family activities in Indiana.
1. Visit The Children’s Museum in Indy.
In the state’s capital, you will find the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, IN. This is the world’s BIGGEST children’s museum! With 3 stories of fun, engaging interactions, your kids won’t even know they are learning. Let them become an archaeologist and dig up bones or be transported back in time to the world of the dinosaurs. With hours of adventures, education, and hands-on entertainment, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum is hands down the best place to go!
The Children’s Museum works hard to make this adventure affordable for everyone to enjoy together, and offers an Access Pass Program for low-income families (check out their website for the application and details). Even if you don’t qualify for the access pass, the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis offers FREE admission between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month!
Guess what… there are several other museums in Indiana that honor the Access Pass!
2. Check out Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.
This interactive historical park in Fishers transports you and your kids back into history. Showcasing life in the 1900s, you can go on a Civil War journey, explore the prairie times, and even take a 15-minute ride in a tethered balloon! Conner Prairie is filled with hands-on fun, history, and holds lots of excitement for the whole family. Conner Prairie also honors the Access Pass Program, so qualifying families can take advantage of the reduced admission prices!
3. See a new cultural perspective at The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
This museum houses some of the most famous Native Contemporary Art in the entire world! Along with the beautiful art, Eiteljorg Museum offers tons of interactive exhibits to get kids involved in a hands-on way.
When you visit the Eiteljorg Museum, you can combine your experience with the White River State Park, Indiana State Museum, NCAA Hall of Champions, Victory Field, White River Gardens and the Indianapolis Zoo all in one trip!
4. Head back in time at The Indiana Historical Society.
Make the Indiana Historical Society part of your thrifty experience. The Access Pass is honored here and children under 5-years-old are always free, so you can visit a little piece of history on a budget. Step into a 3-D recreated historical photograph where characters come to life, take a trip back into time with virtual reality, or enjoy a hands-on investigation. There are plenty of little pieces of Indiana history throughout the museum that you won’t want to miss out on.
5. Take the kids to The Terre Haute Children’s Museum.
Terre Haute teams up with Indianapolis Children’s Museum to offer several different locations of the same fun at the same cost. Though Indianapolis Children’s Museum is bigger, the Terre Haute Children’s Museum is still a family friendly experience you won’t want to miss. Let your toddler wander and explore science in the Toddler Exhibit, become an archaeologist in the Dino Dig Exhibit, or get your construction gear on to build skyscrapers in the Build It Exhibit. There is no lack of fun when you visit a museum just for kids!
6. Prepare to be "wowed" at WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology.
In Bloomingburg, your kids can have fun discovering their brain and seeing what it looks like inside and out and discover how electrical activity makes everything in their brain happen. After your kids check out their brain, let them expand it by holding a live animals, learning how the world works, or have fun creating and learning about bubbles! When you come to the WonderLab, your day is filled with wonder and fun!
7. Adventure through beautiful Turkey Run State Park.
If you’re ever in Marshall, you won’t want to miss the beautiful Turkey Run State Park. You can camp out in some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, hike through adrenaline-filled trails, and visit wooded ravines. Go on serene horseback rides, enjoy a hayride, or go canoeing down the river.
There are several activities with reasonable prices, tons of free things to do, and plenty of special discounts, so you’re sure to find this State Park just as thrifty as the others. It’s only $12 a night to pitch a tent and enjoy a campout in the woods! Some other inexpensive activities you can do here include: rent rowboats and canoes ($5 per hour, $20 per day), kayaks ($8 per hour, $20 per day), or paddleboats ($8 per hour), hunting and fishing (various license fees and seasonal restrictions apply), and off-trail cycling (permits required). Make a whole day trip out of your visit to Turkey Run State Park!
8. Rainy day? Stay active at Lakeview Church Indoor Playground.
Don’t you hate when the weather keeps kids trapped inside? They can get bored and restless, but in you can still get your kids out of the house at the Lakeview Church Indoor Playground in Indianapolis, which is free and open to the public. Let your kids burn off some of that energy on a shaky bridge, a swirly slide, twisty tunnels, or a climbing adventure! With so much to do, Lakeview Church Indoor Playground is an excellent place for kids of all ages. You should definitely take advantages of this great free indoor playground.
9. Discover the Indiana Dunes.
Indiana has some of the biggest and beautiful beaches in the entire world. If you haven’t yet visited the dunes, they need to move to the top of your bucket list! With 2,182 acres of beautiful historic landscapes, you can enjoy the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan, camp in hosted campgrounds, or take an incredible journey through Indiana Dunes State Park. You can spend a whole day at the beach and spent only $6 for parking, or take the whole family on a camping experience for only $18 per night! The Indiana Dunes provides fun thrifty activities for everyone! There are several ways to save here:
The Indiana State Parks appreciate our military; therefore, they offer FREE admission for US military members and the dependents of deployed military in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, US reserves, and National Guard!
Take advantage of the Annual 4th Grader Pass! This year, kids in 4th grade (including homeschool children at the age of 10) can get free admission into the State Park.
If you are looking to take adventures all year and want to save, check out the Annual Park Pass - this is a great bargain for the whole year. For $80, the Annual Park Pass covers park fees (and parking!) for three adults and all children under 16 all year.
If you or someone you know is disabled, here is a great tip: the park encourages access for all and grants free admission to those with disabilities.
When it comes to being thrifty, the Indiana State Dunes and State Park is filled with fun family activities for you to enjoy.
These are just a few of the timeless experiences you can have with your family without breaking the bank. Indiana is home to so much more and is a state filled with fun! For more great ideas, check out these other
thrifty family activities when you’re on a budget!