Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Free Fun with Kids

It's not always easy to occupy the kids and most would think it's not always cheap either.  When we first moved to the city, it was like a huge buffet was placed in front of us and we found so many new things to do that they just didn't have in the country.  And quite frankly, when we lived in the country, I had the misconception that everything in the city had to be expensive.  Although, some things are costly, I was surprised at the number of flat out free things there are in this city.

What you chose to do will depend on what your family likes but, I'm one of those 'mean Moms' who will make you try something once if for no other reason than to say you've seen it or visited it.  And if you learn something on the way, BONUS!

One thing that I think is really cool here is that there are free days (free might not be the best word here as they encourage you to donate a canned good for the food pantry) at The Children's Museum, The Indianapolis Zoo, The Indiana State Museum, Conner Prairie, The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum, and the NCAA Hall of Champions.  These free days are Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, El Dia de Los Ninos and Christmas Eve.  They will be busy but we've never found them too busy to be able to enjoy them.  Something else we like about this is that we've always taken our lunch with us and made a day of it.  We have never had an issue with this, in fact, we've generally eaten in the lunch room they use for school field trips.

The Children's Museum also offers a free evening from 4-8 on the first Thursday of every month.  We have found that this free time is extremely busy.

The new (it's still fairly new) Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library's Central Library is amazing!  Not only is it an amazing facility but there are lots of things for kids to do.

I love the Indianapolis Museum of Art and 100 acres.  I'll admit, we haven't done the 100 acres yet but it's on our list.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend the Museum of Art for little kids but it is a wonderful place with very impressive art collections.

I am very lucky to leave near Garfield Park.  It is not only one of the Regional Parks in the city but it is the oldest park in Marion county.  It is home of the Conservatory and Sunken Gardens.  It's beautiful there.  It's a great place for a nice walk, to enjoy flowers of all kinds.  They also have concerts in the park.  According to my kids, the playground is pretty cool too!

I know this one is a little different, but we found the People Mover when the kids Grandpa was in the hospital.  It actually connects three major hospitals in the city (Riley Hospital for Children, Methodist Hospital and Indiana University Hospital) via an elevated train.  It's pretty cool and kids get a different view of a part of the city.

Monument circle is a given of things to see.  The monument and surrounding statues are beautiful.  For a small fee, you can climb to the top of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, we did it.  Once was enough for me, it is tight quarters in there!

Home Depot and Lowe's also have free build days for kids.  We have done both but Lowe's requires you to make a reservation, sometimes we plan ahead but sometimes we just wing it.  Home Depot is good for that.  Anyway, the premise is that once a month, they offer a free build for kids.  My kids have made everything from step stools to trinket boxes, even their own coat racks.  They learn to follow directions and use simple tools.  These are free and they get to keep what they make.

Along the same lines as Home Depot and Lowe's, once my teenager began working at the Lego store at Castleton Square Mall, we learned that the first Tuesday of every month, they offer a free mini build.  The kids build a "mini-fig" or a cute little Lego guy and they get to keep it.  Fair warning, the store is small and you will wait in line but it does move pretty quickly.

My husband and I, more so than the kids, enjoy walking on the canal.  We generally park near the 911 monument by the Fire Station on West Street.  The kids tend to get the "I wants" when they see the gondolas or the paddle boats, all of which are pricey and we don't do them.  

We also visit the various monuments around town.  There is Veteran's Memorial Plaza, The Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, The World War II Memorial, The American Legion Mall, The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial on the canal, The Firefighters Memorial and The Law Enforcement and Firefighter's Memorial.  I'm sure there are more but we've not seen them all yet.

With a little research online, you can find free or almost free things to do almost anywhere.  Even when we vacation, we use the internet to find free, fun things to do where we are going.  It makes for a wonderful adventure!

1 comment:

  1. I think the Art Museum is a great place, even with small kids. Make your first stop the gift store and select a postcard or two. Then go on a hunt for the actual picture. There are a few galleries that are better suited for little ones and since the museum is free, it is easy to go and only spend 1/2 hour inside and then hit 100 Acres, the museum grounds or the greenhouse!