Indiana Tour: Summer Fun for the Kids + Ways to Save
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The summer is upon us…well, technically it’s still spring, but preschool is about to let out and I have 3 months of empty days to fill with fun activities for my family. What I love about summer is that there is so much to do…and plenty of opportunities to do it affordably. Of course we’ll spend lots of time hanging out at home and playing at the many parks nearby, but here are a few things that are also on my summer agenda, along with tips for saving. Leave a comment if you have additional suggestions. For some more ideas, follow Bargain Briana’s Staycation Fun in Indianapolis and In Good Cents’ Summer Fun in Indiana series.
• Story Time is a great opportunity to break up the week, keep reading skills fresh and get out of the heat. Usually there’s a story, some songs and maybe a craft. You can check out Borders, Barnes and Noble or your local library for variety of options for story time. Many local libraries also offer a summer reading program with prizes.
• The Track – What better way to kick off summer than with a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We missed practice this year due to a wicked cold that landed upon our house, but we still plan on attending community day on Wednesday, May 25. Click here to learn more about it.
• Connor Prairie – I’ve never been to Connor Prairie, so I’ll be experiencing it for the first time along with my boys. I am most interested in seeing the Lenape Indian Camp and the William Conner Homestead, but I have a feeling the kids will probably enjoy the Animal Encounters Barn most. But, I have no doubt everyone will enjoy 1859 Balloon Voyage. (I instantly get visions of clicking my heels together!) Admission is $14 for adults and $9 for children 2-12. Balloon rides are $15 a person and do not include general admission.
To save – check your Entertainment Book for BOGO admission coupons. Or head online to Visit Indy for a $2 off admission coupon. You can also pick up a $5 discount Balloon Voyage coupon from Ricker’s BP stores. (See the list of participating stores HERE.) You can redeem your coupon on the day of your visit. Each coupon is good for up to six guests. There are also special group rates and customized balloon packages available. Finally, don’t forget to pack some snacks, drinks and/or a lunch to save even more. Also, make sure to check back here because I’ll be giving away admission passes and balloon ride tickets.
• The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is probably one of my favorite destinations in Indianapolis. It’s nationally recognized for its size and variety of activities for children of all ages…and with 472,900-square feet on five floors and more than 100,000 artifacts, there really is so much to do and see while you’re there. There’s also a new exhibit scheduled to open this summer. The National Geographic Treasures of the Earth opens June 11 and in the spirit of exploration, they’ll be hosting a museum-wide, mobile, family scavenger hunt with the chance to win a family trip to Washington, D.C. Click here to learn more about the contest and to enter. Adult admission is $16.50 and children over 2-17 are $11.50.
To Save – There are a variety of ways to save at the Children’s Museum. Through the end of May you can get coupons for a child’s admission or membership from the Museum’s website. They also offer group rates, discounts for AAA members and periodically issue coupons in Reach Magazine. But, if you ask me, a membership is the way to go. It’s especially nice if you have young children because you don’t feel like you have to stay all day to get your money’s worth. You can go all year long, stay as long as you like and get free rides on the carousel. Parking is free and you can bring your own snacks, lunch and drinks to save even more. Also, make sure to check back here because I’ll be giving away admission passes.
• Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo – I have heard nothing but good things about the Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo. Here’s what their promo piece says: “Consistently rated one of the ‘Top Ten Zoos in the Nation,’ the Children’s Zoo features opportunities to feed giraffes, get nose-to-nose with lions, stroll through a mob of kangaroos and so much more. In addition, you’ll enjoy a ride in every corner of the zoo, from the Treetop Safari sky ride, to an Australian Log Ride.” Adult admission is $13, children are $8.50 and two and under are free.
To Save – While there aren’t a whole lot of options for scoring discounted tickets, you can get a FREE child’s admission with the purchase of an adult admission when you bring a specially marked Diet Pepsi can. More than 1 million cans distributed throughout Indiana and the deal runs through Oct. 9, 2011. And, of course, if you plan on visiting more than once, a membership is the way to go. Also, make sure to check back here because I’ll be giving away admission passes.
• Day Out With Thomas – I really have no idea what to expect from this adventure other than the fact that we’ll get to ride a train…which will be enough for my 3-year-old. From what I understand, there are lots of kid-friendly activities leading up to the actual ride and the kids get to have their pictures taken with Sir Topham Hatt and of course Thomas the Tank. The event takes place in Connersville June 17-19 & 24-26 and tickets are available online for $18. Group tickets are available for $14.
• Train Rides at the Indiana Transportation Museum – If the trip to Connersville is a little much for you, the Indiana Transportation Museum in Noblesville’s Forest Park might be a good choice for the train lover in your family. I’ve never been, but it’s on my agenda for the summer. Here’s what their website says: “The Indiana Transportation Museum is an operating museum that gives visitors the chance to see how trains operate and to ride trains similar to those that most Americans used to travel long distances before interstate highways and jet planes.” Museum admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children 2-12. Train fare varies according to the trip. Click here to see a schedule.
• Tours – For those who might be interested in organizing a group event, there are lots of places that offer tours. A few that come to mind include Kelsey Farms ($75 for no more than 15 kids), the fire/police station, airport and local restaurants. The Kelsey Farms tour is great. The kids get to see the cows being milked, get to feed and pet a calf, do a short craft and enjoy an ice cream sundae at the end.
• Bowling – Kids can bowl 2 free games a day at participating bowling centers all summer long. Registration will open by Tuesday, March 23. Once you register, you will also have the opportunity to purchase a family pass for just $24.95, which will allow for adult family members to enjoy bowling throughout the summer as well.
• Dairy Farm – We really enjoy visiting Trader’s Point Creamery in Zionsville. They have a variety of tour options, but we enjoy just walking the grounds, visiting the farm and seeing the cows in the pastures. They milk the cows every day at 4:00 and have a restaurant where you can enjoy fresh ice cream or a tasty meal. You can also arrange for a private, guided tour for 12 or more people. The cost for this is $6 a person.
• Bounce Houses – The Bounce Spot is what was formerly known as Bouncer Town. Now under new ownership, I’m told it’s much cleaner and offers a higher feeling of safety. As a cool bonus, their exit is staffed and monitored with their safe check in/check out policy…so, no child will be permitted to exit without the adult they entered with. That’s pretty cool piece of mind.
To save – Group rates are available for parties of 10 kids or more and you can visit their website for savings such as coupons for $5 weekday admission. Also make sure to like them on facebook for updates, and finally, check Coupons4Indy for even more coupons.
• Incredible Pizza Company – This has become one of my favorite rainy day activities. When you’re dealing with preschoolers, it can be incredibly affordable. Kids 3 and under eat for free and most of the games are only 30 cents to play. Half the time you don’t even need to actually start the game. My son just likes to pretend and often runs off to the next game before the time is up any way. There are also a handful of kiddy rides for the kids to take advantage of. Parents can partake in the all-you-can-eat buffet for $8, but you can skip the meal all together to save even more.
To save – The Entertainment book has a couple great coupons, but you can also head online to their site for specials and coupons, or sign up for email alerts to stay in the know. I got a coupon good for a FREE $10 game card with the purchase of an adult buffet just for signing up for the emails.
• Open Gym – We attend Wright’s Funtimes at least once a week, sometimes twice. It’s a great opportunity to let the kids run wild while we parents sit back and catch up with each other. It’s relaxing for us and allows the kids time to burn energy with the sports equipment, trampoline, ball pit, zip line and more. The cost is $5 for members and $10 for non members. A yearly family membership costs $30. Other options for open gym include the Greenwood Community Center, which is open MWF mornings for around $2; and The Gathering Place, which offers open gym during the school year, but not the summer.
• The Zoo – Next to the Children’s Museum, our membership to the Indianapolis Zoo is one of the best investments for our family. I particularly like having a membership so that we can go several times throughout the year and plan to stay for only a couple hours. The best part of going to the zoo all year long is that we get to see all the beautiful gardens transform with the seasons. Plus different animals like to come out during different seasons. In-Season adult admission is $15.25; children over a year are $10.25 and parking is $6.
To Save – A zoo membership is the best option for saving. Not only does it pay for itself after just a few visits, but it also affords you free parking. Another great way to save is buy packing your own snack, drink and lunch. The Indianapolis Zoo also offers a 20% discount to all members of the military, active, retired or veterans, up to four tickets per visit year-round. Finally, AAA members and members other AZA accredited zoos can receive a 10% discount good for up to four tickets per visit.