Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Family Vacations: Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Visitors to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis can ride under a starry sky at the Carousel Wishes and Dreams Gallery.
Visitors to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis can ride under a starry sky at the Carousel Wishes and Dreams Gallery.

This world-class collection of hands-on fun makes up the largest children's museum in the world. Its exhibits continue to amaze and entertain local children as well as families who make the trek to the city just to visit this renowned attraction.

The astonishing Fireworks of Glass, a blown-glass exhibit in the five-story atrium is the largest permanent sculpture that artist Dale Chihuly has ever created. The 43-foot-tall glass tower rises above what appears to be a floating glass ceiling. A number of innovative hands-on activities are offered to promote an appreciation of the work that went into the sculpture. Children can create their own sculptures using colorful plastic shapes or view a film that demonstrates the sights and sounds of glassblowing at the museum's planetarium.

The popular Dinosphere exhibit immerses children in the Cretaceous Period of more than 65 million years ago and lets them examine actual fossils and fossilized bones. Kids can learn about the preparation of fossils in the Paleo Prep Lab, where they can watch real paleontologists at work.

The Playscape Preschool Gallery is designed specifically for kids up to age five. Little ones can splash around at the water table and play at the sand table, and they can plant flowers in the garden while a friendly scarecrow looks on. Storytelling sessions are also part of the fun.

All generations enjoy the Carousel Wishes and Dreams Gallery, where families can ride a real carousel under a starry sky, explore the inside of a giant kaleidoscope, and navigate a mirror maze. The Mysteries in History exhibit teaches visitors the four ways to uncover the past: by using dug-up clues, spoken clues, visual clues, and written clues. The exhibit includes replicas of a 1750s fur-trading post, an 1800s schoolroom, a 1930s kitchen, a 1976 Fourth of July picnic, a 1980s boy's bedroom closet, and a 1990s birthday party, as well as several other interesting scenes.

Other attractions include a 33-foot-tall water clock that contains 40 parts made of glass vials, vacuums, and colored liquid, and it somehow manages to keep perfect time. The museum houses a collection of more than 50,000 pieces of folk objects and toys, more than 500 of which are on display at any given time in the Passport to the World gallery.

The museum features holiday favorites such as a festive Winter Wonderland complete with a Yule Slide and Snow Castle, ice-fishing in the fishing shack, and a cookie cafe.

Children's Museum of Indianapolis Information

Address: 3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN

Telephone: 317-334-4000; 800/820-6214

Admission: $12.50 adults; $7.50 kids

Hours of Operation:

  • Sept. - March - 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tues. - Sun.
  • March - Sept. - 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., daily

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Indiana State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Indiana, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.


Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.