Just about every part of Indianapolis has a near-by park where you can enjoy walking, jogging, cycling or simply sitting on a bench and watching the world go by. Several of the parks offer exceptional sporting facilities including golf courses, soccer and football fields and facilities for many other popular sports. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
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You will find Brookside Park straddling Pogue’s Run, a small tributary of the White River. The park covers over 100 acres, providing an urban green space where Indianapolis locals and visitors can enjoy various forms of outdoor recreation. In summer you will find it hard to drag the children away from the outdoor swimming pool and splash pad, where they can enjoy hours of fun. Energetic adults (and children) can play a game of tennis or join a group of like-minded folk on the baseball, soccer and football fields. There are also basketball courts and an 18-hole disc golf course. In addition to all the above you will find nature trails, picnic shelters and a great playground for young visitors.
Brookside Park, 3500 Brookside Parkway South Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46201, Phone: 317-327-7179
2.Eagle Creek Park
Indianapolis locals are lucky to have Eagle Creek Park on their doorstep. The park is the largest in the city and one of the largest municipal parks in the US, covering over sixteen square kilometers. The park offers just about every recreational facility you could desire, including a massive 36-hole golf course, a Marsh and Bird Sanctuary, Boat ramps and slips for fishing and paddling, a canopy adventure area, a swimming beach and two nature preserves. Walkers and hikers can explore over ten miles of trails and cyclists can try the Lilly Lake Pedal. The park is a great place for the entire family to relax, recharge and enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature.
Eagle Creek Park, 7840 W. 56th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46254
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3.Fort Harrison State Park
Fort Harrison State Park occupies a former military property known as Fort Benjamin Harrison, and currently protects several historic military buildings including a World War II Prisoner of War Camp. Today most people visit this park to enjoy outdoor activities such as walking and jogging along three trails and the 18-hole, 72-par golf course. Cyclists can enjoy riding the paved trail and there is also a chance to rent a horse and go riding along the equestrian trial. You can try your luck at fishing on Falls Creek and in winter Ice Fishing is available. While you are there you can visit the interesting Museum of 20th Century Warfare.
Fort Harrison State Park, 6000 N. Post Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46216, Phone: 317-591-0904
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Located near Southside, Garfield Park is the oldest of the city’s regional parks and has been providing a recreational green space for city residents since 1889. The park has all the usual ball fields and courts, as well as walking and biking trails, gym and weight room. In addition, the park boasts a pagoda dating back to 1907, a beautiful conservatory where you can admire a collection of tropical plants from all over the world and a beautiful indoor waterfall. Plant lovers will enjoy touring the three-acre Sunken Gardens, where the seasonal displays of flowering plants are excellent. Other attractions include the Garfield Park Arts Center, the McAllister Center for Performing Arts, the Burello Family Center and Aquatic Center and a large playground located near the Pagoda.
Garfield Park, 2345 Pagoda Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46203, Phone: 317-327-7220
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Located in Indianapolis’ quaint Holy Cross Neighborhood, Highland Park is so named because it is located on one of the highest points in the city. The park offers a peaceful place where you can relax under a shady tree against the backdrop of the amazing Indianapolis skyline. It is also a very popular spot from which to view the 4th July fireworks displays. The hilly nature of the park means that it does not have ball fields, but there is a paved trail for walking or cycling and a nice children’s playground for young visitors. You can bring along a picnic to enjoy at one of the picnic shelters while you watch a terrific sunset.
Highland Park, 1100 E. New York St, Indianapolis, IN 46202, Phone: 317-327-7163
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Voted as Indianapolis’ best park by the Indianapolis Monthly magazine, Holliday Park is a sprawling 94-acre park located just six miles north of downtown. There are plenty of activities to attract visitors of all ages including the Nature Center (free entrance) where the whole family can enjoy learning about the natural world by using hands-on interactive exhibits. The old ruins in the park have recently been upgraded with gardens, fountains and a splash-pad for children and you will have difficulty persuading younger visitors to leave the state-of-the-art children’s playground. Walkers and hikers can follow picturesque trails down to the river where paddlers and fishermen can enjoy their hobbies.
Holliday Park, 6363 Spring Mill Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46260, Phone: 317-327-7180
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7.University Park and Indiana World War Memorial Plaza
University Park occupies the southern-most block of the extensive Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, which was built in the early 1920’s to honor veterans of World War I. When you visit the plaza today you cannot help but be impressed by the beauty of the plaza, the result of the “City Beautiful” movement, famous for building classic, uniform and beautiful public places. At the heart of the plaza you will find the impressive Indiana World War Memorial (styled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus). You can visit the formal sunken gardens surrounding a black granite memorial cenotaph before moving south to see the impressive 30-meter black granite obelisk surrounded by pools and fountains. The University Park section contains several interesting statues.
University Park, 55 E Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46204
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Forming part of the enormous 250-acre White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, Military Park was once home to a military training camp and was the site of a Civil War encampment. The park covers sixteen acres, laid out in the shape of a military badge, and many locals enjoy walking through the park to get a breath of fresh air as they make their way from one downtown place to another. The park host many festivals and events throughout the year and you will often find families enjoying a quiet picnic on the lawns.
This park does not have restrooms or other facilities so you will need to plan accordingly.
Military Park, 601 W. New York St, Indianapolis, IN 46202, Phone: 317-233-2434
Once the largest municipal park in Marion County, Riverside Park suffered a great deal of neglect after World War II and many of its prime attractions (an amusement park, zoo, and more) closed down. Now a total refurbishment scheme is under way which will see a number of dramatic improvements over the next twenty years. Currently you can enjoy a round of golf at one of three golf courses or hone your skills at the Riverside Golf Academy. Cyclists can make their way to the Major Taylor Velodrome, which is home to a BMX track, a Cyclocross course, public green space and mountain-bike trails. Other attractions at the park include a boat ramp, children’s playground, outdoor swimming pool and several sport fields and courts.
Riverside Park, 2420 E. Riverside Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46208, Phone: 317-327-7171
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, Michigan beaches
Covering over 85 acres on Indianapolis’s northeast side, Sahm Park offers local residents a sprawling green area where they can practice various recreational activities. The main draw-card of the park is the enormous Aquatics Center which lies at the heart of the park. You can enjoy swimming in the large pool which has a zero-depth entry area (great for young children) and offers 50 yd and 25mt lap lanes. For extra fun you will find some exciting water slides. The remainder of the park offers a children’s playground, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts as well as a nine-hole disc golf course. While you are in the area you can have a round of golf at the adjoining Sahm Golf Course or try out your new clubs at the excellent driving range.
Sahm Park, 6801 E. 91st Street, Indianapolis, IN 46250, Phone: 317-849-2227
Located in the southeastern corner of Marion County, Southeastway Park covers 188-acres of recreational green space, maintained by the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department. Visitors can enjoy a fun-filled day in the great outdoors as they explore over 80 acres of forest, sprawling fields and meadows and a special prairie preserve. There is also a pond and wetland where you can enjoy wildlife watching. Walkers, cyclists and hikers have a two and a half mile paved trail to enjoy and there are picnic shelters and an educational center. Little visitors can have fun at the children’s playground in summer and bring their sleds to the sledding hill in winter.
Southeastway Park, 5624 S. Carroll Rd, New Palestine, IN 46163, Phone: 317-327-4834
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As one of the four large regional parks which were constructed in each quadrant of Marion County in the 1950’s, Southwestway Park occupies a sprawling 580 acres along the west bank of the White River. The park boasts a host of brilliant recreational facilities including the 18-hole Winding River Golf Course, three baseball/softball diamonds and no less than eight soccer fields. However, you don’t have to be a sports enthusiast to enjoy Southwestway Park; many people visit the park to enjoy a quiet walk, hiking and mountain biking along several trails or simply relaxing with a picnic at one of the shelters. There is also a good playground where younger visitors can have fun.
Southwestway Park, 8400 Mann Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46221, Phone: 317-888-0070
13.White River State Park
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White River State Park is located at the western edge of Indianapolis’ downtown area, where it offers a large and inviting green space in one of the city’s designated cultural districts. The park is your springboard to a large number of excellent city attractions including the Indiana State Museum and IMAX Theatre, the beautiful White River Botanical Gardens, the Indianapolis Zoo and the must-see Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Besides visiting all this wonderful attractions you can spend several hours just enjoying the park – there are paddle-boats to ride (seasonal), quiet places to relax with a book and good paths for walking, jogging or cycling along the river.
White River State Park, 801 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, Phone: 317-233-2434
12 Best Indianapolis (Indiana) Parks
- Brookside Park, Photo: pushish images/stock.adobe.com
- Eagle Creek Park, Photo: Eric/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Harrison State Park, Photo: cambraytees/stock.adobe.com
- Garfield Park, Photo: Henryk Sadura/stock.adobe.com
- Highland Park, Photo: GCapture/stock.adobe.com
- Holliday Park, Photo: imagindiana/stock.adobe.com
- University Park and Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com
- Military Park, Photo: bouybin/stock.adobe.com
- Riverside Park, Photo: Morakot/stock.adobe.com
- Sahm Park, Photo: olezzo/stock.adobe.com
- Southeastway Park, Photo: PIXERATTI/stock.adobe.com
- Southwestway Park, Photo: lazyllama/stock.adobe.com
- White River State Park, Photo: Timelapse Travels/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Indiana Historical Society
Located in Indianapolis, the Indiana Historical Society is home to an extensive historical experience that will make visitors enthusiastic about history. The Indiana Historical Society experience is free to society members, as well as children five and under.
The state of Indiana celebrated their 14th anniversary of being a state on December 11, 1830. This also happened to be the day that the Indiana Historical Society was founded. A group of movers and shakers decided that Indiana’s history should be collected and preserved for generations to come. So, one year after the society was founded, they were given a charter by the Indiana General Assembly. Although the beginning years of the Indiana Historical Society were rough (they only had 12 meetings from 1830 to 1886), the society began to line its ducks in a row in 1886. Jacob Platt Dunn became the Indiana Historical Society’s directory in 1886 and led a group of trusted associates to recreate and reorganize the fundamentals of the Indiana Historical Society.
Dunn led the Indiana Historical Society to great success. Some of their successes included admitting the first woman editor, Eliza Browning, in 1906, as well as maintain an office at the Indiana capitol building until 1914. Around the early 1950s, the Indiana Historical Society began to see booming success when they began to publish historical Indiana works. Some of the highlighted works from this time period include a multivolume set of Indiana’s history which was published in 1966, as well as The Old Northwest, which won a Pulitzer Prize.
Today, the Indiana Historical Society Collections and William H. Smith Memorial Library are renowned as one of the nation’s largest institutions that has an in-depth amount of knowledge and artifacts about Indiana and the Old Northwest. Some of their collection include; over 50,000 digital images, 3,300 artifacts, 3,500 sheet music pieces, and over a whopping amount of 1.7 million photographs.
The Indiana Historical Society has an extensive amount of historical artifacts that demonstrate everything one would want and need to know about Indiana and the Old Northwest. One of the best things about the Indiana Historical Society Collections is that most of the digital archives can be accessed on the society’s online database. So, if you’re not located in Indiana, you don’t have to worry about traveling far to explore and experience some of the society’s highlighted attractions.
Printed Collections and Artifacts is located within the William H. Smith Memorial Library and include a wide range of literature pieces that cover a variety of subjects and time periods. Some of the highlights of this collection features literary pieces about early American exploration, Civil War, and the history and significance of the railroad.
Manuscript and Visual Collections are featured in the William H. Smith Memorial Library and include everything from public business records to personal letters and diaries. Thus, visitors are given the chance to immerse themselves into what life was really like in Indiana and the Old Northwest.
Digital Image Collections showcases special historical photographs that have been recovered and revived by the Indiana Historical Society’s specialized Preservation Imaging Lab.
The Indiana Historical Society provides various educational opportunities for the overall community. The Indiana Historical Society educational opportunities range from programs that can be taught in the classroom to on-site programs. One of the on-site programs include a specialized school tour, where students and teachers have the option of including one of a variety of add-ons to their tour. One of the highlighted add-ons include a special story time that is led after the tour. A member of the Indiana Historical Society will recall and influential and significant story of Indiana’s history and relay it to the students and teachers.
Another fantastic educational opportunity at the Indiana Historical Society is the Indiana Experience. The Indiana Experience fully immerses visitors into the life of people who lived in Indiana and the Old Northwest throughout the ages. The Indiana Experience includes a five exhibit interactive experience.
The first exhibit is You Are There, which explores historic photographs that were created in three-dimensional print. So, it appears as if you really are standing among Indiana’s historical features. The next exhibit is Destination Indiana, which showcases how technology has changed throughout the ages. Other experiences in this educational program include; Cole Porter Room, W. Brooks and Wanda Y. Fortune History Lab, and Lilly Hall.
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450 W Ohio St, Indianapolis, IN 46202, Phone: 317-232-1882
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Attraction Spotlight: The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis aims to create and foster extraordinary learning experiences to transform the lives of children and families. The museum houses more than 120,000 artifacts that visitors of all ages can enjoy and use to learn about the sciences, the arts, and the humanities in fun and exciting new ways.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a non-profit institution that was founded in December 1925 by local socialite Mary Stewart Carey. Currently, the museum is a 472,900-square-foot facility housed on more than 29 acres of beautiful and spacious land – making it the largest children’s museum in the world! The museum was also only the fourth of its kind in the United States to be dedicated to the interests of young visitors.
Attractions & Exhibits:
There are more than 120,000 objects in the museum’s collection, making it the largest youth-orientated museum in the world. Some iconic objects housed at the museum include Bumblebee from Transformers, a working carousel, a log cabin, a mastodon, and even a real mummy!
Bumblebee: Weighing in at one ton and encroaching on the ceiling at 17 feet tall, Bumblebee from Transformers loves to greet visitors at the museum. He arrived at the museum in 2011 and there is even a specially designed costume so Bumblebee can come to life and truly amaze visitors of all ages.
The Carousel: This antique working carousel is on display underneath a simulated bed of glowing stars. It was originally installed in the amusement park known as White City in 1917. The animals on the carousel are finely carved and hand painted, making it a favorite ride for generations.
Edward Black Drum: During the Civil War, combat soldiers were required to be at least 18 to enlist, however, many young men could lie their way into the service at a younger age. Edward Black was 8 years old, making him the youngest solider in the civil war. He was a drummer boy who led soldiers into battle and was taken prisoner during the Battle of Baton Rouge. His drum is now on display at the museum.
Lilly Playhouse: The father of a young Evelyn Lilly built his daughter the kind of dollhouse that every little girl dreams of. It was equipped with child-size furniture, a bookcase, a porch with rocking chairs, and even working overhead lighting! Today, the dollhouse is housed at the museum and visitors can walk inside and wish they had the same dollhouse at home!
Log Cabin: A 130-year-old log cabin that used to reside in the forested landscape of Indiana is on display at the museum. Visitors can go inside and travel to a different time, when people used to live in log cabins.
Mastodon & Polar Bear: In the prehistoric era, mastodons used to roam many parts of North America; today, one of the skeletons is on display at the museum. The majestic polar bear is not as extinct as its mastodon friend, however, they are now an endangered species. Visitors can stand in the shadow of this glorious 1,200-pound bear, reaching more than 9 feet tall.
The Mummy Wenuhotep: A 445-pound box arrived at the museum in 1959 containing the carved and painted wooden sarcophagus of Wenuhotep, the daughter of an Egyptian priest from 685 B.C.
The Reuben Wells: A strong and handy locomotive from 1868 named for its designer, Reuben Wells, helped to push trains up and down a steep hill in Madison, Indiana.
Norman Rockwell’s Scout Memories: A painting originally painted for the Boy Scouts of America in 1931, Norma Rockwell’s painting – Scout Memories – is on display at the Children’s Museum.
Toy Trains: Gifted to the museum by Noble Biddinger, the elaborate 2,000-piece collection of toy locomotives, freight and passenger cars, and accessories are on display in the museum basement.
Water Clock: When the clock strikes 1:00, the 30-foot water clock in the Sunburst Atrium draws quite a crowd. Designed by French physicist Bernard Gitton, the clock has 29 small globes which empty out in one large whoosh, leaving the globes to gradually refill over the next 12 hours.
There are many other attractions and exhibits on display at the museum, including Dinosphere, a paleo prep lab where children can watch paleontologists clean bones and Fireworks of Glass, where visitors can see Dale Chihuly’s contemporary glassworks. There is also Leonardo: The Mummified Dinosaur, Playscape, ScienceWorks, National Geographic’s Treasures of the Earth, The Power of Children, and Take Me There: China. There is plenty to see and do for visitors of all ages and interests.
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The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208, Phone: 317-334-4000
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