Gas prices are exorbitant. Air travel can be a nightmare – if you can even find a flight with tickets for the whole family. So what better time to stay?
Even if you plan to introduce your kids to fresh croissants and the Louvre this summer, once you get back to Indiana, there’s plenty to do. Here’s a look at some weekend activities that will be fun for the whole family, with an emphasis on the outdoors, as summer and early fall can bring some of Indiana’s best weather. :
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take a dip
Hey it’s summer. You have to go to the swimming pool. Even if you don’t belong to a local community pool, there are options around town to fully immerse yourself in the water.
Monon Center Water Park: If you’re looking for a water complex that has it all, consider this Carmel location. There’s a lazy river, slides, water climbing (think climbing gym meets diving board), and a wave pool. And of course a real swimming pool. This place gets crowded, but you can check the website to see if there will be a wait to get in.
information: Monon Center Water Park, 1195 Central Park Drive, Carmel; (317) 848-7275; Day pass, $15 for adults, $12 for youth under 16 and seniors over 65.
Splash Island at Plainfield Recreation Center: Like the water park, this public recreation facility offers a variety of water features, including a recreational river here (perhaps they’re more industrious on the west side), du water basketball, a heated children’s pool and water lilies. pad crossing on over four acres. If the weather warms up mid-week, keep in mind that this park offers wet Wednesdays when it stays open from 7-10 p.m.
information: Splash Island, 651 Vestal Road, Plainfield; (317) 839-7665 (POOL). Adults $13, youth $11, seniors $10 and preschoolers $9. Wet Wednesdays $8.
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Tubing the White River: Somewhere between swimming and boating, tubing offers the opportunity to simply float down the river with a view of Potter’s historic wooden covered bridge. You can opt for a 1-1.5 hour trip or opt for a 3-4 hour tour. Don’t worry about getting stranded on a deserted island, but you can stop by the river at a sandbar or two along the way. You leave your car at the south end and take a bus to the north end and float down. The company that offers tube rentals also rents canoes and kayaks for the more ambitious.
information: White River Canoe Company, 17180 River Road, Noblesville. (317) 867-4233; Tubes cost $25 per tube for the shortest trip and $30 for the longest trip. Check the website for canoe and kayak prices.
Go on the water not in the water
Indianapolis may be the largest city in the country not located on a waterway, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay landlocked. There are plenty of boating opportunities in the area, even for water novices.
Swan Pedal Boats: Pedal boats on the downtown canal became swan boats, Boston Garden’s famous bird boats. Climb aboard one of these large white birds, which can seat up to five people, and pedal along the canal with the cityscape in the background. If you prefer to propel yourself through the water with your arms and not your feet, you can rent kayaks instead.
information: Wheel Fun Rentals, 429 E. Ohio Street, Firehouse #13; (317) 363-9353; $42 per hour for swan boats; $21 for a single kayak; $27 for a double kayak.
Eagle Creek Pedal Boats: If you find the canal too confined for your aquatic excursions, head out into the open sea – well, how about the open reservoir – at Eagle Creek Park. Here you can rent kayaks as well as stand-up paddle boards and pedal boats that can accommodate four people. If you feel even more comfortable, you can even hire a pontoon boat that does the work for you. If you’re more of a turf than surf family and want to try a new mode of transportation, you can also rent e-bikes from the same location to ride around the park.
information: Eagle Creek Outfitters, 7602 Walnut Point Road; (317) 207-1724; Kayaks start at $21 for a single; $28 for a double kayak; canoes are $28 an hour; SUPs are $25; paddle boats are $32; and pontoon boats are $175. Electric bikes start at $20 per hour.
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Greatimes family amusement park. Bumper cars are a perennial favorite, but on a hot day there’s a lot to be said for… bumper boats. One of the main attractions at Greatimes Fun Park, the bumper boats come with the added attraction of water guns to keep other boaters at bay. While you’re at this south side park, you can also race around one of the two outdoor go-kart courses, play mini golf, or check out the indoor arcade.
information: Greatimes, 5341 Elmwood Ave, (317) 780-0300; the price depends on the time of the visit and the activity.
Take some air
For those who prefer their adventures to be aerial, visit one of these outdoor ziplines in central Indiana:
Go Ape, Eagle Creek Park. This site offers two courses, one that lasts two to three hours and an abbreviated version that lasts about an hour and a half. Children must be 10 years or older to follow either course and be at least 4 feet 7 inches tall. Participants cannot weigh more than 285 pounds. The longer course features a platform over 40 feet in the air while the shorter course has a 333-foot-long zipline. During the summer it is recommended to book in advance.
information: Go Ape, Eagle Creek Park; 5855 DeLong Road; (800) 971-8271. The shorter course costs $39.95 and the longer course costs $54.95 for children ages 10-15 and $59.95 for ages 16 and older
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Edge Adventures, Koteewi Park. This site in Noblesville’s Strawtown Park offers five different trails with 60 different challenges to complete above ground. Climbers can choose the difficulty of their routes, starting with the easiest and progressing to the most difficult. At the highest point, the course is 60 feet above the ground. Children seven years and older are welcome and participants must weigh between 40 and 275 pounds and reach up to 66 inches.
information: Koteewi Park, 11800 Koteewi Drive, Noblesville. (800) 590-8347. The three-hour pass for children ages 7-15 costs $44.95 and $49.95 for older people.
Back on solid ground
Conner Prairie. The 19th century may not have had air conditioning and people were dressed in heavy clothing, but this living history museum offers at least one unexpected way to cool off: its River Crossing exhibit, where kids can shoot with water cannons and guide toy boats along a playful river. If you prefer to stay dry, you and the kids can take a hot air balloon trip in one of the country’s four tethered helium balloons.
information: Conner Prairie, 13400 Allisonville Road. (317) 776-6000. Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. The hot air balloon ride is extra.
Shortee’s: You probably played football at some point. You may have played golf. But have you ever played foot golf, a combination of soccer and golf? It might be time to visit this north side pitch-and-putt golf course. As well as an 18-hole pitch-and-putt course and net driving range, there’s a 9-hole golf course and soccer balls for hire so you can do your best Lionel impersonation. Messi going from hole to hole.
information: Shortee’s, 775 E. 96th Street; (317) 582-1850. 9 holes of foot golf cost $8 with $2 ball rental. Check the website for golf prices.
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The Children’s Museum: There’s plenty to do here on a rainy day, but you can also enjoy your museum experience and the fresh air at the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. The 7.5-acre park attached to the brick-and-mortar museum offers children the chance to try out various sports ranging from tennis to hockey and pedal car racing on a mini track, as well as four putt-putt courses different to play.
information: 3000 North Meridian St; (317) 334-4000. Ticket prices start at $26.75 for adults and $21.50 for youth and are the cheapest purchased online two weeks in advance.