Indianapolis & Surrounding Areas

Children’s Museum

Whether it’s last-minute planning for an extended weekend getaway, or a full-fledged vacation, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the place to go for the sports-minded families and the “kid” in everybody, regardless of age.

By Kathy Barnett/Managing Editor

I had the pleasure of getting a hosted sneak peek of the new Riley Health Sports Legends Experience at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis before it opened to the public in March. This $38.5 million expansion on an added seven and one-half acres is located at the north end of the museum’s campus. There are 12 outdoor experiences featured including a football, baseball, basketball, and soccer field. There is a tennis and hockey court, two golf courses, a drag strip, speedway and fitness pathway. All are built on a smaller than normal scale. Each is designed specifically to allow its visitors to practice skills that will help play a better game later in real life. For example, the two golf courses designed by Pete and Alice Dye are not your regular put-put attraction with cute little windmills or animated characters to cheer on the game. The two signature 9-hole putting courses replicate some of the Dyes’ most famous course and hole designs. There is also a green for the younger children to practice their beginning skills.
Then overlooking the entire outdoor attraction sits a 60 feet tall Fantasy Tree House of Sports. Inside the trunk is a spiral staircase leading to different platforms to look out over the entire attraction. Once you’ve explored inside, exiting down one of three slides is an added thrill.
“Our goal was to have an immersive outdoor and indoor family health, fitness, and sports experience that will inspire visitors to be active together in a noncompetitive way while creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO of the Children’s Museum.
What was Dr. Patchen’s dream and goal for the past ten years became a reality with the help of “All-Star Partner,” Riley Children’s at Indiana University Health. Their main goal in common was to develop a place for promoting family health and fitness. After many surveys and extensive studies, the sports theme pulled everything together. Here is a beautiful place where families can play together as they learn, connect and practice safe and healthy habits.
Inside, the Efroymson Pavilion houses the National Art Museum of Sport (NAMOS) featuring paintings, prints, sculptures and photographs – all celebrating the world of sports. There are mini-studios for visitors to sit and try their hand at sculpting or drawing a masterpiece of their own to take home as a souvenir.
Another indoor exhibit is the History of Hoops. This area shows artifacts and the history of basketball as it pertains to Indiana. Discover its importance of basketball through this temporary exhibit of the professional teams and comparing height, shoe size and hand size to the greatest players. Practice your own shot with arcade basketball. play interactive games, showing skills and talents needed for this sport.
Now the best part of all is a general admission ticket to the Sports Legends Experience, NAMOS and museum is available online at a discount when purchased in advance. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours to the Sports Legends Experience until 8 p.m. There are Sports Legends Evenings also available for the hours of 5-8 p.m. only. For more information, call 800-820-6214 or visit online at www.childrensmuseum.org/visit/buy-tickets
With all this activity, hunger pains are sure to remind us that it’s time to eat. The food court within the museum is a convenient source for quick snacks, a refreshing break or a hearty lunch with several stations for a wide selection. There is coffee station, soup and salad choices from the deli, pizza, or build a burger at the grill. There are healthy options and sweet treats for final dessert with the choice of frozen yogurt at a self-serve station.