Racing to Indianapolis



Family standing on top of the winners podium at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway


Another summer, another opportunity to turn one of my husband’s conferences into a family vacation spot. This June, we found ourselves in Indianapolis, IN. We hope you find our list of places to go and things to eat helpful if you head to Indy.




Lincoln Square Pancake House 

This breakfast stop was within walking distance from our hotel and across the street from the Capitol building. The kids’ pancakes were big enough for two breakfasts. Try the Indiana Eggs Benedict.


Good Morning Mama’s Cafe

Located north of downtown Indy, this breakfast destination was a perfect stop on our way to ARTSPARK. The kids’ menu is smaller, but you can always order a la carte.

MOM TIP: The bathroom doors are heavy, so kiddos may need help getting out.


A sauropod family breaking out of the Children's Museum at Indianapolis.
As we approached The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, we saw Alamosauruses busting out of the museum (pictured above) and Brachiosaurs breaking into the museum.


The Sites


The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Before we even pulled into the free parking garage for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Josh said, “My mind is blown.”

If there was ever a museum meant for Josh, this was it. We spent an hour and a half in the Dinosphere alone! There were paleontologists from the museum that you could talk to while they worked to uncover fossils.

If dinos aren’t your speed, you can board a plane to Greece or head outside to the sports exhibit with basketball courts and a massive treehouse to explore. The special exhibits included Minecraft: The Exhibition (thru Aug. 6) and Dinosaur Train (thru July 30).

MOM TIPS: Bring your walking shoes— you will need them as you and your crew cover the five floors of exhibit halls. We spent 4 hours exploring and 30 minutes eating. Also, plan on using credit cards as the T-Rex’s arms are too short to count out change.


The highlight for us was seeing Harrison's commission letter signed by Abraham Lincoln.
The highlight for us at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential House was seeing Harrison’s commission letter signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Benjamin Harrison House

Last summer, we visited the home of Abraham Lincoln, so when I discovered we’d be staying just miles from another President’s home, I added it to our list.

The hour-long tour takes you through the three-story home built by the Harrisons in 1874. Many of the paintings in the home were created by Harrison’s wife, Caroline Scott Harrison. I was impressed with her talent for painting china as well.



Pictures from various parks in Indianapolis
Pictured left to right: Adventuring down a trail at The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. A sculpture at the ARTSPARK. Josh climbing the ropes at the Indianapolis Colts Canal Playscape.


The Parks


The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park

We needed a place to explore between breakfast and the opening of the Children’s Museum, so we ventured to The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. There were a few sculptures to see, but the highlight was the trail around the lake.



Another post-breakfast destination for us was ARTSPARK. A 9.5-acre park north of downtown Indianapolis that is part of the Indianapolis Art Center. If you need a St. Louis comparison, think Laumeir but with more nature.


Indianapolis Colts Canal Playspace

This park was a happy accident. We were looking for the USS Indianapolis Memorial when we found Canal Playspace. Josh was more interested in climbing all the ropes of this playspace, while I checked out the memorial.

MOM TIP: This is hidden in a little neighborhood, so look for street parking and follow the signs down to the canal.



Josh reading his book from Tomorrow Bookstore with the skyline of Indianapolis through the hotel window.
Josh reading his book from Tomorrow Bookstore with the skyline of Indianapolis through the hotel window.


For the Bookworm


Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library 

Maybe I should have known that Indy was the home of Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, but I had no clue. When I discovered it was, we added it as a stop to visit the gift shop and pick up a postcard for our favorite Vonnegut fan. There are also tours available.


Tomorrow Bookstore

Inspired by The Novel Neighbor, I made it my mission to visit at least one independent bookstore. Tomorrow Bookstore was our choice. It was cozy but had the perfect variety of books, and Josh walked away with a Goosebumps book he had finished before we even got back home from vacation. Also, Gordon’s Milkshake Bar is just down the street, it’s delicious.


Garlic cheese bread from Bazbeaux, a collection of sides and fried chicken from The Eagle, and eight different beers from Gusshuas Brewing
Garlic cheese bread from Bazbeaux, a collection of sides and fried chicken from The Eagle, and eight different beers from Guggman Haus Brewing Co.


Food and Brews


Bazbeaux Pizza

We can’t go wrong with pizza on vacation so, based on recommendations, we went with Bazbeaux Pizza. We highly suggest the garlic cheese bread – it will keep the vampires away – but it’s so good.


The Eagle

The most recommended restaurant when I surveyed friends was The Eagle. The side options were so extensive that we ordered way more than we could eat. The fried chicken was as delicious as promised.


Taxman Brewing Co.

This restaurant has a great outdoor patio and food options for kids. They also have a wide variety of beers to choose from.


Guggman Haus Brewing Co.

As soon as we walked in, I knew this would be a good place for us. On top of the great atmosphere, there are piles of games, flights of beers, and food for all ages.


An Indy car crossing the brick finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
An Indy car crossing the brick finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These cars were reaching speeds up to 180 miles per hour in the straightaways. The flag stand is shaped to mimic the USS Indianapolis. 


For the Sports Fan


Indianapolis Motor Speedway 

The home of the Indy 500 was our first non-food stop on this trip. Part of the museum was closed in preparation for a new exhibit of cars, but we did see winning cars from 1911 to the present day.

With the View from the Top tour, we watched from a suite as cars reached speeds up to 180 miles per hour on the racetrack below. Our tour guide taught us more about the history of the place, like the fact that it took 63 days in 1909 to lay the 3.2 million paving bricks for the track!

View from right field of Victory Field
View from the right field of Victory Field.


Indianapolis Indians

With $12 tickets and affordable concession stand prices, you can’t go wrong with a night at the ballgame. If you’re not staying close to Liberty Field, the home of the Indianapolis Indians, prepare for traffic to be heavy, especially if there is a concert at the amphitheater across the street.

I hope you find this recap of Indy helpful for your own adventure to the Hoosier state!


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Marlena Renner
Marlena is mom to 6-year-old Joshua and has been married to her husband, Andy, for 10 years. They reside in Alton, Illinois where he is the head athletic trainer for Alton High School. Her parents both grew up in Kirkwood, and even though she spent most of her childhood in Montgomery City, MO, she had a feeling she would end up in St. Louis someday. She worked in minor league baseball after college, eventually landing for a season with the River City Rascals. She worked for the St. Louis Blues, Stifel Theatre, and Enterprise Center for 13 years before the pandemic stopped so many things. Today she is the email specialist for Caleres, which means shoes … all the shoes.