Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What to do in Indianapolis During the Winter

At the beginning of this year, I wrote that one of my goals was to take my grandchildren to explore some sites close to home.  This past weekend, the kids came to visit and we had all of Saturday to spend together.  We’ve done the popular Indy sites (Zoo, Children’s Museum, etc.) over and over again, so we were looking for something different to do. The weather was incredibly warm for this time of year, so we headed to downtown Indy to see what we could see. 

We started our day at the Indianapolis Central Library, just off of Meridian Street.  Now you might not think of a library as an entertaining destination but the one in Indy is a wonderful place to visit.  Parking could not be more convenient as it is right in the basement of the library.  At $2.00, it was a bargain, as well. 
Once in inside, we took a scenic (yes, scenic) ride on the escalators up to the top floor of the library.  The best view of Indianapolis awaits you just as soon as you step off of the escalator.  After posing for a picture in front of that window, we walked the entire floor just to take in the views all around and to explore the massive collection of books.

Next, we took the elevator back down to the family area and with its fabulous reading and play areas.  The kids were fascinated by the pod reading chairs and the giant green screen room where kids can romp and see how they look on television.  After exploring every nook and cranny of that floor, we ventured outdoors.
In front of the library you will find a long grassy area, somewhat reminiscent of the Mall in Washington, D.C.  We walked approximately two blocks to the Indiana War Memorial, a museum and tribute to veterans of every war in American history.  I was surprised to see how much U.S. history is housed there.  Located in a beautiful old building, the path through this little gem takes you from the Revolution up through 9/11 and our current involvement overseas.  It was a pleasant, educational diversion and, best of all, it’s totally free. 

You can look up the names of your ancestors who have fought for Indiana and, if they’re not in the database, fill out a form to have them added to it.  You can linger as long as you want but I let the kids set the pace and we were out in about an hour. 
Rain was in the forecast later in the afternoon and we didn’t have umbrellas, so when we finished our tour of the museum we went back to the library and moved our car to the Circle Center Mall.  The parking garage at the mall is one of the cheapest places to park in Indianapolis.  Again, I paid only $2.00 for the time I was parked there.

Next we headed to Monument Circle, just a couple of blocks south on Meridian.  Oops.  It was closed for the day because volunteers were taking down the Christmas lights.  Ah well, we can go there another day.  I should have checked the website before we went.  We were able to walk around the outside of the Monument and take a nice picture of the kids with the State Capitol in the background. 
The afternoon was drawing to a close and we were all getting hungry, so we walked down Meridian Street to The Old Spaghetti Factory.  By getting there just before 5:00, we avoided having to wait for a table.  If you go there, be sure to ask for a table in the trolley car.  Kids love The Spaghetti Factory because, well, what kid doesn’t love spaghetti?  They also love the fact that every meal comes with spumoni.  The d├ęcor is fun and the price is right.  We all came away well fed for about $40.00, plus tip. 

As we left the restaurant and headed back toward our car, we spotted horse-drawn carriages coming off of the Circle.  We hailed one to ask if it was available.  The driver was on her way to another appointment but she gave us the company phone number along with instructions to walk to the Circle and call the office as we went.  We did so and were able to step right onto a Yellow Rose Carriage without waiting.  The cost was $50 for roughly a 30-minute ride.  Our driver, Josh, was as nice as can be and even used my camera to take pictures of our little group.  We finished up our ride and our evening just before the rains came. 

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