Free, Family-Friendly Fun Around Indy This Summer

Published July 6, 2021

We’re full-swing into summer break, and we can only imagine the never-ending choruses of “I’m booooored”s and “there’s nothing to dooooo”s around your house. Keeping kids occupied during summer break can be challenging during the best of times, but coming off a full year of COVID-related cabin fever means this summer, especially, is driving parents crazy.

Not to fear! There are tons of FREE (and low-cost) activities nearby to keep kids active and engaged…and hopefully just a tad less whiny. We’ve compiled a few of our favorites below, but this still only scratches the surface. If you haven’t bookmarked Indy’s Child and Indy with Kids in your browser yet, do yourself a favor and take a look. They’re both fantastic resources for all things kid-related in our fair city!

Lots to Love at the Library

We cannot praise the Indianapolis Public Library enough…. Year ‘round, they have all sorts of fun, free activities, but they really step up their game during the summer.

Garfield Park’s Got it Going On

There are so many parks around the Indy area, and many of them are the unsung heroes of the summer. None more so than Garfield Park—outdoor activities, indoor activities, art activities, nature activities…they have it all!

  • Burello Family Center: Grab your sneaks and head to the gym! Ask about their free fitness classes, like yoga and karate, or just enjoy open gym hours, when admission for kids 12 and under is free. You can also enjoy the aquatics center or Pickleball for a small fee. 
  • Arts Center: Do you have a budding artist on your hands? Take them over to the Arts Center some Saturday to participate in their free Arts for All activities! While you’re at it, check out the exhibits around the building and engage your little ones in a “critique” of what you see. The Arts Center also puts on some fun events throughout the summer—check out their website for info on Vintage Movie Nights, a Bad Art Night, and the pet-friendly Picasso Puppies event! 
  • Conservatory and Sunken Garden: It’s always a good day when you get to explore the Sunken Gardens (free admission) at Garfield Park. Wander the grounds and admire three acres of beautiful formal garden displays and fountains. For an extra treat, visit the Conservatory ($2/person) and delight in more exotic plant life. The Conservatory and Garden also host several events throughout the summer for free or for a minimal fee. Check out the list here

Opt for Outdoors

Speaking of parks, there’s no end to the fun when you opt to enjoy the outdoors and start exploring. Indy has a number of parks, from big to small, simple to extravagant, and almost all of them have a variety of activities going on any given day. Check out their website for a full list, and here are a few of our favorites:

Volunteer

Sometimes a good way to stop the “I’m bored”s is to give your kids a purpose. There are several organizations in town that could use an extra set of helping hands. Volunteering doesn’t always have to be “work,” either—if you align your volunteer activities with your kids’ interests, it could end up being the highlight of their summer! As a family, make a list of everyone’s interests and hobbies, and do a little research to find out if there are any opportunities that could be fun AND rewarding. Here are some examples to get you started:

There’s so much to do in this city, and a lot of it is free, free, free! We can’t wait to hear what your families have been up to once we see everyone back in the classroom. Happy summer, everyone!

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