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Wisconsin Parent

Midwest Travel: Family Vacation in Indianapolis, Indiana

May 20, 2014 10:22AM ● By Julie Henning

'The Canal' leading into Downtown Indianapolis.

Indianapolis. AKA Indy, The Circle City, Crossroads of America, Naptown, The Racing Capital of the World, and Amateur Sports Capital of the World. Until last week, I had always been focused on getting around, through, or past Indianapolis on my way to somewhere else—and let me be the first to say that if you hadn't ever considered a family vacation to the Hoosier State, I'm here to help shift your Indiana paradigm.

Receiving accolades by the New York Times in a list of 52 places to visit in 2014, Indianapolis joins ranks with Nashville, Los Angeles, and Atlanta in spot number 34.

An urban cycling model has arrived in Indianapolis: the new $63 million, eight-mile bike-friendly Indy Cultural Trail. The path connects five downtown neighborhoods, including arty Fountain Square, to top downtown sites, including the Capitol Building, City Market and White River State Park, a 250-acre park that hosts the Indianapolis Zoo and six more major attractions. Bicycles can be rented along the paved and lighted pathway, allowing riders to cruise past public art, including a motion-activated fireflylike swarm of LED lights. City officials say that planners from Cologne, Germany, to Portland, Ore., have come to see how the city most famous for a 500-mile car race managed to swap auto for bike lanes and still keep everything rolling smoothly. — ELAINE GLUSAC

NCAA Hall of Champions in Downtown Indianapolis

A compact city by big city standards, Elaine Glusac is accurate in pointing out many attractions with walking distance of downtown, the NCAA Hall of Champions, the Indianapolis Zoo, White River State Park, The Canal, the Indianapolis State Museum & IMAX Theater, Victory Field Baseball Park, the Indiana State Capitol, Military Park, the Indiana History Center, Monument Circle, City Market, the Eiteljorg Museum, and the Indiana Convention Center. Host to Super Bowl XLVI, fans coming to the "Cold Weather City" enjoyed a network of interconnected skywalks linking Lucas Oil Stadium and eight high-end hotels.

JW Marriot in Indianapolis is known as "The Big Blue"

Two major family-friendly venues in Indianapolis are the Indianapolis Zoo and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Located within the White River State Park, the Indianapolis Zoo has an "urban adventure" vibe.

Elephants with Skyline-Tim Littig

Just north of downtown, the five-story 500,000 square foot Children's Museum is award winning for good reason. One of the best Children's Museums I've been to (if not the best), look for a full review of both the zoo and museum, respectively.

The Children's Museum Indianapolis

If you decide to book a family vacation to Indianapolis, consider booking a room at the JW Marriott (not only is this within walking distance of the zoo and several other attractions, kids will enjoy the swanky pool and picking a prize from the treasure desk located at the front desk).

Treasure Chest ad the JW Marriott

While Indianapolis boasts over 200 restaurants in its downtown, we recommend Scotty's Brewhouse at 1 Virginina Avenue. Owned and operated by a father of four kids (Scotty), the Children's Menu features four gluten-free entrees and healthy appetizers while kids wait for their meals. Scotty's Brewhouse also has a treasure chest loaded with prizes. And if you love fried pickles or tater-tots as much as I do, Scotty's is the place for you!

Treasure Chest Scotty's Brewhouse

If a trip to Indianapolis sounds intriguing to you, check out for more ideas and information.

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