I love finding new free things to do in Indianapolis (and other cities), especially at Chrismtas time. Guests are in town, kids are on school break and you want to check out something holiday-themed. Here are 12 places in downtown Indy, opening up for free this year and compiled by IndyDowntown.
Friday, Dec. 13
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, open noon – 6 p.m.
Get a glimpse into Kurt Vonnegut’s personal items and artwork or pull a book off the library shelves and relax with it in a comfy chair. All guests will receive a FREE bumper sticker.
Saturday, Dec. 14
Pan Am Pavilion, open noon – 8 p.m.
Skate for FREE in the same arena where the Indiana Ice play! Note: skate rental is extra or you can bring your own. Enjoy the festivities on Georgia Street during the FREE City Sidewalks.
Sunday, Dec. 15
Elevator rides to the top of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monument Circle and Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, open 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Take an elevator ride to the top of the Monument. The observatory at the top offers views of Downtown Indianapolis. Also visit the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum in the basement of the Monument.
Monday, Dec. 16
Indiana State Museum, open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Experience Celebration Crossing and the L.S. Ayres Santa Claus Express train. Santa and Mrs. Claus will entertain visitors in their home on level 3 of the museum.
Tuesday, Dec. 17
James Whitcomb Riley Museum, open 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 18
Morris-Butler House, open noon – 3 p.m.
This beautiful restored 1865 home showcases the architecture, history and culture. The home also houses a collection of nineteenth-century sculptures, paintings and lithographs from all over the world.
Thursday, Dec. 19
The Indianapolis Museum of Art, open 5 – 8:30 p.m.
Grab some ideas for holiday décor during the IMA’s annual Winter Solstice. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Oldfields, the IMA will be looking to the 1900s and 1910s for decor inspiration. Warm up in the Lilly House with historic holiday decorations and music, then shop at the greenhouse and museum.
Friday, Dec. 20
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Check out the impressive display of 75 vehicles, including The Marmon "Wasp," which won the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911 and an exhibit honoring Parnelli Jones, 1963 Indy 500 winner.
Saturday, Dec. 21
Indiana Historical Society, open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Spend the day enjoying the latest offerings – especially Destination Indiana and You Are There. Grab a family photo next to the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.
Sunday, Dec. 22
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, open 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Holiday season at the authentically-restored 1875 Italianate home of President Benjamin Harrison features Victorian holiday adornment.
Monday, Dec. 23
National Institute of Fitness and Sport (NIFS), open 5:15 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Put in a little time on a treadmill or in a group fitness class and enjoy that holiday eggnog without the guilt. NIFS offers an indoor NBA regulation-sized basketball court, Pilates studio, group fitness studio, 200-meter indoor track, fully-equipped weight room and more than 100 pieces of cardio equipment. Parking is available directly across the facility in the Riverwalk Garage (NIFS will validate.) Children ages 11-17 must be accompanied by an adult. A nursery is available for children under age 11 (see hours on website).
Tuesday, Dec. 24
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, open 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Holidays sparkle at the world’s largest children’s museum. Visit Jolly Days Winter Wonderland and experience the giant Yule Slide. Take part in a number of seasonal favorites including skating in socks on an indoor “pond,” climbing and sliding on the Snow Castle, “ice” fishing and pretend-baking holiday goodies in the Tradition Kitchen.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel, food, wine and spirits columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at www.GottaGo.us and www.FoodDigital.com and catch her as Indy’s Personal Lifestyle Adviser on Indy Style, WISH8 (CBS). Gotta Go is published on www.Gottago.us, www.BroadwayWorld.com, and in print. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.