The kids are home for holiday break. It’s cold outside and the “I’m bored” complaints are inevitable. Now what? Give your family some much needed away-time and try one of these fun (and inexpensive) events in Downtown Indianapolis.

Experience local traditions

1.  Bundle up and head to Monument Circle where you can admire the Downtown Indy, Inc. Circle of Lights® presented by IBEW 481. The lights remain lit through early January. It’s the perfect location for family pictures and new memories. Drop your letter off to Santa via Santa’s Mailbox on the Circle while you’re there through Dec. 21. 

2. Be sure to take the family inside the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument to the Col. Eli Lilly Civil War Museum. Located in the Monument’s basement, the museum is open Friday – Sunday and admission is free.

3. Experience the Indianapolis Zoo with Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union through Dec. 30. The Zoo opens at noon with holiday activities from 5 – 9 p.m. on weekdays and 5 – 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Stop by the all-new Santa’s Village under the Bicentennial Pavilion, where you can decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, visit with Santa in his study and see Santa’s reindeer in his barn. Buy tickets online for even more savings.

4. The Christkindl Village Dec. 14 – 16 is a holiday celebration with a traditional Christmas Market, presented by St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. The free festival includes a canopy of lights, live animal Nativity, kid’s activities, photos with St. Nick, German foods, beer and wine garden and musical performances including caroling. The Christmas Market provides gifts as well as arts and crafts to purchase.  The festival will take place in the St. John parking lot and along the west block of Georgia Street. 

 Merriment at Museums 

5. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art transforms into a locomotive winter wonderland with Jingle Rails through Jan. 21. Watch as trains wind past icons of Indianapolis and the American West. The Jingle Rails exhibit is free with general museum admission.

6. If you’re looking for variety in holiday activities, check out Celebration Crossing at The Indiana State Museum through Jan. 6. Children of all ages can ride the Santa Claus Express, make crafts to take home and gaze into holidays past from a recreated L.S. Ayers store window. Children can also take advantage of Santa’s Playground.  

7. Looking for a unique gift for the holidays? Visit the free Holiday Hullabaloo at Newfields Dec. 6 starting at 11 a.m. to enjoy live music, shop for one-of-a-kind jewelry, hand-blown glass ornaments and receive complementary gift wrapping and discounts at the Museum & Garden Shop.

8. Celebrate family traditions and holidays with Jolly Days Winter Wonderland. Visit The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis at a discount from 4 – 8 p.m. on Dec. 6 for $5. Santa will be visiting so be on your best behavior. Also, Dec. 24 is FREE for all visitors from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

9. Experience timeless holiday classics as Downtown Indy, Inc. partners with the Athenaeum Foundation and Indy Film Fest for Festive Films. Enjoy three holiday movies at the Athenaeum’s Basile Theater on three Mondays in December at 7 p.m. Tickets to each show are $10 and proceeds benefit Downtown holiday décor and the Athenaeum Foundation. See Elf Dec. 3; It’s a Wonderful Life Dec. 10; and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Dec. 17.

Get Active

10. On those rare sunny winter days, bundle up and take a stroll on the 8-mile Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Explore one of the six Cultural Districts and check out the public art along the trail.

11. Nobody is too old to go sledding. After a fresh snowfall, head over to the sledding hill at Garfield Park. While you’re there, check out Conservatory Crossing through  Dec. 31 and experience a brilliant poinsettia display, running model trains and thousands of twinkling lights.

12. Want to amp up your holiday spirit? Grab a festive drink at Plat 99’s Miracle on South Street through Dec. 24. Each day, Plat 99 at The Alexander will open a free pop-up holiday cocktail bar for everyone in Indianapolis to enjoy. The roster of Christmas concoctions include the Snowball Old Fashioned, Christmas Carol Barrel, and the Partridge In A Pear Tree. Plus, all cocktails will be served in custom Miracle glassware, from mugs to coupes, highballs and rocks glasses. 

Just For Fun 

13. Take the kids to Christmas at the Puppet Studio. The whole family will enjoy Peewinkle’s music and puppet-filled Christmas variety show. Mozart & Ludmilla, the mice that live in the piano, host this well-loved show.Catch it through Dec. 28 at various times.

14. Stop by the Indy Winter Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Circle City Industrial Complex. Shop from a variety of locally produced food, garden and household products or learn about local food and sustainable living. 

15. Witness holiday trees decked out in ways you’ve never seen at the Indiana Historical Society’s Festival of Trees through Jan. 5. The event features 80 uniquely designed and decorated trees, plus a 30-foot centerpiece tree with an Indiana theme. Enjoy the nighttime tree glow by visiting on Twilight Tuesdays until 8 p.m. through Dec. 18. Weekend programming includes story time with a vintage Santa, special Saturday themes such as A Christmas Story and more.


Grace Bowling

Grace Bowling

Communications and Marketing Intern, Downtown Indy, Inc.