Spring into action: Local museums, zoo offer special events for spring break

Let the party begin.

Spring break has descended upon Johnson County, as many schools in the area are in the middle of or gearing up for some well-earned time off. While some families take advantage to jet off to sunny beaches or other exotic locales, many are sticking around central Indiana.

But just because you’re staying in town doesn’t mean there’s nothing fun to do. Area museums and other cultural attractions have put together special exhibitions, programs and offerings just for the spring, adding live entertainment, new experiences and special food and drink.

Run, jump and throw in a sports paradise. Take in the season’s natural beauty among thousands of blooming flowers. Dance and sing among the animals at a unique festival.

Here’s a rundown of what to do if the kids are bouncing off the walls and need some fun on this stay-cation.


Details: Noon-4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, March 23 to April 16, Indianapolis Zoo, 1200 W. Washington St.

Spring in central Indiana is the time of year when nature starts waking up after a long winter. That is certainly true at the Indianapolis Zoo, where warmer temperatures mean more animals can go outside, and zoo organizers plan a wealth of activities to celebrate.

The zoo’s Bicentennial Pavilion will be abuzz with live music and dancing, while spring-centric art and activities keep kids busy all afternoon. They can create their own nature-themed art projects, or make enrichment items to give to the zoo animals. Larger-than-life flowers, humming birds and pinwheels offer excellent places for photo opportunities. And get up-close with goats and chickens during encounter experiences.

If you’ve worn yourself out playing, stop for a snack with the zoo’s refreshed menu, featuring backyard barbecue-type items such as hot dogs, bratwurst and barbecue sandwiches. Older guests can enjoy craft beer, wine and hand-crafted cocktails created especially for our event by Hotel Tango.

Spring Blooms

Details: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, now until early May, Newfields, 4000 N. Michigan Ave., Indianapolis

One of the area’s most delightful outdoor experiences can be found on the grounds of Newfields, where acres of carefully maintained gardens showcase nature’s artistry. In the spring, hundreds of thousands of colorful blooms emerge from the ground, much to the delight of visitors.

From late March to early May, Spring Blooms showcases the wonder of horticulture, both inside the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s galleries and outdoors. Art in Bloom kicks off this weekend, featuring floral artists displaying their talents alongside the museum’s art collections. Newfields’ award-winning orchid collection is on display in the galleries, the Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse, and Lilly House.

As the weather gets warmer, the gardens come to life. Take in the floral fiesta, then stop at the Garden Terrace, Newfields’ brand-new beer garden, to sip on local brews and other offerings in the heart of The Garden.

Sports Legends Experience

Details: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 N. Meridian St.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a wealth of activity year-round, and this spring, attractions such as “Minecraft: The Exhibition” drawing droves of visitors and spring-break guests. But with the weather getting warmer, one of its most popular features is back open with new additions.

The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience is a hands-on and interactive outdoor sports activity park spread across a 7.5-acre portion of the museum’s campus. Kids and their families can try all kinds of sports, from shooting hoops to playing street hockey to racing around a mini-speedway.

This year, the museum has partnered with a trio of sports luminaries to revamp a few of the features.

At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway experience, the Tony Stewart Foundation worked with the museum to acquire pedal cars that meet multiple needs and create a track with “lane barriers” or guides similar to bumper rails you might use while bowling.

New miniature speedsters are geared toward little legends-in-training so they can easily reach the pedals. There is also a handcycle option that can attach to most wheelchairs. Finally, the new bumper guides help create a lane for wheelchair users who can choose to race their own set of wheels around the track.

In the Indy Eleven Soccer Experience, kids can learn soccer fundamentals and work on dribbling, passing, and shooting skills on a mini-pitch.

USA Track & Field is helping present The Hershey/USATF RunJumpThrow Experience. Families can run a 50-meter dash and compare their time to legendary track star Wilma Rudolph, as well as leap into a long jump pit and step into the ring to throw a shot put.