By: Jessica Richardson
In the winter, being a resident in Indiana can seem boring. Hoosiers don’t have palm trees and warm weather, but they make the best of what they have. There are many fun places to go in Indiana, though some might be more than a few miles away. This list will help you in finding the 5 best places you have to see or go to in Indiana during Christmas time and the winter break from school.
- Downtown (Soldiers and Sailors Monument Circle, Indiana War Memorial, Circle Centre Mall, etc.) Around Christmas is one of the best times to visit downtown Indy. The lights are on the monument and the smell of Starbucks is fresh in the air. But no matter when you go, the food places are always delicious. “Downtown is a really great place to just walk around with your family and friends. It’s beautiful during Christmas with the lights being up,” sophomore Ali MacLeod said. “I love the statues and the culture of it all.” The Circle of Lights spectacular with a musical talent contest was held right on Monument Circle Thanksgiving weekend. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of the flip of the switch creating the largest Christmas tree known to Indiana. Fireworks were an added feature to the evening. The 52 strands of 4,784 lights are used to create the 242-foot display, which is presented by Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers. The tree remains lit through January 9th and is a wonderful feature to take a carriage ride around that starts and ends in front of the tree, along with the 26 peppermint sticks, 26 giant toy soldiers, and 56,700 twinkle lights that illuminate the downtown walkways.
- The Indianapolis Zoo. Christmas at the Zoo is one of the best times to go to the zoo. The twinkling Christmas lights are up, and with the colder nights many animals stay up later to enjoy the winter weather. Families can stroll around the luminous LED energy efficient lights while enjoying hot beverages and seasonal treats. Carolers sit by the fires and sing songs with you and your family. Or visit inside exhibits including the new Orangutan Center and Dolphin Dome. Take a train ride, enjoy the carousel, or a showing of The Polar Express in the 4-D Theater. These features are extra cost but worth the experience. With zoo ticket admission, visitors gain free access to White River Gardens where kids can visit Santa’s Workshop and have free visits with Santa with photo opportunities for a fee. Kids can decorate a cookie with help from Mrs. Claus or leave a note for Santa before or after Christmas. My personal favorite is the scavenger hunt inside the Hilbert Conservatory of Santa’s tropical paradise. The zoo is open from 12-9 Wednesday through Sunday, with holiday events starting at 5pm. Visit the Indianapolis Zoo’s Website for a list of scheduled activities.
- Conner Prairie. Who doesn’t love manual labor, am I right? If you love to do crafts and interact with history, Conner Prairie is the best place for you to visit.“I liked that it depicted history so well,” junior Katie MacLeod said. “I liked how they did chores and games.” Christmas time presents, Holiday Adventures. Journey back to winter time 1836 when Prairietown residents at Conner Prairie are preparing for the cold weather. Each person in town has a different story to tell, who discuss the history of various holiday traditions. Enjoy the simplicity of the tour, while strolling along rough old paths and meeting costumed interpreters. Then act with Prairietown residents to the “Anything Can Happen” theater. Conner Prairie is a living history museum that turns the past into the present, while reconnecting with the holiday spirit. Afterward check out the Gingerbread Village, featuring dozens of amateur and professional gingerbread creations.
- Museums in Indiana. (Indiana State Museum, Eiteljorg Museum, Children’s Museum etc.) The Children’s Museum is a great place to take your family on the holiday. The Jolly Days Winter Wonderland exhibit is a great way to spend time with your siblings or cousins visiting. “I absolutely love the Children’s Museum, even now I love that place, it’s awesome,” sophomore Luna Brooks said. “I would choose to go there over any normal museum. The atmosphere isn’t oppressive like other museums and going with my baby cousins and seeing how they get to play and learn is fun and exciting. I have a lot of good memories there with my family,” Brooks continues, “and I wish more museums would adopt the idea of a less strict, hands on exhibition method.” During Jolly Days, the Children’s Museum transforms the staircase into a two-story slide, with lots of holiday decorations. Children can ice-skate in the sock-skating rink and try indoor versions of winter activities like ice fishing. Santa arrives in style in a race car and there are plenty of times to visit with him and get photos. The Indiana State Museum celebrates with Celebration Crossing. Children can make crafts and ride the Santa Claus Express Train, while adults can explore the re-created L.S. Ayres holiday window displays. Other activities include breakfast with Santa, tea parties in the historic L.S. Ayres Tea Room, and plenty of music from bands and choirs. Lastly, the Eiteljorg Museum celebrates with 1,200 feet of track in their Jingle Rails display. The display includes tunnels, bridges, trestles, and scale models of local landmarks like Lucas Oil and Union Station. The museum also features Winter Market selling homemade goods from more than 30 local artists.
- Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Hilbert Circle Theatre features lively orchestras for a classical evening. If you are feeling fancy, it is a great time to dress up and go out for the night with family or friends. Not a classical person? The orchestra also has many pop options, even Motown styled productions. The best part: they recognize that we are poor. Bring a school ID to the Box Office (or Will Call if you buy ahead of time) and the orchestra is just $10!
Though Indiana seems boring at times check out these places and things to do and you might just change your mind.