If you’re thinking about a last hurrah, a final summer getaway, keep Indianapolis “Indy” in mind. After a short three-hour drive, you’ll wind up in the capital city of Indiana, with loads of museums, parks and state history at your fingertips. Here is our list of the five best activities that are sure to keep the smiles plastered all weekend long.

indianapolis-childrensphoto: Indianapolis Children’s Museum

1. Stellar museums around every corner
Did you know that the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest with 1.3 million annual visitors? This massive kids paradise has 12 permanent galleries and nearly 1 million square feet—five floors—of interactive learning. Kids can explore the Dinosphere and visit with real paleontologists while learning about dinosaur fossils, ride on an antique carousel, revel in modern Chinese life in the Take Me There: China exhibit, see a 43-foot Chihuly-inspired glass sculpture that looks like fireworks and feel inspired by The Power of Children: Making a Difference exhibit. Don’t forget to visit one of their newer exhibits, Beyond Spaceship Earth, which takes an in-depth peek at a recreation of the International Space Station.

Other great museums and centers include: Indianapolis Art CenterRhythm! Discovery Center, Indianapolis Firefighters Museum & Historical Society and Fire Station Union Hall Theatre  and Dallara Indy Car Factory.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
3000 N. Meridian St.
317-334-4000
Online: childrensmuseum.org/

Go Ape Indyphoto: Go Ape Tree Top Adventure

2. Opportunities to connect with nature
Do you have monkeys in your household that need to burn off energy? Take them to Eagle Creek Park’s Go Ape, an interactive outdoor nature adventure that features five zip lines and over 40 treetop obstacles! The entire family will work up a sweat on the skill course and enjoy time spent in the great outdoors.

Other great ways to spend time outside: Conner Prairie Interactive History ParkIndianapolis ZooIndianapolis Cultural Trail and bike rentals through Indiana Pacers Bike Share. Pro tip: Check out Biking Expert, your go-to guide on all-things urban biking. On Biking Expert’s blog, for example, you can read an article on the 75 most bike friendly cities in the world—Indianapolis made the list.

Go Ape Tree Top Adventure
5855 Delong Rd.
800-971-8271
online: goape.com

3. Add a little music to your Summer
Indy has a huge music scene and there are multiple venues to see a show (indoors and outdoors). Klipsch Music Center has a fun concert lineup: Brad Paisley, Nickleback, Green Day, Hank Williams Jr., Kings of Leon, Zach Brown Band, John Mayer and more—it might be time to expose the kiddos to their first rock concert.

Other music venues include: The Lawn at White River State Park, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Slippery Noodle Inn and Hilbert Circle Theatre.

Klipsch Music Center
12880 E. 146th St.
317-776-8181
Online: livenation.com

Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, Inphoto: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

4. It’s a sports lovers paradise
Indy folks seriously love their sports: basketball, baseball, hockey, golf and football. It’s all there and it’s all near downtown. Families come out of the woodwork to attend sporting events all summer long. The internationally known Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an experience like no other — it’s home to the world’s largest single-day sporting event. The track has been hosting the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race for over 100 years. Families love to see The Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP race. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s family-friendly.

Other great sporting venues include: Lucas Oil Stadium, Victory Field, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Brickyard Crossing Golf Course and Indy Cycloplex.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
4790 W. 16th St.
317-481-8500
Online: indianapolismotorspeedway.com

Indiana War Memorial Museumphoto: Indiana War Memorial

5. It’s chock-full of history
In the heart of Indianapolis sits The Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District, which is home to two museums, three parks, and 24 acres of monuments, sculptures and fountains (second only to Washington D.C. in size and scope). Families will love wandering around Monument Circle and the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a 284-foot neoclassical sculpture that is surrounded by a brick-paved street with loads of shops and restaurants in the center of town. Grab an ice cream and sit on the steps for great people watching and a view of the vibrant city life. You can rent a horse and carriage or a bicycle carrier here and take a ride around the city. This is also the location for several street fairs and family-friendly festivals (Brew Fest is Sept. 2, Monument Circle Oktoberfest is Sept. 15, Monument Circle Art Fair is Oct. 7and Taste of Indy Fall Festival is TBD). Check the calendar for more happenings.

The Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District
1 Monument Circle
317-232-7616
Online: downtownindy.org

Hilton Indyphoto: Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites

Location, location, location
You’ll want to pick a hotel within walking distance to downtown Indy. Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites and the Omni Severin Hotel are great options in terms of location, amenities, dining options and family-friendliness.

Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites
120 W. Market St.
317-972-0600
Online: hilton.com

Omni Severin Hotel
40 W. Jackson Pl.
317-634-6664
Online: omnihotels.com

Do you have any other ideas for fun kid-friendly places to explore in Indy? Share in the Comments below.

—Wendy Altschuler