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Family Fun in Indy

Kid-Friendly Restaurants Are a Parent's Dream

Local Dining Hot Spots Cater to Kids

August 01, 2010
Close your eyes. Imagine sitting in a comfy chair at a freshly cleaned table with your family. A magician making balloon animals entertaining the kids, and you enjoy it yourself—especially since someone else is doing all the work and cleanup. Just when you start to wonder what this magical place is and whether or not you are dreaming, a waitress approaches the table with spill-proof cups and a couple of kids' meals. "Is this really happening?" you wonder, "Are there really child-friendly restaurants that make it easy for me that the kids actually like?"

Sit back and enjoy—your search is finally over. You are no longer limited to a fast food drive-through with a huge mess in the car. And get this, you can actually help them think about what they want to be when they grow up in the process! Here are some examples:

For the future economist

Does Sally save every penny she finds? No problem! Some restaurants in the capital city help keep a few bucks in your wallet, as well. Grindstone Charley's, with two locations in Indianapolis, offers discounted meals for children, as well as entertainment every Wednesday night. Plus, Sally gets her own custom made animal balloon to take home.

Many other Hoosier restaurants are now offering food and entertainment complimentary for children, helping to rank these restaurants at the top of the kid-friendly restaurant charts.

Monday: McAlisters–Kids can enjoy the sandwiches and salads in a relaxed atmosphere.

Tuesday: Fazolli's–Does your child love breadsticks? At Fazolli's, breadsticks are free, and on Tuesdays kids meals are free, too. A craft corner and coloring sheets are also available from 5:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday: A 2 Z Italian Café–Spaghetti for free? At A 2 Z Italian Café kids eat free on Wednesday.

Thursday: Captain D's–Love food from under the sea? At Captain D's, kids eat free on Thursday.

Sunday: Scotty's Brewhouse–Free food and entertainment. At Scotty's, kids can watch sporting events on television, color or play corn hole.

For the future star athlete

Do you live with a mini Shaq, A-Rod or Manning? Many family-friendly sports restaurants in the capital city will appeal to your aspiring athlete. With entertainment such as cornhole and large televisions displaying sporting events, Scotty's Brewhouse is great for kids with a competitive side. Discounts for students making the honor roll and kids eat free days are also available.

Taking the family to a sporting event doesn't have to cost a lot of money, either. The Indianapolis Indian's offer great discounts on snacks that kids can eat while watching the game. Souvenir Sunday giveaways include everything from whiffle bats to bobbleheads, magnets, t-shirts, flip flops, baseball caps and baseball card sets. On Mondays, fans can purchase hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, popcorn and potato chips for just $1 each.

For the future farmer

Does Billy love tractors, cows and working in the yard? Indianapolis has many kid-friendly restaurants where visitors can learn about farming and even meet with farmers. At Trader's Point Creamery, families can take a stroll through the dairy farms and milking parlor, watch the production of dairy products through the Creamery window or visit the calves and chickens. Plus, once the tour is over, kids will love to eat at the Dairy Bar and Restaurant serving homemade ice cream, yogurt and cheesy sandwiches. Visiting Trader's Point Creamery is an udderly moo-ving experience.

· Want to meet a farmer? Every Wednesday the City Market hosts the Farmers' Market from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Kids can walk around, meet over 50 producers, and pick out their own vegetables, cheeses and sweets.

For the future chef

Does your little chef always want to help frost cupcakes or prepare spaghetti? In Indianapolis, there are many restaurants that allow kids to watch while their meal is being prepared. Buca de Beppo, Naked Tchopstix and Cold Stone Creamery are among the top kid-friendly. At Buca de Beppo, an Italian-style restaurant, guests can sit at the table in the kitchen and watch how a restaurant's kitchen operates. Your aspiring chef will enjoy the upbeat atmosphere and learn some cooking tips.

At Cold Stone Creamery, kids can watch their own ice cream being created. Pick your ice cream. Pick your mix-ins. Watch. What's more fun than that?

Ever wonder how sushi is made? The mystery is solved at Naked Tchopstix, where kids and parents can watch as sushi is rolled, with yummy options including the popular fruit-sushi dubbed "Mango Tango." Try it—it's delicious! (For a sweeter mix, swap out the jalapeno for cream cheese…yum!)

For the future nutritionist

So you're blessed to have a healthy eater who actually enjoys veggies and whole grains? Lucky you, your healthy eater is no doubt destined to become a nutritionist. Fortunately, there are kid-friendly restaurants in Indianapolis that offer lunch and dinner for the most health conscious child and those whom we wish were! At Petite Chou, kids can eat organic French-style breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are even a number of items that are gluten-free, which is appealing to those who may have wheat allergies or special dietary needs. And you can dine outside at this pet-friendly restaurant to add another form of entertainment.

Yes parents, the answer to one of life's biggest questions has finally surfaced —there ARE kid-friendly restaurants and they are in your own backyard. As an added bonus, they can even provide a learning experience that could help them make a future career choice.

Amanda Uhles is a senior at Indiana University studying journalism. As the Communications Intern at the ICVA she works to promote the city of Indianapolis to residents and visitors. In her free time, she enjoys running along the canal and exploring the many Indianapolis malls.

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Tags: Education, Enrichment

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