Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Indy on a Budget
Free and discounted summer activities

by Krista Bocko

July 01, 2011

Ahh, July. School almost seems like a distant memory and the lazy, hazy days of summer seem to stretch out endlessly. If you’ve been hearing, “I’m bored,” on repeat and want to take full advantage of Indy’s summer fun offerings that are either free or cheap, check out these suggestions we put together for you.

Summer Reading Programs

The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s (IMCPL) Summer Reading Program, A Science Odyssey, is for children of all ages and runs through August 1. Readers can enhance their reading skills and earn points for all reading activity. Points can then be exchanged for a variety of great prizes from such local organizations as the Indianapolis Indians, Indiana Fever, Royal Pin Leisure Centers, Chili’s Grill and Bar, The Children’s Museum Guild Haunted House, White Castle, the Indiana State Museum Center for Science and Culture, and IMAX/Indiana State Museum.

The Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program is for kids ages 14 and under and runs through July 31. Kids can participate by picking up a reading log from the bookstore and should aim for a goal of reading at least 15 minutes per day. Completed logs can be turned in through August 7 for a $5 Back-to-School Bucks reward.

Movies & Music

Take advantage of The Great Escape movie theaters 2011 Kids’ Summer Movies promotion, which shows free movies at certain theaters every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Another great deal can be found at Galaxy Stadium 14 on E. 96th St., which has 10 a.m. showings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for only $1.

Expose your kids to live music in a relaxed park venue. Broad Ripple Park, Garfield Park, Holliday Park and Eagle Creek are hosting free concerts all summer long.


Indy Parks has 15 spray grounds that are open dawn to dusk daily, and are a fun, free and accessible way to cool off in the July heat.

For more water fun, visit Flowing Well Park in Carmel, this is a great place for a picnic and hike. Bring empty water jugs to fill in the artesian flowing well and talk about where our water comes from. Wear sandals and bring towels, because when you head down to the wide, shallow creek you won’t be able to resist wading in the water for a bit.


The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) features 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, and is one of the largest museum art parks in the country. The IMA’s shady Lilly Gardens is a great place for kids to enjoy nature and the interactive art sculptures. Open dawn to dusk daily.

Save big on Community Tuesdays at White River State Park. On the first Tuesday of every month, the surrounding park venues offer discounts to visitors. To name a few, The Indiana State Museum offers half priced admission, IMAX Theater tickets are discounted by $2, and all Indianapolis Zoo tickets are $7 per person.

On the first Thursday of every month at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the museum is open free of charge from 4 to 8 p.m.


Who doesn’t love bowling? For a change of pace from outdoor summer fun, check out the Kids Bowl Free program. Indianapolis has four participating bowling centers. There are also participating centers in Shelbyville and in Noblesville. Sign up at the bowling center of your choice, and kids are eligible to register for two free games a day all summer long (shoe rental not included).

Encourage your children to pick out some of their favorites of these events and add them to your calendar of family outings. More information and web links to these events can be found on our Web site, at