Travel

Family Vacations in Indianapolis: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

Family vacations in Indianapolis can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters -- it all depends on doing pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Indianapolis family vacations.

Indianapolis Zoo

Nestled downtown in White River State Park is the
, which is accredited as a botanic garden and aquarium as well as a zoo--the first attraction to accomplish this triple play. The zoo includes four living habitats or "biomes," including the Forests Biome, Oceans Biome, Deserts Biome and Plains Biome. Speedy cheetahs, tree-grazing giraffes and majestic elephants are some of the popular residents of the Plains Biome.

Address: 1200 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46222 Phone: 317-630-2001 Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday Price: Adults, $15.25; seniors 62 and over and youth 2 to 12, $10.25; infants one and under, free.

Caribbean Cove Hotel & Water Park

The
combines a 50,000-square-foot water park open year-round with a family-friendly hotel with enough business amenities to make it easy to get a little work done during drier moments. Hotel packages include four waterpark wristbands so family members can zip through the Tropical Twist body slide, shoot through the Raging Rapids tube slide or just relax in one of the quieter zones. The hotel offers wireless Internet, breakfast for four family members, a fitness center and parking, all free of charge. Non-hotel guests can purchase wristbands on a space-available basis.

Address: 3850 Depauw Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46268 Phone: 317-872-9790 Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Price: Included with room package. Additional wristbands extra.

Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The
is the largest children's museum in the world, encompassing 472,900 square feet and holding more than 120,000 artifacts. The museum, founded in 1925, offers a wide range of fun exhibits, including the Dinosphere: Now You're in Their World, Barbie: The Fashion Experience and the Biotech Learning Center. Scheduled exhibits include Frogs: A Chorus of Colors, a collection of the brightest and most colorful of the hoppy amphibians from around the world.

Address: 3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208 Phone: 317-334-3322 Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open daily from March through September. Open Tuesday from Sept. to February. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Price: Youth 2 to 17, $11.50; adults 18 to 59, $16.50; seniors 60 and older, $15.50.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame

History buffs and muscle-car fans alike will enjoy a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, home of many of the cars that have taken the checkered flag at the legendary racetrack. About 75 historic vehicles are on display in the 96,000-square-foot museum, including all four of the cars A.J. Foyt Jr. drove in his four Indy 500 victories and the Marmon "Wasp" driven to victory by Ray Harroun in the first Indy 500 in 1911.

Address: 4790 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222 Phone: 317-492-6784 Hours: March through October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November through February, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Extended hours in May. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Price: Adults, $5; children 6 to 15, $3; children younger than 6, free.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

In addition to being the home of The Indy 500, the world's most famous automobile race, the
happens to be the world's largest spectator sports facility. It seats 250,000 racing fans in its 1,025 acres and boasts a 2.5-mile oval track which was originally paved with 3.2 million bricks. With the exception of a yard-long strip near the start/finish line, the entire track has been covered with new surfacing. Narrated bus tours of the track and an in-depth grounds tour of the facilities are available when there are no races or other events.

Address: 4790 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222 Phone: 317-492-6784 Hours: Track tours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March through October; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November to February; extended hours on event days. Tours not available on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. Call for dates and times of grounds tours. Price: Track tours: Adults, $5; children 6 to 15, $3; children 5 and younger, free. Call for grounds tour pricing.

Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.

Well within driving range is
's Lafayette, Ind., assembly plant, where some of Subaru's passenger car models like the Outback, Legacy and Tribeca are built. The free tour includes a view of the stamping process, where raw steel is muscled into the basic frame of a car; the body assembly area, where 860 robots weld the cars together; the paint shop and the trim and final areas where workers install more than 5,000 components into each car. Visitors will be able to watch the cars roll off the assembly line as they pass through the Tester Line.

Address: 5500 State Road 38 East, Lafayette, IN 47905 Phone: 765-449-6250 Hours: Call for reservations. Tours are 60 to 90 minutes long and usually start at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Price: Free admission.

Indy 500

The celebration of the Indy 500, the world's most famous and prestigious auto racing event, starts well before the drivers climb into their cars on Memorial Day and spills beyond the confines of the racetrack and into the city. The 500 Festival, a celebration of the history and spirit of the race, includes music and a mini-marathon and starts about a month before the race. With speeds that top out at over 200 mph and the finest race car drivers in the world, the Indy 500 is an annual mega-event which thrills millions on live TV in addition to more than 250,000 people in the stands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Address: 4790 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222 Phone: 317-492-8500 Hours: May 27, 2012 Price: General admission was $30 for 2011 race.

What are your favorite vacation spots in Indianapolis?

Check out more FAMILY VACATION GUIDES.