Hi! My name is Kendal. I am wife to Clifton and mother to two rambunctious boys, Hagan (3) and Dorian (10mos). We have lived in Indianapolis most of our adult lives, with a year spent in Austin, Texas for a military deployment when Hagan was still a baby. We live in a cozy little 1930s bungalow in historic Irvington, an urban neighborhood located just east of Indianapolis’ city center. We are a few minutes away from all that Indianapolis has to offer, but tucked into one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods that embodies a Sleepy Hollow vibe to keep with its namesake, Washington Irving. I honestly never pictured myself raising kids, let alone in the city, but this has been the perfect place for us in this stage of our lives. We are spoiled by the low cost of living in Indianapolis and all that it has to offer for families year round. There’s always something new to do, and we never have to travel far! We are a short drive from Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, and other cities that make for easy weekend getaways. Here is a perfect day at home in Indianapolis with my three boys.
7:45 AM – MORNING WAKE-UP
I am not much of a morning person, and every morning, our three year old will peel open my eyelids and ask for a banana or some variation of his favorite breakfast. My statement that, “the sun is not up… look, it’s still dark out” doesn’t have a very high success rate and the kids are hungry the very second their eyes open, so we’ll give them some fruit and hot cereal at the table while we get dressed for breakfast/brunch and the day’s activities. It takes one hour to get everyone ready and out the door, no matter how many motivational speeches I give. My husband has an odd work schedule and is home from Sunday to Wednesday, so luckily we can head to our favorite places and miss the weekend crowds.
9:00 AM – HEAD TO BREAKFAST
Massachusetts Avenue, lovingly referred to as “Mass Ave” by Indy urbanites, is home to some of Indianapolis’ best restaurants and is only 10 minutes from our house. (We each have a car and tend to drive everywhere, but technically there is a bus stop at the end of our street. There has been a recent boom to increase the public transit in Indy, so we hope to take advantage of this in the future.) The Garden Table on Mass Ave delights both the boys and us parents. My husband is a huge foodie and chef, so he will order something that involves shaved roast lamb shoulder, duck chorizo, poached pears and the like. I’m happy to have their açaí bowl and a mimosa, while Hagan’s face lights up as his biscuit monster comes to the table. Dorian will eat any and all scraps that we can tear into bite-sized pieces fast enough for him… an actual baby biscuit monster. After brunch, we stroll around Mass Ave on the way back to the car. There are a lot of boutiques you can browse along the way.
10:30 AM – WALK ON THE CANAL
There is a large canal that runs through the heart of the city. It makes for a lovely stroll when the weather is nice. There is ample parking at different locations where you can hop on and hop off the canal, as well as bike rentals, paddle boats, and segway tour options. There are many museums and landmarks along the canal and ducks that want fed, so it could easily fill up your afternoon if you were visiting the area for the first time. We like the take the boys for a walk (or toddler scooter ride) on the canal because it connects to the White River Gardens and the Indianapolis Zoo, so it’s easy to pop on over and see the animals. We have an annual pass to the zoo and like to visit often when the weather is nice.
11:30 AM – GO TO THE MUSEUM
The weather in Indianapolis can tend to be very unexpected and volatile. We experience all of the seasons in all kinds of ways. In inclement weather, we frequently head to The Children’s Museum. We have an annual pass here as well; it provides so many wonderful exhibits and learning opportunities for all ages. It is the largest children’s museum in the world! You should visit Indianapolis simply to spend a day here! There are five floors of exhibit halls and I feel the museum does an excellent job at educating children on multiculturalism. It’s extremely stroller-friendly as there are ramps and elevators around every corner.
Our favorite room right now is the Playscape on the third floor, since it’s designed specifically for children ages 5 and younger. Hagan can play in the climbing structure, in the sand box or in the water table, while Dorian crawls around in the padded baby area. We’re able to keep an eye on both kids quite easily and there are plenty of benches for parents to rest on, as well as nursing mothers rooms and changing rooms.
1:00PM – LUNCH TIME
We usually stay and eat lunch at The Children’s Museum, because it’s hard to drag the kids around to too many places when it’s getting close to naptime. The cafeteria at the museum offers a nice selection of healthier foods or you can pack a lunch ahead of time if you excel in forethought and preparation (we do not). If you’re visiting Indianapolis, I highly recommend diving into our growing food scene by having lunch at one of our favorite restaurants that are both trendy and family-friendly, such as: Nada for hip Mexican fare and cocktails, The Eagle for American fare and craft beers, or Mimi Blue Meatballs for flavor-packed meatballs and sauces.
1:45/2:00 PM – NAP TIME
Our kids absolutely have to take an afternoon nap or their behavior will be downhill from here. Both boys are too energetic and busy to nap in their Zoe Double Stroller whilst out-and-about, so we make the short drive home for rest time. It’s also the time of day where my husband and I get to put our feet up and relax. I usually put the kettle on and we will both work quietly on our computers or catch up on Netflix together in the living room. Half the time, I wonder where he’s gone and find him to be asleep alongside the boys!
4:00 PM – ART CLASS / THE PARK
Depending on the weather, we will partake in a calm activity indoors, such as a toddler art class at our favorite neighborhood spot LINE+form Atelier, or head to a brand new playground like Tarkington Park for some fresh air before dinner and bed. Neither my husband nor I drink much caffeine, but for the occasional pick-me-up latte we will stop by 10 Johnson Avenue or Coat Check Coffee. Dorian tends to be pretty laid-back in the evenings after a day full of activities, so he’s content to be in the Ergo carrier during these times.
6:00 PM – DINNERTIME
My husband Clifton is the chef in our household (lucky me)! He likes to cook big family dinners on his days off from work. The boys play in their playroom while he cooks and then we eat outside on the patio in nice weather. Our youngest son has severe hearing loss, so dinnertime is our designated “signing time” where we practice American Sign Language as a family. But, if we’ve had a long day or are needing to make a trip to the grocery store, we happily treat ourselves to a nice dinner out. We are really impartial to the delicious northern Indian dishes at India Garden. To be honest though, when we usually go out for dinner, we really go all OUT; my mother-in-law comes over to babysit, we get dressed up and go out with the intention to enjoy each others company sans kids. Most of the trendy restaurants in downtown Indianapolis are accommodating for children during the lunch hour, but many of them turn into more of pub and cocktail bar scenes once the sun goes down. We like to try new drinks and tapas-style dishes at Cerulean or savour locally-sourced cuts of meat at CharBlue.
8:00 PM – BATH, BOOKS, & BEDTIME
I wish we had some sort of set bedtime routine that we practiced religiously, but we just don’t! We are still flying by the seats of our pants most of the time. The boys love to have a bath together and play in their connecting rooms upstairs while we get pajamas on them and pick out a few books to read for bedtime. Their favorites right now are Olivia, Little Pea, Goodnight Moon, and Little Blue Truck. By the time they finally fall asleep, my husband and I are usually quite tired ourselves. We relax and usually go to sleep early as well, trying to rest up for the next day.
Thanks for spending the day with us! We hope you can come see Indianapolis for yourself.
Follow our travel and family adventures on Instagram at kendalrodgers. Cheers!
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