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Christmas in Downtown Indianapolis

Christmas in downtown Indianapolis is simply magical during the Holiday season. Here is a list of our favorite toddler-friendly holiday activities downtown.

Christmas at the Zoo

Dating back to 1967, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the nation to hold a holiday lights event. Year after year, Christmas at the Zoo continues to grow. This year they are offering more opportunities to visit, with Mondays and Tuesdays added and extended hours until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. And the best part is it’s all included with regular admission!

 Santa’s Village is one of our newest additions. Here, you’ll discover:

  • Santa’s Study: Free visits with Santa through Dec. 23 with photo packages available for purchase. Please be in line by 9 pm to visit Santa.
  • Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen: Free visits with Mrs. Claus through Dec. 23 and treat decorating available for purchase. New this year, find different ways to decorate our cookie shapes.
  • Santa’s Barn presented by State Farm: See Santa’s sleigh and a few of his reindeer.
  • The Snowflakery: Wind through the mirror maze that is full of wintery twists and turns!
  • Tunnel of Lights: Have your camera ready to remember the moment you step inside the tunnel and are surrounded in glowing lights!
  • Penguin Encounter: Get up close to these winter-ready birds from 6-8pm (animal and weather dependent).
  • Mistletoe Kisses Gazebo: A picturesque place to find one of 10 hidden mistletoe. Look for more mistletoe hidden throughout the Zoo and submit your answers in the main gift shop to try to win an Animal Art Adventure.
  • Holiday Card Photo Opportunity: Larger than life holiday card for a larger than life family photo moment

Jingle Rails at Eiteljorg Museum

Jingle Rails is a G-scale model train wonderland containing nine working model trains that wind through a stunning miniature landscape. Any child that loves trains, cars, trucks or building things will absolutely love this exhibit. As you can see from the picture D3 was obsessed. The exhibit features miniature versions of local treasures of downtown Indianapolis, including the Eiteljorg Museum, Monument Circle, Union Station and Lucas Oil Stadium. The trains then head through the national parks of the American West, passing legendary sites, including grand railway lodges, Northwest Coast Native villages, and wonders both natural and human-made—Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Falls, Old Faithful, the Las Vegas Strip, Hoover Dam and much more. New for 2018 Historic Route 66, Hilbert Circle Theatre and the return of the Indiana State Fair

Festival of Trees at Indiana Historical Society

Experience the joy of the holiday season at the History Center! Eighty elaborately decorated trees are packed into our grand building to delight people of all ages. In past years, they had upside-down trees, trees made from unconventional materials and even a virtual reality tree. You can vote for your favorites, but it will be a tough choice. This year, we’re decking out our 30-foot showstopper in an Indiana theme.

There’s something magical happening every day, and you’ll want to check out our special programs, too. This will be the first year we take D3 and I know he will absolutely love it just like his Aunt Cee did a few years ago. 

Yuletide Celebration at Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Broadway’s best singers and dancers will bring the Yuletide magic and music to life on the Hilbert Circle Theatre stage. Enjoy the traditions of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” the famous tap-dancing Santas, and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” This year also features “Holly Jolly Dollies,” “Jingle Belles and Beaux,” and Angela’s transcendent performance of “Mary Had a Baby.” And you won’t want to miss a new 2018 edition of the North Pole reality singing competition, “Santa’s Choice!” This will be another “first” for D3 this year and we can’t wait to take him and see his eyes light up at the Symphony. 

Circle of Lights and South Bend Chocolate Company

The Soldier and Sailors Monument transforms the day after Thanksgiving to Indiana’s tallest Christmas tree. It is a tradition for us as a family to walk to the monument and grab some yummy treats and a delicious hot chocolate from The South Bend Chocolate Company. We have been doing this since Dean and myself were just dating, then continued when we just had Pepper and now D3 is a part and loves all the lights!    

Winterlights at Newfields

Winterlights this November 18 through January 6. The lights will dance on the Lilly House lawn as you amble side by side with family and friends. You can still enjoy warm drinks, handmade s’mores, and unique photo ops. But this time? It’ll be among the glow of a million and a half lights. Our new Wintermarket will open, alongside some bigger, better light designs. 

We are excited to take D3 this year, I know this will become a family tradition for us. 


Crossing at The Indiana State Musemum

Soak in pure holiday magic at the Indiana State Museum’s holiday experience, Celebration Crossing. Ride the Santa Claus Express train that clearly has lots to look at from D3’s face, then visit Santa and Mrs. Claus in their house. Explore and create in Santa’s workshop, where you can create on the elves workbenches, map the flight of Santa’s reindeer around the globe, and help pack Santas sleigh full of presents. This is the first place D3 met Santa and will be a forever favorite memory for me.

Jolly Days at The Indianapolis Children Museum

Celebrate family traditions and holidays with Jolly Days Winter Wonderland! Enjoy favorites like the two-story Yule Slide, Jingles the Jolly Bear, and visits with Santa. The museum truly transforms into a winter wonderland. We try to visit at least two or three times during Jolly Days. Here are a few other things you can find at Jolly Days. 

  • Make it snow in the Giant Snow Globe
  • Ride down the Yule Slide
  • Meet extraordinary Jolly Days characters, from Scrooge to Ms. Claus
  • “Ice skate” in your socks
  • Explore the Ice Castle
  • Go “ice fishing” in a pretend pond
  • “Bake” wintertime goodies and share memories with your family and friends

Here are some of my favorite Christmas pictures throughout the years of us living downtown.

What is some Christmas Traditions you love doing with your family?

Leave me a note in the comments to let me know!

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