Whether you are a Clevelander heading for Indianapolis, Indiana for the big Indianapolis 500 Race or just want to find a family-friendly, fun and even educational vacation destination, this Midwestern city has plenty of sights and activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art Located in downtown Indianapolis in the White River State Park, the museum was founded by businessman and philanthropist Harrison Eiteljorg and opened in 1989. The museum is home to an extensive collection of Native American art and Western American paintings and sculptures. It is the only museum of its kind in the Midwest. One of the finest collections in the world of Native contemporary art can also be found at the Eiteljorg Museum.
The new R.B. Annis Western Family Experience offers hands-on activities for the whole family. In the NW Coast section visitors can see the Indianapolis Totem Pole and then built your own totem pole as you learn about totem pole images and the stories they tell. You will also get to meet a Tsimshian carver and learn about his culture and the tools he uses to carve.
In the Southwest section, guests visit the home of a Navaho weaver from New Mexico and get to try their hand at weaving on a traditional loom. In addition, children can play with some Native toys.
In the Plains section, visitors can view a sod house from the 1880’s owned by an African American family. Guests can build a sod wall and also play a dulcimer.
The final part of the Western Family Experience brings guests to the city of Deadwood in the Dakota Territory where they will learn about a Chinese immigrant from the 1870’s and his Emporium where he sold tea, silks, fireworks and herbal medicines. You will also be able to try on period clothing and ride an authentic stagecoach.
Other attractions at Eiteljorg include an American Western Gallery featuring paintings, drawings and sculptures from artisans like Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Ernest Blumenschein and Georgia O’Keefe.
Coming from all regions of North America, the museum’s Native American Art and Artifacts collection includes pieces from every tribal group including jewelry, pottery, clothing, baskets, totem, tipi and even feathered headdresses.
Hours for the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Saturday and noon – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (65+) and $5 for children 5-17. Children 4 and under are free. There is also a large Museum Store in the museum complex.
Food may be purchased at the Sky City Cafe (featuring Southwestern and Native American-inspired cuisine).
The museum is located at 500 West Washington Street in Indianapolis. 317-6369378.
Indiana State Capitol The capital city of Indiana was moved from Corydon to Indianapolis in 1825, nine years after statehood. Completed in 1888, the current Indiana State Capitol building is constructed of Indiana limestone and white oak. The stained glass window in the rotunda is original and is made from German glass.
Guided tours of the capitol building are offered weekdays 9 a.m. – 3 p.m and on weekends at 10:15 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Visitors can also take self-guided tours of the building.
The Indiana State Capitol is located at 200 West Washington Street. 317-233-5293.
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site Named a National Historic Landmark in 1964, the 16 room 1875 Italianate Victorian home of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States (and the only President from Indiana) is now a museum chronicling Harrison’s life and presidency (from 1889-1893). The house was constructed for approximately $25,000 and Harrison, his wife and 2 children lived there for many years.
One hour guided tours of the house are offered Monday- Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 :30 p.m on the hour and half hour. The museum is opened on Sundays in June and July only (12:30 p.m.- 3 :30 p.m). There is no public waiting area inside for visitors so make sure you arrive near the half hour or hour.
Visitors will tour 10 rooms of the house including the third floor ballroom. The rooms are filled with many of Harrison’s paintings, original period furniture and political memorabilia.
Be sure to check out the various garden areas (maintained by 9 volunteer gardeners) while you are there, including the Presidential Lilac Garden, the Elizabeth Harrison Rose Garden, the Day Lilies on Delaware Garden and the Caroline Scott Harrison Herb Garden. There is also a Hosta Garden, a Freedom Garden, a Victorian Vintage Garden, a Centennial Perennial Garden and a Hoosier Harvest Vegetable Garden.
Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+) and $3 for children 5-17. Children 4 and under are free. AAA discounts are available.
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is located at 1230 North Delaware St. in Indianapolis. 317-631-1888.
Indianapolis is approximately a 5 hour drive from Cleveland.