Recess at school was never like this.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has partnered with Riley Children’s Health to create the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. Museum President and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Patchen calls the museum addition “an immersive outdoor and indoor family health, fitness, and sports experience that will inspire visitors to be active together in a noncompetitive way while creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”
Kids just call it a whole lot of fun.
There are 7 1/2 outdoor acres of sports activities that invite toddlers through teens — and the adults with them — to run, jump, kick, catch, climb, pitch, putt, shoot, serve, and more. Ten sports are featured.
Basketball fans can shoot hoops, practice passing, take a shot clock challenge, and play a family-friendly game. At the Indianapolis Colts Football Experience, children can pick up footballs and pass, catch, run, kick field goals, and tackle bounce-back dummies wearing Colts jerseys of former players. These wobbling athletes won’t fall down.
Visitors can put the street hockey equipment to the test and also try shooting goals in the soccer area. Golf aficionados can practice putting skills or play a round on a nine-hole putting course.
America’s pastime — baseball — also is represented. And in Indianapolis, there has to be auto racing, but this time, fans race pedal cars around a track. At the Motorsports Garage, visitors can test their speed as part of an Indy Car pit crew. Add tennis, track and field, and a fitness area, and it’s a smorgasbord of sporting opportunities all in one place.
A Tree House of Sports that towers 25 feet is carved with sports symbols and invites visitors to walk up or take an elevator to the top, survey the grounds below, and slip down on one of three slides.
Walk through the Avenue of Champions to see 16 life-size bronze statues of Indiana’s sports legends, including basketball greats Larry Bird, Tamika Catchings, and Oscar Robertson. A.J. Foyt (auto racing), Reggie Wayne (football), and DaMarcus Beasley (soccer) also are honored, as are members of the Indianapolis Clowns, a baseball team from the Negro Leagues that included Hall of Fame member Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron. Two women from the Clowns — Marcenia “Toni” Stone and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson — are honored with him.
Karen Leaf of Grand Haven, Mich., sought Reggie Miller’s sculpture. Leaf grew up in the Indianapolis area and has fond memories of the Pacers star. “He’s still the greatest,” she said.
Leaf, who was visiting the museum with her family, said the museum was always fun to visit when she was a child. As for the new Sports Legends Experience, “It gets kids outside and into physical activity. It’s good to see them having so much fun with activities other than video games,” she said.
Regular admission tickets include all five floors of exhibits along with the Sports Legends Experience. Dynamic pricing on admission ranges from $10–$40, with $7 admission for the museum and Sports Legends Experience from 4–8 p.m. Thursdays. For more information, contact The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, (317) 334-4000 or childrensmuseum.org.
Elizabeth Granger is a contributor from Fishers, Ind.
(Photos courtesy Children's Museum of Indianapolis)