Places to Go (Vacation) - Indianapolis, Part II - Recreating History at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park


We spent our second day in Indianapolis at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. I was a little nervous that the kids wouldn't show must interest, as we seem to have gone to A LOT of these places in the last few years (Claude Moore Colonial Farm, Colonial Williamsburg, the Frontier Culture Museum, Mt. Vernon, Sauder Village, etc.) and we've all become susceptible to "old days" fatigue. But turns out Conner Prairie is basically the Disney World of History Parks (complete with a huge hot air balloon you can ride in for $15 a person). We arrived shortly after the park opened for the day and closed the place out (well, they sort of had to kick us out, but that's how you know it's been a good day). We also had the place practically to ourselves. At first this made me nervous for the Park's future, but then I learned that regional schools had already started classes (thus, the next day, the Children's Museum also lacked crowds). Turns out that the end of July is a great time to vacation when you're from Arlington, VA (where the school year begins after Labor Day).

The visitor's center has an awesome exhibit on fans and electricity, which my children could have experimented with all day (the workers did a fantastic job at demonstrating several key concepts). Eventually I had to use my "mommy voice" to convince everyone that there was more to see.

The homestead and prairie town weren't that different from other such "villages" we've encountered, but the weather was perfect (which really does make all the difference) and the kids could pet the animals, so everyone ran and ran. Plus, the kids seemed fascinated by the "inn", especially the concept of sharing a room with stranger.

Eventually we made our way over to Connner's newest exhibit - the 1863 Civil War Journey, which was like nothing I've encountered before. In the general store, we stood by as sound effects, movies, and moving objects created the illusion of a town under siege. The whole experience was incredibly immersive - Disney style - the kids showed both fear and fascination. T immediately enlisted to join the fight and save the town (which basically meant that he spent over 15 minutes hanging out in the soldiers' tents and examining every item over and over again). Luckily, a play area (complete with water canyons) was next to the tents, otherwise T never would have left.

Last summer, after Williamsburg, T went through a Revolutionary War obsession. He is still appalled that people routinely travel to England - "but they're bad guys, mom. really bad." At least an ocean separates us from Great Britain. So, as you can imagine, trying to explain the Civil War was tricky, especially as we vacationed in Indianapolis with Grandma from Chicago (and I remain a midwesterner at heart), but we live in Virginia. Ugh. In the gift store we went with the Union costume (there's always a costume), but as we drove through West Virginia on our way to Smith Mountain Lake I begged him not to wear it (lots of pick up trucks with Confederate Flags everywhere you look). History is hard.

Eventually we made our way to the Indian Camp, where P basically camped out in the teepee (that girl loves a teepee), F made silver pendants (for an extra fee), and T played lawn games. And we ended the day in the air-conditioned Discovery Station, where the kids manned a general store and made a farm fresh dinner (with fake food) while my mom and I almost fell asleep on the couch.

All in all, a fantastic place to visit. Admission is $15 adults and $10 youth 2-12. Click here for more info.


Finally, some good pics of me and the kids! Thank you mom!


The little soldier.


F loved the pendant making.

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