Indianapolis annually offers free admission to popular attractions on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and 2021 is no exception
Things like timed admission and capacity limits are in place, so make sure to plan ahead to make your reservations with COVID-19 considerations in place – and don’t forget to pack your masks
Every year, most Indianapolis attractions offer free admission on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and more importantly, appropriately themed programs as well.
This year, these attractions are adapting for the challenge of COVID-19. If you’re comfortable traveling for an educational day trip, be sure to plan ahead as space is limited.
Many, if not ALL, of our favorite Indianapolis family-friendly venues are FREE to the public on that day… including in 2021. While we write often about museum free days in Chicago, those aren’t happening so far this winter while Illinois museums are closed under Tier 3 Mitigation. Besides, free museum days at Indianapolis attractions are MUCH more rare.
(Looking for ways to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day without leaving home? We’ve got a list of Champaign-Urbana Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations and events here.)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the best known of those free days. Not only are these attractions free, most of them have special events and content aligned with Dr. King’s life and legacy.
– Even though admission may be free, timed admissions are in place for most locales and you will want to plan ahead to make sure you can snag a spot before they fill up.
– Remember, Indianapolis is in the Eastern time zone, so to maximize your time there, get an early start to your day.
– Save even more money by packing your own lunch and snacks, but you might have to eat in your vehicle or outside this year (depending on each venue).
– Parking is mostly free as well for these venues, but not always.
– We base the savings on the family of four – two adults and two paying kids. Every location has a different definition of a “kid”.
Where to stay overnight:
Indianapolis is a two-hour drive from Champaign-Urbana, and makes for a relatively easy day trip. Or stay the weekend if you prefer. We’ve provided some options that are family-friendly.
Note: AirBnB links are affiliate links, and chambanamoms.com earns commission on bookings through those links. Thank you for supporting our small business.
- The Canary (it has a lot of yellow) AirBnB home is located just 15 minutes from the Indy Zoo. This 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath home has a kids playroom and high-speed wifi for the grownups. Fenced backyard and free parking. Averages less than $125 a night (before fees).
- Two-bedroom garden suite minutes from Newfields and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Cozy suite in an established neighborhood described as a “home away from home.” Bonus: Large jacuzzi tub/shower to relax and unwind. Averages around $108 a night (before fees).
Here’s the scoop on what’s free in Indianapolis for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The museum opens its doors with FREE admission to all children and families to celebrate the life, achievements, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You need to make an advance reservation by calling them at 317-334-4000 beginning on January 10 to get your tickets.
- Enjoy music from the Griot Drum Ensemble
- Join storyteller Portia Jackson as she shares stories of courageous children in the Civil Rights Movement
- FREE admission is from 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
AVERAGE SAVINGS FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: $72 to $90 (no. that is not a typo!)
The Indianapolis Zoo
In celebration of his life and legacy, guests are invited each year to join the Indianapolis Zoo to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Along with its other partners in White River State Park, parking and admission to the Zoo are free on this day. Donation dip jars will be on site for monetary donations benefiting Gleaner’s Food Bank; donation of a canned food item will not be accepted this year due to COVID-19. Reserve your time here.
Zoo is open weather permitting, so if it is in question, call. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Our review of a winter visit to the Indianapolis Zoo here.
AVERAGE SAVINGS FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: $48
Let’s face it, the name of this museum makes it sound b-o-r-i-n-g. But our kids had a blast there a few years ago. Admission is FREE; donation of a canned food item for Gleaners Food Bank will not be accepted this year due to COVID-19.
Parking is free in the White River State Park underground garage. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are still required to call the site to reserve their visit in advance.
See some of Dr. King’s most iconic speeches, experience activities that explore civil and human rights, and reflect on what you can do to ensure Dr. King’s dream lives on for future generations.
AVERAGE SAVINGS FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: $58
Enjoy FREE admission to the Eiteljorg Museum on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They are offering pre-reserved timed tickets to see their holiday model train exhibit, Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure, as well as general admission to see other exhibits at the museum. Timed tickets are required and limited based upon capacity. Click here to reserve tickets. Parking is free in the White River State Park underground garage.
AVERAGE SAVINGS FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: $46
Newfields is closed on Mondays, and does its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and program on Sunday. Called “SPEAKING LOVE,” the program emphasizes sharing and reflecting through poetry, song, dance, and more. Click here to reserve free tickets (these are going fast!)
AVERAGE SAVINGS FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: $56
Indianapolis Attractions That Typically Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day but are virtual/not happening this year due to COVID-19
Descriptions below are not applicable to 2021 but something to look forward to in future years!
Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with theatrical performances, family games, archaeology activities, art and more. While you’re there, explore the indoor areas Create.Connect, Craft Corner and Discovery Station. Open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Get all the info HERE.
AVERAGE SAVINGS FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: $36