A Midwest Road Trip: Indianapolis

Arriving in the state of Indiana

The penultimate day of our self-planned 3-week road trip and after looping from Chicago through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, we were now heading through Indiana – a state we had all previously visited on our Trek America tour – where we’d be spending a night in Indianapolis before returning to Chicago tomorrow.

The giant toilet slide at Kids Commons

Crossing into Indiana early afternoon, we stopped for lunch at an IHOP on the outskirts of Columbus before driving into the town centre to visit Kids Commons, an interactive science museum we had seen listed on a roadside America website due to it housing the World’s largest toilet!

The toilet was part of the museum’s ExploraHouse! exhibit where children can find out how different components come together to make a house by scrambling around different rooms and playing with the interactive elements like light switches. The toilet, in the bathroom area, doubled as a slide so you could mimic being flushed down it! A hilarious roadside stop and well worth the $6 entrance fee.

While there, we had fun looking around the rest of the museum, playing on the other interactive exhibits including a giant bubble machine!

Another giant rocking chair!

Next stop was another giant rocking chair. Like the Red Rocker we had stopped at in Missouri, Big John which sits outside a furniture store in the town of Franklin IN, also shares the title of Former World’s Largest Rocking Chair. The chair didn’t seem as impressive as the Red Rocker but was still a fun roadside stop.

While planning our trip, we had had the idea of visiting a State Fair somewhere and luckily, found that the Indiana State Fair was being held on the days we just happened to be in that area.

Even the normally healthy vegetable option comes fried at the State Fair!

This had made finding affordable accommodation in the city a challenge and after even considering hostel accommodation, we had eventually settled on a loft room in a small bed and breakfast on the outskirts of the city.

Conveniently, it lay on the bus route to the State Fair grounds so after arriving mid-afternoon and checking in, we caught the bus out to the state fair grounds to spend the evening there.

We weren’t completely sure what a state fair was, we’d seen pictures and footage on TV shows and knew it usually involved a fairground and food stalls and we guessed there would be local exhibits from around Indiana state. Expecting it to be busy being a Friday evening, we had booked our tickets in advance to save time queuing to buy them there.

Above, and below, exploring the Indiana State Fair

Once inside, we found endless rows of food stalls mainly offering fried goods or tooth-rotting sugary treats! We each bought a corn on the cob, one of the healthier treats on offer, but even that was dripping in butter! Later, we grabbed delicious BBQ pulled pork sandwiches for dinner.

Fairground stall at the fair’s Midway area

Away from the food stalls, we found, as expected, lots of local stalls offering samples and selling their farm produced goods – we especially enjoyed sampling various strengths of maple syrup at one stall! – but also some interactive events.

There was a tent housing a variety of farm animals to pet and we sat and watched a pig race cheering on our chosen porcine hero as it raced around a track through various obstacles.

Finishing our visit to the State Fair with a giant Funnel Cake

We walked around the fairground to see what rides were on offer but decided the prices were a bit much and left without having a go on anything.

Deciding we should try at least one of the fried or sugary treats on offer, before leaving we bought a Funnel Cake between us. This calorific snack ticked both boxes being fried dough drizzled into a web so big it hardly fitted the paper plate it was served on then dusted in powdered sugar and drizzled in chocolate sauce!

Feeling we had now experienced pretty much everything the state fair had to offer us, we then caught the bus back to our b&b.

Dinosaurs inside and outside the Children’s Museum of Indiana

The next morning, we were leaving Indianapolis to make our way back to Chicago in time for one of us to make an evening flight back to the UK. We left early with plenty of time to spare and a few stops scheduled along the way, the first being at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. We didn’t have any plans to pay to go into the museum, we just wanted to see the huge dinosaurs surrounding the museum building.

Dressing up to explore the Ocean display at the museum, and below, other exhibits at the Children’s Museum

After taking photos of the dinosaurs, we had a quick look in the museum gift store and, after seeing information about what the museum had to offer, decided it actually looked worth a visit. Agreeing to drop any other stops we had planned for the day, we worked out that we could fit in an hour or so at the museum and still make it to Chicago on time.

As well as displays on dinosaurs,interactive science exhibits and plenty of opportunities to dress up, the museum also had lots popular culture exhibits including one on toys from the past, housing items we recognised from our own childhood. On the top floor, there was a fun circus exhibit and we also found a carousel we just had to have a go on!

Right back to where we started – approaching Chicago 3-weeks after we left the city on our Midwest adventure

We spent a bit longer than anticipated at the museum but still had more than enough time to reach Chicago on time. That was until we stopped for lunch at seemingly the busiest McDonalds ever where it took us almost an hour to get served and suddenly it was a race against time to make it to Chicago in time. As soon as we arrived, we had to say a hasty goodbye as our friend raced to the airport while we checked back into the hotel we’d began our adventure in 3 weeks ago.

It had been an exciting 3 weeks exploring America’s Midwest states and we’d seen and experienced some amazing things. And our adventure wasn’t over yet – we still had one week left on the road travelling to Philadelphia via Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia…

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