While Todd has certainly seen (more than) his fair share of cool cities as a touring musician, we haven’t gotten the chance to explore many cities as a family together since Lola’s been born. Usually we travel to cities we’ve been to many times to see family and friends but when Indiana Tourism asked if we wanted to partner with them to come and explore Indianapolis, it sounded too fun to pass up (FYI here’s a useful tool if you’re planning a trip to Indy soon)! We actually have friends that live there that we hadn’t seen in forever, so that also seemed like a great excuse to visit with them a bit while we were there. We were actually just coming back from a beach trip a few days before leaving for our Indy weekend and I thought I could probably shake the sand out of the bags and throw in some new underwear, but I saw that the weather was going to be in the 50’s and low 60’s so I had to make a few changes to our wardrobes to coincide with the new weather report…
Packing up the car!
Our drive up to Indy went pretty well despite hitting some Friday rush hour traffic but we made it in time to grab a quick dinner near our hotel (and pet some pretty horses!) and settle into our room at the beautiful Conrad Indianapolis hotel before putting Lola down for the night. The hotel was able to provide us with a pack and play already set up which was also super helpful for traveling with a kiddo. We had a really sweet cheese/cookie/wine gift waiting for us at the hotel when we arrived and you can see that Lola was very excited about digging into that platter!! The Conrad is such a beautiful hotel and I love that they also highlight different works of art throughout the space and have art inspired by fellow Pittsburgher Andy Warhol in the main lobby area. The Conrad was also in the heart of the city so there were lots of places nearby to walk to for anything we needed. The hotel also has a beautiful indoor pool with a huge skylight that we swam in the last night we were there and it was so nice to be able to take Lola down to the pool and just unwind for a bit before bed.
On Saturday morning we got up and went to brunch at Petite Chou in the Broad Ripple area of town and even though we did so many fun things on our trip, this brunch was one of my favorites. I love brunch and all things French so to be able to eat brunch with my family and feel like I was back in Paris was a big win for me. Even though it was a little chilly that morning, we decided to sit outside since the patio was so special and they had heaters out there so we felt perfectly comfortable while we ate. Of course, keeping a busy barely 2-year-old in her highchair is always a challenge so we had a backpack full of cards and books and crayons at each meal and ended up using pretty much every item to keep her entertained! That’s for sure a hard part about eating out with toddlers but I want her to get used to sitting in a chair for a whole meal out so I think we just need to do it more and more until she gets used to it. She’s such a good eater at home, so that’s never a problem there, but she’s so distracted to be out and about she just wants to run around and explore and make new friends rather than eat anything…she actually did eat a lot of the French Toast I ordered (I love when people put butter and sugar on top like they did) and Todd got the Broken Yolk option which was really good too. And what’s a brunch at a Parisian cafe without a latte in hand, am I right??
Anyways, after our delicious trip down our Parisian memory lane, we headed out to the Indianapolis Zoo to take Lola on her first zoo trip which Todd and I were super excited about. I asked her which animal she wanted to see on the ride to the zoo and she said “air-pop” (which means “airplane”)—such a classic toddler response, haha! Lola loves birds so we were so happy that we got to see the Just Look Up fly over of a team of macaws since they are so colorful and huge. It was so fun to walk around the park, see the dolphin show in the aquarium, and show her real versions of all the animals we talk about constantly. I was happy to see how much the zoo promotes visitors getting involved in saving endangered species and helping to rid the oceans of deadly plastics as well (that was a big campaign over near the aquarium exhibits). We had watched a Daniel Tiger episode earlier that day with a lizard in it and she had asked to watch the same specific episode twice in a row (which she’s never done before) so she was so excited to see real (and giant!) lizards at the zoo later that day in the Desert Dome. The zoo also has a butterfly garden as well next to the zoo at the White River Garden (and butterfly gardens are always magical in my opinion) and you can get into the garden with your zoo admission price.
Who is more wild, Lola or the animals?!
After the zoo, we took Lola back to the hotel to take a late nap and I just soaked in all the hotel cable (we don’t have it at home anymore so it’s a treat when out now) and was so happy to just chill out and watch Bridesmaids on TV (best movie ever, right?) and have a few peaceful hours to relax. Isn’t that what all Moms live for?!
Once Lola woke up we all got ready to meet our friends Aaron and Lindsey for dinner at Hedgerow Bistro and since they also have a 2-year-old and a baby we made it an early dinner so the kids wouldn’t be too tired during the meal and we’d have a fighting chance at finishing all our food. Hedgerow is such a pretty place, the staff was so friendly, and our food was delicious as well—I got the Mole Braised Short Ribs and they were unbelievably good so I only shared one bite with Todd and I knew that their warm cookie desert would be a total hit with Lola and I was right (add a scoop of ice cream to yours—you won’t regret it)! Todd ordered some of the Gulf Shrimp Hushpuppies and the Crispy Fish Tacos and they were unbelievably good as well so I definitely kept sneaking in a few bites in when he was talking. I was also laughing because every time someone came back from the bathroom they mentioned how amazing the bathroom candles were and that you “just had to go in there” to smell them. They were right though, they did smell pretty good!! Even if you are constantly trying to pass kids crayons and keep them in their seats it was still so special to see old friends and have our kids meet each other. Lola and Ruby were a bit unsure of each other at dinner but they were the sweetest little set of best friends at the end of the night, running up and down the hotel hallway shrieking with delight that they had a friend that loved to run as much as they do—it was so cute!!
The next day we packed up our room and checked out of the hotel before heading out to brunch before our last activity of the trip. We tried to go to a more trendy brunch spot but with it being Mother’s Day the place was already packed early in the morning and since we had a hungry toddler we went to a place nearby with a shorter wait. For breakfast I tend to like either cuter spots or diner atmospheres and Yolk is more on the diner side of things. I got more of a traditional “some of everything” breakfast platter so I could share with Lola but for my own treat I got a potato pancake side and I was so happy to eat those since I don’t see them on menus very often! If you’ve every had a good potato pancake with applesauce and sour cream, then you know why I love them! It felt nice to be out and about on Mother’s Day morning and see all the other moms coming in with their kids (some little kids and some grownup “kids”) sometimes holding flowers or presents. It was heartwarming for me to watch and I felt so grateful to be with my Baby on that morning too.
After brunch, we went to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum which was also Lola’s first museum visit (a lot of firsts on this trip!). I was wondering what things would be there that a 2-year-old would be into, and while there is a lot of awesome stuff for older kids I was so happy to see that they have a whole wing devoted to the “5-and-under” crowd with water tables, musical instruments, climbing areas, and lots of fun ball activities. She could have definitely spent hours in there for sure! They had amazing dinosaur exhibits and a train area that just made her whole face light up (she loves trains) as well as a Paw Patrol wing with lots of slides, play kitchens, and ball games that were also perfect for her age. We were just about to call it a day after seeing so much cool stuff when we realized there was a restored carrousel on the top floor, and well, we just couldn’t resist giving her a ride! I tend to get dizzy easily so Todd took Lola and I was the designated picture-taking and wave-each-time-they-come-around parent and while she was rather stoic her first few times around, she started smiling and really enjoying it by the end. It was so cute to see her and Todd doing such a sweet thing together—it felt a little surreal to be honest.
Once we got into major toddler-meltdown-phase we decided it was time to head back home and let Lola take a nap in the car and she slept for almost 2 hours in the car (which is a long car nap for her) and happily watch Daniel Tiger for the rest of the ride (rather than needing a new activity every 10 minutes) so I’m counting that as my Mother’s Day present from her for this year. I’ll take it!!
Traveling with small children is not easy and sometimes I feel like I’d rather stay home than go through all the hassle that can come with being away from our routine, but I’m so glad that we decided to go on this trip and we made so many special memories that I’ll treasure for many years to come (you can plan your next trip to Indiana here!). Thanks for riding along on our little trip to Indy!
*This post is sponsored by Indiana Tourism; but, as always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for helping support this blog and our family!