Things to do in Evansville, Indiana
The marketing slogan for Evansville, Indiana is “E is for Everyone.” After spending a few days in this Ohio River city, I see why Evansville IS a great destination for all ages, especially those that travel with the family. Here’s my guide of things to do in Evansville, IN; what to see, eat, and where to stay. You should plan to spend at least 2-3 days in Evansville, any less and you’ll feel very rushed.
Travel to Evansville
Evansville is located in Southwest Indiana – 5 hours from Columbus, OH; 5.5 hours from Chicago; 2.5 hours from St. Louis; and 2 hours from Louisville, KY. Evansville is a convenient destination for just about anyone in the Midwest or Southeast USA.
Evansville has plenty of museums and attractions for all ages. If you’re traveling with young children, the Children’s Museum of Evansville (a.k.a. CMoe) is a given, as well as Mesker Park Zoo. Older children or history buffs will enjoy time aboard the LST-325. If you’re interested in trains or boating, don’t miss the transportation section of the Evansville Museum.
THINGS TO DO IN EVANSVILLE WITH KIDS
Children’s Museum of Evansville
Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville is 3 stories of interactive play. There’s something for most ages here! My kids, aged 8, 6, and 4, found plenty to keep us busy for 2 hours, but we could have definitely stayed longer.
Favorite spaces within the museum were the music room (not mom’s favorite room, lol), water deck, and Aluminate at the entrance. I was particularly pleased with how the museum seemed to cater to active boys. Two climbing structures with large slides, a building room with Duplo track, digging area, and car build.
The Evansville Museum is the place to begin your Evansville getaway. While the museum encompasses the subjects of art, history, and science, I gravitated to the history section! I enjoyed reading about Evansville’s role in the war effort of WWII and the role the Ohio River has played in the city (especially through devastating floods).
The main floor of the museum is meant to look like the historic downtown, it’s really a beautiful exhibit. If you’re traveling on a budget, The Evansville Museum is free on the first Friday of the month, and every Thursday from 5p-8p. The great thing about visiting on a Thursday evening? You might just catch a sunset from the outdoor art exhibit.
Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden
Mesker Park Zoo is Indiana’s oldest zoo, started 90 years ago in 1928. The zoo houses more than 700 animals on 45 acres. We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon throughout the zoo. I was surprised by the diversity of animals, everything from giraffes to langurs to porcupines. Our kids’ favorite part was the otter tunnel in the Enchanted Forest. The otters seem to be willing to put on a show!
Admission for a family of 5 is under $50, and parking is free, which makes it an affordable option! Do note: the zoo is very hilly! Wear supportive shoes if you plan on pushing kids in strollers – your personal workout is also free. 😉
LST 325 is a World War Two naval craft that stands for “Landing Ship Tank.” Guided on our tour by WWII veteran, Roald Zvonik, he referred to the initials as “Lord’s slow target.” Yikes! Evansville’s LST is the ONLY operational LST in the USA. The LST is approximately 50 feet wide by 325 feet long and sails at only 10-12 mph.
This ship was brought back to Evansville from Crete, where it was used and then decommissioned by the Greek Navy. Tours of the LST-325 are guided and last for one hour. Check the website for information on times and dates. If you’re narrowing down things to do in Evansville, I wouldn’t miss this tour.
Playgrounds in Evansville
Evansville is full of great playgrounds! It seems like just about every neighborhood we entered had a playground. Our kids particularly enjoyed the Kids Kingdom, which is located at 20 Shawnee Dr in Evansville. Need something to do on a rainy day? The kids’ section at Evansville’s Central Library is sure to impress your little ones – the play area would be perfect for containing busy toddlers so mom & dad can have a rest.
Places to eat in Evansville, Indiana
In our short stay in Evansville, we enjoyed lots of great dining.
Walton’s Comfort Food – We loved the eclectic vibe in this Haynie’s Corner restaurant. Indoor and outdoor seating, plus a large bar. The menu is just like the name- your favorite international comfort foods – from fried green tomatoes to chicken pho to pulled pork sandwiches. Kids can even order a Nutella and jam pizza!
Smitty’s Italian Steakhouse –The large dining area either in the historic building or picturesque patio is what drew us to Smitty’s! The homemade lasagna and chicken parmesan were a hit, too. Kids meals are available. Smitty’s Italian is located on West Franklin Street, a strip full of bars, restaurants, and shopping. If you’re looking for a place to dine, drive down this street!
Donut Bank – Looking for an inexpensive breakfast option? Donut Bank has eight locations throughout greater Evansville. A favorite? Oreo-topped eclairs.
COMFORT by Cross-Eyed Cricket – Evansville sure likes their comfort food and COMFORT is no different. Every inch of COMFORT is tastefully decorated, so much that you’ll think that Joanna Gaines came to Evansville and designed the space. We ate here for breakfast, Mickey Mouse pancakes were a hit with the kids, and french toast and a country breakfast enjoyed by me and the hubs.
River City Coffee – A trendy place on Main St serving up delicious drinks and locally made products.
Where to stay in Evansville
Other than the Tropicana Casino, The Doubletree by Hilton is Evansville’s only downtown hotel (check current rates). The DoubleTree is just a stone’s throw from the action of Main Street, the Children’s Museum, and the Central Library. We enjoyed our stay at this classy hotel. While breakfast is not included at the Doubletree, there is a fridge in the room for keeping snacks and drinks.
The thing that surprised me the most about Southwest Indiana was the diversity of things to do! Within an hour of downtown Evansville, you’ll find even more attractions for your family! We made it to the Lincoln Boyhood Home and planned to spend 20-30 minutes, but we spent 2.5 hours! Don’t miss this attraction, just 40 minutes east of Evansville.
While in town, you may also want to travel out to New Harmony, IN which was an attempt at a Utopian community. History buffs (me! me!) will want to see Angel Mounds Historic Site, where Native Americans lived nearly 1000 years ago.
Have I encouraged you to check out Evansville??
**I was hosted by the Evansville, Indiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. As always, all opinions are my own.**
Other fun things to do with kids in Indiana: sleep in a train car, explore downtown Indianapolis, or visit the great cities of Richmond or Fort Wayne.
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