“Funky Bones,” one of the interactive art pieces at the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, is the perfect place to have some funky fun. All photos by Katerina Anderson.
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Kids seem to have it all figured out. They float through life playing games and having mindless fun. Then adulthood comes and crushes that. Even as college students, it can be so easy to forget the importance of having fun. Homework, jobs, internships or whatever else gets in the way and contributes to the high levels of student stress. Participating in fun activities — like those listed below — can help students lower stress levels and avoid burnout.
These activities can all be found in the local Indianapolis area and are great ways to unlock the inner child inside, and some of them are free
Just 20 minutes from campus is Nine Lives Cat Cafe, a coffee shop and cat lounge. The lounge and cafe are separate, but patrons can bring their food and beverages into the lounge. All of the cats are adoptable from shelters in the area, and most of the proceeds from the cafe go to caring for the cats. There is a small fee to enter the cat lounge that depends on the day, but it is typically around $10. Reservations are encouraged to ensure a spot. Students looking for a break can grab coffee and a croissant while cuddling with some cats.
Junior music education major Amanda Murbach tries to visit the cafe once a month to spend some time with the cats.
“They have a bunch of cats from local shelters, and you just hang out with them,” Murbach said. “Sometimes they’re very playful, and sometimes they’re super cuddly. They’re usually young cats, like kittens or a couple of years old. Almost every time I go there, there’s always at least one cat where I’m like, ‘I wish I could take them home right now.’”
Holliday Park is a 94-acre green space and nature center located just five minutes away from Butler. When it gets a bit warmer, the park is the perfect place to have a picnic with friends. Visitors will find hiking trails, “ruins” and playgrounds — but maybe let the real kids have the slide.
The park is also home to many different species of trees, flowers and animals to sit and admire. Holliday Park hosts all kinds of events to enjoy, such as musical performances, trail runs, nature workshops and group hikes. Most of their programs are free and can be found on their calendar.
Katy Olson, a junior international studies, political science and German triple major, loves to go rock climbing with friends in her free time.
“One of the things that my friends and I like to do is go rock climbing,” Olson said. “There’s a gym that we go to called Climb Time Indy. It’s challenging, but it can be for any skill level. We just started this year, and it’s been really fun so far.”
Climb Time Indy is only about 25 minutes from Butler and offers a variety of climbing activities for everyone to enjoy. They offer various passes ranging from daily to yearly options. A climbing day pass including shoes and a harness is only $18. Beginners, do not worry; Climb Time Indy has a staff of experienced climbers to educate and supervise.
Olson also appreciates the competitive and adventurous nature of rock climbing.
“It’s competitive because you can compete against your friends, but in a healthy way,” Olson said. “It also helps you build trust in them because when they’re doing the [belay], your life is kind of in their hands.”
Newfields, or The Indianapolis Museum of Art, is the closest destination to campus on this list. Just a short walk or an even shorter drive from Butler; this museum is not a typical stuffy art gallery. The museum is full of rotating exhibits for all to enjoy. A few current exhibitions include an interactive Monet experience by THE LUME, We. The Culture: Works by The Eighteen Art Collective and Stephen Sprouse: Rock | Art | Fashion. Newfields is also known for both of its holiday light festivals: Winterlights and Harvest Nights.
Newfields is an expansive property that includes many different sights to see. The Garden is an expansive plot of over 500,000 flowers to enjoy this upcoming spring. The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park is a large meadow and lake full of interactive outdoor art installations. Fairbanks Park is also home to Newfields’ claim to fame, “Funky Bones.” The large fiberglass skeleton, by Dutch artist Atelier Van Leishout, is fun to sit or climb on and was made famous by being featured in John Green’s book-turned-movie “The Fault in Our Stars.”
Admission to Newfields is free for Butler students who show their ID on-site. Student membership includes free admission to the museum, The Garden and Fairbanks Park. Spend some time getting in touch with both nature and art this spring.
The Indianapolis Zoo is a 64-acre zoological nonprofit organization that houses animals, an aquarium and botanical gardens. Located only 20 minutes from Butler, the zoo offers a variety of fun animal adventures to participate in. Additionally, the zoo has many interactive activities, a tram over the park, a train and more. Sadly, there is no student discount, so tickets are $32.75 for adults. A trip to the zoo is a great way to see some animals, have some fun and support wildlife preservation. The zoo supports preservation efforts by helping to raise endangered species, promoting sustainability in their facility, supporting other organizations with similar conservation initiatives and helping to create the Global Center for Species Survival. The Global Center for Species Survival is part of a network of over 10,000 conservationists worldwide working to promote preservation and conservation in their cities.
Can’t make it to the zoo? Head to the website for a virtual visit through their wildlife webcams.
This outdoor interactive history museum is the perfect place for some fun, and it is only about 30 minutes from campus. Year-round, Conner Prairie is a great place to go on nature walks and learn about Indiana’s history, but its best season is the fall. In autumn, Conner Prairie holds a Halloween festival that includes an intricate corn maze and haunted hayrides
During the winter, Conner Prairie hosts “A Merry Prairie Holiday,” where the entire park is covered in festive lights. Coming up in the spring, there are many different historical workshops to take part in such as pottery, blacksmithing, leatherworking and more. Conner Prairie opens for the spring season on March 28, and tickets are $10.
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Despite the name, this museum is not only for children. Just a short drive from campus lies the Children’s Museum, a fun and interactive museum that is fun for adults too. The museum features indoor and outdoor exhibitions such as “The Dinosphere,” “Beyond Spaceship Earth” and the “Tree of Sports.” While the outdoor exhibits are closed until March 18, there is still plenty to do inside the museum. Ticket rates depend on the day and range from $20-25, but they are generally cheaper on weekdays.
Want to pretend to be a Viking for a day or safely release some anger? Try axe throwing. Ragnarok Axe Throwing is the perfect place, and it is 20 minutes from Butler. There are two types of axe throwing to participate in. Tickets for one hour of self-guided “open axe throwing,” which is set up like bowling but with axes, are $27 per person. Tickets for “the original show,” where patrons take part in a 90-minute guided axe throwing competition, are $37 per person.
Sophomore biochemistry major Mathias Vander Eide enjoyed mastering the art of axe throwing.
“You walk in, and everything’s all wooden because it’s Viking themed,” Vander Eide said. “There are multiple caged-in lanes to throw in. It felt good to pick up an axe. At first, we were pretty bad, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and so did everyone else in the group. It was a really fun activity.”
Even students without cars can participate in any of these local activities and more through alternative modes of transportation. There are also plenty of free events on campus to attend through the Student Government Association or the University Program Council.
College is all about the study grind, but it should also be for fun. Some of the activities listed above only last an hour but can make a big difference in lowering stress levels this semester. Any of these fun ideas can make a good day great and a bad day better. Unlock the child inside and let them run free.