“Spanning more than 1,000 wooded acres, Conner Prairie presents history, science, art, and nature via interactive displays and exhibits, appropriate for all different age levels. It is presented in a way that makes the experience fun, meaningful, and accessible to all.” -Chicago blogger Francesca of The Working Mom’s Travels
By definition, Conner Prairie is an interactive outdoor history museum, but it is so much more. Families from across the Midwest travel to Fishers, Indiana to experience Conner Prairie for themselves. It’s best explored in person, but to be inspired, read below for our guide to all things to do at Conner Prairie.
- 1859 Balloon Voyage
- 1816 Lenape Indian Camp, Animal Encounters and William Conner House
- 1836 Prairietown
- Treetop Outpost
- 1863 Civil War Journey
- Indoor Activities
- Special Events
1859 Balloon Voyage
You’ll know you’re at Conner Prairie when you see the brightly-colored 1859 Balloon Voyage flying high in the sky – 350 feet to be exact. This experience pays homage to the first successful airmail delivery in the United States, which took place in Lafayette, Indiana. The tethered balloon is filled with helium, the same gas used in birthday balloons, rather than hot air. On a clear day, visitors can see the Indianapolis skyline during the 15 minute adventure. Note that the balloon flies weather and wind dependent and a special ticket is required for the flight.
1816 Lenape Indian Camp, Animal Encounters and William Conner House
When exploring the outdoor grounds, the first stop is the 1816 Lenape Indian Camp. At this point in history, Indiana is not yet a state. Meet Lenape Indians and American fur traders and explore the trading post, sit in an authentic wooden dugout canoe, throw a tomahawk and build a wigwam.
The bleat of baby goats and sheep will lead you to Animal Encounters, a real working barn with chickens, goats, sheep, bulls and more. Many of the animals, like Arapaw goats, are rare historical livestock breeds that would have been native to Indiana in the 1800s.
Don’t miss the William Conner house, the actual residence of Conner Prairie’s namesake. Fun fact: this is one of Indiana’s oldest brick homes.
1836 Prairietown is in the heart of Conner Prairie. This is a fictional but historically accurate 1800s Indiana village, complete with a one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith, doctor, carpenter and more. Guests are encouraged to immerse themselves and watch blacksmith demonstrations, churn butter with interpreters and learn more about daily life centuries ago.
Tucked away in the trees is the Robinsoe Crusoe treehouse of your dreams. Treetop Outpost is a four-story treehouse with a 30-foot suspension bridge with interactive activities to encourage families to connect with nature. It’s the perfect place to unplug and explore outdoors. Bonus: follow the trail to look over the White River.
1863 Civil War Journey
Step across the iconic red covered bridge and you’ll step back in time to 1863 Civil War Journey. The setup: Abraham Lincoln is president and the town of Dupont, Indiana, has just been raided by a Confederate general. Follow “left, right, left” and march alongside Union soldiers – kids even get the chance to wear Civil War era uniforms.
Craft Corner, Create.Connect, Discovery Station and the new Makerspace provide opportunities for indoor exploration and play. Tap into Indiana’s innovative spirit and make electrical circuits, fly a paper airplane or create a make and take craft.
Conner Prairie hosts popular annual events to expand on the experience. Don’t miss Shear Fun in the spring when the winter coats of the sheeps are sheared; Festival of Machines in the fall with vintage cars, steam engines, military vehicles and more; and Headless Horseman in October, a spooky festival with haunted hayrides and a 7-acre corn maze.