As a longtime Indianapolis-area resident I grew up looking forward to the daylong trips to The Children’s Museum. I spent hours building sailboats and watching them navigate through treacherous waters in the Museum’s Water Works exhibit; digging until I found the artifact I was looking for in the Treasure of the Earth exhibit; arguing with my twin brother about whose railroad was superior in Trains exhibit. 

But today’s kids will have it better than I did, and I had it pretty damn good. 

The Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience, featuring 12 outdoor experiences and three indoor exhibits all dedicated to sports, opened Saturday, March 17. With a price tag of $38 million, the 7.5 acre complex is the museum’s largest and most expensive expansion in last the 40 years.  

Outdoor elements are named after local sports team including the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever, Indianapolis Colts and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, among others. 

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the Sports Legends Experience during a media preview last week, which, for a single male in his mid-20s with no children is really the only way I would be stepping foot inside the museum’s doors these days.  

After watching a quick pep rally, Haley (who took all the great photos of me partaking in the different sports) and I ventured out to explore the complex. Our first stop was Wiese Field. I played baseball for a decade or so growing up, but it’s been several years since I swung a bat so I needed a few practice swings before belting a home run to straight center. 

The football experience was next up. Youngsters will be able to test their throwing skills by trying to complete passes to Colts legends like Reggie Wayne, kick field goals on either regulation-sized posts or smaller posts, run drills and more. I can proudly say that I was able make a field goal without breaking my foot, so that’s a positive. 

Making our way past the mini Pagoda to the Drag Strip Experience, a young, enthusiastic 5-year old girl named Millie was quick to accept my challenge when I rhetorically asked if anyone wanted to race me. Millie wasn’t shy when it came to trash talk either, getting right up in my face and letting me know I should prepare to eat her proverbial dust — the cars were pedal powered. I’ll let you ponder about who won as bragging about defeating a 5-year-old in a pedal race and losing to a 5-year old in a pedal race both rank low on my “things I want to do” list. 

The largest portion of the new complex is the Pete and Alice Dye Golf Experience. Featuring a putting green and two different 9-hole courses where each hole is designed to replicate a Pete Dye hole  around the world, kids can practice their putting skills or put their skills to the test on course. 

Food carts offering guests stadium style concessions like hot dogs, nachos and, my favorite, Dippin’ Dots could be found throughout the complex. I’m still patiently waiting for the day Dippin’ Dots get their due and finally become the Ice Cream of the Present. 

As the sun set and the temperature dropped we made our way inside to check out the National Art Museum of Sport and other indoor activities, including a pit stop challenge and a mock broadcast booth. While the outdoor activities will surely garner the most attention, you’ll be missing out if you overlook this portion of the new complex. 

My one request is that museum higher-ups create a similar event to the wildly popular Museum by Moonlight fundraiser because adults should be able to experience this new expansion like I did — just with a Sun King beer in the their non-throwing hand, of course.  

The Sports Legends Experience is included in the general admission price for the Children’s Museum and is open Sun-Wed, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thur-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. through May 25. Seasonal hours vary.