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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

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7 ways to have (almost) free family fun in Indiana

Money is something you want to hold on to, right? Well, here's a list of some free or low-cost options for you and your family to try out.

State Fair Fishing Pond and the DNR building

Fishing Pond Sign

(August 2-18, 2013)

The DNR building is one of the few with air conditioning at the State Fair, it also houses some of the best information, animals, and fun. You can look at large aquariums filled with Indiana fish, see a snake or two, and see live raptors at the amphitheater.

There’s also the FREE state fair fishing pond where kids 17 and younger can try their hand at fishing. No experience required, all equipment provided, catch and release of bluegill and catfish. It’s a great way to have kids try fishing for the first time. Volunteers are on hand to help. You must sign up in advance each day.

Check out a DNR shooting range

Many DNR properties have shooting ranges and some have events that introduce people to shooting sports. Looking for a range near you? Check out our list of ranges. Some charge a small fee for upkeep of the range and staff.

Try a new recipe

bluegill meatloaf muffins

Have some fish or venison in your freezer? Why not try out a new recipe? A great recipe to get the kids involved is bluegill meatloaf muffins. They can mix with their hands and help create a tasty meal. Other recipes can be found online or on our YouTube channel.


Another easy recipe is for frog legs. Your kids may get a little messy when breading the frog legs, but it'll be worth it in the end. We promise!

Check out the Taste of the Wild Cookout

(Aug. 3, State Fair)

This is a popular event every year at the State Fair. Volunteers bring samples of various wild game for people to try, and it’s all FREE (with admission to the State Fair). There’s often a long line so show up early. The event starts at 11 a.m. Aug. 3. NOTE: CORRECTED DATE. ,

Free family fishing events

Looking for something to do on the weekend? Free family fishing events teach the whole family about fish biology and how to fish. Then you get to try your hand at fishing. All equipment is provided for the events that take place at easily accessible, family-friendly parks. Click here to register and see a list of events.

Check out a Fish and Wildlife Area

Wood Duck Pigeon River FWA

All Fish and Wildlife Areas have no admission fee, and no boat launch permit is required. There are many properties throughout the state where you can hunt, fish, or just hike. Be aware of hunting seasons and hunters/anglers when enjoying these properties.

Information on properties here. 

Ford Hoosier Outdoor Experience

(September 21-22, 2013)

Child Archery

Have you ever wanted to try fly fishing, canoeing, shooting a crossbow, learn how to fillet fish, make a birdhouse, go horseback riding, play disc golf, or any other outdoor activity? You can try them all for FREE at theFord Hoosier Outdoor Experience at Fort Harrison State Park. Information on activities, a map, and a video of last year’s activities can be found there as well. There’s something for everyone and it’s a great event for the family. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

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