32 Fun & Best Things to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana

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Soldiers and Sailors Monument & Indiana War Memorial Museum

Indianapolis, the state capital of Indiana, is also known as the Crossroads of America because it was home to a crucial part of the original federal highway system in 1926. The capital city sits almost dead center within the state. Consequently, it is home to dozens of culturally rich things to do and places to visit.

Known as “Indy” to locals, this lively city features craft beers, historic landmarks, and many outdoor havens. But, before these modern attractions, the area was originally home to American Indians and Native American tribes—specifically, the tribes of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.

In 1768, the Six Nations deeded nearly 5,000 square miles of land to a Philadelphia trading company. The Six Nations did this as reparations for goods some tribe members had illegally taken.

The new owners of this land named the area Indiana, meaning “Land of the Indians.” When Indiana became a state in 1816, it kept this name.

Today, museums like the Eiteljorg Museum honor the land’s original residents and history with special exhibits. The word Indianapolis was derived from the new state’s name with the Greek word “polis” (city) added. The state’s capital can, therefore, be roughly translated as “City of the Land of the Indians.” Now you know!

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
  • Park to visit – Eagle Creek Park
  • Free activity – Indianapolis Cultural Trail
  • Activity for kids – Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
  • Activity for adults – The Indianapolis Art Center
  • Place to eat – High Velocity
  • Nightlife – Howl at the Moon
  • Place to stayConrad Indianapolis

Things to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana

1. Eiteljorg Museum

Address: 500 West Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

Created in 1989, the Eiteljorg Museum recognizes the land’s original population, the American Indians. The exhibits feature Native American art, stories, and archaeological finds. Along with the permanent collection, visitors will find rotating exhibits. Past exhibits have included Contemporary Native Art and the Quest for the West (a Western art exhibit).

Featured artists are also highlighted with special exhibits and appearances throughout the year. In addition, an outdoor garden showcases stunning artwork by artists throughout North America. If you’re an art lover or history buff, add the Eiteljorg Museum to your list of things to do in Indianapolis.

For a place to stay that will complement your day at the museum, consider Conrad Indianapolis. This gorgeous hotel at the core of downtown Indianapolis will put you in the center of the action during your stay.

See Related: Tourist-Friendly Native Indian Reservations to Visit

2. Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Address: 3000 North Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest children’s museum at a mind-boggling 482,950 square feet. Beyond being the largest, it’s also widely considered the best children’s museum in the United States. Beloved by kids and adults alike, the museum offers a multitude of hands-on exhibits.

A crowd favorite includes a walk-through of the International Space Station — do you think you can see the world’s largest children’s museum from there? Another family favorite is the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth, which offers a glimpse into ancient art and culture. Plus, you can experience live performances at the Lilly Theater.

There are so many other popular exhibitions here as well. These include a functioning carousel, a 5-story blown glass exhibit, and the Dinosphere. Kids will get a kick from meeting life-sized dinosaurs in an interactive landscape. With so much to do, families could easily dedicate an entire day to exploring Earth’s largest children’s museum.

And if you and the gang are looking for a hotel near the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Indianapolis Keystone is a nice option. The youngsters will love the massive pool at SpringHill, while everyone will love the proximity to restaurants.

See Related: Things to Do in Lafayette, Indiana

3. Canal Walk

Canal Walk

Address: 801 West Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

As part of the Indiana Central Canal, the Canal Walk offers a delightful waterside view. Plus, the promenade is ideal for a romantic walk, morning jog, or bike ride through the city center. Spending time along the canal is one of the more popular things in Indianapolis.

The Canal Walk is a 3-mile path running north through downtown Indianapolis. It sits between the White River State Park and 11th Street. The Central Canal Walk provides views of the iconic downtown Indianapolis skyline.

You may interact with the friendly local duck and geese population along the Central Canal Walk. However you should remember that both can bite and that feeding them bread is not good for them.

When visiting Indianapolis, consider getting on the Central Canal itself. Travelers can rent pedal boats from the nearby Indiana State Museum. Depending on the time of year, gondola rides and kayak rentals may also be available.

If you want somewhere to stay with easy access to the canal area, consider booking the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. The Hyatt is a cozy place to stay close to downtown Indy within walking distance of the Indiana State Museum.

See Related: Things to Do in Greenwood, Indiana

4. Indianapolis Museum of Art

Indianapolis Museum of Art
hakkun / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 4000 North Michigan Road, Indianapolis, IN 46208

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is home to an impressive collection of art from across the globe located on the Newfields nature and arts campus. Its galleries feature a vast collection of diverse artists and genres.

There are also beloved works housed here by American artists, such as Joseph Henry Sharp’s Chief Flat Iron, Sioux, John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of James Whitcomb Riley, and a selection of metalworks by Janet Payne Bowles.

Even pieces from far away Greece, South America, and Asia are featured at The Indianapolis Museum of Art. Some of these works include pieces from artists like Rembrandt and Picasso.

There are also impressive displays of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Western Art, and Contemporary works. It is also considered North America’s most comprehensive collection of Neo-Impressionist art.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art also works hard to ensure the exhibits are accessible to all art lovers. They provide special assistance for guests who are deaf or blind, along with a special program for individuals with dementia.

5. The Lilly House

The Lilly House

Address: 4000 Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46208

Also located on the Newfields campus is the Lilly House. The French-inspired estate was built in 1907 by the Landon family. It features beautiful architecture and grand landscapes that have wowed the public for decades and remains one of the more unique things to do in Indianapolis.

To return to its 1930s appearance, the Lilly House and gardens have reasonably undergone a lot of work. Today, the first floor features original furniture, art, and decorations from the family.

While the other levels of this National Historic Landmark include educational displays and garden views, the Lilly House has a garage with an early 20th-century car on display to complete the picture.

Tours are self-guided and can be accessed through a mobile phone. The home is accessible and welcomes service animals, but children’s strollers must be left outside.

See Related: Things to Do in Warsaw, Indiana

6. The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 4000 Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46208

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, also located on the Newfields grounds, spans 100 acres and includes a 35-acre lake. Its nicknames have even become 100 Acres or Fairbanks Park. It features outdoor contemporary art displays and is the city’s largest pollinator meadow.

A highlight of Fairbanks Park is a fiberglass bone structure known as Funky Bones. Kids love to jump and play around with this functional public artwork. You may remember the Funky Bones display from the hit film The Fault in Our Stars.

Children also enjoy climbing through a concrete tunnel at the Park of Lament exhibit. The other side of this tunnel opens onto a quiet garden with 3,000 individual plants of more than 50 species.

The art and nature park features some amazing bird-watching opportunities as well, thanks to its 50-foot high platform, which offers birds 25 square feet of nesting space. These nesting grounds cater to a range of bird species. You may see great-horned owls, black-crowned night herons, ospreys, and even bald eagles.

See Related: Things to Do in Fort Wayne, Indiana

7. Fountain Square Food Tour

Fountain Square Food Tour
Kimberly S / TripAdvisor

The Fountain Square Food Tour is perfect for exploring the surrounding historic district. You’ll sample some of the best food and drinks in Indianapolis. The cost of the tour includes tastings, lunch, drinks, and tips.

The 3-hour walking tour offers a taste of international and Midwestern favorites. Plus, the chance to sip on locally-brewed ciders and meads. Did you know honey wine was a thing? You’re going to have your chance to try it here!

Along with the yummy cuisine, this food tour shows iconic Indy history and landmarks. You’ll snap photos of the Fountain Square Theater and the Hotel Tango Distillery.

See Related: Best Walking Tours in Chicago, Illinois

8. Atomic Bowl Duckpin

Address: 1105 Prospect St., Indianapolis, IN 46203

Opened in 1928, this duckpin bowling alley is a highlight of the Fountain Square Theatre. Following decades of abandonment, their doors reopened for games in 1993, and the bowling alley was restored to its 1930s grandeur.

In true 1900s fashion, the balls and pins are smaller than we use today. There are also some slight rule variations compared to standard bowling today. While duckpin bowling was once a fashionable sport all over the country, today, it mainly exists in the Eastern U.S. 

The bowling alley offers two experiences: atomic and action. Atomic bowling features authentic 1950s and ’60s equipment. Whereas the action duckpin option has eight lanes of bowling, a billiards table, and seats up to 98 guests in the café area. The cafes in both areas offer fare ranging from appetizers and salads to burgers and pizza.

Though walk-ins are welcome, lane availability cannot be guaranteed without reservations.

See Related: Reasons Why Traveling Is Important

9. Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Katherine Welles / Adobe Stock

Address: 4790 West 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222

We’d be remiss not to mention Indy’s ties to car racing. Indy is the proud home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), the Racing Capital of the World. (This is also where you’ll find the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, but more on that later.) IMS hosted its first race in 1909 and is now the country’s oldest continually operating race track.

Famous races include the Indianapolis 500 and the Verizon 200. It’s believed that the Indy 500 is the largest single-day sporting event in the world. Additionally, IMS was formerly the host of the United States Grand Prix. Plus, it is the largest seating facility on the globe.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway offers visitors race-themed activities outside of the Indy 500. It makes sense since watching the big race is among the most popular things to do in Indianapolis. For instance, guests can enroll in the Indy Racing Experience Driving Program, where participants can drive a car that completed the Indianapolis 500.

Another option is the Indy Racing Experience Two-Seat Ride. An experienced driver will take passengers around the track at top speeds. Guests will experience g-forces that usually only top race car drivers experience.

There are also a few different Grounds Tours for those who aren’t adrenaline junkies but still want to appreciate the space. These include the Kiss the Bricks, Golf Cart, and Behind the Scenes tours.

For nearby accommodations, we recommend the Courtyard by Marriott Indianapolis West-Speedway, which offers a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and is 2.5 miles from the Indy Motor Speedway.

See Related: Best 5 Dollar a Day Car Rentals

10. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Address: 4750 West 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum celebrates 100 years of motor racing in Indianapolis. This museum is uniquely placed inside the motor speedway itself. It features exhibits dedicated to the history of racing and culture around the globe.

There are both permanent and temporary exhibits, along with actual race cars and trophies. Plus, the opportunity to brush through antique racing-related media and documents. Some of their permanent areas include Winning Cars of the Indianapolis 500 and The History of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Guests can also book a View From The Top Tour for an added fee. This tour allows guests to see the iconic Victory Podium and the Pagoda.

See Related: Top Car Rental Search Engines

11. Indianapolis Zoo

Indianapolis Zoo

Address: 1200 West Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46222

The Indianapolis Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the U.S. that doesn’t receive government funding. For over 50 years, the nonprofit has functioned as a zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden. Today, it features some of the most impressive zoological exhibits in the country. Highlights include the country’s largest shark touch pool and a dolphin viewing dome. Plus, hives with over 20,000 honey bees.

Sprawling 64 acres, the Indianapolis Zoo houses the White River Gardens, an orangutan center, and offers animal-feeding opportunities. Younger children will enjoy the fully accessible Tots Treehouse and Play Area. This spot is wonderful for getting the kid’s energy out by jumping and climbing like an orangutan.

The Indianapolis Zoo even offers overnight adventures and a dolphin or sloth encounter. Take it from me, sloth encounters are the best. Please note that some of these activities may require an additional fee. This 3-day Indy Pass will guide you through this attraction and much more.

See Related: Best Resorts & Hotels With Animals On-Site

12. White River State Park

White River State Park

Address: 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

White River State Park in Downtown Indy creates an urban park via 250 acres of green space in the city. Nature lovers can enjoy walking trails, beautiful landscapes, and interesting attractions. To get wind in your hair, visit the onsite bike rental shop to pick up a bicycle or four-wheeler.

The Indiana State Museum is also onsite and features the state’s largest IMAX screen. The TCU Amphitheater, Indianapolis Zoo, and Eiteljorg Museum are housed within the White River State Park.

This massive state park features multiple art exhibits as well as an Urban Wilderness Trail. The trail is so full of native wildlife and vegetation that you won’t believe you’re in the middle of a city. For sports lovers, catch a baseball game at the nearby Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians.

The White River State Park hosts annual events like the Indy Pride Festival, Food Truck Mondays, and Uncork Me Indiana. You could spend your whole trip just getting to know this massive park and its venues.

See Related: Tips for Traveling with Pets to Make Your Trip Easier

13. Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library

Address: 543 Indiana Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46202

The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library honors the artistic contributions of its namesake. Kurt Vonnegut was a writer, playwright, artist, teacher, and Indianapolis native. He is known largely for his work Slaughterhouse-Five, but also for multiple other works like Cat’s Cradle and Happy Birthday, Wanda June.

Vonnegut left behind a lasting legacy of education and cultural inspiration. His namesake museum allows visitors to see his typewriter, glasses, and other personal items. His Purple Heart and artwork are also available for viewing.

As a Blue Star Museum collaborating with the National Endowments of the Arts, the museum offers free admission to active military personnel and their families from Armed Forces Day until Labor Day. Also, each Monday at the museum is a free admission day.

See Related: Inspiring Songs About Traveling for Your Next Trip

14. Indianapolis Cultural Trail

Address: 132 West Walnut Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is located in downtown Indianapolis. It is an 8-mile walking and biking path connecting many different neighborhoods. The trail also connects Lugar Plaza, Canal Walk, Monument Circle, and Georgia Street to downtown Indy.

Visitors can enjoy a lawn picnic, a splash pad, swings, and the city skyline at Lugar Plaza. Georgia Street features a bustling foodie scene and easy access to popular venues like the Indian Convention Center and the Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The trail is a way to explore Indianapolis while experiencing different neighborhoods. In addition, the proximity to restaurants and bars like Brew Link Brewing makes it perfect for an outing with friends.

See Related: Best Unique Places to Visit in the US

15. Lucas Oil Stadium

Lucas Oil Stadium

Address: 500 South Capitol Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46225

Indianapolis is home to more than a few famous sports teams and facilities. This includes Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. Along with catching a game, visitors can check out the field on a behind-the-scenes tour.

Public tours last about 75 minutes and bring fans to the Indianapolis Colts locker room. Other otherwise off-limits stops include the press box and playing field. Special private tours can be scheduled in advance for an additional fee.

Additionally, Lucas Oil Stadium hosts special events like the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and the Drum Corps international competitions. Located near the stadium is the amazing restaurant, High Velocity. This sports-themed eatery features 60+ TVs, local beer, and delicious eats.

See Related: Best Road Trips in the USA

16. Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Exterior of Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 125 S Pennsylvania St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

As we mentioned above, Indy is a sports mecca. Along with racing and football, the capital city has its basketball team, the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers play at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse, though the arena hosts more than just sporting events. Visitors can also attend live concerts and performances. Past artists have included Paramore and the Jonas Brothers.

The Fieldhouse was designed to be reminiscent of the classic gymnasiums in Indiana. Its special designs provide a cozy familiarity to downtown Indianapolis. Commonly held events at the Fieldhouse include rodeos, conventions, and high school sports.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

17. NCAA Hall of Champions

NCAA Hall of Champions

Address: White River State Park, 700 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204

The NCAA Hall of Champions museum honors collegiate athletes and coaches from the 24 represented NCAA sports affiliations. The Hall of Fame offers an in-depth look at what athletes need to make it to collegiate-level sports. Plus, it features two floors of exhibits representing all of those sports.

There are interactive exhibits with trivia, artifacts, video highlights, and memorabilia. The museum also features a play area with a range of sports simulators and even a 1930s retro gym. Here’s where we would insert a back-in-my-day joke, but you get the point.

When ready for lunch, swing by Mr. and Mrs. Hot Dog stand for a little street-food pick-me-up. Nothing says sports like a hot dog.

See Related: Best Midwest Road Trips

18. Rhythm! Discovery Center

Rhythm! Discovery Center
Amanda O / TripAdvisor

Address: Claypool Court Building, 110 West Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

The Rhythm! Discovery Center is a percussion museum that offers experiences with a range of percussion instruments. Visitors can get their hands on everything from cymbals to tam-tams. Enjoy their instrument-centered exhibit offerings like Time Tunnel or Evolving Sounds.

Additionally, the center offers special events, live performances, and rotating exhibits. Guests can jam in the Grove Space while learning about early percussion. There is even an opportunity to see a celesta phone, an instrument made of meteorites.

Rhythm! provides opportunities for school and larger group tours upon request. Every tour features a guided walk and a facilitated interactive drum circle. So don’t be shy; let out your inner musician.

See Related: Best Music Festivals to Attend

19. Indiana Medical History Museum

Indiana Medical History Museum
Meddlingwithnature / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 3270 Kirkbride Way, Indianapolis, IN 46222

The Indiana Medical History Museum is one of Indy’s unique tourist attractions. Located on the former Central State Hospital grounds, the museum shares the history of medicine and psychiatry. It also introduces visitors to early medical techniques and methodologies.

The Old Pathology Building was dedicated to researching what caused mental health issues. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest surviving facility. Luckily, much of the original equipment is intact for you to see. Exhibits feature several laboratories, the library, the records room, and the reception room.

The autopsy and anatomical displays are also must-see exhibits. The latter contains preserved brains and other anatomical specimens if you can stomach that. Tours of the Indiana Medical History Museum must be scheduled in advance. Self-guided tours of The Medicinal Plant Garden at this cultural institution are also available.

See Related: Famous Landmarks in the United States

20. Indiana State Museum

Indiana State Museum

Address: 650 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

The Indiana State Museum is an easy option for getting to know the state, especially if you’re curious about its early days as well as the land’s ancient past. The Indiana State Museum features three floors of exhibits and displays that cover an array of topics.

Guests can look deep into Indiana’s past by visiting the Ancient Seas exhibit. Or, get to know the animals of the Ice Age at Frozen Reign. Visitors can connect with Indiana’s Native American history with a First Nations exhibit.

Other displays highlight the state’s wildlife, pioneer history, the Hoosier State’s connection to the Civil War, and people who influenced Indiana, like Abraham Lincoln; the museum has a significant collection of artifacts highlighting Lincoln’s life.

See Related: Flyover States That Aren’t Boring

21. Eagle Creek Park

Eagle Creek Park

Address: 7840 West 56th St., Indianapolis, IN 46254

Situated on 5,300 acres of land and water, Eagle Creek Park is one of the country’s largest municipal parks. It has a lake, hiking trails, nature centers, walking trails, boating, fishing, and more. The park houses myriad ecosystems, including meadows, woods, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. There are opportunities to observe native plants and animals in their natural habitat.

The Earth Discovery Center within the park offers a chance to see some wildlife up close. The Exhibit Hall contains different species of reptiles, fish, amphibians, and snakes. A beehive, plant displays, artwork, and other exhibits can be found in the center. Many educational programs and events are available to learn about the natural environment of Eagle Creek Park.

Also located on the park grounds is the Ornithology Center, making Eagle Creek Park an excellent birding location, with species such as the bald eagle, double-crested cormorant, grebe, and loon frequenting the area. The center is on top of a bluff that overlooks the bird sanctuary. Because of all the different ecosystems, outside of the center is perfect for year-round birding.

See Related: Best National Parks in the Midwest

22. Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 1230 North Delaware St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is the former home of the 23rd president. The 10,000-square-foot home of the Harrison family was built in a beautiful Italianate Victorian style. It has since become a National Historic Landmark that transports visitors back to life in the late 1800s. 

Harrison, born in Ohio, served in the Union Army as a colonel during the Civil War before unsuccessfully campaigning for governor of Indiana in 1876. He went on to be the 23rd president, serving one term from March 4, 1889, to March 4, 1893. Not to be confused with William Henry Harrison, who served as president for only 31 days before dying of an illness, likely pneumonia.

The home showcases family heirlooms of the Harrison family, including furniture and artwork. Multiple poignant political artifacts and memorabilia are also on display. Some of their previous exhibits included No Compact of Silence: Black Civil Rights in the Harrison Era, Death in the White House, and Benjamin Harrison: Lawyer, Soldier, President.

See Related: Tips for Traveling to Washington D.C. on a Budget

23. Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Soldiers and Sailors Monument & Indiana War Memorial Museum

Address: 1 Monument Circle, Indianapolis, IN 46204

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Monument Circle is a tribute to the Indiana-born service members. Specifically, members who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Frontier Wars, and the Spanish-American War. Its home, Monument Circle, is literally and figuratively the city’s center.

This monument and official memorial stands over 284 feet high and is located near the American Legion Mall (which houses the Indiana World War Memorial) and the USS Indianapolis Museum. The Soldiers and Sailors monument is made from a gray oolitic limestone taken from the quarries in Owen County, Indiana.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument features a range of sculptures on the structure as well as around the military park. These sculptures depict different branches of the early military and other militia themes. In addition, an observatory within the monument can be reached by climbing 330 stairs. Once you reach the top, you will be more than 230 feet above the street. An elevator ride is available for a small fee.

To learn more about the conflicts like World War I and World War II that have defined American history and the sacrifices of those who served, you should stop by the Indiana War Memorial Museum (up ahead) and USS Indianapolis National Memorial.

See Related: List of US National Monuments (Including the Best to Visit)

24. Indiana War Memorial Museum

Address: IWM,55 E Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 4620

The Indiana War Memorial Museum is another tribute to the residents of Indiana who served. The 30,000-square-foot museum is housed within a historic, towering Art Deco building in the city center.

It features a vast collection of military artifacts, uniforms, and weaponry. Here, you can see a replica of the USS Indianapolis bridge, a Desert Storm Humvee, and even an AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter from the Vietnam War. You’ll even gain insight into the everyday life of soldiers throughout history from bygone wartimes like World War II and the Civil War.

One of the highlights is the incredible view of downtown Indy from the observation deck. Visitors can climb to the museum’s top and take in remarkable views of the city’s skyline.

See Related: Best Military Museums in Europe

25. Old Northside Historic District

Old Northside Historic District
Electrasteph / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re in search of stunning vintage architecture, look no further than Indy’s own Old Northside Historic District. The district features some of the most beautiful examples of late 19th-century Victorian-style homes. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, this part of Indianapolis was the most sought-after location for the wealthy and elite.

Notable residents included former U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, founder of Butler University, Ovid Butler, and famous Indiana author Meredith Nicholson. There are also three parks within the historic district’s boundaries for a breath of fresh air. These include Great Oak Commons, Shawn Grove Park, and the Frank and Judy O’Bannon Soccer Park.

Great Oak Commons is styled after a Victorian walking park, with a gazebo, gas lighting, a flowering garden, and a central fountain. Meanwhile, the more play-friendly Shawn Grove Park features children’s play equipment and a soccer park.

See Related: Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Kids

26. The Indianapolis Art Center

The Indianapolis Art Center

Address: 820 East 67th St., Indianapolis, IN 46220

The Indianapolis Art Center, like the other nature/art facilities in Indy, provides a unique blend of the two. Its art exhibit hall showcases new displays throughout the year, while the art center campus offers professional art classes for all skill levels.

The classes offered cover an impressive range of subjects, including acrylic painting, pottery, drawing, glasswork, welding, sewing, lapidary, photography, blacksmithing, woodwork, and more.

Along with the gallery and art classes, the Indianapolis Art Center also features the ARTSPARK, a 9.5-acre outdoor sculpture park with beautiful green spaces, walking trails, and even a canoe launch. The ARTSPARK and gallery are free of charge, and visitors are not required to take a class to explore the building or grounds.

If you’re keen to end your visual arts day with some performing arts, check out Howl at the Moon. This venue offers specialty drinks by the bucket, features amazing live music, and allows guests to dance the night away or just sit and sip while hanging out with friends.

27. Monon Trail

Monon Trail
Dmytro Sergiyenko / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Once used by the Monon Railroad, this 25-mile stretch of land has set a national example for other “rail-to-trail” conversions.

When the railroad no longer had use for its miles of rail tracks, they were converted to a paved bike and pedestrian path that now links the nearby cities of Carmel and Sheridan through Indianapolis. It is part of an official bike interstate known as the USBR35 and has been entered into the “Rail Trail Hall of Fame.”

This scenic rail conversion passes over bridges, miles of idyllic countryside, and diverse neighborhoods, traversing land once seen only by railroad workers. The fall foliage provides a stunning backdrop during autumn, while the lush green leaves and grasses offer rejuvenating surroundings during the warmer months.

Parts of the trail pass through neighborhoods where small restaurants like Fire by the Monon provide a tempting oasis for a quick break. Regardless of whether you’re interested in a short walk or a long bike ride, the Monon Trail will be sure to delight you.

See Related: Best Places for Fall Foliage in the US

28. Holliday Park

Holliday Park

Address: 6363 Spring Mill Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46260

Holliday Park is one of the oldest parks in Indianapolis. The land was donated in 1916 by John and Evaline Holliday, and throughout the decades, it has provided access to the natural beauty of Indiana’s flora and fauna. The park features more than 3.5 miles of hiking and walking trails, a playground, a nature center, a pond, wetlands, and many lovely green spaces.

As well as the natural features, the park is also home to the Holliday Park Ruins. This one-of-a-kind display showcases three massive statues once part of the Western Electric Company building in New York City.

When the building was torn down, the electric company competed throughout the U.S. to see which city should be awarded the mammoth statues. Indianapolis won, and the statues were moved to their new home.

The nature center and Habitat Hall on the park grounds are other can’t-miss destinations in Indianapolis, especially for nature lovers and families with children. It contains a bird viewing and feeding platform, live animal enclosures, and interactive exhibits to enthrall guests of all ages.

See Related: Most Beautiful and Best Running Trails in America

29. Indianapolis City Market

Top View of Indianapolis City Market
Indianapolis City Market / Facebook

Address: 222 E Market St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

The Indianapolis City Market is a downtown public market that’s been in operation in its home since 1866 but was founded in 1821. The market offers an assortment of vendors selling everything from artisanal cheeses to fresh produce.

Like the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle or the Milwaukee Public Market, the market is a popular spot to taste the flavors of Indianapolis. Over 30 merchants can be found here selling things to eat as well as goods you can take home or give away as gifts.

Just beneath guests’ feet at the city market are 20,000 square feet of catacombs. However, you won’t find any bones or crypts. Instead, you can tour historical Indianapolis and visit the cellar of Tomlinson Hall.

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

30. Victory Field

Exterior of Victory Field Stadium in Indianapolis
photo.ua / Shutterstock

Address: 501 W Maryland St, Indianapolis, IN 46225

Victory Field is home to the minor-league baseball team, the Indianapolis Indians. Due to its small seating capacity, Victory Field has a reputation for its intimate atmosphere.

Despite its petite size, Victory Field hosts yearly concerts and other live events. Past artists have even included Grammy winners The Beach Boys. Also, Flicks at Victory Field is a family-favorite event where families and friends can gather for an outdoor movie night. 

It received numerous awards for its family-friendly vibe and top-notch amenities. It has a playground for kids, a picnic area, and impressive dining options like Burger Kitchen, Arni’s Pizzeria, and Rowdie’s Ice Cream.

See Related: Budget-Friendly Family Vacations

31. William Conner House at Conner Prairie

Conner Prairie renactor speaking with a guest
Conner Prairie / Conner Prairie

Address: 3445 Bethel Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203

A trip to Conner Prairie, home to the William Conner House and Living History Museum, offers a chance to step back and experience pioneer life. Built in 1823, the house was the home of its namesake and is one of the oldest homes in the state. William Conner was a significant settler who helped found Indianapolis.

The William Conner House is open to the public for guided tours today. Guests can tour the home’s original furnishings, decor, and artifacts. All of which provides an immersive glimpse into 19th-century living. 

Among the experiences at Conner Prairie are a visit to an 1816 Lenape Indian Camp, an 1863 Civil War Journey, and Animal Encounters. When you get hungry from all your time travel adventures, dining options are also onsite.

See Related: Famous Landmarks in Iowa to Visit

32. University Park

Aerial View of University Park, 
 Indianapolis
Ted Alexander Somerville / Shutterstock

Address: 307 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

University Park is an urban green space in the city center and the oldest part of the Indiana War Memorial Plaza. The park is spread across nine acres and was originally going to be the home to a university, hence its name.

The star of this park is the lovely Depew Fountain, named for Indianapolis physician Dr. Richard Johnson Depew. It was designed by Austrian-American sculptor Karl Bitter who also designed the Pulitzer Fountain, multiple sculptures at the Biltmore Estate, as well as a few sculptures at The Met in New York City, among his other works.

During the summer months, the park hosts outdoor concerts and moving screenings. If visiting during the winter, the park transforms into a winter wonderland. This tranquil oasis is an ideal spot to relax and unwind.

See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids

Tours in Indianapolis

1. Indianapolis: 3-Day Indy Attraction Pass Top Recommendation

The Indianapolis 3-Day Attraction Pass is the perfect way to experience all the best that the city has to offer. From White River State Park to the Children's Museum, there are a variety of attractions that will appeal to all ages and interests. With this pass, you can visit as many attractions as you like during normal operating hours, so you can spend as much or as little time at each destination as you want. Plus, the pass is delivered to your phone for safe and convenient mobile entry, so you can hit the ground running when you arrive in Indianapolis.

2. Fountain Square Food Tour

! On this unique tour, you'll use all your senses to explore one of Indianapolis' most vibrant neighborhoods. From locally-owned eateries to art galleries and theaters, there's plenty to see and do in Fountain Square. You'll start your tour at the local meadery, where you'll sample small-batch meads and learn about this delicious honey wine. Next, it's off to enjoy some globally-inspired cuisine. French, Greek, and Thai specialties are just a few of the options you'll have to choose from.

3. Smartphone-Guided Walking Tour of Downtown Indianapolis Sights & Stories

This innovative tour allows you to discover the city at your own pace, in the privacy of your own group. Led by your smartphone, you'll visit iconic spots, learn about their stories, and discover fun facts and trivia. With the knowledge of a local in your pocket, you're sure to have a great time exploring the city on-foot.

FAQ

What is Indianapolis known for?

Indianapolis is perhaps best known for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500. It is also famous for being the birthplace of the 23rd U.S. President, Benjamin Harrison. Its many outdoor spaces also make Indianapolis, Indiana, a great location for birding.

What are the best things to do in Indianapolis with kids?

Kids will love the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Nature Center at Holliday Park, and duckpin bowling. Older kids may also enjoy watching a game at the Lucas Oil Stadium or checking out the Rhythm! Discovery Center.

What are some fun, cheap things to do in Indianapolis?

The Indianapolis Art Center, the Monon Trail, White River State Park, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail are all free or cheap things to do in Indianapolis. Other inexpensive options include the ruins at Holliday Park or visiting the Old Northside Historic District.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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