37 Things to Do in Indianapolis
By Janet Benoir – October 9, 2023
Indianapolis, known as the Circle City, is a lively and bustling metropolis in the heart of the Hoosier State. Loaded with a rich history, stunning art, and friendly locals, this city offers a diverse range of attractions that will captivate anyone who visits.
Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, nature lover, thrill-seeker, or food connoisseur, Indy has something for everyone. With so much to do and experience, Indianapolis is truly a destination that guarantees an unforgettable time.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, situated just a short distance from the heart of Indianapolis, has earned its title as “The Greatest Racecourse In The World.” Every year during the Memorial Day weekend, this extraordinary venue is home to the world’s largest sporting event – The Indianapolis 500.
Besides the famed Indy 500, the Speedway hosts numerous racing events throughout the year, making it an exciting destination for race enthusiasts. Even if you’re not there for a race, there’s no shortage of activities. Embark on a 90-minute golf cart tour of the impressive grounds or opt for the Kiss The Bricks tour, which consists of a 30-minute narrated lap around the renowned IMS oval and a stop at the “Yard of Bricks.”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
Fulfill your fascination for the fast and the furious by visiting the impressive Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Spread across two spacious floors, the museum offers 37,500 square feet of exhibit space, showcasing an extensive collection of cars, trophies, photographs, racing records, memorabilia, and fine art.
While there’s a particular focus on the renowned Indy 500, you’ll also find race cars from various series: IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One, USAC Sprints and Midgets, motorcycle racing, and drag racing. To further enhance your experience, the museum provides track tours and guided museum tours, ensuring a memorable and comprehensive visit.
Lucas Oil Raceway
As a fan of speed and excitement, you should consider visiting the renowned Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. This electrifying venue is ideal for an adrenaline rush like no other.
The raceway, consisting of three distinct tracks, boasts over 100 racing events throughout the year. You have the opportunity to fulfill your dreams of accelerating up to 140 mph in a two-seater dragster. Create unforgettable memories with the screeching tires and your heart pounding, whether as a passenger or with a driver package.
Lucas Oil Stadium
Indulge in concerts, events, and more at Lucas Oil Stadium, the place where the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts play. Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, the atmosphere at the games is unbeatable.
Opened in 2008, this multi-purpose stadium in downtown Indianapolis hosts a variety of sporting events and activities throughout the year. You can also experience a behind-the-scenes exploration of the stadium, which features a retractable roof and outstanding seating arrangements. Don’t miss the chance to visit this iconic venue.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
When in Indianapolis with kids, make sure to visit the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for an amazing family experience. As the world’s largest children’s museum, it boasts five floors of captivating exhibits and galleries.
The museum features a miniature golf course that delights both children and adults. You and your family will have a fantastic time exploring the Dinosphere, rotating exhibits, railroad exhibitions, and more. The Education Theater offers entertaining live shows, while the Geological Treasures of the Earth exhibit promotes fun and learning simultaneously. Don’t miss out on this remarkable attraction!
Eagle Creek Park and Nature Preserve
Dedicate a day to immerse yourself in the beauty of Eagle Creek Park and Nature Preserve in Indianapolis. Spanning 3,900 acres, this captivating natural haven is not only among the country’s largest urban parks, but it also boasts an extensive network of trails perfect for horseback riding and biking enthusiasts.
While visiting, don’t miss the opportunity to fish at the Eagle Creek Reservoir, home to a diverse selection of fish species. The park offers an array of activities catering to various interests, including a sailing club, golf course, dog park, and swimming area, ensuring a fun-filled experience for everyone.
White River State Park
At White River State Park, you’ll find a wealth of attractions all in one convenient location. This beautiful green space is surrounded by the Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana State Museum, Victory Field, and many more popular sites within the city.
You can easily spend hours at this much-loved destination, soaking up the lively atmosphere and participating in various cultural events that take place regularly. Immerse yourself in the activities at White River State Park, where enjoyment and entertainment are guaranteed.
At Conner Prairie, experience a remarkable living history museum in Indianapolis. This top-rated outdoor museum offers unique, season-based encounters, elevating the exploration and celebration of human experiences.
Delve into the engaging blend of science and history at Conner Prairie, reflecting on Indianapolis’s cultural and natural heritage. Engage in the Makesmith Workshop, meet animals up close, soar high on the 1859 Balloon Voyage—an elevated, helium-filled balloon ride, and explore the Treetop Outpost.
In the heart of Indiana, the Central Canal boasts the Canal Walk, which has evolved significantly since its inception in the 1800s. As a vital conduit for interstate commerce, its revitalization has transformed the promenade into a cherished spot for walkers, bikers, and runners from diverse backgrounds.
Venture to this picturesque downtown 3-mile loop and immerse yourself in a lively atmosphere filled with sightseers, runners, and cyclists. For an added touch of adventure, treat yourself to a pedal boat rental on the west side of the Indiana State Museum and enjoy exploring the waterside at your own pace.
Old World Gondoliers
Free your spirit and broaden your perspective by delving into the magic of Old World Gondoliers. Experience a taste of Italy right in the heart of Indianapolis as you embark on a gondola journey led by Old World Gondoliers.
Treat yourself to a private gondola ride and be serenaded by renowned singing gondoliers, providing you with an unparalleled and memorable adventure into the past. Revel in stunning canal views from the comfort of your very own gondola.
Monon Rail Trail
The Monon Rail Trail, a significant Indianapolis attraction, spans 26 miles. Perfect for walking, biking, or cross-country skiing, it takes you through various towns and neighborhoods from Sheridan in the north down south to Westfield, Carmel, Broad Ripple, and the Indiana State Fairgrounds, eventually meeting the Indianapolis Cultural Trail on the east end of Massachusetts Avenue.
You’ll appreciate the ease of finding entry points with abundant free parking during your exploration. Along the way, city parks, the Indianapolis Art Center, and downtown Indianapolis are among the many attractions that await you, making for a picturesque and engaging journey.
Indianapolis Cultural Trail
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail allows you to discover one of the city’s most beautiful paths. Spanning eight miles, this accessible trail easily connects you to some of the most impressive attractions the city has to offer.
As you traverse the trail, you’ll come across various art galleries, gardens, museums, monuments, parks, and neighborhoods. Explore and appreciate Indianapolis’s rich culture as you stroll or cycle through its vibrant districts.
Mass Ave Arts District
The Mass Ave Arts District serves as a vibrant center filled with top-notch art galleries, eateries, theaters, and boutiques, catering to tourists and locals alike. As you stroll down the lively streets, you’ll find something distinctive at every turn, with art museums in this district being especially well-loved by visitors.
While exploring Mass Ave, seize the opportunity to pick up unique souvenirs, indulge in delicious local cuisine, and sip on craft cocktails. Massachusetts and Indiana Avenues intersect here, making it the perfect place to see Indianapolis at its finest.
Soldiers & Sailors Monument: Monument Circle
At the heart of downtown Indianapolis, you will find the impressive Soldiers and Sailors Monument standing tall within Monument Circle. This iconic location offers a lively and vibrant atmosphere that’s full of energy and color. The monument is made of limestone, showcasing an exquisite and striking appearance.
When you visit, make sure to take advantage of the observation deck atop the monument. It provides breathtaking views that are truly unique to the area. Additionally, the monument houses the Shrine Room, a significant space dedicated to honoring soldiers and sailors.
Lockerbie Square Historic District
Embark on a captivating journey through time at the Lockerbie Square Historic District. As you stroll through the area, marvel at the unique architectural designs that adorn the landscape.
This district showcases a blend of vernacular cottages and high-style brick residences dating back to the mid and late-19th century. Indulge in the elegance of Italianate and Queen Anne architectural styles, which depict the district’s first 25 residences between 1855 and 1930. Experience a century-old version of Indiana by visiting this historic district.
At the Indianapolis Artsgarden, you can witness some of the most visually captivating art exhibitions featuring innovative creations by up-and-coming artists and skilled local students. The Artsgarden establishes itself as a central location for cultural and artistic happenings in the city.
This unique venue intertwines architectural elements with themes like love, romance, mystery, and the Klingon Empire, offering you intriguing insights and discoveries. As you explore the Artsgarden, immerse yourself in the diverse range of galleries and enjoy the fusion of art, culture, and design.
Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
A visit to the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library allows you to delve into the life and works of one of the most renowned authors in history. As a literature enthusiast, you will appreciate the wealth of literary gems housed in this remarkable institution, located in Vonnegut’s hometown of Indianapolis.
Throughout his 50-year career, Vonnegut penned 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works, leaving behind a legacy that still reverberates today. As you explore the museum, you’ll gain insight into his extraordinary life, prolific work, and the era that shaped his creations, such as celebrated novels Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions.
At the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, you can marvel at the rich Native American culture through various art forms such as jewelry-making, sculpture, and painting. Located on Washington Street, adjacent to Military Park, the museum houses an extraordinary collection of captivating Native American art.
The exceptional, state-of-the-art building offers an immersive experience for visitors of all ages. During your visit, immerse yourself in the enthralling stories of America’s ancestors and appreciate the vibrant artwork that fills the esteemed museum. The Eiteljorg Museum is undoubtedly an experience you won’t want to miss.
Indiana State Museum
Indiana State Museum, housed in Old Indianapolis’ city hall, offers a wealth of knowledge about the state’s heritage and rich history. The three exhibition spaces within the museum cover diverse topics such as natural sciences, modern art, and prehistoric times, ensuring a captivating and enlightening experience for any visitor. In addition to the exhibits, the museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year that delve into Indiana’s art, science, and culture, both past and present.
As you explore the Indiana State Museum, don’t forget to check out the Farmers Market Café and the IMAX theater, which add to the enjoyment and convenience of your visit. The multifaceted museum experience provides not only education but also entertainment for visitors, making it a must-see destination for anyone interested in Indiana’s history and culture.
Crispus Attucks Museum
The Crispus Attucks Museum is home to a collection of artifacts from the first exclusively African American high school. The establishment is named in honor of a black hero from the American Revolution, Crispus Attucks, who shares his name with the school.
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
In the heart of Indianapolis, art enthusiasts are drawn to the impressive offerings at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. With an extensive collection exceeding 50,000 exquisite works, the museum takes pride in its remarkable selection of Asian art.
To absorb the richness of the museum, you have the option to venture through the captivating exhibits independently or opt for an informative guided tour. Engage with experts as they lead you through an array of art, including impressionist masterpieces and Egyptian artifacts, while also offering insight into the stunning surrounding gardens.
Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park
The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, located at Newfields, is a remarkable 100-acre expanse that combines the beauty of nature and contemporary art. Here, you’ll explore a diverse landscape, including meadows, wetlands, woodlands, and a magnificent 35-acre lake.
This park continually features site-specific art commissions, encompassing exhibitions, projects, and discussions. If you’re eager to witness the evolving connection between the natural world and contemporary art, this park is an ideal destination for you. Surrounded by gardens, it showcases the perfect blend of creativity and nature’s splendor.
Lilly House and Gardens
At Lilly House and Gardens, experience the captivating elegance of an early 20th-century country estate. Marvel at the stunning French chateau-style residence and its exceptional collection of antique furniture. This picturesque estate boasts a grand exterior, complemented by Victorian décor and classic paintings that will leave you in awe.
To truly appreciate the Lilly House, a National Historic Landmark, consider booking a guided tour. This way, you’ll gain valuable insight into the estate’s fascinating history while admiring every beautiful detail.
The Garage at Bottleworks
Looking for the finest food and vendor experience in Indianapolis? Make your way to the Garage at Bottleworks. This 30,000-square foot space is home to an impressive assortment of beverage and food vendors, creating a vibrant community atmosphere.
Not only does this venue showcase a striking mix of industrial architecture and 1930s Art Deco with terracotta facades, but it also gathers top culinary talents, craftsmen, residents, and supporters from around the globe. While exploring the Garage at Bottleworks, don’t miss out on visiting some of the standout vendors such as Living Room Theaters, J’s Lobster & Fish Market, and Lick Ice Cream.
Traders Point Creamery
Experience the essence of Indianapolis by visiting Traders Point Creamery, the city’s premier artisanal, award-winning creamery, and organic dairy farm. Located just a 20-minute drive from downtown, this attraction offers a farm-to-table restaurant, delectable treats at the Dairy Bar, farm tours, and a quaint farm store.
Here, you’ll have the chance to taste some of the most scrumptious, 100% grass-fed dairy products such as ice cream, cheese, milk, and more. As a dairy enthusiast, you won’t want to miss this delightful destination and the opportunity to engage in self-guided farm walks.
Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
For an exceptional night out in Indianapolis, make sure to visit Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. This venue offers a mix of dramas, comedies, and entertaining performances, all within a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The professional stage and shows have made Beef & Boards a prominent local attraction that everyone should experience.
During your visit, you and your party will enjoy a delicious multi-course meal at your table while taking in a performance on stage. To get the most out of your experience, choose one of the available Broadway classics.
K1 Speed offers an exhilarating indoor go-kart racing experience tailored for racers of all skill levels. It is the perfect alternative when attending an actual hot lap or dragster race in Indiana isn’t possible. The fantastic electric go-karts at K1 Speed can reach speeds of over 45 MPH, promising a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping ride.
With custom packages available, your visit to K1 Speed can be tailored to create an unforgettable event for both families and friends. Spending time behind the wheel of these high-speed go-karts will provide you and your loved ones with a unique and exciting adventure that everyone will enjoy.
Indianapolis City Market
Indianapolis City Market, a historic and lively destination in downtown Indianapolis, offers a range of exciting experiences infused with a quaint, old-school charm. The market teems with enticing sights, sounds, and smells, providing endless possibilities for your enjoyment. As you explore, you can catch live music performances, sample a refreshing mug of beer, discover artisan-made products like handmade soaps, or indulge in tantalizing dishes from various food stands.
In addition to the delightful array of offerings above ground, the Indianapolis City Market also holds a secret beneath its surface: an underground network of Romanesque catacombs listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Catacombs Tour takes you on a thrilling adventure through a maze-like series of chambers and tunnels that once stored market goods and served as a bustling transportation hub in the 1800s.
While visiting Indianapolis, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the historic catacombs beneath the city. This hidden gem offers a glimpse into the past and is an intriguing experience, taking you under the bustling streets to discover a whole new world.
On this tour, you’ll wander through the expansive network of brick corridors, learning about the fascinating history of the catacombs and their use over the years. Be prepared to be amazed by the mysterious atmosphere and the countless stories that lie beneath the surface of Indianapolis.
Fort Harrison State Park Hoosier Trail Adventures
At Fort Harrison State Park, you can experience horseback riding, hay riding, and even take riding lessons. If you are 6 years old or older, these activities cater to your enthusiasm for riding adventures.
Dive into delightful pony rides, horse rides, and hay rides, perfect to satiate your passion for riding and create memories of a lifetime at Hoosier Trail Rides in Fort Harrison State Park.
Tappers Arcade Bar Experience
Engage in friendly contests at Tappers Arcade Bar where you will find numerous intriguing arcade machines from various eras. Experience the golden age of gaming first-hand with their fantastic selection.
Surrounding you are pinball and arcade machines, creating an atmosphere of retro excitement for everyone. Gather your friends or significant other for a thrilling night of gaming and enjoy a comprehensive cocktail menu, tasty bar snacks, and refreshing draft beer.
Big Woods Speedway
In the heart of Indianapolis’ historic downtown Speedway, you’ll find Big Woods Speedway, a prominent restaurant chain in the city. Covering 7,000 square feet, this distinguished eatery features an outdoor beer garden, patio seating, a Nashville brew pub, and a private event bar on one floor.
At Big Woods Speedway, your culinary experience will be enhanced by a vast pizza selection, mouthwatering brews, and other popular Indiana State crafts, making it a top destination for food enthusiasts.
The Exchange Whiskey Bar
For a top-notch whiskey experience, make your way to The Exchange Whiskey Bar in Indianapolis. With a selection of over 450 whiskey varieties, you’ll never be short of options. You can also indulge in their expertly crafted cocktails that impress with vibrant colors and unforgettable flavors.
Daniel’s Family Vineyard & Winery
Immerse yourself in an exquisite array of locally crafted red and white wines at Daniel’s Family Vineyard & Winery in Indianapolis. The vineyard functions as a full-fledged winery and venue for events, complete with an exclusive wine club for enthusiasts.
Take the opportunity to savor rare wine varieties that provide a unique experience for your palate, unlike any other wineries across the globe. The scenic setting combined with the delightful opportunity to leisurely sip some of the most delectable and sumptuous wines makes for an indulgence you’ve earned.
Indiana Medical History Museum
A visit to the Indiana Medical History Museum offers an engaging and educational experience for those interested in the medical field or simply curious minds. This destination might not have the usual flashy appeal, but it is packed with intriguing and informative exhibits.
Step into the Old Pathology Building, a highly cherished historic edifice listed on the National Register, and delve into the fascinating world of mental health. Here, you will have the opportunity to explore the root causes of mental illnesses and gain valuable insights into mental wellness.
Harrah’s Hoosier Park
In Indiana City, harness racing is a thrilling attraction, and you can be part of the action at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. During the racing season, witness the impressive competition, and try your luck with simulcast wagering.
Beyond the races, enhance your visit with a delicious meal at the All-American Steakhouse, and test your gaming skills at the on-site casino. Harrah’s Hoosier Park offers an unforgettable experience for a day or night out.
Indiana State Fair Midway
At the conclusion of summer, make sure to attend the Indiana State Fair, located in Indianapolis. Experience the excitement of the Ferris wheel, take part in fair rides, play games, and see the competitions featured throughout the event.
Not only can you win wonderful prizes, but satisfy your appetite for delicious fair food. Your memorable time at the Indiana State Fair awaits!