There are lots of things to do in Indianapolis, and even more to discover. For instance, did you know that Kurt Vonnegut called the city home? Or that Indy 500 victors celebrate with milk instead of champagne? With just shy of 30 million visitors annually, it only makes sense that Indianapolis is packed with places to eat, explore, and enjoy. Below, we’ve outlined a few of our favorite things to do in town.
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26 of The Best Things to Do in Indianapolis
From sprawling green spaces to arts and cultural institutions, Indianapolis is certainly a city worth visiting. Listed below are a few of its most famous attractions.
Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest city parks in the nation. There is a small entrance fee, but once inside, you’ll be able to enjoy 3,900 acres of wooded terrain and 1,400 acres of water.
On land, you’ll find picnic areas, playgrounds, and hiking trails. There’s also a zipline course and a 36-hole golf course. Pet owners can even stop by the off-leash dog park to spend more time with their four-legged companions.
Nature lovers should be sure to stop by the park’s Ornithology Center to observe birds like bald eagles, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, grebes, loons, and other forms of wildlife.
As you venture farther into the park, you’ll find Eagle Creek, where you can swim, lounge, or try your hand at a variety of watersports. Canoes, kayaks, pontoon and row boats, paddle boats, and even paddle boards are available to rent. There are also cross-country skiing opportunities come wintertime.
Address: 7840 W 56th St, Indianapolis, IN 46254, United States
Time for a cocktail! If you’re looking for a way to break up the itinerary, stop by for a drink at the 1933 Lounge by St. Elmo. The speakeasy-style lounge is a favorite among Indianapolis locals.
The bar, which features a restored bar back from the late 1800s, offers a full food and drink menu. We recommend starting with their “world famous” shrimp cocktail or filet sliders. You can also try some of their signature drinks, made with locally distilled St. Elmo Whiskey.
Everything will come served by a member of their staff, dressed in theme with black vests, and bowties to match.
Address: 127 S. Illinois Street, Indianapolis, IN, 46225, United States
As one of the oldest and most revered motorsport facilities in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is an absolute must-see spot when in town.
The venue was constructed back in 1909 and made it onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Twelve years later, it was officially made a national historic landmark.
Today, the museum offers 37,500 square feet of trophies, photographs, racing records, memorabilia, and fine art. Each exhibit is designed to highlight the cultural significance motor racing has had on the community.
You can also spot race cars from different series while there, including IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One, USAC Sprints and Midgets, motorcycle racing, and drag racing.
Address: 4750 W 16th St, Indianapolis, IN 46222, United States
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The Indiana State Museum is about as “Indiana” as you can get—from its contents to its construction. The central building was made using only materials native to Indiana, like limestone, sandstone, steel, brick, and glass.
The museum also includes notable historic sites, with 12 locations scattered around the state, though the central building is based in Indianapolis. Inside, you’ll find a mix of exhibits and hands-on experiences that showcase stories, events, and people that have helped shape Indiana’s history.
The original collection started in 1869, with hundreds of cultural items related to the recent Civil War. Today, it has ballooned to include specimens from the Ice Age, modern and contemporary art created by local artists, and influential pieces of machinery introduced throughout the 20th century.
Address: 650 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, United States
Located in Downtown Indianapolis, Monument Circle contains the world-famous Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Designed by Bruno Schmitz and constructed sometime between 1887 and 1902, the limestone memorial also includes elements created by architectural sculptors Rudolf Schwartz, George Brewster, and Nicolaus Geiger.
The structure was built to honor America’s fallen soldiers and sailors and stands 284 feet tall, just 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.
Visitors can either climb the 330 steps to reach the Observation Tower or ride the elevator for a small fee for outstanding views of the downtown Indianapolis skyline.
Address: 100 Monument Cir, Indianapolis, IN 46204, United States
Back in 1883, an exhibition of 453 works by 137 artists was displayed at the English Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. The event was hosted by the Art Association of Indianapolis. Its overwhelming success inspired the launch of additional exhibits.
Eventually, the association came to be known as an important contributor to the city’s local cultural scene, and in 1895, it received the funds needed to build a permanent gallery. In 1969, the association officially became the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Located on the 152-acre Newfields campus, the museum now contains over 5,000 years of art history and active exhibition and education programs.
There are also surrounding woodlands, landscapes, gardens, and outdoor sculptures. Visitors should also make it a point to explore the performance center and the art and nature park while there!
Address: 4000 Michigan Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46208, United States
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library commemorates the literary, artistic, and cultural contributions made by one of the city’s most celebrated natives. Though Vonnegut left Indianapolis shortly after graduating high school, he often credited the city for helping define who he was and how he saw the world.
The writer was even quoted as saying, “All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis. My adenoids are Indianapolis. If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.”
You can expect to find artifacts, art, a museum store, and books related to Vonnegut at the museum. Some of the most celebrated items in the collection include Vonnegut’s typewriter, Purple Heart, and reading glasses.
The organization is also dedicated to education, hosting a variety of classes and workshops throughout the year. The “Teaching Vonnegut” series offers annual workshops exploring Vonnegut’s life and most celebrated works. It also highlights causes he championed, including environmentalism and free speech.
Address: 543 Indiana Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46202, United States
Spend a few hours walking through downtown Indianapolis to get a more authentic feel for the city. There are tons of activities to choose from, so you’ll be sure to satisfy even the pickiest members of your group.
The outdoorsy, athletic types will want to hit up the Indianapolis Cultural Trail first. The eight-mile path connects all six cultural districts in downtown Indianapolis and can be explored either on foot or by bike. Sprawling parks and outdoor venues are also available for even more time outside.
If you want to change gears, you always can head to some of the neighborhood’s most famous restaurants, like St. Elmos steak House, Osteria Pronto, or Cerulean, for a good meal. More than 80 percent of the area’s downtown dining options are locally owned and operated.
For shopping, you can head to Circle Centre Mall. You can also stop by any one of the downtown museums for a little art and culture.
The Garage Food Hall is located in Indianapolis’ Bottleworks neighborhood. Local food vendors line the 30,000-square-foot building, selling different types of cuisines, cocktails, and merchandise.
Once you’ve had your fill there, it’s worth exploring the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to its expanding food and wine scene, the area is a popular destination for aspiring artists.
Decorated with industrial buildings and studio spaces, the Bottleworks District offers movie theaters, live music, and old-school entertainment experiences like bowling and pinball.
Address: 906 Carrollton Avenue, Indianapolis, IN, 46202, United States
The Indiana Medical History Museum is located on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital. The institution, also known as the “Indiana Hospital for the Insane,” opened back in 1848. But following a series of scandals surrounding how patients were treated, the hospital closed its doors for good in 1994. At its height during the 1950s, nearly 2,500 patients were housed there.
The majority of the museum collection is housed in the Old Pathology Building, the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. There, visitors can explore the institution’s original teaching amphitheater, laboratories for bacteriology, clinical chemistry, histology, and photography.
There’s also a library, reception room, and records room to check out. Those who want to brave it can even visit the autopsy room and anatomical museum containing preserved specimens… mostly brains.
In addition to these guided tours, the museum offers special events, exhibits, and programs concerning the history and science of medicine, mental health, forensic science, and health careers.
Address: 3045 W Vermont St, Indianapolis, IN 46222, United States
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Explore the former residence of President Benjamin Harrison. The national historic landmark, built in 1874, was where Harrison lived until his death in 1901 (excluding his years in the White House).
Harrison’s family continued to live at the residence in the years that followed until they eventually decided to use the home as a rental property. Fast forward to 1966, and a foundation was established to run the home as a historic site, opening it up to the public.
The house itself is full of art collections once owned by the Harrison family, along with made-to-order pieces of furniture, 20th-century garments, and more.
Today, individuals can embark on guided tours of the property, learning more about the country’s only elected president from Indiana. Visitors will enjoy rotating exhibits of anything from historic fashion to presidential pets in addition to a variety of events hosted on the property. There’s even a theater group that regularly uses the home as a performance stage!
Address: 6000 N Post Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46216, United States
White River State Park spans over 250 acres of green space, trails, trees, and waterways. It also contains some world-class attractions and destinations, including an IMAX theater, music venue, and state museum.
It’s even home to Victory Field, the official venue for the Indianapolis Indians baseball team.
While the state park is easy to navigate on foot, it’s also intersected by the Central Canal, opening tons of opportunities for on-water sightseeing. Visitors can enjoy picturesque skyline views from a pedal boat, kayak, or gondolier.
Address: 801 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, United States
We’ve already listed this destination as one of our favorite summertime activities. The Indianapolis Zoo first opened in 1964 as the “Washington Park Children’s Zoo.” After relocating to White River State Park, the zoo was able to grow by five times its former size. Under its new name, the zoo was able to house over 500 animals from the world’s oceans, deserts, plains, and forests.
It maintains a longstanding commitment to conservation as well. The zoo even developed a program to reward successful animal conservationists worldwide. The $250,000 “Indiana Prize” goes to whoever has done the most to fight existing challenges impacting the world’s biodiversity. Of course, it still pays to be considered a finalist. Each runner-up receives a generous $50,000 for their efforts.
The Indianapolis Zoo is also home to the White River Gardens, which houses more than 16,000 native and exotic species. The garden includes a glass-enclosed conservatory, outdoor design gardens, a water garden, 1.5 miles of winding paths, and a handful of fountains and features.
Address: 1200 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46222, United States
Also located in White River State Park, the Eiteljorg Museum is committed to celebrating the art, history, and culture of the American West and the Indigenous peoples of North America.
The institution contains the works of celebrated artists including T.C. Cannon, N. C. Wyeth, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, Allan Houser, Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and Kay WalkingStick.
The museum was founded by Indianapolis businessman and philanthropist Harrison Eiteljorg, officially opening its doors in 1989. Not only is the museum the only one of its kind in the Midwest, but it accounts for one of only two museums east of the Mississippi that showcase both Native and Western Art.
Address: 500 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, United States
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Lucas Oil Stadium is the home field of the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts. The state-of-the-art facility contains upwards of 70,000 seats for sporting events and concerts.
Spanning over 167,225 square meters, the venue cost just over $720 million to construct. Its exterior façade is composed of an impressive 980,000 bricks. If lined up, they would span 185 miles—about the same distance from Indianapolis to Chicago. It also contains a one-of-its-kind roof, with two retractable panels.
Even if there isn’t an event scheduled during your visit, you can always tour the field, its exhibit halls, and convention space.
Address: 500 S Capitol Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46225, United States
Hotel Tango is the only establishment owned and operated by a combat-disabled veteran in the city. Founder Travis Barnes applies the same precision used during his training to craft spirits. His philosophy remains that everything on the menu should be “fit to serve and made to share.”
Today, you can find everything from vodka and bourbon to wild rum, all distilled there. The company even offers a list of recipes for individuals who want to recreate some of their staples. The taproom is also open for private events, trivia nights, samplings, festivals, and more.
Address: 702 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203, United States
Holliday Park provides over 94 acres of green space, playgrounds, hiking trails, and wetlands. It also contains a long stretch of the White River, which serves as a refuge for different forms of wildlife including bass, bluegill, and macroinvertebrates, as well as great blue herons, owls, beaver, and red fox. Bird-watchers actually claim to have spotted more than 200 species when hiking around the area.
Other highlights include “The Ruins,” remnants from the original St. Paul Building in New York City. The revitalized structure now features a children’s water table, shimmer fountain, benches, an allee of trees, and lots of garden space for families to enjoy.
Concerts, festivals, and weddings also often take place in the area.
Address: 6363 Spring Mill Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46260, United States
The Indianapolis City Market is another historic site within the city, having first opened in 1886. Today, the market features over 30 local artisan booths. It’s also a popular destination for eateries, fresh produce, and retailers.
The market sits atop one of Indianapolis’ best-kept secrets—the Catacombs, a roman-looking expanse of brick arches beneath the outdoor Whistler Plaza of City Market. Tours are available to learn more about the structure and its history.
Address: 222 E Market St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, United States
Recognized as the world’s largest children’s museum, this is an attraction you definitely don’t want to miss—especially if you’re visiting with kids.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis spans over 500,000 square feet and stands five stories tall. Its 120,000 artifacts are displayed across 15 separate exhibit areas. Visitors will enjoy hands-on and interactive museum experiences, from true-to-size replicas of dinosaurs to theatrical performances and 3D spaces.
This amazing tourist attraction also contains a 7.5-acre outdoor sports park where the whole family can participate in 12 outdoor sports experiences.
Address: 3000 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46208, United States
The Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) hosts performances for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. This family-friendly activity is a great way to digest the best of what the city has to offer in the way of culture and diversity.
The company was founded in 1972 and remains one of the largest theaters in the state, having provided 110,000 live professional experiences last season. In addition to annual performances, the IRT regularly hosts writing workshops, post-show discussions, backstage tours, and seminars.
Address: 140 W. Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46204, United States
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The Indiana War Memorial Plaza operates as an urban feature originally built to honor the veterans of WWI. The area spans five city blocks, with Meridian Street on its west, the primary north-south route running through the center of the city.
The area also contains the Indiana War Memorial Museum. The building itself was inspired by Greek architecture of the fifth century, complete with a pyramidal dome and Ionic columns.
Inside, you’ll find three main floors. The upper level contains the famous Shrine Room, which was made using materials from all over the world as a way to symbolize peace and unity. Standing 110 feet tall and spanning 60 feet square, the room also contains 24 blood-red pillars made of Vermont marble that support the vast ceiling. In the center, you’ll find the Star of Destiny, which is made entirely of Swedish crystal.
The main floor contains exhibit space, administrative offices, two meeting rooms, and the Pershing Auditorium.
Visitors will also find a free military museum dedicated to Indiana’s veterans. Items on display include the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) Gallery, numerous military firearms and uniforms, an AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter, and hundreds of other artifacts, photos, and documents.
Address: 55 Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, United States
This family-owned-and-operated theater has been serving the Indianapolis community since 1967 and remains the city’s only drive-in movie theater. Open Thursday through Monday, the theater provides opportunities to enjoy time together as a family, couple, or even on your own.
Showings range from current Hollywood releases to silver screen classics. The theater, which has a total of four screens, is also available for private or corporate events.
When you arrive, be sure to pick up a few snacks from the concession stand. You can even bring your four-legged friends! Dogs are allowed, though they must remain leashed.
Address: 480 S Tibbs Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46241, United States
The Landmark for Peace is located in Dr. Martin Lurther King Jr. Park. It stands adjacent to the site where Robert Kennedy delivered his speech on the night of King’s assassination.
Indianapolis writer Greg R. Perry submitted a design concept that was chosen out of a pool of 50 submissions. The monument, which was dedicated in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, is constructed from two large slabs of Cor-Ten steel, cut with the outlines of Kennedy and King reaching toward one another. Sculpture Daniel Edwards helped bring the vision to life.
Address: 601 East 17th Street Indianapolis, IN 46202, United States
Indiana’s Lockerbie Square Historic District made it onto the map back in 1847. Its name is derived from George M. Lockerbie, a wealthy Indianapolis resident who first arrived in the city in 1831.
Between 1855 and 1930, significant industrialization began in the area. Many residential, commercial, religious, and educational structures built during this time remain standing today.
In 1960, neighborhood revitalization began, which resulted in the first historic district preservation area in Indianapolis. By 1973, the neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There was also a considerable German presence in the area, sustained by what was originally called Das Deutsche Haus-Athenaeum, one of the oldest clubhouses in Indianapolis, and two surviving churches.
Located on the Newfields campus, the Lilly House and Gardens span over 26 acres. The 20th-century country estate was originally founded by the prominent Landon family back in 1907 and bought by the Lilly family in 1932. The French-inspired home also contains greenhouses and other support buildings.
The majority of furnishings and decorative arts objects found in the home belonged to the Lilly family and were regularly used during their time at the residence. Today, the building is often used to host a variety of events and public programs.
Visitors can enjoy an impressive view of the landscape and gardens from the upper level. The grounds were originally designed by the reputable landscape architectural firm Olmsted Brothers.
The lower level contains a garage, which features an early 20th century-era car on loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
Address: 4000 N Michigan Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46208, United States
The Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre has been providing fun, food, and entertainment for the people of Indianapolis since 1973. The name was inspired by the hand-carved roast beef traditionally served before the performances, along with the boards or stage of a theater.
The Indianapolis location marks the only surviving theater out of what was part of a chain developed by Louisville contractor J. Scott Talbott. Audiences can enjoy Broadway shows, plays, and acclaimed children’s theater productions throughout the year. Last season, the company attracted over 155,00 guests.
Address: 9301 Michigan Rd. Indianapolis, IN 46268, United States
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That’s about it for our list of things to do in Indianapolis, but be sure to check back with us soon! Travelicious, supported by Best Life, is committed to helping you find your next adventure. Sign up for our newsletter for expert-backed tips for navigating our favorite U.S. destinations!
What is Indianapolis famous for?
Indianapolis is best known for hosting the largest single-day sporting event in the world, the Indy 500. The 500-mile automobile race has turned into quite the spectacle, with speeds topping 220 miles per hour. People travel from all over the world to experience the tradition, which kicked off back in 1911.
What are the best things to do in Indianapolis for kids?
Indianapolis is an incredibly family-friendly city, with tons of activities for kids. Listed below are a few of our favorites:
- Have a picnic in Eagle Creek Park
- Explore the Indiana State Museum
- See a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Visit the Children’s Museum of Indiana (the biggest one in the world!)
- Take in a show at the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
- Take a class at the Indianapolis Art Center
- Shop around Downtown Indy
What are the best things to do in Indianapolis for couples?
While Indianapolis is a great place to visit with the family, it also has plenty of opportunities for couples. Some of the most romantic activities the city has to offer include:
- Enjoy a gondolier ride down Eagle Creek
- Visit the LOVE sculpture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
- Sign up for an art class at the Indianapolis Art Center
- Have a romantic dinner at the 1933 Lounge
- Complete the zip line course at Eagle Creek Park
- Stop by the Indianapolis City Market to explore the Catacombs
- Take a walk in the beautiful Holliday Park
What are the best things to do in Indianapolis for adults?
There are lots of things to do in Indianapolis for adults, from distilleries to world-class museums. Check out the list below for more ideas:
- Enjoy a tasting at the Hotel Tango distillery
- Learn about Western and Native American cultures at the Eiteljorg Museum
- Bike the Indianapolis Cultural Trail
- Roam Around the Northside Historic District
- Rent a kayak at the Eagle Creek Reservoir
- Snap some photos at Monument Circle
- See a game at Lucas Oil Stadium