The state capital of Indiana has a history that spans over three centuries. Initially founded in 1820, the city was originally home to the Lenape Native American tribe. In 1825, the city was named the capital and grew in geographical size and population. Today, it’s the second most populated state capital in the nation, so naturally, you will find lots of things to do in Indianapolis.
Most people call it “Indy” for short but the city also has other nicknames, such as “Crossroads of America,” “Railroad City,” or “Naptown.” These nicknames tie into Indianapolis’s history within the railroad system, jazz music and National Road.
Fun Fact: You’ll often hear residents of Indiana refer to themselves as “Hoosiers.” The term’s origin remains debatable, but two theories are widely accepted. The first refers to resident John Finley’s 1833 poem “The Hoosier’s Nest,” and the second derives from an Indian word for corn, “hoosa.” Today, the city of Indianapolis has many exciting activities for anyone who wants to explore its history and culture. I recently visited on a work trip and found lots to see. So keep reading to find out the best things to do in Indianapolis.
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Indianapolis
- 1- Explore The Beautiful White River State Park
- 2- Take The Kids To The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis
- 3- Go On A Fountain Square Food Tour
- 4- Appreciate The Arts At The Indianapolis Museum of Art
- 5- Cheer On The Racing Cars At The Indy 500
- 6- Satisfy Your Own Need For Speed At K1 Speed
- 7- Catch a Colts Game At Lucas Oil Stadium
- 8- Watch A Summer Concert At Holliday Park
- 9- Start Your Day Right With Brunch At Milktooth
- 10- Check Out A Historic Hot Spot At Lockerbie Square Historic District
- 11- Watch A Burlesque Show At White Rabbit Cabaret
- 12- Taste Indianapolis’s Famous Sugar Cream Pie
- 13- Visit A Tropical Oasis At Garfield Park Conservatory
- 14- Participate In A Glass Play Day At GRT Hot Glass Studios
- 15- Go On A Downtown Bar Crawl
- 16- Get Into Indianapolis’s Literary Roots At Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
- 17- Bike Or Jog The Culture Trail
- 18- Have a Treetop Adventure At Eagle Creek State Park
- 19- Sip Wines At Daniel’s Family Vineyard and Winery
- 20- Get Wild At The Indianapolis Zoo
- Smartphone-Guided Walking Tour – see the sights of Downtown Indianapolis and listen to the stories at your own leisure
- Fountain Square Food Tour – get a taste of Indianapolis’ culinary treats
- Indy Walking Tours – cover all the main sights in 90 minutes
- Indianapolis Bar Hunt – Investigate Indianapolis on a fun bar crawl
- Indiana Pacers NBA Game Ticket at Gainbridge Fieldhouse – watch an exciting NBA game
Indianapolis Airport (IND) to Indianapolis City – Arrival Private Transfer
20 Things To Do In Indianapolis
There are plenty of fun things to do in Indianapolis. The city truly has something for everyone, from art museums to NASCAR races.
1- Explore The Beautiful White River State Park
Within downtown Indianapolis, White River State Park spans 250 acres (101 ha) and is a central hub for many other Indy attractions, such as the IMAX Theater, TCU Amphitheater, and the Indianapolis Zoo.
It has plenty of green spaces for picnics and trails to explore.
One of the best places to walk around is the Canal Walk, a 3-mile (4.8 km) loop around the waterfront.
The State Park is home to many city events, such as the Lucky Dog 5k Run and Uncork Me Indiana.
White River State Park is at 801 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
2- Take The Kids To The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis
If you have kids, and maybe even if you don’t, you will want to check out the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
This museum is the largest children’s museum in the world.
Spanning over 482,950 sq. ft. (44,867 sq. m.) and five stories, you will have plenty of interactive exhibits to explore.
Some popular exhibits include The New Dinosphere, Playscape, and Fireworks of Glass.
On top of the indoor exhibits, there is also a huge outdoor sports complex open in the summer.
A general admission ticket (priced between $19.50 and $38) will get you into the entire campus, and it’s a good idea to purchase tickets in advance, as the museum frequently sells out of day passes.
The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis is at 3000 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46208.
3- Go On A Fountain Square Food Tour
Fountain Square is a historic district in Indianapolis that is now a quirky neighbourhood filled with restaurants, fun bars and art galleries.
Join a food tour to experience the culture and tastes of the area while learning a little bit about the history as you stop to look at monuments along the way.
On a tour, you can expect to take in French, Greek, and Thai specialties during a three-hour walking adventure around the city.
Tours start at $74 and are in small groups, so make reservations before you arrive in Indianapolis.
Fountain Square is at 1105 Prospect St, Indianapolis, IN 46203.
4- Appreciate The Arts At The Indianapolis Museum of Art
You could easily spend an entire day gazing at all the stunning works of art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The museum is home to over 50,000 pieces of art, including one of the nation’s largest and most significant collections of Asian art.
Another special part of the art museum is the historic landmark Lilly House and Gardens.
The gardens were designed by the same firm that designed Central Park in New York City, so it’s worth a look.
This beautiful home and garden have been well-maintained and restored to bring it back to its truest form.
It’s a great way to go back in time and see what it was like to live in the 1930s.
You can also catch special performances and lectures at the museum, depending on the time of the year.
If you want to skip the admission fee, free general admission is offered on the first Thursday of each month from 4 to 9 pm.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art is at 4000 Michigan Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46208
5- Cheer On The Racing Cars At The Indy 500
The Indianapolis 500, or Indy 500, is an annual automobile race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Racecar drivers navigate 500 miles (804 km) on 200 laps of the speedway at a world-famous event that attracts thousands of people each year from all over the nation.
If you aren’t visiting in time to catch a race, the grounds also hold the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, which takes you through the history of the races through various stories and memorabilia from the races, including a full collection of stunning racecars.
You can also take a guided tour of the Speedway.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is at 4790 W 16th St, Indianapolis, IN 46222.
6- Satisfy Your Own Need For Speed At K1 Speed
If looking at cars doesn’t cut it for you, and if you have a need for speed that needs to be satisfied, get behind the wheel yourself at K1 Speed.
This indoor electric go-kart facility puts you in charge of the action.
Zip around courses and race your friends at this unique experience.
K1 Speed hosts many fun events, such as Glo-Kart, Drift Night and a World Championship, which names a winner for three classes (Junior, Teen, and Adult).
They also offer one-on-one lessons if you’re serious about perfecting your skill.
K1 Speed is at 9998 E 121st St, Fishers, IN 46037.
7- Catch a Colts Game At Lucas Oil Stadium
Lucas Oil Stadium was built in 2008 and is truly a state-of-the-art facility.
Indianapolis is a huge hub for a wide variety of national sports leagues, with Lucas Oil Stadium being the home for each.
Depending on the season, you can see an Indianapolis Colts game, Monster Jam, Motocross Tournament or a Pacers game.
Check the website for the most up-to-date information before your visit so you can book tickets to your chosen event.
If you can’t find an event that piques your interest, the Stadium also offers tours that take you behind the scenes of all the action.
Lucas Oil Stadium is at 500 S Capitol Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46225.
8- Watch A Summer Concert At Holliday Park
Holliday Park is another nature space in the city that is home to an arboretum, playground, and nature learning centre.
There are plenty of trails to hike, one-of-a-kind ruins to stroll through, and seasonal events to attend.
Keep an eye out for summer concerts, Central Indiana Beekeepers Association meetings, Beastly Brunch and The Holliday Park Trail Run.
Holliday Park is at 6363 Spring Mill Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46260.
9- Start Your Day Right With Brunch At Milktooth
This garage-turned-restaurant was named one of the “best restaurants in the world” by Conde Nast Traveler.
You’ll have to wait for a table, but the unique dishes and the breezy atmosphere is worth it.
Milktooth is known for its Apple Dutch baby pancake, sorghum glazed bacon, and spicy miso soup.
The menu rotates seasonally, so you’ll have a reason to keep coming back to try all the new bites!
Milktooth is at 534 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203.
10- Check Out A Historic Hot Spot At Lockerbie Square Historic District
This historic neighbourhood was originally platted in the mid-1800s and named after a resident of Indianapolis.
It’s listed in the National Registration of Historic places and is the first area of preservation in the city.
Today, it stands as an ode to the rich heritage of Indianapolis.
You can take a self-guided walking tour of the area, which provides history and information about some of the key buildings or join a guided walking tour to pick the guide’s brains.
Lockerbie Square Historic District is at 342-332 N Park Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46202.
11- Watch A Burlesque Show At White Rabbit Cabaret
This cute little lounge is a live performance venue in the heart of Historic Fountain Square.
The White Rabbit Cabaret features a variety of performances, including musical headliners, cabaret, burlesque, comedy and movie screenings.
It’s worth attending one fo the events during your visit to the city.
White Rabbit Cabaret is at 1116 Prospect St, Indianapolis, IN 46203.
12- Taste Indianapolis’s Famous Sugar Cream Pie
Sugar cream pie, often called Hoosier’s pie, is an Indiana staple that is a custard pie made with a filling of butter, flour, cream and sugar sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
It’s been named the unofficial state pie of Indiana.
There are plenty of places to get a delicious slice of this pie, but the most popular are Storie’s Restaurant, Nordmann’s Nook and Miss Wick’s Pie.
These locations are a bit of a hike from the city, but well worth it for a taste.
- Storie’s Restaurant is at 109 E Main St, Greensburg, IN 47240.
- Nordmann’s Nook is at 1106 IN-114, North Manchester, IN 46962.
- Miss Wick’s Pie is at 100 Cherry St, Winchester, IN 47394.
13- Visit A Tropical Oasis At Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden spans 10,000 sq. ft. (929 sq. m.) and is home to hundreds of different plants.
This is a great option if you are looking for budget-friendly activities in Indianapolis, as general admission tickets are just $3 a person.
The conservatory also hosts special events depending on the time of year.
The conservatory and garden hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Garfield Park Conservatory And Sunken Garden is at 2505 Conservatory Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46203.
14- Participate In A Glass Play Day At GRT Hot Glass Studios
The GRT Hot Glass Studio is truly a unique experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional in the art of glass blowing or a beginner looking to stretch your creative genes, GRT is a fun and interactive event.
For visitors ages 10 and up, GRT Studio offers an opportunity to create your own custom glass piece.
The studio hosts private instructional sessions and seasonal workshop classes.
You can create items like hearts, flowers, pumpkins or even Christmas tree ornaments.
It’s recommended to book your session ahead of your visit.
GRT Hot Glass Studios is at 6400 S Brookville Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46219.
15- Go On A Downtown Bar Crawl
Downtown Indianapolis has a ton of great bars if you’re looking for exciting nightlife.
Popular bars include 16-Bit Bar and Arcade, The Exchange Whiskey Bar, Ball & Biscuit, Nicky Blaine’s Cocktail Lounge and 1933 Lounge.
Each of these bars has its own unique vibe and specialty cocktail, so you can have your own bar crawl or stay put for the night at one location or go on a guided bar hunt with a local.
- 16-Bit Bar+Arcade is at 110 E New York St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
- The Exchange Whiskey Bar is at 301 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
- Ball & Biscuit is at 331 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
- Nicky Blaine’s Cocktail Lounge is at 20 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
- 1933 Lounge is at 127 Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46225
16- Get Into Indianapolis’s Literary Roots At Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, or KVML as locals call it, is dedicated to honouring the legacy of Vonnegut.
Kurt Vonnegut was a famous 20th-century novelist whose works blended satire, black comedy and science.
His most famous works were Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) and Breakfast of Champions (1973).
The museum offers guided tours and events such as poetry writing workshops.
Members receive free entry, or visitors can purchase a general admission ticket for just $12.
Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library is at 543 Indiana Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46202.
17- Bike Or Jog The Culture Trail
The Indianapolis Culture Trail connects three unique public spaces.
Use the Culture Trail to get you to and from Luger Plaza, The Downtown Canal Walk and Georgia Street.
These destinations offer activities such as picnics, a splash pad and restaurants.
Many people use this popular trail to bike or hike through the city, but the journey is just as stunning as the destination when you’re on Culture Trail.
If you stop to take a selfie, be sure to tag #IndyCulturalTrail & #Lovelndy to be featured on the trail’s Instagram page.
The Culture Trail is at 132 W Walnut St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
18- Have a Treetop Adventure At Eagle Creek State Park
Eagle Creek State Park is just minutes from Downtown and offers the perfect way to connect with nature.
At the park, you can find over 3,900 acres (1,578 ha) of forest and waterfront that make a gorgeous backdrop to activities such as fishing, boating and hiking.
The most exciting activity at Eagle Creek State Park is the Treetop Adventure which includes zip lining and ropes courses strung through the trees.
Eagle Creek State Park is at 7840 W 56th St, Indianapolis, IN 46254.
19- Sip Wines At Daniel’s Family Vineyard and Winery
Daniel’s Family Vineyard and Winery is a lovely establishment in McCordsville created when family, friends and neighbours of the Daniel family cultivated over 14,000 grape vines.
Although it’s outside the city, the quick drive is well worth viewing this full-production winery offering 15 high-quality varieties of wine.
You can easily spend a whole afternoon sipping wines, eating tasty pizza and listening to live music.
Daniel’s Family Vineyard and Winery is at 9061 N 700 W, McCordsville, IN 46055.
20- Get Wild At The Indianapolis Zoo
If you want to connect with wildlife during your visit to Indy, the Indianapolis Zoo is the best place to accomplish that.
The grounds are home to botanical gardens, an aquarium and a large park.
The zoo homes over 3,000 animals, including kangaroos, macaws, brown bears and tigers.
There’s a Dolphin Pavillion, which lets you view dolphins swimming above your head in their habitat.
The Indianapolis Zoo is at 1200 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46222.
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