Indianapolis is the seat of Indiana, and is often overlooked as a destination for tourists. However, it has a lot to offer. Walk through any Indianapolis neighborhood and you’ll find the city’s rich history at every turn. Indy is also one of the most affordable major cities for living in the US.
It’s also got some great museums, zoos, parks, golf courses, sporting events, theaters – the list goes on! If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway or even just an option for relocation, Indy might just be the place for you! Here are some of our favorite things to do if you’re coming to visit Indianapolis.
Things To Do In Indianapolis
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• Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art is located in downtown Indiana, near the White River State Park entrance. It houses the extraordinary collection amassed by Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg. Paintings and sculptures from the early nineteenth century to the present are on display.
Works by landscapists Albert Bierstadt and Georgia O’Keefe, as well as pictures and sculptures by leading Western artists Frederick S. Remington and Charles M. Russell, are on display. Attitudes: The West in American Art, the museum’s most recent installation, features a diverse collection of artists and cultures from the American West.
Many other city treasures can be found in the sprawling White River State Park. The Indiana State Museum, located next to the Eiteljorg Museum, has three floors of interactive exhibits that tell the stories of Indiana art, science, and culture.
The Indiana Zoo, located across the White River from the Eiteljorg, is a fantastic add-on experience to the Eiteljorg within White River State Park. Sea lions, cheetahs, and brown bears are among the animals that live there. The NCAA Hall of Champions and Victory Field, home of the Indiana Indians minor league baseball team, are also part of White River State Park.
• Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
This fantastic interactive children’s museum is the largest in the world and is well worth a visit with the whole family! The five-level playground, for example, features a 43-foot-tall Dale Chihuly ‘Fireworks of Glass’ sculpture that hangs in the atrium, as well as a fully operational antique carousel on the top floor!
Your children will enjoy exploring the impressive collection of adult and juvenile dinosaur fossils, learning about modern Chinese child life, and seeing the 16-foot-tall movie prop Bumblebee from the first Transformers film.
This will be a fantastic day out full of exploration and wonder, with North America’s largest water clock and so much more to see and learn!
• Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, which has been one of the city’s top attractions for over 50 years, welcomes visitors and residents alike to experience award-winning animal exhibits. Among the hundreds of animals at the zoo are Amur leopards, Tasmanian devils, red pandas, and Komodo dragons, which are spread across distinct ecosystems ranging from the African Serengeti to an Indonesian rainforest.
Family-friendly rides like the Endangered Species Carousel are among the other attractions at the Children’s Zoo. The zoo also offers animal encounters in which visitors can interact with giraffes, goats, and ponies. Recent large-scale renovations to the Children’s Zoo have been extremely popular, earning it national recognition.
• Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, also known as “The Track,” is housed within the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Every May, this world-famous racetrack hosts the Indianapolis 500-miler. And with a premier collection of automobiles and artefacts, this year-round museum commemorates the fastest day in motorsports.
Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the museum is open every day of the year. Its collection contains over 55,000 artefacts, including over 300 automobiles. In addition, at least 25 past Indianapolis 500 winners are on permanent display. Racing memorabilia, photography, and archived video are among the other artefacts.
The museum also offers a number of guided tours. The two-hour golf cart tour, which includes an in-depth trip around the track, is a popular outing. The most popular tour, however, is the Kiss the Bricks Tour, which includes a narrated bus ride and an opportunity to get up close and personal with the famous racetrack.
• Snite Museum of Art
The Snite Museum of Art on the University of Notre Dame campus has free admission and a large collection of 19th and 20th-century artworks. The collection encompasses various cultures and significant periods in world art history.
It features European painting and sculpture, Mesoamerican effigies, Native American ceramics, and contemporary pieces. In addition, the museum features a constantly rotating selection of new exhibits, including thesis projects by current MFA students at the university.
The museum is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays, with Saturday hours being more limited. The newly established Charles B. Hayes Sculpture Garden, operated by the museum a few blocks away, allows visitors to enjoy aesthetic art and nature throughout the year.
For students and community members alike, the University of Notre Dame has a lot more to offer. Stepping into the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus, as well as the adjacent Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes spiritual shrine, is easy to find inspiration.
The nearby Compton Family Ice Arena is a great place to watch a hockey game or try your hand at skating. Attending Fighting Irish football games at Notre Dame Stadium is a way of life and a much-anticipated activity for many people each season.
• Indiana University Bloomington
Bloomington is the home of the Hoosiers and Indiana University’s flagship campus, with nearly 200 years of educational history. The historic lecture halls and pedestrian pathways found on campus, including the iconic Sample Gates, lead to other campus attractions such as the Kirkwood Observatory.
Hoosier sports are inextricably linked to the state’s identity, and both football at Memorial Stadium and basketball at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall serve as true community gathering places and reasons to cheer.
Cultural institutions such as the Eskenazi Museum of Art and the Indiana University Arboretum are popular among students and community members alike, and they help to define the community. Kirkwood Avenue, which is adjacent to the university, is a popular spot for afternoon storefront perusing and evening entertainment.
• Prophetstown State Park
Prophetstown, a new addition to the Indiana State Park system, is steeped in natural and cultural history and offers numerous opportunities to interact with the environment. The 125-acre Farm at Prophetstown within the state park has a 1920s theme, including hands-on experiences with homesteading, gardening, and livestock feeding.
The state park is located at the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers and offers a variety of hiking trails for hikers of all abilities. With a zero-depth entry pool, lazy river, and 30-foot waterslide, the park’s extensive Aquatic Center attracts a lot of warm-weather attention. Tippecanoe Battlefield Park, located nearby, is a great place for visitors to learn more about the area.
• Studebaker National Museum
Studebaker, an American automobile manufacturer, was a defining industry in South Bend and has deep roots in the city. It was once the manufacturing headquarters, and today the Studebaker National Museum displays a variety of these made-in-Indiana automobiles. Among their exhibits are classic models, military vehicles, and the country’s largest collection of Presidential carriages.
The museum’s Super Service Center is an interactive area designed for children. It allows young visitors to go inside an auto shop and work on toy cars. The museum’s collection also includes numerous manufacturing drawings and historical documents pertaining to the Studebaker Corporation.
• WonderLab Museum of Science
WonderLab is a Bloomington children’s fun centre with a focus on science, health, and technology. Along with popular permanent exhibits, it offers hands-on and immersive learning experiences. A few of the highlights include a Bubble-Airium, the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science, and an outdoor WonderGarden that connects to the nearby B-Line Trail.
The museum also has an active events calendar for both adults and children, which includes science talks, STEM Sundays, and a “WonderLab After Dark” series. A coral reef aquarium, a children’s Discovery Garden, and facilities for birthday parties or events are also available at the museum.
• Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Indiana Dunes, located on the shores of Lake Michigan near the Illinois border, offers a one-of-a-kind landscape found nowhere else in the state. The lake’s lapping shores and landscape allow for a wide range of outdoor activities. The nearby state park of the same name is a popular spot for hiking, biking, and beachcombing.
At the lakeshore, you can also go fishing or boating, and camping at the seasonal Dunewood Campground is a great way to extend your trip. During the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities. Sunsets at Lake Michigan are a must-see for any visitor, as they frequently resonate with vibrantly changing colours and tones.
• Lanier Mansion State Historic Site
Around the mid-1800s, the Lanier Mansion was erected for James Franklin Doughty Lanier, a renowned businessman in Indiana. The Greek Revival-style home, finished in 1844, is one of Madison’s National Historic Landmark District’s best structures.
Francis Costigan, an architect, designed the house. Some of the original furnishings can be found within, as well as a three-story spiral staircase. Formal gardens on the grounds showcase late-nineteenth-century species and landscape styles.
During regular operating hours, Tuesday through Sunday, visitors are allowed to view the historic mansion. Every hour at the top of the hour, guided tours begin. Throughout the year, the historic mansion hosts a variety of events and programmes, including seasonal candlelight tours, early childcare programmes, and adults-only 1940s Dance Hall celebrations.
• Oldfields-Lilly House and Gardens
This elegant National Historic Landmark is located on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but it deserves its own attention.
It is set within 26 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and includes Lilly House, the former residence of late Indianapolis philanthropist and collector J. K. Lilly Jr., which is now a museum.
There’s lots to see and do for the whole family, including historic furnishings that provide insight into Indianapolis’ past. There are also beautiful trails to wander through within the grounds, which are especially stunning in the spring and summer when the entire painstakingly tended flora bursts into life!
• Duckpin Bowling
This is a great site that takes traditional bowling in a new direction! This out-of-the-ordinary bowling alley, which features eight duckpin lanes as well as a billiard table and authentic 1930s furniture, will delight both kids and adults.
Duckpin bowling is scored differently than traditional bowling, and the pin action does not ‘happen,’ yet the method is simple to learn. Before or after your game, treat yourself to a taste of the past with a dinner and a tour of this great old building.
• RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum
The RV/MV Hall of Fame in Elkhart displays a wide range of recreational vehicles from all decades in all forms and sizes. It’s a must-see for RV enthusiasts or anyone interested in seeing the historic cars that Americans have been driving down the highways and vacationing in for the past 90 years.
Mae West’s 1931 Chevrolet Housecar, a “Road Back in Time” walking tour, and a Tennessee Traveler Motorhome are among the popular cars and artefacts on show. Visitors can also explore how recreational vehicle interiors and utilities have evolved over time. In a large showroom, the museum showcases trailers, RVs, pictures, and memorabilia dating back to the 1920s.
• K1 Speed Indianapolis
Given that you’re already in the midst of American motorsport, it’s only natural to throw in some of your own! On their high-performance and professionally created bi-level, 900-foot go kart race circuits, K1 Speed offers high-performance go karts for both adults and children to enjoy.
There is something for everyone at the facility, which includes a fantastic collection of original racing memorabilia, a Pit Café snack bar, and a spacious lounge and gaming area. The staff is extremely pleasant and accommodating. Hold on to your hats since speeds can reach 40 mph!
• Lucas Oil Stadium : Things To Do In Indianapolis
Whether you and your family are Colts fans or not, this multi-purpose stadium is a terrific site to watch a football game, attend a concert, grab a bite to eat, and stroll through the stadium’s different shops.
Even though Peyton Manning no longer plays for the Indianapolis Colts, the stadium replaced the RCA Dome and had the honour of hosting Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. It is still referred to as “The House That Manning Built” to this day. The stadium is simple to navigate, and there is lots of assistance available if needed.
• Monument Circle : Things To Do In Indianapolis
This neoclassical monument, standing 284 ½ feet tall, was erected in commemoration of the soldiers and sailors who have served this country.
Painstakingly carved statues showing their battlefield battles around the circle, with a lady carrying a victory torch on the farthest pinnacle, symbolising the fight and final freedom for thousands of slaves.
If you visit during the winter holiday season, you can see the 2,400 lights that adorn the monument, making it one of the world’s largest ‘trees.’ At the base of the memorial, there is also an interesting civil war museum.
• The Escape Room : Things To Do In Indianapolis
This is an interactive game in which the whole family may combat their wits against each other, and time is of the matter! You’ll be confined in one of the beautifully themed chambers with only 60 minutes to solve the puzzles, crack the clues, and figure out how to get out!
There are some truly perplexing scenarios, such as ‘Hoosier Hysteria,’ in which the famed trophy has been stolen, KGB Interrogation, Art Gallery, Bank Heist, and Jail Break, all of which are engrossing and a lot of fun for everyone!
So this was our list of some of the best things to do in Indianapolis. I hope you found one suitable for your visit.