Indianapolis is the state capital of Indiana, located in the Mid-Western region of the United States. It’s commonly referred to as simply ‘Indy’ and is home to around 870,000 people. Indianapolis has a long history in the railroad industry and it earned one of its nicknames, ‘Railroad City,’ because of this. Indianapolis was the location for the first ever federally funded highway in the United States. This highway allowed Indianapolis to enjoy rapid growth. When it first opened, the city’s Union Station Railway was the first of its kind in the world. The state of Indiana borders Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Illinois.
There’s always so much going on in the city that it’s hard to narrow down a list of things to do in Indianapolis. The city is culturally diverse and was initially settled by American Indians before being overrun by Europeans. This is very much reflected in the cultural attractions and historic sites in Indianapolis. Let us give you the lowdown on all the best things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana!
Fountain Square is the most popular of seven cultural districts in Indianapolis. The district includes Laurel and Prospect, State and Prospect, and Virginia Avenue. All three are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a free thing to do in Indianapolis, and the atmosphere is always buzzing. Fountain Square has a great reputation as a home for upscale restaurants, antique stores, and galleries. It’s also a great place to take in some live entertainment. One of the prettiest areas is the Fountain Square Theatre Building and Lady Spray Fountain. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Indianapolis, you can go swing dancing in the Fountain Square Theater on Friday nights.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the home of the NASCAR cup and the IndyCar series. The oval race track is 2.5 miles long. One of the most famous events to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the Indianapolis 500. 500 drivers race 200 laps for the distance of 500 miles at the annual world-famous event. The Indy 500 race began in 1911 and was first won by an American. In 2019, the race was won by Simon Pagenaud of France. the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has the nickname ‘The Brickyard.’ When the Speedway opened in 1909, the track was made of crushed stone, and it wasn’t exactly conducive to great racing. The stone was eventually replaced with 3.2 million bricks, hence the nickname. Visiting the Speedway is a great fun thing to do in Indianapolis, and there are various tour packages on offer. You can also visit the Motor Speedway Museum.
Tickets required, available at the entrance (booking recommended for tours), prices vary.
Indianapolis Zoo is located within White River State Park. As well as the zoo, it has a botanical garden and an aquarium. A visit to the site is one of the best things to do in Indianapolis with kids, and there’s a lot to keep them occupied. Indianapolis Zoo is home to some of the cutest babies in the world. They have White Handed Gibbons, Reticulated Giraffes, and the sweetest baby Warthogs. They look exactly like Pumbaa from The Lion King, but probably a whole lot less mischievous. There’s no word on whether they’re besties with any lion cubs or meerkats yet, but watch this space.
The zoo also has several theme parks rides, including a roller coaster. So, if being face-to-face with tigers and cheetahs isn’t scary enough for you, then you can always have a go on these. Visitors who don’t wish to stare into the eyes of creatures that would like to eat them can take a walk around the beautiful White River Garden. Within the garden is the 5,000 square foot Hilbert Conservatory. The Conservatory houses a wide range of beautiful tropical plants.
Tickets required, available online or at the ticket office, $11.95 to $36.45
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
If you’re looking for things to do in Indianapolis with kids, then the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will likely be at the top of your list. How could not take your kids to the world’s largest children’s museum? Those little people will eventually choose your nursing home, so best stay in their good books. The museum has 473,000 square feet of space spread over five floors. It’s hard to comprehend just how noisy this must get, but kids of all ages absolutely love it. The museum is split into three main zones; The Natural World Collection, the American Collection and The Cultural World Collection. The vast majority of the exhibits are interactive, and there are more than 120,000 throughout the museum. It’s an impossible building to miss because there’s an enormous dinosaur peeking over the roof outside. Imagine if you didn’t know it was there and just passed by, unsuspecting? Terrifying.
Tickets required, available online or from the ticket office, $12 to $35
White River State Park
White River State Park covers 250 acres of real estate on the Western edge of downtown. It is the USA’s only cultural urban park and has a mixture of green space and cultural attractions. The park has an IMAX theatre, the Indiana State Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Indianapolis Zoo. The park is a great thing to do in an in Indianapolis with kids because there’s so much to appeal to them. While in the park, you can rent Segways or bicycles and go exploring. Alternatively, go on a walking tour and check out the nature parks. Simply wandering throughout the park is also a free thing to do in Indianapolis.
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States. To date, he’s the only President elected from Indiana. You can visit the Presidential house, which is a beautiful Italianate Victorian Mansion. However, the Delaware Street home is only open for guided tours, so booking is essential. You can wander through ten rooms over three floors and view more than 10,000 artifacts. The home was built in 1875 and contains President Harrison’s furniture, paintings, and political memorabilia.
Tickets required, Available from Eventbrite, $9-$15
Check out the grave of one of the world’s most famous outlaws in Crown Hill Cemetery. Here lies John Dillinger; he was a very naughty boy. JD’s casket is entombed with cement and iron, just in case anyone attempts to steal his remains. Don’t try it – it’ll never get through the scanner at the airport. Visiting graves might be a touch morbid, but it’s a quirky free thing to do in Indianapolis. If graveyards ‘ain’t your thing, rock up to the India Statehouse and take a peek at the Moon Tree. The seed was taken to the moon on the Apollo 14 mission before being returned and planted in the courtyard.
Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers About Indianapolis
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about what to do in Indianapolis. The questions cover a range of topics and will help you research and plan your next trip to the city.
What are things to do in Indianapolis when it rains?
If all the outdoor things to do in Indianapolis involve getting wet, then head indoors and check out the array of city museums. Indianapolis Museum of Art is a must-see for museum lovers. It has a huge range of art on display, including works by Matisse, Picasso, and Georgia O’Keefe. Collections are from America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. There’s also a great program of traveling exhibitions throughout the year. Other notable museums include Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis Science Museum, and the Motor Speedway Museum. If museums don’t do it for you and you’re game for a little adventure, hit up the Escape Room and see if you can beat the clock.
What are some things to do in Indianapolis when it’s cold?
Colder weather can sometimes have the positive effect of keeping other people indoors. This means you get your pick of all the fun things to do in Indianapolis without the crowds. Wrap up warm and head out to explore some of Indianapolis’ many beautiful nature parks. Fort Harrison State Park, Martin Luther King Park, and Ellenberger Park are all lovely areas to spend some time and blow away the cobwebs.
If you need to find things to do in Indianapolis with kids, then head to the Rhythm! Discovery Center. It’s the world’s first interactive drum and percussion museum. It’s a great way for children to make noise and learn something new. Beware, though, once you’ve been, you may be asked to buy a drum kit for Christmas.
What are some things to do in Indianapolis for people who don’t want to drink?
The list of fun things to do in Indianapolis without alcohol is endless. Head out to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown and spend some time chilling out with the locals on their lunch breaks. The area has a great atmosphere and is the heart of downtown Indianapolis. Once you’re done at Circle Monument, take a short walk to Massachusetts Avenue and take in the sights of this cultural and artistic district.
Indianapolis is a culturally diverse and exciting Mid-Western city. There are a lot of things to do in Indianapolis for all ages and interests. The city has hot summers and mild springs, but it can get pretty chilly in autumn and winter. However, even when temperatures plummet, there’s still a myriad of fun things to do in Indianapolis. From great restaurants and bars, to beautifully maintained gardens and public spaces. We hope we’ve given you everything you need to make a list of all the things to do in Indianapolis during your visit. The city is served by Indianapolis International Airport, just a few miles from downtown. We hope to see you there soon.