The capital city of Indiana, Indianapolis offers travelers many unique things to see and do (some completely free). Visit great museums like the Indianapolis Museum of Art, get married, stay at a great hotel, stroll through White River State Park downtown with kids and tour the Lockerbie Square Historic District. Explore the zoo, go shopping, go on a day trip, have a delicious breakfast, romantic dinner at an italian or other romantic restaurants, and watch a performance at the theater in the evening. Here are the best things to do on a weekend getaway or day trip to Indianapolis, Indiana.
1. Indianapolis Museum of Art
© Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is a vast encyclopedic art museum located in downtown Indianapolis. The museum features a permanent collection of more than 54,000 works from Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia ranging across a broad spectrum of genres. Visitors can admire works by famous artists such as Paul Gauguin and JMW Turner and see Chinese ceramics, textiles, and modern design.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art is one of the best things to do in Indy. Aiming to promote an interest in the arts through the presentation and interpretation of artistic assets, the museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including films, performances, classes, lectures, and community outreach programs.
4000 Michigan Road, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-923-1331
2. The Canal and White River State Park
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The Canal and White River State Park is a beautiful green oasis located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis where the public can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and find tranquil places to relax. White River State Park boasts 250 acres of green space with a network of walking and jogging trails, shady picnic spots, and places to unwind.
If you are wondering what to do in Indianapolis with the whole family, this is a great place to visit. Dotted about the canal and park are some of the city's most popular and fascinating museums, architecture, attractions, and other entertainment, including the Indianapolis Zoo, the Lawn at White River State Park, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Indiana State Museum, and the NCAA Hall of Champions. The Canal Walk is a 3-mile loop on the downtown waterfront that bustles with joggers, walkers, cyclists, pedal boats, and gondolas enjoying traffic-free exercise.
3. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum
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Located on the grounds of the world-renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum is one of the top Indianapolis attractions and is devoted to the world of automobiles and auto racing. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the museum features an outstanding collection of race vehicles and automobile memorabilia associated with the Indianapolis 500 race, including motorcycles, dragsters, and cars that have set world land speed records.
Visitors can take informative guided tours of the Speedway, which include stops at the victory platform, garage area, and Gasoline Alley hospitality suite. Narrated track tours, which cover one lap around the 2.5-mile oval track in a special bus, are also available.
4790 West 16th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-492-8500
4.Things to Do in Indianapolis: Indianapolis Art Center
© Indianapolis Art Center
One of the largest community art centers in the country and one of the best things to do in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Art Center provides art classes, educational programs, community-based events, and workshops for the public with the aim of encouraging interactive art education. Based out of the Marilyn K. Glick School of Art, the Center is home to three public art galleries that exhibit local art, 11 state-of-the-art studios in which classes and workshops are held, a 224-seat auditorium for special performances and shows, and a library for research and educational purposes.
The center also features ArtsPark, a nine-acre outdoor creativity and sculpture garden located in one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods that showcases a variety of public art.
820 East 67th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-255-2464
More Indiana destinations: 8 Best Things to Do in Jasper, Indiana.
5.Lockerbie Square Historic District, Indianapolis, Indiana
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Noted for its beautifully preserved Italianate and Queen Anne style architecture, the Lockerbie Square Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of Indianapolis’ most famous historic regions. The Lockerbie Square People’s Club manages the district, and they promote and inspire interest in the revitalization of the area.
Visitors can enjoy walking tours of the area, which include exploring twenty-five historic residences constructed between 1855 and 1930, as well as a few newer ones like the North Vermont Street Home. One of the famous buildings in the district is the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, which was home to the famous poet for over 23 years and features a collection of elegant Victorian furnishings and architecture.
6. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
© The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Founded by Harrison Eiteljorg, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art includes a contemporary collection of Western and Native American art and cultural objects, which has been named one of the best in the world. It includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Charles Russell, and Frederic Remington.
The institution also features a variety of world-class exhibitions across a range of diverse subject matter, such as “The History of Pistols and Motorcycles” and “Jewish Life in the West.” The museum offers several dynamic educational programs and workshops for the public and surrounding communities.
500 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-636-9378
7. Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis
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Located in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum features an annual calendar of exhibits that explore Indiana art, science, and culture and is home to the state’s largest IMAX theater. Constructed of steel, brick, and glass, the building is a work of art in itself and the galleries, which house over 452,000 artifacts in collections, span three floors.
The museum offers several educational programs and engages in community-based projects throughout the year, as well as special events. Visitors can enjoy refreshments and light meals at the Farmers Market Café at the Museum.
650 W Washington St, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-232-1637
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8.GRT Glass Design, Indianapolis, Indiana
© GRT Glass Design
GRT Glass Design is a unique glass design and manufacturing studio that designs, produces, ships, and installs art glass products around the world. Founded in 1987, the award-winning studio produces both traditional and modern glass works, as well as the highest quality of architectural art glass for various buildings and structures in all parts of the world. The GRT offers “Glass Play Days,” when visitors get the opportunity to make their own unique art glass at the GRT Glass Design Studio. Classes are held two Saturdays per month, with the goal of teaching students how to create an exclusive piece of artwork from glass while having fun at the same time!
6400 Brookville Rd, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-353-6369
9.Things to Do in Indy: Indiana Repertory Theatre
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Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is a professional regional theater that performs a variety of shows each season on two stages. Based out of the Indiana Theater, which was once the Paramount Pictures Publix Theatre and was converted to house the IRT, the theater company produces nine to ten plays per season, with its participants performing in multiple shows.
By producing high-quality shows, the company aims to provide the public with engaging, inspiring, and exciting performances and help build a strong and vibrant community. Modern productions have included “The Great Gatsby,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “A Christmas Carol.”
140 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-635-5252
10. What to Do in Indianapolis: Indianapolis Zoo
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Home to over 3,800 animals representing 320 species, Indianapolis Zoo features a zoological park, an aquarium, and a botanical garden. Located in White River Park, the zoo is organized into biomes (areas of the planet with similar climates, plants, and animals) and boasts a variety of exhibits, habitats, and displays showcasing the zoo’s inhabitants.
The zoo is famous for its state-of-the-art dolphin pavilion, which adheres to a combination of approaches to dolphin/human interaction. If you are looking for best things to do in Indianapolis with kids, the Indianapolis Zoo is not to be missed. It is home to the Underwater Dolphin Dome, where dolphins can be viewed from beneath the water, the Marsh Dolphin Theater, which features a vast pool and a coastal village scene and features a dolphin show every day, and the Dolphin In-Water Adventure, an interactive dolphin program.
1200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-630-2001
11. Indianapolis attractions: Indiana Historical Society
© Indiana Historical Society
Based at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) maintains the nation's top research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest, and it provides visitors with a unique and unforgettable educational experience called the “Indiana Experience.”
Visitors get to relive history on this fascinating journey, which features interactive displays and three-dimensional exhibitions in “You are There,” virtual trips through the state of Indiana in “Destination Indiana,” and immersion into the musical world of Hoosier legend Cole Porter in the popular “Cole Porter Room.”
Go to the W.Brooks and Wanda Y. Fortune History Lab to get an in-depth look at the work involved in research. The society also produces and hosts art exhibitions, and provides youth, adult, and family programming.
450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-232-1882
12.Fun things to do in Indiana: The Indianapolis Cultural Trail
© The Indianapolis Cultural Trail
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an 8-mile urban pedestrian and bicycle path in downtown Indianapolis that was created to connect neighborhoods, cultural districts, and entertainment amenities and to provide outdoor recreational space for the public to enjoy. As it winds its way through the city, the trail offers a variety of fun things to see and do, from beautifully landscaped gardens and green spaces to sculptures and artworks.
You will also find cultural districts, local shops, restaurants and cafés, and world-class attractions. Enjoy a relaxing bicycle tour of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which teaches you about the history of the trail, and explore various artworks, historic neighborhoods, and cultural districts along the way.
13.Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens, Indianapolis, Indiana
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Located on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Oldfields–Lilly House & Gardens is a beautifully maintained estate that is home to the historical museum of Lilly House. Once the home of J.K. Lilly (Junior), the mansion has been exquisitely restored to its former 1930s glory and is now open to the public, paying homage to the late Indianapolis businessman.
Acclaimed landscape architecture firm Olmsted Brothers, of Central Park fame designed the surrounding gardens, which feature a variety of manicured gardens and habitats, including the Orchard, the Ravine, the Rain Garden, and a Four Seasons Garden. The estate is open daily between the months of April and January.
4000 Michigan Road, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-923-1331
14. Historic Indiana Ghost Walks & Tours
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Unseenpress.com, Inc. is all about ghosts. Created to introduce the public to the spirits of the city as well as promote research about folklore and ghosts, the company offers ghost walks and tours, making the world of the paranormal accessible to everyone. Visitors can enjoy walking or bus tours through some of the city’s most haunted areas. The “Underground Railroad Tour,” where you can learn about city’s plan to help fugitives escape, is a favorite among tour goers!
Other fascinating tours include the “Howling Hamilton County Bus Tour,” which explores the streets of Hamilton County, the “Chilling Chatham Arch-Lockerbie Tour,” which takes a spine-tingling look at the Theatre District in Downtown Indianapolis, and the “Nefarious Noblesville Ghost Walks,” where visitors can meet the dead in bars and beer rooms.
15.The Tamale Place, Indianapolis, Indiana
© The Tamale Place
The Tamale Place prides itself on serving authentic Mexican food using traditional preparation methods. Tamales are made in the same way as they were centuries ago by the “nixtamalization” process of boiling, washing, and grinding the corn flour into fresh masa, and then making it into handmade tamales, tortillas, and fresh tortilla corn chips.
Boasting four locations across the city, the Tamale Place is family owned and managed and has fast become one of the city’s go-to places for fresh and traditional Mexican tamales. Eat in, order out, or get The Tamale Place to cater for a special event.
1155 E. Stop 11 Rd, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-300-8748; 5226 Rockville Rd, 317-248-9771; 222 E Market Street, 317-423-2203
16.Indy Racing Experience, Indiana
© Indy Racing Experience
The Indy Racing Experience is an exciting option for those with a need for speed! Founded in 2001, the venture allows car enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the high speeds of IndyCar racing through their celebrated driving and two-seater programs.
Fans can enjoy an exhilarating ride around any of the tracks in a 2-seater car driven by an Indy Racing League driver, or they can drive a car that competed in the Indianapolis 500 themselves. Riders or drivers are kitted out in full safety gear and given a safety briefing before the drive, and participants must be 18 years of age or older, under 6’5” in height, and under 250 lbs.
1201 Main Street, Speedway, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-243-7171
17.The Meridian, Indianapolis, Indiana
© The Meridian
Named after the street on which it is located, The Meridian was a historic establishment that once served food and drinks to travelers for nearly a century and is still a renowned institution to this day. Boasting views of the tranquil greenery of Alice Carter Park, the now contemporary restaurant features subtle décor, an inviting ambiance, and an outstanding menu of new American cuisine.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, dishes are made from scratch using the freshest, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients available and are accompanied by a range of handmade cocktails, craft and local beer, and whiskeys.
5694 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-466-1111
18. Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
© Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site pays homage to the culture of President Benjamin Harrison and his way of life with the aim of encouraging a greater understanding of the American system of self-government.
The National Historic Landmark memorial and museum offers the public greater insight into his life through informative exhibitions, fascinating photographic displays, a virtual tour of the “House that Ben Built,” and a range of art collections from his time. The museum offers special guided tours of the facility for adults, as well as school group tours and field trips and is open Monday to Sunday throughout the year.
1230 North Delaware Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-631-1888
19.Bluebeard, Indianapolis, IN
Located in the historic Holy Rosary neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis, Bluebeard is a farm-to-table restaurant that serves a lunch and dinner menu of contemporary American cuisine. Set in a stylishly renovated 1924 factory warehouse, the restaurant features a cozy family dining room, an elegant bar, and an open-air courtyard for outdoor dining.
Lunch menus feature freshly made salads and snacks, charcuterie, and cheese selections while the dinner menu has special entrees such as hangar steak, frog’s legs, and truffled egg toast. A special menu is served on Sundays and libations include handcrafted cocktails, craft beers, and local wines.
653 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-686-1580
20.The Rhythm! Discovery Center, Indiana
© The Rhythm Discovery Center
The Rhythm! Discovery Center is an award-winning percussion museum that aims to develop an interest in and advance the awareness of percussion through innovative programs, interactive exhibits, educational workshops, and artist performances. Located in downtown Indianapolis, the center features visually captivating exhibit rooms and a nice performance venue. Here, guests can explore the world of percussion and its role in society.
Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the center that focus on various types of percussion instruments and the cultures who used them, as well as appreciate interactive experiences such as playing an eight-foot gong drum and creating music and rhythm in a facilitated drum circle.
Claypool Court, 110 W Washington St, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-275-9030
21.Spoke and Steele
© Spoke and Steele
Located in the luxurious Le Meridien Indianapolis hotel, Spoke and Steele is a popular downtown restaurant offering a modern American menu created by award-winning Chef Greg Hardesty. This renowned chef reimagines American comfort food with a global flair, using seasonal local ingredients to create such masterpieces as sea scallops with young soybeans and radishes with umami miso sauce. There is an extensive menu of finely assorted charcuterie made in-house. The dining room is elegant and sophisticated, with long banquettes lining one wall. Cocktails, craft beers, and wines are served next door in a swanky bar with brass fixtures and gleaming wood.
123 S. Illinois Street, Indianapolis, IN 46225, 317-737-1616
22.What to do in Indianapolis: Eagle Creek Park
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Covering approximately 1,400 acres of water and 3,900 acres of land and serving primarily as a nature reserve, Eagle Creek Park is the largest public park in Indianapolis. Located on 56th Street, the park is known for a variety of natural landscapes, waterways, and walking trails for people to enjoy, and it offers an ideal location for a range of hobbies, sports, and other outdoor activities.
The park is home to Go Ape Treetop Adventures, Bark Park, and a 36-hole golf course, as well as a number of cross-country skiing paths, a swimming beach, hiking trails, and fishing areas. Shooting enthusiasts will delight in the pistol range while wildlife lovers can head to the Woodland Wildlife Preserve, Ornithology Center, and the park’s marsh and bird sanctuary.
23.Bakersfield Tacos, Indianapolis, IN
© Bakersfield Tacos
Bakersfield Tacos is a hip restaurant serving authentic Mexican street fare, and they specialize in three things: tacos, tequila, and whiskey. Stop in and treat yourself to a delicious meal such as the Braised Short Rib Torta, the Cochinita Pibil Tacos, or the Chicken Chorizo Tostada. Don’t skip the guacamole which is delicious.
Enjoy a tasty beverage from their selection of over 100 different kinds of tequila and whiskey, or try their spectacular sangria. Bakersfield Tacos is a small, Ohio-based chain that opened their Indy location in 2013. It’s conveniently located downtown on the Mass Ave strip.
334 Mass Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-635-6962
© Go Ape!
Go Ape! offers a range of adventure courses and fun outdoor activities for all ages in Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Indiana. Go Ape Treetop Adventure Courses consist of obstacles, zip lines, and Tarzan swings that allow participants to navigate through the treetops and explore the beautiful natural surroundings from the air.
Participants are given a safety briefing before being equipped with all the necessary equipment for the course, which lasts between two and three hours. Qualified instructors are on hand throughout the course to provide safety and support. The obstacle course is available for all ages.
25 Best Things to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana
- Indianapolis Museum of Art, Photo: Indianapolis Museum of Art
- The Canal and White River State Park, Photo: Courtesy of pixelparable - Fotolia.com
- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Alexey Stiop - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Indianapolis: Indianapolis Art Center, Photo: Indianapolis Art Center
- Lockerbie Square Historic District, Indianapolis, Indiana, Photo: Courtesy of mb1983k - Fotolia.com
- The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art , Photo: The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
- Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Photo: Courtesy of f11photo- Fotolia.com
- GRT Glass Design, Indianapolis, Indiana, Photo: GRT Glass Design
- Things to Do in Indy: Indiana Repertory Theatre, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- What to Do in Indianapolis: Indianapolis Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of good win - Fotolia.com
- Indianapolis attractions: Indiana Historical Society, Photo: Indiana Historical Society
- Fun things to do in Indiana: The Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Photo: The Indianapolis Cultural Trail
- Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens, Indianapolis, Indiana, Photo: Courtesy of margie - Fotolia.com
- Historic Indiana Ghost Walks & Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Waldteufel - Fotolia.com
- The Tamale Place, Indianapolis, Indiana, Photo: The Tamale Place
- Indy Racing Experience, Indiana, Photo: Indy Racing Experience
- The Meridian, Indianapolis, Indiana, Photo: The Meridian
- Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, Photo: Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
- Bluebeard, Indianapolis, IN, Photo: Bluebeard
- The Rhythm! Discovery Center, Indiana, Photo: The Rhythm Discovery Center
- Spoke and Steele, Photo: Spoke and Steele
- What to do in Indianapolis: Eagle Creek Park, Photo: Courtesy of baluzek - Fotolia.com
- Bakersfield Tacos, Indianapolis, IN, Photo: Bakersfield Tacos
- Go Ape!, Photo: Go Ape!
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of 11photo - Fotolia.com
South Port Antique Mall
The Southport Antique Mall (SAM) is a unique mall in the heart of Indianapolis that sells an array of vintage items, with everything from fashion and décor to electronics and collectibles. Located on Southport Road, the award-winning mall features over 200 antique and vintage boutiques that offer an array of distinctive vintage items and treasures for every occasion. The mall also hosts a variety of events and programs throughout the year, including the annual “All Hallow’s Eve” and the famous “Southside Vintage Market Place.”
2028 E. Southport Rd., Indianapolis, Indiana, Phone: 317-786-8246