The best things to do in Indianapolis naturally take full advantage of the city's motor-racing heritage. It's the state capital of Indiana and plays host to the world-renowned Indy 500 motor race each May. Aside from big events and speeding race cars, Indy (as it’s otherwise known) is blessed with plenty of green space, glistening waterways and remarkable memorials, making for a charmingly picturesque city.

    On a visit to Indianapolis, you can divide your time between exploring fascinating museums, visiting historical sights, witnessing the best big events and being at one with nature. So, no matter what your tastes or hobbies, the north-eastern city is bound to win you over. Here’s our pick of the best things to do in Indianapolis in a day.

    What are the best things to do in Indianapolis?


    The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

    Home of the Indy 500

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Even if your visit to Indianapolis doesn’t coincide with the world-famous Indy 500 race, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum should still be high up on your list of things to do. Located at the speedway itself, the museum showcases all the best stories and the history of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    At the museum, you can discover all there is to know about the automotive industry in the state and see trophies and race memorabilia from events all around the world. If you did want to plan your trip around the 500-mile race, it usually takes place towards the end of May each year.

    Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, 4750 W 16th St, Indianapolis, IN 46222, USA

    Open: March–October: daily from 9 am to 5 pm. November–February: daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 317-492-6784


    photo by Carey Akin (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Indianapolis Cultural Trail

    A scenic way to see the city

    • Families
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a picturesque, engaging and popular way to take in the sights and attractions of Downtown Indy. It’s actually made up of multiple trails and routes, so you can take your time over the course of your visit to explore the areas that you want.

    A lot of people choose to walk parts of the 8-mile Cultural Trail, but one of the best ways to cover some ground is to hire a Bikeshare from one of the 29 stations dotted around the city. The trails feature a whole host of amazing restaurants en route, so for the ultimate cycling experience, book yourself onto one of its weekend dining tours by bike.

    Location: Indianapolis Cultural Trail, 132 W Walnut St, Indianapolis, IN 46204, USA

    Phone: +1 317-653-1948


    photo by Payton Chung (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

    The largest of its kind in the world

    • Families

    If you’re travelling to Indianapolis with kids, then a trip to the largest children’s museum in the world is an absolute must. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis boasts a staggering 29 acres of interactive exhibits, activities and attractions, teaching kids all about natural science, physics, history, culture and art.

    Discover some of the rarest fossils in the world, visit the on-site planetarium and be sure to check out the brand new Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. It’s no surprise that this is voted one of the top things to do in Indy. Not travelling with kids? Don’t worry, you won’t be the only people visiting without them.

    Location: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 N Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46208, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays from September to mid-March)

    Phone: +1 317-334-4000


    photo by anjanettew (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Central Canal

    A slice of calm amid the bustling city

    • Families
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Indianapolis and see the sights of the Central Canal by pedalo. A ride along the 3-mile loop of waterway is not only relaxing, but also offers some of the best views of the city’s picture-perfect skyline.

    Pedal your way past Indianapolis Zoo, Victory Field, the Indiana State Museum and alongside White River State Park. If you don’t fancy renting a pedal boat, you can opt for a kayak or bike, or just take to the canal paths and walk. For a truly romantic experience, you can even book a private gondola ride.


    photo by Daniel Schwen (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Monument Circle

    At the very heart of Indianapolis

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Whichever way you look at it, both on a map and in reality, the impressive Monument Circle forms the main focal point of Indianapolis. Central to everything that goes on in the city, tourists and locals alike use it as a meeting spot, a point of interest and a place to watch the world go by.

    The circle is built around the towering Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Standing at 284 ft tall, it was built in 1888 and commemorates the Hoosiers of the American Civil War. While you’re there, head to the top of the monument and take in the exceptional views from the observation deck. It’s free to do if you take the steps and not the elevator.


    photo by alexeatswhales (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Crown Hill Cemetery

    Not your average cemetery

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    With its stunning architecture and 555 acres of rolling hills, the Crown Hill Cemetery to the north of the city is unlike any other cemetery you’ll have seen. It’s the final resting place of countless famous artists, poets, playwrights, vice presidents and even the 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison.

    Take a wander around the beautiful grounds with its impressive sculptures, soak up the panoramic views from the top of ‘The Crown’ and spot the herd of white-tailed deer that roam the site, too. There are often guided sunset tours open to the public, or you can phone ahead and book your own private tour instead.

    Location: Crown Hill Cemetery, 700 38th St, Indianapolis, IN 46208, USA

    Open: Open daily from 8.30 am to 5 pm (closed Sundays)

    Phone: +1 317-925-3800


    photo by Ken Ratcliff (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Fountain Square

    A one-of-a-kind neighbourhood

    • Shoppers

    Head southeast of Downtown Indy and explore the unique and funky neighbourhood of Fountain Square. With independent stores and a variety of different arts and entertainment, it’s a great area to explore and find yourself a bargain or 2. Browse the shops while walking between artists at work and hearing the sound of live music playing as you go.

    You’d better have some space left in your suitcase because you can buy everything here, from clothes and collectables, to comics, musical instruments and brightly-coloured bouquets. Okay, maybe the flowers won’t last the flight home, but the rest will make excellent enduring souvenirs.


    Lucas Oil Stadium

    Home of the Indy Eleven and Indianapolis Colts

    • Families

    Forget the Pacers and the Colts, there’s nothing more exciting and entertaining than watching an Indy Eleven soccer game at the Lucas Oil Stadium. The state-of-the-art stadium can hold up to 67,000 spectators and it’s got a retractable roof to shade you from the sun on hot days. By night, the stadium boasts spectacular views of the lit-up city skyline.

    It’s the atmosphere here that makes every game such a memorable occasion, so it’s well worth checking the schedule to tie your visit in with a match day. But don’t worry if the timings aren’t right. You can take a guided tour of the stadium, instead, and see the locker rooms, press box, Lucas Oil Plaza and more.

    Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, 500 S Capitol Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46225, USA

    Open: Hours vary according to season and events

    Phone: +1 317-262-8600


    Broad Ripple Village

    A free-spirited, laid-back neighbourhood

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Broad Ripple Village is a bustling neighbourhood in northern Indy, awash with cafés, restaurants and eateries. At night, the area comes alive and is the ideal place to head for an atmospheric meal in the city. Head to the lavish Canal Bistro and dine al fresco on the canal-side patio, treat yourself to a tasty pizza at Bazbeaux or enjoy a Belgian beer with your dinner at the Brugge Brasserie.

    As well as excellent international cuisine and farm-to-table dining, you’ll find some excellent sweet treats and pastry shops in the area. So, grab yourself a little something after dinner, then decide which cocktail bar catches your eye.


    photo by Eric Fischer (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Downtown Indy

    Live music and late-night clubs

    • Nightlife

    After an action-packed time exploring the sights and attractions of the city, there’s no better way to end the day than soaking up the lively atmosphere of Downtown Indy. No matter what kind of nightlife you’re into, you’ll find it here, with everything from laid-back taverns and live music venues to stylish bars and the hottest nightclubs.

    Grab a freshly brewed beer at the Rock Bottom Brewery, get into the swing of things with some live blues and jazz at the famous Slippery Noodle Inn and end the night cutting some serious shapes at The Vogue, one of the top nightclubs in town.

    Sadie Geoghegan-Dann | Contributing Writer

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