There’s certainly more to Indianapolis than the famous whirlwind annual auto race event. As the largest and most populous city in the state of Indiana, Indianapolis seems to have it all! From its award-winning foodie scene, an incredible art museum, to its historic monuments, iconic attractions, marvelous sports scene, and dynamic nightlife, spending some time in Indianapolis will make you understand why a good time in Indy is never more than a stone’s throw away.
Describing Indianapolis to someone who has never been there isn’t that easy. That’s because they might think you’re talking about one of the iconic cities in Europe. The canal is one thing, but the fact that the city is centrally located in the Midwest makes it an attractive place to visit from either the West or East Coast.
As a monument-filled, sports-mad city, an adrenaline-filled experience is always closer than you can imagine in Indianapolis! There are lots of activities that will capture your attention. Whether you’re planning for a weekend getaway or planning to remain in Indianapolis for a week or even a year, each day will be memorable in its own very unique way.
Getting to and from Indianapolis
Indianapolis may be the 14th largest city in the U.S., but it seems to be not too far away from virtually anywhere in the nation. In fact, that’s why it’s referred to as the Crossroads of America. Imagine a city that half of the nation’s population can access within a day’s drive!
You can easily reach Indianapolis by any of its many interstates that lead into the city from all directions. Whether you’re in Louisville, Chicago, Columbus or Cincinnati, you can be in Indianapolis in less than three hours by road!
If you’re coming from outside the Midwestern states, you should obviously fly in. As one of the most popular airports in the country, Indianapolis International Airport offers direct and more than 145 nonstop flights to and from more than 42 cities across the nation and around the world on a daily basis. Flying to Indianapolis is quite affordable and delays are virtually unheard of. You can choose any of the nine airlines that operate in the city’s largest airport.
Navigating the Streets of Indy
Known for its simple grid-like street pattern, navigating the streets of Indianapolis is as easy as it gets. Whether you’re getting into the city or taking a trip through downtown Indianapolis, there’s less urban traffic congestion in Indy than in most cities across the nation. You don’t need a personal car to get around Indy; just download the Uber or Lyft app to your phone and you’ll easily get to your destination.
You can also rent an electric car from one of Blue Indy’s 200 stations throughout the city. The city is also full of modern bike lanes to make it easier if you want to get around this marvelous city while still keeping fit.
Better still, you can explore the giant Central Canal Towpath that runs through downtown. It gives Indianapolis a Venice-like feeling with its gondolas and kayaks, and you can also avail yourself of Segway rentals and a bike path.
Where to Stay in Indianapolis
Needless to say, the first thing to do when you arrive in Indianapolis is to check in to your hotel. Whether you booked in advance (it’s advisable to do so) or book on your arrival, there are lots of hotels in Indianapolis. From luxurious hotels to smack-dab hotels, a lot of things in Indy depend on how much money you’re willing to part with. You can consider hotels such as The Hampton Inn Downtown, The Conrad Indianapolis, and the Alexander, A Dolce Hotel.
If you’re traveling on a budget, just move a little away from downtown and you’ll find more budget-friendly accommodation. We recommend using Hotels Combined to search for accommodation. This is a hotel search engine that compares all budget hotels in a particular city.
Day 1: Marvel at Indianapolis’ Art and Culture
Grab Some Coffee at Coat Check
Unless you’re some sort of superhuman, you’ll need some good cup of coffee to fuel your day. So head to Coat Check Coffee and you’ll find various options of expertly roasted coffee. Try the butterscotch latte and you’ll start your day on a perfect high note. It’s spiced with aromatic burnt anise and dotted with fresh citrus oil.
Head to Indianapolis Museum of Art
You can access this incredible museum for only $18, but even if you don’t set foot inside this majestic art museum, you’ll certainly discover that there are a lot of things to enjoy in the surrounding area which comprises 152 acres of natural landscape. Whether you’re all about art or an ardent nature lover, this museum has a lot of things that’ll mesmerize your imagination.
Ensure that you take time to appreciate the original “Love” sculpture. This famous sculpture came long before the ones in New York or Philadelphia popped up. There are also lots of impressive American art collections, which highlight the best of Midwestern culture. The fact that you can enjoy a beer while strolling through the museum’s grounds seems like the icing on the cake.
Learn More about the Whitewater Valley Railroad
The best way to experience local history is by checking out the Whitewater Valley Railroad. This historic railroad was expertly crafted in 1836 alongside a trade route and is today operated as part railroad and part museum.
Visit President Lincoln’s Mallet
Indianapolis is second only to Washington DC in terms of war memorials. Instead of rubbing shoulders with the crowd at those war memorials, head down to the state’s Indiana Museum for a family-friendly learning opportunity. In addition to viewing the state’s best collection of things that make the Midwest so unique, you can visit President Lincoln’s Mallet. You’ll not only have fun, but will learn a lot of information about the great state of Indiana.
Wind Down with a Dinner of Champions at Bluebeard
You’re probably living a healthy lifestyle and want to enjoy an organic farm-to-table dish. Just head down to Bluebeard, which is located opposite the legendary Hotel Tango, where you can dine well and enjoy some fine whiskey. The Bluebeard is named after arguably one of the greatest Indianapolis novelists: Kurt Vonnegut.
The Indianapolis weather can sometimes be very unforgiving, so wear some warm clothes, depending on the season in which you visit. Generally, you should wear something comfortable to walk in.
Day 2: Fun and Sun
Start Your Day with Breakfast at the City Market
As one of the best community gathering places, not just in the Midwest but in the entire country, the historic Indianapolis City Market is an integral part of this vibrant city. Full of fresh local goodies, here you can have a sumptuous and healthy breakfast that will leave you energetic for the rest of the day. Try something like a fresh juice and a sandwich from City Mark; it will get you fueled up and feeling healthy, ready to tackle your day.
Take a Journey to the Marengo Cave
Recognized as a National Landmark, the Marengo Cave is one of the four caves in the state that remain accessible to the public. This cave was discovered by chance in 1883 by two children and it will enchant your adventurous heart with its unique structure.
Imagine going into a cave that looks like a crocodile’s mouth! Well, that’s what we’re talking about.
Find a Family-Friendly Atmosphere at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Come into close contact with some of the rarest animals in the U.S. at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. With affordable prices, you can get up close and personal with leopards, orang-utans, lions, turtles, penguins, and the most exotic birds in the U.S. If you’re traveling with your children, this could be a great opportunity to give them memories that they’ll cherish for a very long time.
Witness Indiana’s Natural Landscapes with Indiana Zipline Tours
Take to the skies and pump up some outdoor adrenaline with Indiana Zipline Tours. You’ll soar high above Indiana and have a bird’s eye view of the best that Indiana has to offer in terms of its natural landscape.
Stroll along Indianapolis’ Canal Walk
You can choose to try the Venice-like gondolas or stroll along Indiana’s Central Canal. This waterfront is ideal if you want to relax after a long day out before having a sumptuous dinner at the Livery restaurant.
When you visit the Livery, try the fried yucas, paella, and empanadas, while sipping on a Pisco cocktail.
Day 3: Get Sporty
Experience Speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
It’s not a surprise that the first thing that comes to mind when thinking or talking about Indianapolis is the Indy 500. If you happen to be in Indianapolis on the race weekend, ensure that you attend this iconic auto event.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t visit the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway (or the Brickyard, as it’s known by locals) on other days. Just head down there and see why the Indy 500 remains the mother of all auto races and why it attracts millions of Americans on an annual basis. You can visit its on-site museum and see some of the world’s greatest collections of rare and exotic cars.
Watch Some Basketball or Football Action
Indianapolis is a sport-mad city where sports fans live on the edge of their seats on a daily basis. Whether or not you come for a sporty city, experience sports as Indiana residents do. Head down to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and watch the Indiana Pacers compete for the NBA championship. If hooping isn’t your thing, you can go to the Lucas Oil Stadium and watch the Indianapolis Colts have shot at another NFL Super Bowl title, after winning it in 2006.
Visit St. Elmo: One of the Country’s Most Iconic Steakhouses
If you’re not so much into sports, you can head to the city’s Old North side neighborhood and discover some of the nation’s best Victorian-era homes and mansions. These homes were once occupied by the city’s wheeler-dealers, including President Benjamin Harrison.
Indianapolis is a vibrant city in the middle of the Midwest that begs to be explored. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into sports, into fun activities or into history; Indianapolis provides a taste of everything that will satisfy your adventurous spirit. Book your ticket and head down to the crossroad of America: a place that you can easily access from virtually anywhere and where you can enjoy a wide range of fun activities!