The Best Things To Do in Indianapolis

Best Things To Do In Indianapolis: Weekend Itinerary

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There are so many incredible things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana! From culture to cuisine, historical sites to contemporary entertainment, the array of activities in Indianapolis is outstanding. For visitors planning an Indianapolis getaway weekend itinerary – and for locals wondering what to do this weekend in Indianapolis – we compiled a list of fabulously fun things to do in Indy. 

We highlight the top Indianapolis tourist attractions and the best places to visit in the city so that you can create an ideal weekend in Indianapolis.

 

What To Do in Indianapolis: Weekend Itinerary

Indianapolis is often an overlooked destination – we, too, bypassed it for far too long. After a longer-than-anticipated stint in Columbus, Ohio – (from which we made trips to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Louisville) – we finally planned an Indianapolis getaway.

Our trip to Indianapolis was not my first. It was, however, the first Indianapolis trip for Kris and my first trip in a really, really long time. In my initial research, I quickly learned that things in Indianapolis had changed; the city now boasted revitalized districts and hip places to go for dining and entertainment – and I was stoked to find so many fun things to do in Indianapolis for adults.

To really get a good feel for the reinvigorated city, I was intent on creating an Indy weekend trip plan that included the top things to do in Indianapolis, the city’s best attractions and local culinary treats.

The more I researched what to see in Indianapolis, the more things I found to do in the city. Indy has changed a lot since my previous visits, and I was astonished at the number of really cool things to do in Indianapolis today.

Meeting up with friends was the motivation for our Indy trip – but we decided to squeeze in some Indianapolis sightseeing and, I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised.

 

Indianapolis Things To Do: FAQs

Before we get to our list of the best things to do in Indianapolis, we want to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about planning a trip to Indy.

 

Are There Things To Do in Indianapolis with Kids?

Yes! The city is family friendly and there are plenty of things to do in Indianapolis for kids. In fact, visitors will find many Indianapolis activities that are dedicated to children – and we highlight the best things to do with family in Indianapolis in our list.

 

Are There Fun Things To Do in Indianapolis for Free?

Budget travelers will have no problem finding free things to do in Indianapolis. While many of the city’s museums charge entry fees, there are ample things to see in Indianapolis that are free of charge. Our list details both ticketed and free things to do in Indy.

 

Is it Worth it to Plan a Trip to Indy?

Absolutely! Indy is one of the most underrated destinations in the US. While it may pale in comparison to big cities, like New York or Chicago, the best places to visit in Indianapolis feature a fun mix of intriguing history, unique art and fantastic food.

 

How Do I Find Events in Indianapolis this Weekend?

Whether you are looking for things to do in Indianapolis tomorrow, free events in Indianapolis today or things to do in Indy this weekend, you can use our list of things to do to plan your trip.

To help fellow travelers easily plan an Indy weekend getaway, we wrap up all of our suggestions into a convenient Indianapolis travel itinerary at the end of the blog post. Furthermore, we share tips on how to get there, where to stay and what to pack – plus we provide an Indianapolis map of sights.

That said, visitors planning a weekend getaway Indianapolis itinerary may also want to attend a comedy show, live music performance or fun festival. You can find events on this calendar.


 

46 THINGS TO DO IN INDIANAPOLIS

We were astounded by the number of fun things to do in Indy! Because our list of places to go in Indianapolis extends beyond the city center, we have separated our list into categories. In addition to listing the top things to do Downtown Indy, we also feature the city’s best districts to explore, what to do in Indy beyond the downtown core and top Indianapolis restaurant recommendations.

Save, Pin or Bookmark this Indianapolis blog post so that you can easily access it as you plan your Indy trip!

 

 

Things To Do Downtown: Indianapolis Attractions

We are kicking off our list with the best things to do in downtown Indianapolis. The urban core of the city – called Mile Square – hosts some of the best attractions in Indianapolis.

 

#1 Climb to the Top of Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Street View of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Indianapolis, Indiana

Climbing to the observation deck of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a must-do Indianapolis activity.

Standing at 285.5 feet in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument honors Hoosiers who fought in America’s earliest wars. The monument, which was completed in 1902, is a symbol of the city and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Inside the tower, visitors can stop by the gift shop – and then start climbing the 330 steps to the top for panoramic views of Indy. Climbing up the stairs is one of the best things to do in Indianapolis for free, but visitors can also catch a ride on the elevator for a small fee.

Pro Tip: The nearby City-County Building also offers a free observation deck for visitors. The super city views are well-worth the effort it takes to find the right elevator!  

 

#2 Walk the Indianapolis Cultural Trail

Walking the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Indiana

Without a doubt, one of the best things in Indianapolis is walking, jogging or biking the Cultural Trail.

The 8-mile paved path weaves through downtown Indy passing some of the best cultural institutions in the city. Along the route, there are multiple works of art. Visitors intrigued by historic figures should not miss the section called The Glick Peace Walk, which celebrates the lives of profound luminaries.  

Pro Tip: One of our favorite spots on the Indianapolis Culture Trail is the bridge on Blackford Street (on the southwest corner of Military Park) – where the views of downtown are picture-perfect!

 

#3 Feast at the Indianapolis City Market

Must eat at the Indianapolis City Market, Indiana

Foodies, history buffs and architecture fans will all want to put City Market on their Indianapolis to-do list.

The City Market dates to 1821 when it opened as a farmers’ market – and the market relocated to the current building in 1886. Today, the Indy City Market is a bustling food court with some of the city’s best eateries under one roof.

Diners will find a wide range of fare – from southern comfort food to authentic Mexican tamales to Parisian crepes. Don’t miss the view from the second floor – and the Tomlinson Tap Room, if you are thirsty for a local Indy beer. Just keep in mind, the City Market hours vary by day and season.

Pro Tip: One of the unusual Indianapolis points of interest in a nearby plaque honoring Elvis Presley. The King played his last concert at the Indianapolis Market Square Arena (which is no longer standing) in 1977– and there is a plaque near Market and New Jersey Streets commemorating the event.

 

#4 Go Underground to the Indianapolis Catacombs

Visitors looking for unique things to do in Indianapolis should consider going underground to the city’s historic catacombs.

The subterranean passageway leads through brick barrel-vaulted arches under the City Market Whistler Plaza. It was used for storing goods for the market upstairs, and many people believe it’s one of the haunted places in Indy.

Pro Tip: The catacombs can only be visited on tours. The short half-hour tours are offered on select Saturdays by Indiana Landmarks.  

 

#5 Stand in Awe at the Indiana War Memorial

Looking up at the Indiana War Memorial, Indianapolis

The Indiana World War Memorial is one of the must-see places in Indianapolis. The sheer magnitude of the building leaves visitors in awe, but there is much more to see inside.

A National Historic Landmark, the magnificent Indiana War Memorial was built to honor military veterans of World War I.

The museum inside – which is free to visit – covers US battles from the American Revolutionary War to recent conflicts. Military flags, war bond posters and wartime paraphernalia (everything from firearms to uniforms to a Cobra helicopter) are on display throughout.

The solemn Shrine Room, displaying a giant US flag and the Star of Destiny, is absolutely not to be missed.

Pro Tip: The entire Indiana War Memorial Plaza covers five city blocks and, all inclusive, ranks as the largest war memorial in the United States.

 

#6 Stroll along the American Legion Mall

Best view of the American Legion Mall, Indianapolis, Indiana

From Veterans Memorial Plaza (marked by the Obelisk) north to the Indy Library is the American Legion Mall. It’s one of the reverent Indianapolis places to visit.

The grassy lawn of the American Legion Mall sits between two buildings used as the American Legion National Headquarters. Memorials dedicated to Indiana military members killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War line the walkway.

Pro Tip: On the north end of the American Legion Mall, Cenotaph Square commemorates the first Hoosier to be killed in action in World War I.

 

#7 See the Indianapolis Central Library

An architectural gem, the Indianapolis Central Library building features an eclectic mix of historic Greek and modern glass styles. Not only is the building intriguing, but there are many interesting Indy things to do inside the library, as well.

The Classic Wing hosts the most beautiful and historic aspects of the building – but the 6th floor of the sleek glass structure is a highlight for the amazing city views. The Indy Library also displays art exhibits in a variety of mediums. 

Pro Tip: The Indianapolis Library offers free events throughout the year. Check the calendar to see what you might want to include in your Indy itinerary.

 

#8 Spend Some Time in the Bottleworks District

Eat at The Garage Food Hall at Bottleworks, Indianapolis, Indiana

Spending time in the city’s revitalized Bottleworks District is one of the best things to do in Indianapolis for adults (and it can be fun for kids during the daytime, too!). Hip eateries and cool entertainment are highlights of the Bottleworks District.

Featuring art deco buildings that were once used as a Coca-Cola bottling factory, the structures have been repurposed to house a posh hotel, an upscale food court, entertaining bars (like Pins Mechanical), chic shops and the modern Living Room Theater showing both indie and blockbuster films.

Pro Tip: The Garage Food Hall at Bottleworks is a must for your Indianapolis itinerary. Whether you stop by for lunch, go for dinner or just grab drinks, you won’t want to miss it!

 

#9 Relax at White River State Park

Relax at the White River State Park, Indianapolis, Indiana

An urban park in the city center, White River State Park is one of the fun family things to do in Indianapolis.

In addition to the sprawling green space just steps from the bustle of the city, the park also features museums, public artworks and trails. Additionally, there are a myriad of Indianapolis events – from concerts to farmers’ markets – in the summertime.

Perfect for a relaxing walk or a summertime picnic, the landscaped park is a top Indy destination.

Pro Tip: White River State Park is home to some of the best cultural institutions in the city – which we will highlight in detail later.

 

#10 Get Wild at the Indianapolis Zoo

One of the kid-friendly things to do in Indianapolis is to go to the zoo. The Indy Zoo houses many fascinating animals in a downtown location right along the White River.

Top attractions at the Indianapolis Zoo are the Shark Touch Pool, the Dolphin Viewing Dome, the funny orangutans, the colorful macaws and the White River Gardens.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the fun Indy Zoo events! In addition to the year-round animal shows and zookeeper talks, winter visitors can explore the park after dark in the glow of Christmas lights.

 

#11 Discover the Indianapolis Canal Walk

Strolling along the Indianapolis Canal Walk, Indiana

One of the best outdoor activities in Indianapolis is walking along the historic city canal.

The Central Canal in Indianapolis was dug in the early 1800s as a means of moving goods…but the project fell apart after just 8 miles were completed. In the mid-1800s, the canal was used as a water supply for downtown.

Today, however, the canal is lined by a paved path – and the Indy Canal Walk is one of the most popular inner city recreation areas.

Pro Tip: Looking for romantic things to do in Indianapolis? A leisurely stroll along the Indy canal is a fun and frugal date activity.

 

#12 Boat the Indy Central Canal

Paddleboat the Central Canal, Indianapolis, Indiana

Hands down, one of the most unique downtown Indianapolis things to do is to take a boat out on the Central Canal.

Visitors can rent pedal boats and kayaks to explore the waterway during the summer months – or leave the work to someone else and take a gondola ride along a 3-mile stretch of the canal.

Pro Tip: For an informational trip up and down the Indy Central Canal, join a local for a guided kayak tour!

 

#13 Visit the Indiana Statehouse

Visit the Indiana Statehouse

The Indiana State Capitol Building is one of the iconic places to see in Indianapolis. The historic building, which was completed in 1888, is made of Indiana limestone and is modeled after the US Capitol Building. Grand granite columns, a soaring dome and marbled floors exemplify the Renaissance Revival style – and the manicured gardens add a finishing touch to the extravagant building.

The Statehouse is home to all government executive offices – including the State Senate, the Indiana House of Representatives and the State Supreme Court.

Pro Tip: The Indy Statehouse offers free guided tours on weekdays and Saturdays. The short 45-minute tour explores the interior of the building, offices and chambers.

 

#14 Delve into History at the Indiana State Museum

Learn some history at the Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis

One of the best museums in Indy, the state-of-the-art Indiana State Museum focuses on the history and culture of Indiana. Ideal for history enthusiasts, visiting the museum is also one of the top things for kids to do in Indianapolis.

Housed in an architecturally unique structure (made completely from Indiana materials and featuring icons on the exterior walls to represent all 92 counties in the state), the museum is spread over three floors of exhibition space.

Pro Tip: In addition to the displays and hands-on experiences, the Indiana State Museum also has an on-site IMAX theater.

 

#15 Cheer on an Indianapolis Sports Team

Indy is known as a sports city – so, naturally, one of the fun things in Indianapolis is attending a game to cheer on the local team.

Indianapolis is home to several sports teams – including NFL Colts, NBA Pacers, WNBA Fever, GWBA Bandits and Triple-A baseball – just to name a few!

Pro Tip: Watching sports is one of the best things to do in Indy – so even if there isn’t a home game while you are in town, check out one of the city’s sports bars, like High Velocity or The District Tap.

 

#16 Take in the View from Indianapolis Artsgarden

View from outside the Indianapolis Artsgarden, Indiana

The Artsgarden is one of the interesting attractions in Indianapolis, Indiana. Straddling the intersection of Washington and Illinois Streets, the glass-and-steel structure seems to hover in mid-air, like a spacecraft.

The public art space presents exhibits and performances throughout the year – all of which are free of charge. Additionally, from the elevated vantage point, visitors can take in the view and compare classic Indy street photos with the current view.

Pro Tip: When visiting the Artsgarden, try to find one of the city’s ‘Hidden Monuments’: a tiny bronze face concealed within a staircase.

 

#17 Seek out Indy Street Art Murals

Look for Street Art, Indianapolis, Indiana

Some of the best free entertainment in Indianapolis is seeking out the colorful street art murals that decorate buildings throughout the city.

Graffiti art, commissioned murals and unique artistic installations (like Recordface) are prominent in downtown Indy and the adjoining districts.

Fun for photo ops and an intriguing way to sightsee, the artistic expressions are one of the cool things in Indianapolis.

Pro Tip: Seeing what art murals you can find on your own is one of the fun downtown Indianapolis activities, but if you want a little guidance, check out this useful blog post on the city’s wall murals.

 

#18 Catch a Show at an Indianapolis Theater

See a performance at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis

One of the best things to do in Indianapolis at night is to attend a live performance…and there are plenty of theaters in the city where visitors can do it!

Some of the best theaters in the city are the Indiana Repertory Theatre (in the heart of downtown), Old National Centre (formerly Murat Theatre), The Cabaret (both intimate and sophisticated) and Madam Walker Legacy Center (a National Historic Landmark).

Pro Tip: For an eccentric evening at the theater, go to White Rabbit Cabaret in the Fountain Square District.

 

#19 Appreciate Native American History at Eiteljorg Museum

Native American History at the Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana

A must-see Indianapolis museum, the Eiteljorg features exhibits and Western art that tell the story of American Indians. The extensive collection of Native American artwork and artifacts is considered to be the best in the world.

In addition to the permanent collection, the museum also displays rotating exhibits and hosts lectures.

Pro Tip: The Eiteljorg Museum has a special kid’s area, making it one of the Indy attractions that is great for families!

 

#20 Play at the NCAA Hall of Champions

Visit the NCAA Hall of Champions, Indianapolis Indiana

The National Collegiate Athletic Association – or NCAA – is headquartered in Indy…and the NCAA Hall of Champions is one of the fun places in Indianapolis to spend an afternoon.

The interactive museum let’s visitors play, learn and explore the history and culture of college sports.

On the first level, visitors are challenged with trivia and fun factoids. On the second floor, however, is where the fun really starts! Visitors can test their skills at sports, like basketball, baseball and skiing.

Pro Tip: Did you know that there are 24 NCAA sports? Every single one of them is represented at the NCAA Hall of Champions.

 

#21 Make Some Noise at the Rhythm Discovery Center

A family fun Indy activity, the Rhythm Discover Center is an interactive Indianapolis museum.

Rhythm boasts a collection of percussion instruments…and the opportunity to play them! Explore the collections, learn about playing techniques and beat on some drums.

Pro Tip: On Saturdays, Rhythm hosts musical programs and live performances that are included with the price of admission.

 

#22 Learn about Author Kurt Vonnegut

Visit the Kurt Vonnegut Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana

A must-do in Indianapolis for literary fans, the small Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library celebrates the legacy of Vonnegut as a cherished American writer.

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle (among many, many others), was born and raised in Indianapolis. The museum displays personal artifacts that detail Vonnegut’s life and career.

Pro Tip: While tours are not required for admission to the museum, they are highly recommended for the additional insight.

 

#23 Pedal through the Streets on a Bike

Biking is one of the fun activities in Indianapolis – and there are miles of paved paths and dedicated bike lanes throughout the city.

Riding a bicycle along the Cultural Trail and the Central Canal Towpath is one of the best downtown Indy things to do. That said, adventurous travelers who want to explore beyond the city center can pedal their bike north from downtown on the Monon Rail Trail that extends 26 miles.

Pro Tip: Visitors can rent a bike from Wheel Fun Rentals or Bicycle Garage Indy – or use one of the Bike Share bicycles found throughout downtown.

 

#24 Set Off on a Downtown Indianapolis Tour

Go on a Downtown Indianapolis Tour

Exploring the city on foot is one of the best ways to get acquainted with downtown Indy.

We have highlighted the best downtown Indianapolis attractions – and because of their close proximity, it is easy to create your own self-guided walking tour to the top Indy sights.

That said, visitors can also download a Self-Guided Walking Tour that provides useful step-by-step directions, site information and fun trivia questions. 

Pro Tip: In our weekend itinerary for Indianapolis below, we outline a self-guided walk through downtown – and provide a link to a Indy walking tour map.

 

Fun Things To Do: Indianapolis Districts

Exploring the many distinct districts is one of the fun things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana. We are highlighting the top Indy neighborhoods to discover while on a trip to the city.

 

#25 Fountain Square: Funky Neighborhood

The fun and funky Fountain Square neighborhood is a top destination for Indy visitors. The neighborhood dates to the 1870s and is an enclave for creativity and entertainment.

At the heart of the district is the Fountain Square Theater, a red brick building that was built in 1928 – and today houses vintage duckpin bowling lanes and classic cocktail bars.

Other Fountain Square Indianapolis fun things to do are indulging in the cuisine. The neighborhood is well-known for its culinary contributions and visitors can get a taste on a Fountain Square Food Tour

Pro Tip: Fountain Square is one of the 7 Indy neighborhoods designated as Cultural Districts for their outstanding historic value.

 

#26 Mass Ave: Arts District and Foodie Haven

Explore Mass Ave, Indianapolis, Indiana

Massachusetts Avenue – or Mass Ave – is one of the originally planned diagonal streets in downtown Indy. The street was wildly popular when a streetcar ran down it in the early 1900s but fell into disrepute in the 1960s and 70s. However, in recent years, the district has experienced a phenomenal revival.

Top historic attractions along Mass Ave are the Athenaeum (Das Deutsche Haus), the Old National Centre and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

For a bit of fun in Indianapolis, visitors should check out the district’s numerous theaters, restaurants, art galleries and boutique shops. Travelers looking for fun things to do downtown Indianapolis at night can create a fun pub crawl down Mass Ave.

Pro Tip: Find the NDY sculpture at Massachusetts Ave and Alabama Street and stand as the “I” in Indy for a fun photo op!

 

#27 Lockerbie Square: Scottish and German Village

James Whitcomb Riley House, Lockerbie Square, Indianapolis, Indiana

The oldest residential neighborhood in downtown Indy, Lockerbie Square is a charming district. Historic cottages and brick homes from the 1800s line the streets.

Scottish immigrants were the first to build homes in the area, but German settlers moved in during the mid-1800s and the neighborhood was dubbed Germantown.

The most famous house in the neighborhood is the James Whitcomb Riley House, and is now a museum. The renowned poet – known for his children’s poetry, like Little Orphan Annie and The Raggedy Man – lived in the house in the last years of his life.

Pro Tip: While in the neighborhood, take a break from sightseeing in Indianapolis and pop into the St. Joseph Brewery, a fantastic brewpub which operates out of a Catholic church that was built in 1879. Try the Confessional IPA and the German Sausage Sampler!

 

#28 Fletcher Place: Diverse Community

Fletcher Place is a historic district that was established in the late 1800s as one of Indy’s more diverse working-class neighborhoods.

True to its roots, the district is one of the best places to go in Indianapolis for ethnic cuisine. Fletcher Place also happens to be home to numerous bars – making it one of the fun things to do at night in Indianapolis.

Pro Tip: The main thoroughfare through Fletcher Place is the diagonal Virginia Avenue – and it is often referred to as ‘Indy’s Best Angle.’

 

#29 Broad Ripple Village: Young and Fun

North of city, the Broad Ripple District is one of the best places to visit near Indianapolis downtown.

A mecca of shopping, dining, recreation and cultural experiences, Broad Ripple is popular with young professionals as a place to live, work and play.

Shops in the district sell vinyl records and vintage fashions. Restaurants dish out vegan and farm-to-table specialties. The Monon Trail serves as the district’s favored recreational artery – and year-round events bring the community together.

Top Fact: Late-night talk show icon, David Letterman, was raised in the Broad Ripple neighborhood.

 

#30 City of Carmel: Indy Suburb

To the north of Indy is the suburb of Carmel – and visiting the area is one of the fun things to do near Indianapolis.

The city has been named by several publications as one of the Best Places to Live in America – and for good reason. The Palladium is a state-of-the-art venue, the elegant Coxhall Gardens provide ample green space, and Main Street Carmel hosts an array of bars, restaurants and shops.

Pro Tip: An easy way to get to Carmel from Indianapolis is via two wheels! Hop on the Monon Trail and pedal 15 miles north Carmel.

 

 

More Things To Do: Indianapolis Beyond Downtown

We have highlighted the fun things to do downtown Indy and the city’s best districts, but there are more great things to do around Indianapolis!

 

#31 Race over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Museum

Indianapolis’ claim to fame has long been the high-speed Indy 500 car race…and it’s absolutely thrilling. The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has been taking place annually for more than 100 years – and the racetrack, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is just 5 miles west of downtown.

Unfortunately, The Greatest Spectacle in Racing only occurs one day of the year, but visitors can still experience the thrill of the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

The museum, which is located inside the track, is dedicated to the history and tradition of Indy car racing.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the bus tour that takes museum guests around the Indy track and stops on the historic brick finish line.

 

#32 Experience The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

A colossal museum complex on the north side of the city, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of the area’s top attractions.

The award-winning museum is the largest children’s museum in the world. Top attractions at the museum are the dinosaurs at Dinosphere, Chihuly glassworks at Fireworks of Glass, a historic Carousel and the Sports Legends Experience.

Pro Tip: While the Children’s Museum is certainly one of the best things to do with kids in Indianapolis, it’s fun for adults, too!  

 

#33 Find the Most Off-Beat Museums

Whether you are looking for indoor activities in Indianapolis or fun places to go in Indianapolis that are a bit off the beaten path, the city’s off-beat museums are a good bet!

Visit the Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum and find heaps of Lady Liberty memorabilia. Go to the Indiana Medical History Museum to see a room full of brains. Stop by the Koorsen Fire Museum and tour a room full of historic fire extinguishers.

Pro Tip: Looking for more weird things to do in Indianapolis? Find Indy’s best kept secrets and quirky places in this attractions book.

 

#34 Tour the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

The 23rd US President, Benjamin Harrison, lived for many years on the north side of the city – and his preserved home is now one of the historical Indianapolis, Indiana attractions.

Visitors who want to learn about President Harrison, his life and his home can take a tour of the house interior and grounds.

Pro Tip: For a unique opportunity to see the inside of the presidential mansion, we suggest attending a Candlelight Theater production at the home.

 

#35 Drink in the Local Flavor at Indianapolis Breweries

Have a pint at St. Joseph Brewery, Indianapolis, Indiana

Indy breweries are the best places in Indianapolis to get a taste of locally produced craft beer – and there are several breweries in and around the city to sample the fresh suds.

Sun King Brewing is – by far – the city’s most popular brewer. Visitors who want a behind-the-scenes look at the production can even take a Sun King Brewery tour.

Other top breweries in and around downtown are the previously mentioned St. Joseph Brewery, Chilly Water Brewing Company and Fountain Square Brew Company.

Pro Tip: Indianapolis is not just for beer drinkers…there are wineries in the city, too. Wine aficionados can sample Indy wine at Easley Winery or Peace Water Winery.

 

#36 Get Nostalgic at Tibbs Drive-In Movie Theater

For a full dose of nostalgia, visitors should head west of the city center to one of the cool places in Indianapolis: Tibbs Drive-In Theater.

Showing both retro classics and new releases, Tibbs Drive-In theater has been a mainstay in Indy since 1967. Featuring four screens (and a concession stand), guests pick a parking space and tune in the movie sound on their FM radio.

Pro Tip: While we think going to a drive-in theater is one of the best things for couples to do in Indianapolis, it’s one of the top Indianapolis attractions for families, as well.

 

#37 See Sculptures at the Indianapolis Art Center

One of the more relaxing activities to do in Indy is to visit the Indianapolis Art Center to see local artwork and sculptures.

The 6 galleries at the free Indy Art Center feature exhibits created by local and national artists. The highlight of the center, however, is the outdoor riverside Artspark, where nature and sculptures co-exist.

Pro Tip: Locals (or long-term visitors) can enroll in one of the many art classes taught at the center.

 

#38 Pay Respects at the Crown Hill Cemetery

View from Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana

Established in 1863, the historic Crown Hill Cemetery ranks as the third-largest cemetery in the United States – and it’s one of the top attractions in Indianapolis.

Covering 555 acres, the cemetery encompasses 25 miles of paved road that winds through architecturally beautiful mausoleums, monuments, memorials, tombstones and a Gothic chapel.

Cemetery visitors can pay their respects at the graves of Indy’s famous residents – like US President Benjamin Harrison, poet James Whitcomb Riley and bank robber John Dillinger. Tours are available for those who want an in-depth look at the history of the burial ground.

Pro Tip: There is a phenomenal Indianapolis skyline view from the highest hill in Crown Hill Cemetery…and you can drive right up to it! Follow the signs for the James Whitcomb Riley gravesite for the best downtown Indy views.

 

#39 Appreciate the Artwork at Newfileds Indianapolis Art Museum

Outdoor Art at the Newfileds Indianapolis Art Museum

Spending a day appreciating the artwork at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is one of the top things to do around Indy. Masterpieces, pop art and art from around the world are on display.

In addition to the Indy Art Museum, the sprawling Newfields campus is home to multiple attractions. The highlight is the restored Lilly House, which dates to 1913. Guests are invited to tour the interior and gardens.

While most visitors think of Newfields as one of the indoor things to do in Indianapolis, there are outdoor attractions, too. At the on-site Virginia B Fairbanks Art and Nature Park (which is free), guests can seek out sculptures. Furthermore, the entire Newfields grounds are open for the public to enjoy (and are perfect for a picnic).

Pro Tip: The Newfields outdoor summertime Beer Garden is a unique place to relax and enjoy a local craft beer.

 

#40 Frolic in the Flowers at the Garfield Park Conservatory

Showcasing hundreds of tropical plant species from around the globe, visiting the Garfield Park Conservatory ranks as one of the interesting Indianapolis, Indiana things to do.

Promoting a rainforest theme throughout, visitors will find flora like orchids, palms and ferns. Some of the other noteworthy plant species to see during a visit are the vanilla, banana and coffee plants. The Sunken Garden is also not to be missed.

Pro Tip: Visiting the Garfield Park Conservatory costs just a few dollars, making it one of the cheap things to do in Indianapolis, IN – but visitors can see the kid-friendly Blake’s Garden for free. 

 

#41 Reflect on the Monument at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Park

The moment at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Park, Indianapolis, Indiana

The Landmark for Peace (also known as the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site) at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park is an Indianapolis must-see monument.

The monument, which features Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy extending a hand to each other, commemorates both the assassination of King and the speech given by Robert Kennedy in Indianapolis the night of King’s death.

Pro Tip: The words from Kennedy’s speech are displayed on a nearby plaque.

 

#42 Create your own Glass Artwork

One of the fun things to do in Indianapolis for couples and families (for kids aged 10 and up) is learning the art of glassblowing at GRT Hot Glass Studios.

Under the instruction from pros at GRT Glass Design, visitors are guided through the process of glass making – and leave with their very own crafted piece!

Pro Tip: Visitors can join one of the classes or book a private lesson.

 

 

Parks in Indianapolis

Some of the best places to visit in Indianapolis are the great outdoors! While we have already mentioned some of the top outdoor activities in Indy, visitors who really want to immerse themselves in nature should seek out the parks near the city.

 

#43 Eagle Creek Park

Eagle Creek Park is a massive nature area northwest of the city. With forest, meadows, ponds and a reservoir, it’s the top green space near Indy for hiking, biking, fishing, boating and zip lining.

Other top attractions at Eagle Creek are the nature center and bird sanctuary.

Pro Tip: While Eagle Creek Park is one of the fun things to do around Indianapolis, there is a required fee to enter and use the park.

 

#44 Fort Harrison State Park

A park for all seasons, Ft. Harrison State Park is one of the favorite outdoor things to do in Indianapolis.

Canoe on Fall Creek in the summer, hike through the colorful leaves in the autumn, sled down the hill in winter and see the flowers in bloom in the springtime.

Additionally, Fort Harrison has a dog park, nature center, picnic areas and a barn where visitors can go horseback riding.

Pro Tip: Just like Eagle Creek Park, there is a fee to enter Fort Harrison State Park, which is charged per vehicle.

 

#45 Glenns Valley Nature Park

Although smaller than the other recommended Indy parks, the Glenns Valley Nature Park features wooded hiking trails, grassy picnic areas and a sledding hill for snowy winter days.

The beautiful Glenns Valley House at the top of the hill is available for rent for private events.

Pro Tip: Visiting Glenns Valley Nature Park is one of the fun free things to do in Indianapolis!

 

 

What To Eat in Indianapolis: Restaurants

One of the best things happening in Indianapolis is the foodie scene! If you are wondering what to do in Indianapolis on your weekend trip, put a few of these epic eateries on your list!

 

#46 Indulge in an Indianapolis Tenderloin Sandwich

Before we get to our list of Indy restaurants, we need to chat about one of the must-do things in Indianapolis: Eat a pork tenderloin sandwich.

The tenderloin sandwich – sometimes called a Hoosier Tenderloin – is the most famous food in Indianapolis. The large-but-thin pork cutlet is breaded and deep fried, then served on a way-too-small hamburger bun. It’s unhealthily delicious, but its an Indianapolis tradition. 

Pro Tip: Mug-n-Bun is an old fashioned drive-in on the west side of Indy that is notorious for making the biggest and best tenderloin. However, it’s a bit outside of the city center. No worries; tenderloin sandwiches feature on many menus in Indianapolis.

 

Bars and Restaurants in Indianapolis

We have already highlighted some of the best places to eat in Indianapolis – The Garage Food Hall at Bottleworks, the Indy City Market and any of the numerous restaurants on Mass Ave are always a good place to start. That said, visitors spending a weekend in Indianapolis should include one – or more – of these iconic bars and restaurants on their Indy itinerary.

 

St. Elmo Steak House

An upscale eatery in the heart of Indy, the landmark St. Elmo Steak House specializes in steaks, but is better known for their world-famous shrimp cocktail.

 

The Rathskeller

A German beer hall that serves sophisticated German fare, as well as steaks, seafood and pasta – and has live music.

 

Bru Burger Bar

A midwest chain, Bru Burger Bar specializes in gourmet burgers and features a long list of craft beers.

 

Livery

Inspired by Latin flavors, Livery is a chic urban restaurant situated along Mass Ave and boasts a fun rooftop for summer gatherings.

 

Slippery Noodle Inn

The oldest bar in the state and once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the Slippery Noodle Inn serves up a heaping dose of eclectic history alongside fun vibes, live music and a big menu of pub favorites.

 

Goose the Market

A gourmet butcher shop and market known for charcuterie boards of smoked and slow-cured meats, which are provided by Smoking Goose.

 

Hotel Tango

A brick warehouse distillery (not a hotel!), Hotel Tango is a veteran-owned distillery that specializes in crafted spirits.

 

Steer In

A diner tradition since 1960, Steer-In was featured on the Food Network for their stuffed pizza, hearty home-cooked meals and all-day breakfast.

 

His Place Eatery

A soul food and BBQ restaurant, His Place Eatery features southern classics and savory meats.

 

Rock-Cola 50’s Café

With a nod to the past, Rock-Cola Café is a 1950s style diner with counter service, rock-and-roll memorabilia and all-American eats.

 

Long’s Bakery

Sugar cream pie might be the state dessert, but visitors should not miss out on the donuts at Long’s Bakery. Simple and scrumptious, they are the best donuts in town – so expect a line!

 

Coat Check Coffee

Located inside the Athenaeum Building in a hip, throwback space, Coat Check Coffee serves hand-crafted coffees, delectable pastries and bialy breakfast sandwiches.

 

Where To Get Brunch in the City

Brunch may be in order during your Indianapolis weekend getaway – and there are a few restaurants in Indy that specialize in the mid-morning meal. Yolk, Café Patachou, Good Morning Mama’s Café and Milktooth are all good options for a weekend brunch in Indy.

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INDIANAPOLIS MAP OF ATTRACTIONS

Use this link to Google Maps for an online, interactive version of our Things To Do in Indianapolis Map. 

Indianapolis Map of Attractions by JetSettingFools.com


 

WEEKEND IN INDIANAPOLIS ITINERARY

On an Indianapolis weekend getaway, we assume that you will arrive Friday evening and have 2 days in Indianapolis to explore. We created an easy-to-follow itinerary that showcases the best things to see and do in Indianapolis.

 

2 Day Itinerary Indianapolis (Plus Night of Arrival)

Use this day-by-day Indy travel guide for your weekend in Indianapolis. Visitors limited to just 24 hours in Indianapolis can easily create a trip plan by simply following either Day 1 or Day 2 of our outline.

 

Friday Night Arrival

Arrive and get situated in your hotel (recommendations below). Start your time in the city with one of the best things to do in Indy at night: Bottleworks District. Eat at The Garage Food Hall and pop into Pins for bowling.

 

Day 1 of Your Weekend Indianapolis Itinerary

Get an early start at Coat Check Coffee (get a ginger latte and sausage bialy). Once caffeinated, start a self-guided tour of downtown.

 

Saturday Morning: Downtown Indianapolis Attractions Walking Tour

Get a lay of the land by exploring the city on foot. Use this link to Google Maps to find your way to the downtown Indianapolis sites.

  • Indiana War Memorial
  • American Legion Mall
  • Indianapolis Public Library
  • Indianapolis Culture Trail
  • Indy Canal Walk
  • White River State Park
  • Indiana State Museum
  • Eiteljorg Museum
  • Indiana Statehouse
  • Artsgarden
  • Soldiers and Sailors Monument
  • Indianapolis City Market

 

Saturday Afternoon Activities: District Discovery

After eating lunch at the City Market (and taking a catacombs tour), set off to explore one (or more) of the city’s cool districts.

Stroll through Lockerbie to see the historic homes, then catch an Uber ride or rent a bike and pedal to Broad Ripple for vintage shopping. Consider staying for a beer at one of the village’s craft breweries, but then head back to the city for dinner.

 

Saturday Night: Dinner and Drinks

Eat dinner at one of the iconic restaurants (listed above) or head for Mass Ave and pick one of the restaurants that suits your style.

After dinner, bar hop your way up Mass Ave or spend the evening at a theater performance.

 

Day 2 of your Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary

Ease into the day with a filling brunch at one of the city’s best restaurants – then, set off for more adventures in Indianapolis.

 

Sunday Mid-Day Museums

Spend the rest of the morning and afternoon at one (or more) of the museums in Indianapolis.

You could go to Newfields and, after seeing the art, explore the grounds…then go next door to the Crown Hill Cemetery.

Or, if you would rather stay in downtown, visit the Indiana State Museum. Alternatively, for a free museum, spend time discovering the Indian War Memorial Museum in depth.

If you are planning a family trip to Indy, a good option would be to go to the Children’s Museum or Indianapolis Zoo.

 

Sunday Afternoon

Wind down your stay in Indianapolis in Fountain Square. Aim for the heart of the district, where you can shop, go duckpin bowling, seek out street art and grab a bite to eat as you close out your weekend.


 

INDIANAPOLIS TRAVEL TIPS

Now that you know the best Indianapolis things to see and how to plan a superb weekend itinerary, we have a few final tips for your trip!

 

How To Get To Indianapolis

Indianapolis, IN can be reached by car or plane. We took a road trip to Indy from Columbus, but we typically prefer to fly.

 

Indianapolis Airport

The Indianapolis Airport (IND) is serviced by all major US carriers with directs flights from Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, Philly, DC and Boston (to name a few!). Before you buy plane tickets, read our tips on Getting Cheap Flights  – then hop on Skyscanner to find the best routes at the best prices.

 

Getting from the Airport to the City

The Indianapolis International Airport is just 13 miles southwest of the city center. Visitors can rent a car to get from the airport to the city. Other options are taking a bus, hiring a cab (or limo), using Uber/Lyft or booking private transportation in advance

 

Best Places to Stay in Indianapolis

There are a multitude of hotels in Indianapolis where weekend visitors can stay. For a quick 2-day visit, we recommend staying in a downtown Indy hotel. Use our tips for Finding the Best Hotel before you start your search for accommodations.

 

Book a Hotel in Indianapolis

Because there are ample options for Indy hotels, we have a few recommendations for your weekend trip.

 

Bottleworks Hotel

A boutique luxury hotel in the city’s trendiest district, Bottleworks Hotel is a stylish mix of the past and present. Utilizing the former Coca Cola bottling factory space, the hotel features unique architecture and attention to detail. Check rates and availability!

 

Nestle Inn

On our weekend trip to Indianapolis, we were looking for an affordable and charming place to stay with heaps of character – and we found it at Nestle Inn. A modernized B&B style accommodation, Nestle Inn offers 6 spacious guest rooms in a historic house located off Mass Ave. Check for availability for your stay!

 

Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre

Travelers looking for a centrally located place to stay have quite a few hotels in downtown Indy to choose from. The Sheraton, however, is a top pick for its location right on Monument Circle. In addition to the prime location, guests love the spacious rooms and rooftop pool. Check rates!

 

 

What To Pack when you Visit Indianapolis

Now that you are well on your way to planning your weekend trip in Indianapolis, it’s time to start packing your suitcase. We have a few recommendations of things you will need – and you should also use our Packing Hacks and check out our complete Packing List.

 

Comfortable Walking Shoes

Our itinerary for a weekend in Indy covers some ground. While it is a very walkable city, you will want to make sure you pack the right shoes! I like to explore cities in my lightweight sneakers and Kris wears Merrell trail shoes – but use our tips for the Best Travel Shoes to find the perfect pair of shoes for your trip.

 

A Real Travel Camera

We were surprised by how photogenic Indy is – and we were glad that we brought our favorite travel camera (the DSLR Canon Rebel) for our quick weekend trip to the city. The budget travel camera takes high quality photos, is easy to use and comes with tons of useful accessories.

 

Day Pack for Sightseeing

In our Indianapolis trip plan, we recommend long days of sightseeing adventures. Wearing a travel day pack for your city exploration will ensure that you can carry everything that you need with you. We use our day packs to stow our camera, keys, phones and everyday travel items – as well as extra layers (like a zip up hoodie) as temperatures might change throughout the day.

 

Indianapolis Fun Facts

As you start planning an Indy trip, you might want to know these fun facts.

  • Indianapolis is the largest US city not located on a navigable river.
  • A Hoosier is what you call someone who lives (or hails from) Indiana.
  • Indianapolis is known as the Crossroads of America because it has the highest number of interstate legs in the city.
  • Naptown is another nickname for Indy – but there is some debate about its origins. Regardless of whether it dates to the 1920s jazz era, the first FM radio station (WNAP) or the fact that it was a sleepy town for a period of time, you will likely see the moniker during your Indy trip.

 

We Want To Know: What are your favorite things to do in Indianapolis, IN? Is there anything you would add to our Weekend in Indianapolis Itinerary? Tell us in the comments!

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Start planning your trip to Indy! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

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A Weekend in Indy The Best Things To Do in Indianapolis