Its nickname might be ‘Naptown’, but there’s nothing sleepy about Indiana’s capital city and the second largest city in America’s Midwest. Its claim to fame? The Indianapolis 500, a car race held every year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the world’s largest single-day sporting event, drawing in hundreds of thousands of motor sport fans. If you’re less about cars and more about arts, there are also plenty of other options and things to do in Indianapolis! Whether you’re a local or just visiting, check out the top-rated things to do here.
1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Since 1911, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has played host to the Indianapolis 500, one of the most famous motor races in the world. If you can make it for the event, it is quite an experience, but even if you can’t, you can still visit the speedway. You can also take a shuttle excursion, pace car or an IndyCar to tour around it. Make sure to also set aside time for the Hall of Fame Museum which houses trophies, memorabilia and actual winning cars from the past century!
2. Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children’s museum in the world, and you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy it. You and your kids will love checking out the dinosaur fossils, as well as a 16-foot-tall Bumblebee, a prop from the first Transformers movie. Other displays include topics like music, science, toys, culture, and space travel. Is it any wonder that the museum consistently ranks at the top of things to do in Indianapolis?
3. Visit the Central Canal
Go for a relaxing stroll or hop on a paddleboat, kayak or gondola at Central Canal. Built in the early 19th century to help transport goods in and out of the city, it is no longer an industrial waterway, but a recreational spot popular with locals and tourists alike. Apart from a stunning backdrop of the city’s skyline, the space also provides easy access to many of the city’s lively shops, cafes and restaurants.
4. Garfield Park Farmers Market
Saturday mornings are best spent at Garfield Park Farmers Market, where you can have breakfast and coffee, then shop for fresh produce for lunch and dinner. You can also expect music and entertainment from local musicians, as well as special events like yoga sessions and other fun activities. You can even volunteer to help run the market and assist with tasks like setting up, tearing down, and other operational tasks.
5. Indianapolis Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo is not just a zoo, it also houses an aquarium and botanic garden. Approximately 250 species of 2,000 animals and 2,000 plant varieties call this place home! The zoo is divided into different habitats, and they are created to give both visitors and the animals the sense of a natural environment. See elephants, giraffes and rhinos in the Plains, and walk beneath chirping birds and curious red pandas in the Forests. The zoo is one of the top things to do in Indianapolis, especially if you’re here on a family vacation!
6. Conner Prairie
Get to know what life was like in a prairie town! Conner Prairie is a living history museum and offers a variety of indoor, outdoor and historically themed exhibitions. The interactive history museum will take you into the Civil War and walk you through different ages. You can even talk and help ‘work’ with the resident actors as they perform their daily chores, and feel as if you’ve really hopped into a time machine and gone back in time.
7. Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Indianapolis Museum of Art houses over 54,000 works of art, including works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Cezanne and O’Keefe. You’ll also find American, Asian, African and European pieces from pre-Columbian times to the present. The museum is actually the eighth largest encyclopedia art museum in America and definitely worth a visit! Make sure to also check out Lilly House, a 1913 estate that displays authentic furnishings and art. The garden is also home to lovely trails that’s a joy to stroll through.
8. Eagle Creek Park
To get out into nature, Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest municipal parks in America. There are lots to do here, from a treetop adventure to water sports. In winter, you can also go cross-country skiing! There is also a bark park, where owners and their doggos can socialize and enjoy the company of others off-leash. Not to forget over 16 miles of trails that provide an active escape in Indianapolis!