Indianapolis is the state capital and most populous city in Indiana. It is known for its history, the culture, and the role it has played in the transportation of goods across the United States. This is an interesting city to visit with lots of things to see and do during your stay. If you have not been to this part of the United States before, you may have some difficulty in deciding which are the best activities and attractions to include in your vacation itinerary to get the best out of the visit. To help you decide what you would like to do while in the city, here are the 20 best things to do in Indianapolis for first-timers.
20. Eagle Creek Park
One attraction you should not miss is Eagle Creek Park, says Vacation Idea. This is the largest public park in Indianapolis, as it covers 3,900 acres of land and 1,400 acres of water. Most of the land is a nature reserve, so it is a fantastic place to admire the natural beauty and do a spot of wildlife watching. At this park, there is also a range of experiences, such as Bark ark, a 26-hole golf course, and the Go Ape Treetop Adventures.
19. Duckpin Bowling
Bowling is a fun activity for all the family, but Duckpin Bowling is a bowling alley with a difference. Everything is in miniature at this vintage attraction, which only adds to the fun of enjoying a game of bowling there. It is an activity that is suitable for people of all ages and everyone in your party can have a great time. This attraction is located in Fountain Square on the top floor of the Fountain Square Theater building.
18. Holliday Park
One of the prettiest spots in Indianapolis is Holliday Park in the North Crows Nest neighborhood. The park boasts hilly trails, lush gardens, and historic fountains. There are also historic ruins within the park. Throughout the summer, the park is used as a venue for outdoor concerts. A trip to this pretty park is free, so it is a good activity for those with a limited budget. It is a nice place to enjoy a picnic if the weather is good.
17. Indiana Medical History Museum
Although there are several museums worth a visit in Indianapolis, one of the most unusual is the Indiana Medical History Museum. Housed in this museum in Hawthorne are some artifacts relating to some of the most unusual cases in medicine from across the world and from various periods in history. This will interest both those who are interested in history and those who are fascinated by medicine.
16. Peruse Garfield Park Farmers Market
There are some excellent markets in Indianapolis, but the farmers’ markets are the best as they sell some of the top, local produce. Foodies will love the experience of strolling through the markets and sampling the local products. One of the best farmers markets to visit is Garfield Park Farmers Market. This is held in Garfield Park every Saturday morning, and having a coffee and breakfast area is a great way to start the weekend. When you have perused all the stalls, you can also take a stroll around the park.
15. Watch a Burlesque Show
If you want to try something different in terms of evening entertainment, then you should consider watching a burlesque show. There are multiple burlesque troops and venues in this city, although White Cabaret is one of the most popular options. Other venues include Angel Burlesque and Rocket Doll Revue. All the venues serve drinks, and some also serve food. Before visiting Indianapolis, you should check out what is on at each of the venues and find the show that most appeals to you.
14. Enjoy a Performance by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performs around the year in a variety of locations in the city. During the Winter, they perform at the Hilbert Circle Theater, and these events are formal occasions. For the rest of the year, they perform at the outdoor Symphony on the Prairie concerts. These are informal occasions and you can turn up in your shorts and T-shirt, armed with a picnic hamper and a bottle of champagne. The two venues for these shows are Downtown and Conner Prairie. Check out the orchestra’s schedule before visiting if you want to catch one of their amazing performances.
13. Bang the Drums at the Rhythm Discovery Center
An unusual museum to visit is the Rhythm Discovery Center, which is located on Mile Square. Thrillist says that this attraction is home to an impressive collection of historic percussion instruments from multiple locations around the world. There are a variety of drums that visitors are encouraged to play, so it is a fun activity for people with musical interests and it will also appeal to children.
12. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum
Motorsports have an important place in the history of Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been open since 1909, and it hosts some of the most popular motorsports events in the United States. It is now a National Historic Landmark, and it has its own museum featuring interesting memorabilia relating to the history of motorsports in America. Purchase race tickets and then spend some time perusing the exhibits at the museum. This is an exciting place to visit, even if you are not a motorsports enthusiast.
11. Indianapolis Museum of Art
One of the top attractions in Indianapolis for art enthusiasts is the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This impressive attraction is one of the ten largest art museums in the United States as it spans 152 acres and contains over 54,000 works of art that cover a period of more than 5,000 years. Inside, the museum boasts a variety of collections, including Chinese ceramics, contemporary art, and Neoimpressionist paintings. It also has one of the largest art parks in the United States, as the outdoor space has multiple art installations and a lake set across wetlands and woodlands. The grounds are also home to the Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens, which is a National Historic Landmark.
10. Conner Prairie
Just a short drive from the city is Connor Prairie, which is an interactive history experience. The Crazy Tourist says that this attraction covers 800 acres of wooded property, and it offers a range of indoor, outdoor, and historically-themed activities that teach visitors about how life in an American prairie town once was. One of the highlights of the visit is the interactive theater that takes visitors back in time. This fun and educational activity is something that all the family can enjoy.
9. Ride a Gondola Along Central Canal
Originally, the Indian state government started building this canal in the 1840s and the intention was to create a 296-mile waterway. However, bankruptcy led to the plans being shelved and the result was a mere three-mile loop, says US News. There is a walkway for you to take a stroll and admire the cityscape, but there are more fun ways to enjoy the canal. It is possible to hire a pedal boat, a kayak, or a gondola to ride along the canal. If you prefer to stay on dry land, then you can hire bicycles or Segways to travel along the canal path.
8. Indianapolis Children’s Museum
The Indianapolis Children’s Museum holds the accolade of being the largest children’s museum in the world, says US News. If you are visiting the city with children, then this is one of the top attractions to visit. Even if you have no children in your party, you should consider visiting the attraction as there are still plenty of things for adults to enjoy. The museum is divided into 11 main galleries, a dinosaur-themed area, the planetarium, and an exhibition called ‘National Geographic Treasures of the Earth’. Many of the exhibits are interactive, so the attraction is both educational and fun.
7. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Indianapolis has a long and interesting history, and you can learn more about this at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The museum’s collection of contemporary Native art is one of the most impressive features of the attraction, although there is plenty more to enjoy. There are also special exhibitions throughout the year.
Formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Arts, this attraction has been rebranded as Newfields. This decision was made so that the name represents the aim of combining art and nature. For many of the visitors, the highlight is the exterior of the attraction. The Art and Nature Park covers 100 acres, which boasts roses, tulips, and other flowers during the spring and summer months. Throughout the park, there are numerous sculptures and art installations. There is also play equipment for children. Newfield’s beer garden is the perfect place to enjoy a chilled glass of beer after enjoying your tour of the artwork.
This German-themed restaurant is one of the top places to eat and drink when you are visiting Indianapolis. The formal dining area is on the lower floor and features pillars and arches. After your meal, head upstairs to the Kellerbar to enjoy German beers served in a bar that is designed as a throwback to pre-World War II. The customer service is excellent, and you will have a lot of fun.
4. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail
There is the option to walk or cycle the Cultural Trail, which takes you through downtown Indianapolis, the arts districts, Mass Avenue, and Fountain Square. Along the trail, there are more than $4 million murals, sculptures, and works of art. The dozen cultural gardens are a highlight of the trail, and it is a great way to see the sights and landmarks of this city. Along the way, there are many places to stop for a bite to eat.
3. Fort Harrison State Park
If you enjoy spending time outdoors in beautiful surroundings when you go on vacation, then Fort Harrison Park is one of the best places to go. This is a relaxing urban park that has multiple trails, some that are paved and some that have natural surfaces. These vary in difficulty and some are intended as hiking trails, while others are for bicycles. The trails are surrounded by maple and walnut trees. Within the park, there is the Museum of 20th Century Warfare to visit, which houses various artifacts including weapons and uniforms. Both the park and the museum are free to enter.
2. Indianapolis Zoo
A highlight of visiting this zoo is the International Orangutan Center, which is home to one of the largest groups of orangutans in North America. The zoo is zoned into areas according to the species that live there. Another popular area of the zoo is the Dolphin Pavilion as this has an underwater viewing dome so that you can watch the dolphins play in the water. During your visit, you will see the animals, learn about the different species, and see demonstrations involving keepers interacting with the animals. This is an activity that has something for people of all ages, so it is a good option if you are visiting the area as a family.
1. Monument Circle
According to Time Out, the best thing to do in Indianapolis for first-timers is to visit Monument Circle. This lies at the center of Indianapolis. The lower floor is home to the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, while the top floor has an observation deck that offers panoramic views across the city. Outside Monument Circle, the streets are closed off for most of the year as various events and festivals are held at this location.