Indianapolis may be known as the Crossroads of America because it is located within a single day’s drive from 70 percent of the nation’s population. However, you will find that there is little reason to leave the city with all the fun things to do in Indianapolis. With high-quality museums for all ages, a bustling downtown full of art and good food and a beautiful Midwestern landscape behind it all, Indianapolis has a little something for everyone within its sprawling city limits.
If you are looking for some good ways to spend your time in this capital of Indiana, check out some of these interesting things to do in Indianapolis.
1. Explore the Canal and White River State Park
If you are more of an outdoorsy person, you will want to go straight to the Canal and White River State Park for things to do in Indianapolis. Unexpectedly located in the heart of the downtown, this green space is beautiful and tranquil. You will find more than 250 acres of walking and jogging trails mixed with comfortable and shady picnic spots that are perfect for a relaxing afternoon. Best of all, this park is adjacent to many of the top museums, attractions and eateries in the city.
Visit the park in the warmer and drier months for the best access to the free 3-mile loop around the downtown waterfront known as the Canal Walk. You will see many walkers, runners and cyclists following this path, as well as pedal boaters and gondoliers traveling down the canal itself. The park is open in the winter as well, but make sure you bring your boots because Indiana snows can be deep.
2. Race in an IndyCar
Little is as iconic to this city than the Indianapolis 500 race, and you will find the Indy Racing Experience to be one of the top things to do in Indianapolis. Car enthusiasts have been visiting this location since 2001 to take part in the adventure. You have the option to sit shotgun with an Indy Racing League driver, or you can drive yourself in an authentic Indianapolis 500 racecar. You will also be provided with full safety gear and proper training before your drive begins.
This unique racecar driving experience is reserved for individuals who are 18 years or older, under 250 pounds and under 6 feet 5 inches tall. The basic passenger experience starts at about $500 while the opportunity to drive the car is about $1,000. There are many options to customize this experience, but tickets should be purchased online when you book your specific driving date and time.
3. Gaze at Beautiful Artworks at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
You will find more than 54,000 different artworks at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, including those by world-renowned talents such as Paul Gauguin, Edward Hopper and Pablo Picasso. Such paintings are joined by ancient Chinese ceramics, as well as modern textiles and designs, to create a great collection of international art. The museum also frequently houses traveling exhibits and local art classes for people looking for things to do in Indianapolis.
The museum is open every day except Monday. Visit from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, stop by from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday or enter from 12:00-5:00 p.m. on Sunday. The IMA Café and the Museum Store operate on the same hours. General admission for adults is $18, and children from 6-17 years will pay $10 to enter this home to many impressive works of art.
4. Tour the Lockerbie Square Historic District
One of Indiana’s most famous historic regions, Lockerbie Square Historic District, is a part of the National Register of Historic Places. You will see beautifully preserved examples of Queen Anne and Italianate architecture in this area through the 25 historic residences that you are allowed to tour. This includes the home of famous Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley, whose house has been designated as a museum with its original furniture and finishes.
Dating from 1821 until 1910, these homes are a little piece of history that you can tour thanks to the tireless work of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission that has improved and maintained these residences. You can tour these homes at no cost from 10:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. So, you can consider this one of the great free things to do in Indianapolis. For Sunday tours, arrive between noon and 3:30 p.m.
5. Take the Kids to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Ranked as one of the top institutions in the country, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is truly a must-do experience. You will find life-size dinosaurs, a full-dome planetarium, a baby and toddler Playscape and many other hands-on and experimental activities that are specially designed for children. The museum is home to a beautifully painted carousel, a maze of mirrors and a tree house to get the wiggles out of your kids, and a recent addition is a Doc McStuffins play hospital for toys based on the children’s television show of the same name.
Make this impressive facility one of your top things to do in Indianapolis, and you will not be disappointed. It is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Adults pay $23.50 for admission, and children from 2-17 years are charged $19. The museum often runs special pricing for buying tickets ahead of time online, so be sure to check out your options.
6. Create Your Own Art at the GRT Glass Design Studio
Visiting the GRT Glass Design Studio is one of the most unique things to do in Indianapolis. This studio designs, manufactures and ships art glass products for windows and decorations to locations worldwide. It was founded in 1987, and it specializes in all forms and styles of glass creation from traditional to more modern options. Best of all, you can sign up to take part in the studio’s “Glass Play Days”, in which you design and create your own glass. These things to do in Indianapolis are unique in both the experience and the take-home product.
Glass Play Days are held on one or two Saturdays each month with an assigned theme for the glass project of each class. The cost of the classes varies depending on the projects and the necessary materials and manufacturing needs. Most classes run 3 hours in length. There are also many opportunities to watch the GRT Glass Design staff, as well as guest artists, in action as they create these impressive works of art.
7. Indulge in Delicious Mexican Fare at the Tamale Place
With three locations across the city, there are fewer things to do in Indianapolis as delicious as eating the food at the Tamale Place. This Mexican-style staple is created by the classic nixtamalization process started centuries ago in which corn flour is boiled, washed and ground into fresh masa. This combination is then hand-formed into tortillas, fresh corn chips and, of course, tamales.
Family owned and operated since 1999, the restaurant likes to say that it does not “say it is authentic;” instead, it “does authentic.” The stores in the City Market, in Greenwood and on Rockville Road are open seven days a week although the hours vary by location. You will also find different varieties of tamales, tacos and nachos at each restaurant, but the standard tamale starts at $3.49 each. Feel free to add a drink or a side to make a full meal combo, and your stomach will thank you for it.
Whether you are an Indianapolis 500 racing enthusiast or you prefer to take your time strolling through the scenery of the Canal and White River State Park or the Lockerbie Square Historic District, there are plenty of fun things to do in Indianapolis. With activities designed for your kids, or for the kid in you, at the Children’s Museum and a chance to create your own beautiful glass project at GRT Glass Design Studio, Indianapolis is more than just the Crossroads of America; it is the crossroads of a great time in this bustling city. If you consider visiting also the neighbor state Kentucky, you can take a look at the main attractions of Louisville.