Photos of several things to do in Indianapolis including walking a canal, watching orangutans at the zoo, and visiting museums.
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34 Things to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana: A Local’s Guide

As an Indiana native, I’ve spent quite a bit of time enjoying all that Indianapolis has to offer. Here are some of the best, family-friendly things to do in Indianapolis!

Updated October 2023

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Indianapolis…. also known as the Crossroads of America. It’s not uncommon for travelers in the Midwest to mention heading to or through Indianapolis. The city is conveniently located with roads running like spokes on a wheel through the city.

But, for us, it’s home.

What are Our Favorite Things to Do in Indianapolis?

So what are some of our favorite things to do in Indianapolis? There are just too many!

Things to Do in Indianapolis: Attractions

1. Indianapolis Children’s Museum

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is a popular tourist destination. Voted best children’s museum in the world many times over, this is a must-do for all families!

The Children’s Museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits including: Dinospere, an indoor carousel, Playscape, Take Me There (a nod to various locations around the world), Science Works, Treasures of Earth, a Health Sports Experience, and so much more!

2. Indianapolis Zoo

A brave orangutan shuffling across the cables high above the Indianapolis Zoo, just one of many things to do in Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Zoo is well known for its orangutan, stingray, dolphin, and cheetah exhibits.

Located in the heart of the city, visitors can ride a skyline gondola to see not only the Indianapolis skyline but also the orangutans perched on their towers high above the zoo.

And don’t miss the dolphin show!

Kaleb and I love the Indianapolis Zoo! More on our experiences at the Indy Zoo here.

3. Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1930, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is the largest orchestra in the state and a leading orchestra in the nation. Located on the circle downtown at Hilbert Theater, this would be a great date night activity! Or, if you are a student, check out their student discounts!

ISO also performs at Conner Prairie’s Symphony on the Prairie (mentioned below at #10) in the summer months!

4. Eiteljorg Museum

The outside of the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis

The Eiteljorg Museum is a nod to the artistic endeavors and culture of Native Americans and the West. The museum strives to collect and display objects that represent the culture and history of the Indigenous peoples of North America and the American West.

Spend half a day viewing portraits, paintings, clothing, pottery, woodworking, and more as you immerse yourself in culture and history at the Eiteljorg Museum.

5. Indiana State Museum

An outdoor view of the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, just one of many things to do in Indianapolis

The Indiana State Museum is one of our favorites in Indy! If you love science museums, this is the place for you! While the museum highlights historical events, probably the most impressive part of the museum is the paleontology section! It includes a selection of fossils from mammoths, mastodons, and sea life ranging from 20,000 to hundreds of millions of years ago… all discovered in Indiana!

The Indiana State Museum is also centrally located, right next to White River State Park, the Indianapolis Zoo, and Eiteljorg Museum.

The Indiana State Museum has a floor dedicated to scientific discoveries, including fossils from mammoths and mastodons found in Indiana, just one of many things to do in Indianapolis

6. Indiana Historical Society

The inside of the Indiana Historical Society, just one of many things to do in Indianapolis

The Indiana Historical Society strives to educate others on the history of our state. Exhibits include interactive screens that share snippets of Hoosier history, reenactments of famous Hoosiers that helped build our state, and even a collection of Indiana archives.

We love to go to the Historical Society around Christmas time! Beautifully decorated Christmas trees donated by various organizations line the halls and exhibit rooms. Visitors can vote on their favorite trees!

Several Christmas Trees lit at the Indiana Historical Society. Festival of the Trees is a great thing to do in Indianapolis around the holidays!

7. NCAA Hall of Champions

Located next to White River State Park, the NCAA Hall of Champions is a great stop for any family with kids into sports! Open Tuesday – Sunday, the NCAA Hall of Champions offers a cheap, fun, and interactive half-day.

Plan around 90 minutes as you step into the world of college athletics. This museum features two different floors. The first floor contains current NCAA records, videos, and trivia, while the second floor features hands-on activities such as virtual sports and a small basketball court.

8. Madam Walker Legacy Center and Theater

Madam C.J. Walker was an influential, African American businesswoman. The Walker building was constructed in 1927 as the headquarters for her hair care and beauty product business. Today, the building holds captivating performances. Concerts performed in the past at Walker Theater include those by Patty LaBelle, Michael Bolton, Rob Dixon, and more.

But the Madame C.J. Walker Legacy Center is more than a spectacular theater. The organization strives to provide cultural education, encourage social justice, and empower young entrepreneurs.

9. Indianapolis Art Center

The Indianapolis Art Center strives to bring our community together through art. The center offers numerous art classes including drawing, painting, sewing, clay, glassblowing, woodwork, and more. While they have ongoing classes available if desired, art galleries and the Ruth Lilly Library are available to all visitors. No class needed!

I have visited this museum a few times during the Broad Ripple Art Fair (which is located on the center’s lawn) and viewed sneak peeks of their art classes indoors. Both times I left wanting to join the glassblowing and pottery classes!

Additionally, the Indianapolis Art Center holds a 9.5-acre park available from the Monon Trail (mentioned below at #25) for free.

10. Conner Prairie

A collage of Conner Prairie's Prairie Town schoolhouse, doctor's house, and general store, one of many great things to do in Indianapolis

While this one is not in downtown Indianapolis, Conner Prairie had to be on our list! The drive from Indy is only 30 minutes, and it is very worth the drive!

Conner Prairie is a living history museum that is well-loved by Hoosiers around the state, including Kaleb and me!

Families can immerse themselves in the history and culture of the 1800s with several activities including an air balloon ride, prairie town, large treehouse, Civil War interactive experiences, and more. Additionally, Conner Prairie hosts concerts on the lawn throughout the summer months with various tribute bands performing.

11. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, located inside the speedway, shares the history and success of automobiles and racing over the years. There are hundreds of historical racecars and pace cars on exhibit.

Big News! The IMS Museum is currently undergoing drastic improvements! An $89 million dollar improvement project was recently announced!

Go to a Ball Game!

12. Indians Baseball

A baseball game at Victory Field, one of many things to do in Indianpolis

Catch an Indian’s Game at Victory Field within walking distance of several iconic Indianapolis attractions! Spend the day exploring Indy and end with a baseball game! Victory Field is within walking distance of the J.W. Marriot, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana State Museum, and the Eiteljorg Museum.

13. Colts Game

Whether you’re a die-hard Colts fan or simply looking for an unforgettable sports experience, catching a game at Lucas Oil Stadium offers one of the biggest spectacles Indianapolis can offer. Join 65,000 other people, and watch one of nine home games the Indianapolis Colts play every year.

As a bonus, Lucas Oil Stadium also offers tours year-round on Fridays.

14. Pacers Game

Immerse yourself in the spirit of Indianapolis by attending a Pacers game! The adrenaline-pumping action on the court, the roaring cheers from devoted fans, and the team spirit make it a truly exhilarating experience.

Things to Do in Indianapolis: Memorials

15. Soldiers & Sailors Monument on the Circle

A tall monument in downtown Indianapolis

Located in the heart of downtown Indy, the Soldiers & Sailors Monument stands as a majestic tribute to honor the state’s fallen heroes. Upon entering the monument, visitors will find a small Civil War museum on the lower level. Then, take the elevator up. At 284 ft, this limestone tower offers an outstanding view of the city from its observation deck.

16. The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial on the Canal

A canal walk and Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial in downtown Indy. Walk the canal while you check out several things to do in Indianapolis

The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial in Miltary Park, next to the canal, is a site dedicated to honoring the bravery and sacrifices of American heroes. It serves as a reminder of the courageous individuals who went above and beyond to protect our nation. Check it out while walking along the canal (mentioned below at #20)

Enjoy a Local Park Around Indy

17. White River State Park

A sunset and steps over the bridge and water at White River State Park, one of many great things to do in Indianapolis

White Water State Park located in downtown Indy is a beautiful park that connects the Indianapolis Zoo to the downtown canal. (Here’s our experience at the park). One highlight of the park is the bridge that stands over White River. Check out the large art pieces spread throughout, take in a concert at the TCU Amphitheater, or rent bikes and check out the park as well as the rest of the city!

18. Eagle Creek Park: An Adventurous Thing to Do in Indianapolis!

Looking for things to do in Indy? Eagle Creek Park is a beautiful place to enjoy the water!

Eagle Creek Park is a huge (39,000 acre) city-owned park in the northwest part of Indy. There are trails, playgrounds, a beach, a treetop adventure course, watersports, fishing, and more available! Admission to the park is currently $5 for Indianapolis residents and $6 for those living outside of Marion County.

19. Fort Harrison State Park

A trail at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis

Located on the east side of Indianapolis, Fort Harrison State Park offers a large sledding hill in the winter plus dirt and paved trails, horseback riding, and fishing opportunities in the warmer months. Visitors may also want to visit the golf course or war museum on the property.

This is a great place to escape city life and enjoy nature for a day.

Things to Do in Indianapolis: Explore!

There are so many great things to do in Indianapolis. How about exploring the city?

20. Walk Along the Indianapolis Canal While Checking Out Other Things To Do in Indianapolis!

Walk the canal downtown as you check out lots of other great things to do in Indianapolis

A great place for a day date, the canal in downtown Indy is a great way to experience the city! Stroll down the canal after checking out the State Museum or Indiana Historical Society, two of the museums on the canal.

Note: I wouldn’t recommend you come at night due to crime.

Insider Tip: The State Museum, located along the canal, also provides artwork representing each county in the state. If you know Indiana well, you may enjoy looking at the artwork and guessing which county is represented before reading the plaque for each.

21. Paddle Along the Indianapolis Canal

Paddle the canal as you view other things to do in Indianapolis

Paddling along the canal is a popular summer activity. Paddle boat rentals can be found just northeast of the Eideljorg Museum.

22. Rent a Bike at White River State Park in Indianapolis

A couple who rented a bike to check out all the things to do in Indy along the canal

Wheel Fun Rentals at White River State Park has surreys, city bicycles, and electric bicycles available for rent. Rent a bike and take it down by the canal for a fun day exploring the city!

23. Make Yourself Apart of an “Indy” Sign

Make yourself a part of the Indy sign in several locations around Indianapolis

A popular activity for visitors! Make yourself a part of the I in Indy at one of the many Indy signs around town. They can be found…

  • 1. at the Indianapolis Airport
  • 2. at Highland Park just behind the Indiana State Museum (pictured above)
  • 3. on Massachusetts Avenue and Alabama Street

And, for those following this blog for dairy-free and gluten-free restaurant options, check out Bru Burger or Condados Tacos, two dairy-free and gluten-free Indianapolis restaurants. Both restaurants can be found on Massachusetts Avenue! Get some pictures with the Indy sign AND get a great meal!

24. Rent a Scooter Around Town as You Check Out Other Things to Do in Indianapolis

Rent a scooter in downtown Indy while checking out all the things to do in Indianapolis

We love using scooters! In fact, that was our number one form of transportation while in Washington D.C. last year! Two well-known scooter rental companies are Bird and Lime.

It’s such a convenient way to get around a downtown area!

25. Walk, Run, or Bike the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis

Two sets of feet walking over a painted sign on the ground that says "Cultural Trail" in Indianapolis

The Culture Trail in Indianapolis circles the downtown Indy area providing residents and visitors alike an opportunity to explore the city and get exercise doing it. The trail connects the downtown canal to other popular Indianapolis destinations and is 8 miles long.

Check Out an Iconic Restaurant in Indy

28. St. Elmo’s Steakhouse and Harry & Izzy’s Restaurants

St. Elmo’s Steakhouse is a very popular, upscale restaurant in downtown Indy. High-profile visitors from all over the nation dine at St. Elmo’s while in Indy.

St. Elmo’s Steakhouse also owns another sophisticated American grill called Harry & Izzy’s located next door. Both restaurants are well-loved among locals.

Plus, those who follow this blog know I am gluten-free and dairy-free. While I’ve never been to St. Elmo’s, Harry & Izzy’s took my food allergies very seriously. The manager came to the table before each course to discuss what I could and couldn’t eat. I have heard the same protocol is used at St. Elmo’s as well.

29. Punch Bowl Social

This is a great restaurant for diners looking for a fun experience! Order food while you bowl, sing karaoke, or play arcade games! Punch Bowl Social is a great unique eating experience.

I have organized company events at Punch Bowl Social in the past. The restaurant brings a great, casual atmosphere for guests!

Things to Do in Indianapolis: Unique Districts

Indianapolis has two districts worth noting. Both are within 20 minutes of the downtown area.

30. Broad Ripple Has Some of the Best Nightlife Things to Do in Indianapolis

Known for its eclectic shops, scenic walking trail, and night bars, Broad Ripple is a bustling little town. It is located about 20 minutes north of downtown Indy. We love to eat dinner (usually at Public Greens) and then walk the Monon Trail.

31. Fountain Square Has Lots of Things to Do!

Fountain Square is located just minutes southeast of downtown Indy. It is a fun, artsy neighborhood with lots of fun shops and restaurants (including the vegan restaurant Three Carrots). There are a plethora of bars and nightclubs.

But one of my favorite things to do in this area is Duckpin Bowling at Atomic Bowl! Duckpin bowling uses smaller balls and smaller pins. Atomic Bowl is a retro bowling alley that offers a unique bowling experience.

Just be ready; the lanes are a bit uneven. Competitive people may be annoyed when their ball goes awry!

Things to Do in Indianapolis: Seasonal Activities

32. Go to the Indy 500!

There is probably nothing more iconic to do in Indy than attending the Indy 500! Watch the greatest spectacle in racing in May at the Indy 500 located at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! There are also a lot of events leading up to the main event throughout the month of May, including a parade and mini-marathon!

33. Christmas Tree Lighting

Hoping to visit Indy around the holidays? The circle downtown gets a makeover every year in late November with lights strung from the Soldier and Sailors Monument, giving the illusion of a huge, lit-up Christmas tree. Visitors can either gather for a fun night during the Circle of Lights celebration when the tree is first lit or check it out in the nights to follow.

34. Summer Farmer’s Markets

There are lots of great farmer’s markets in the summer months in and around Indy. One of my favorites is the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market. Those who follow my blog know I am gluten-free and dairy-free. I love the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market because Native Bread is there!

Suggestions for Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Restaurants

Here’s a list of the best gluten-free and dairy-free restaurants in Indianapolis, several of which are within walking distance of the attractions listed above.

So Many Things to Do in Indianapolis!

We are so lucky to live close to such a great city. From museums and restaurants to parks and farmer’s markets, Indianapolis is full of activity! With this list of 34 things to do in Indianapolis, we hope you can find something that fits your style!

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Janet White
Janet White
11 months ago

So much to do in Indy!!

11 months ago

Lots of fun things to do in Indianapolis. I love a good river walk.

Stacey Billingsley
11 months ago

Indianapolis looks like a lot of fun! I’ve never stayed there and checked it out; we’ve only passed through. Connor Prarie looks like fun, and the historical society is cool. I’m always down to try historic places to eat. I hope to spend more time in Indiana!

11 months ago

Indy looks like a great place to visit! Lots of fun things to do!

11 months ago

I loved the Eiteljorg Museum! Such a good list of activities and you clearly have enthusiasm for the city!

11 months ago

Who knew there were so many cool things to do? Thanks for sharing your hometown with us.

11 months ago

Plenty of things to see and do in Indy for everyone.

11 months ago

I’ve heard good things about the zoo here! I think I even follow them on Facebook and I’m thousands of miles away. This is a great post for anyone thinking of visiting Indiana!

Anna Schaeffer
11 months ago

I’m from Ohio and I’ve been to Indianapolis countless times for concerts and stuff, but I’ve never really explored further than that. Very interesting post!

Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog
Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog
11 months ago

We love exploring Indianapolis! This is a fantastic list of 34 things to do in the city.

11 months ago

It sounds so fun to visit Indianapolis! I’ve always wanted to visit.