Why You Should Go to Indianapolis Now
There’s a lot to love about Indiana’s capital city, and this love extends well beyond race tracks and stock cars.
If NASCAR is what first comes to mind when you think of Indianapolis, you may be curiously surprised to learn that there is so much more to the second largest city in the Midwest. Airbnb recently released their 2018 Travel Trend Forecast and found that bookings in Indianapolis were up 256 percent year-over-year. From a red-hot culinary scene to flourishing arts and culture, here’s what makes Indianapolis the new must-go city.
It’s Easier Than You Think to Get to Indianapolis
For a mid-sized city, there are a surprising number of non-stop flights (more than 50), making it quick and easy to get to Indianapolis from a range of cities, including San Francisco, Boston and Seattle. As a bonus, new Global Entry kiosks opened up earlier this month, helping to trim time spent in customs lines, just in time for the inaugural non-stop flight to Paris in May, the airport’s first-ever route to Europe. As for kudos, Indianapolis International Airport was recently recognized as the Best Airport in North America (again).
The Award-Winning Children’s Museum Just Unveiled a Major Expansion
New Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience at Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The new Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis took over 7.5 acres, integrating immersive indoor and outdoor sports experiences into the wildly popular museum in order to celebrate family health and fitness.
Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has long been considered a bucket list destination for kids, but thanks to a massive expansion, there are even more reasons to visit the world’s largest children’s museum. The new Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience, which opened in mid-March, took over 7.5 acres, integrating immersive indoor and outdoor sports experiences into the wildly popular museum in order to celebrate family health and fitness. Kids can try out multiple sports, including tennis, soccer, basketball and golf, even create sports-oriented artwork.
The Food Scene Is on Fire
Indianapolis may (still) not be able to count any James Beard award winners, but that doesn’t mean that the city’s food scene is any less scorching. The uber-trendy Crispy Bird, which opened last fall, has been lauded by both Tasting Table and Eater for its creative fried chicken, from-scratch biscuits and oh, the mac n’ cheese. Meantime, Indianapolis made Zagat’s annual list of the Most Exciting Food Cities in America. Starting in April, sign up for a walking food tour to sample Indy’s temptingly delicious culinary scene.
Spectacular Creatures Are Coming to Newfields
They’re coming, and they’ll be here on June 1. Yes, more than 200 brightly-colored animal sculptures are on their way to Newfields, also known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This new art installation, Summer Wonderland: Spectacular Creatures, will introduce larger-than-life plastic sculptures across the campus as a way to grow awareness for environmental concerns impacting the planet. Keep your eyes open for giant penguins, snails, alligators and elephants both inside the museum and outside in the gardens and nature park.
The Cultural Trail Has Beautified the City
Indy’s Cultural Trail turns five this year, welcoming visitors with its world-class bike and pedestrian path that connects cultural districts and vibrant neighborhoods. This eight-mile urban thoroughfare has beautified the city thanks to thoughtful landscaping, colorful public art projects and bike-share locations across the trail that encourage exploration and contemplation. Between April and October, sign up for a bike tour to learn about the history of the trail, the neighborhoods the trail passes through and the various works of art you see along the way.
White River State Park
Spanning across 250 acres of downtown Indianapolis, White River State Park is a little piece of tranquility in a bustling capital city. The park hosts plenty of fairs and festivals all year long and has lots of green space for locals and tourists to enjoy on a sunny day. Inside the park, you’ll find numerous other attractions, including the Indianapolis Zoo, Victory Field and the Eiteljorg Museum.
Indiana War Memorial Plaza
The Indiana War Memorial Plaza contains so many tributes that it single-handedly makes Indianapolis the U.S. city with the second-most monuments dedicated to veterans (based on number per acre). The plaza contains two museums, three parks and 24 acres of memorials in total.
Hinkle Fieldhouse is home to the Butler University basketball team, the Bulldogs, as well as a sports landmark in its own right, thanks to its role in the 1986 feature film "Hoosiers." The venue was the stage for the dramatic state championship game and final scene, in which small-town Hickory High School defeats a much larger school from South Bend. The movie was loosely based on the run made by Milan High School in the 1954 Indiana state basketball championship.
Newfields: A Place for Nature and the Arts
Art lovers should definitely check out Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) while visiting the city. The museum has a collection of more than 500,000 works of art. It also features national and international traveling exhibitions throughout the year. Take a stroll through Fairbanks Park, located adjacent to the museum. Or visit the Lily and the Miller Houses and Gardens to get a glimpse into the lives of Indianapolis’ most interesting and prominent families.
Lucas Oil Stadium
Lucas Oil Stadium is home to the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and the site for Super Bowl XLVI. The multipurpose facility, which has a retractable roof, seats more than 67,000 fans. Ranked as the NFL’s best artificial surface in both 2009 and 2010, the field has hosted the Big Ten football championship and the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball championship.
Circle Centre Mall
Go shopping at the Circle Centre Mall, which features more than 100 places to shop and dine. The indoor mall also has a movie theater located on the fourth level. City Market, Shadeland Antique Mall, Castleton Square, Fashion at Keystone and Broad Ripple Village are other options where you can get your shopping fix.
The Canal Walk
Jog along the Central Canal or take a stroll through the 250-acre White River State Park. The Canal Walk, a three-mile loop, is a popular urban respite for fitness enthusiasts and serenity seekers. This downtown waterfront is dotted with paddleboats, gondolas, bicycles and Segways. The one and only urban state park in the city hosts popular festivals. In the summer, the Lawn has a waterfront stage and seats 8,000. It’s the perfect spot to see first-rate concerts.
NCAA Hall of Champions
Indianapolis is big on college sports because it’s home to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Sports fans will enjoy a trip to the NCAA Hall of Champions. On the first level, all 23 NCAA sports are represented. Current team rankings, video highlights and artifacts donated from schools nationwide are on display. The second level, a fully interactive area, includes a media room to watch current games and a 1930s-style basketball gymnasium. Admission is $5 or less.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
The 284-foot-tall State Soldiers and Sailors Monument, located in the center of Indianapolis, was erected in honor of Hoosiers who served in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the US Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Get a spectacular view of the city from the monument’s observation deck for $2. The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum is located in its basement.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
This racing facility has a capacity of up to 400,000 people and hosts both the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Brickyard 400. It was also the site of the US Grand Prix for Formula One from 2000 to 2008. Make sure you stop by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort, both of which are located on the grounds of the speedway.
Looking for a fun trip for the family? Visit the Indianapolis Zoo, which is located in White River State Park. Open since 1964, the zoo has grown into a world-class attraction that sees a million visitors each year. It plays a major role in worldwide conservation and research, too. While you’re there, stop by the stunningly beautiful, 3.3-acre White River Botanical Gardens.
Looking for a luxury hotel when visiting Indianapolis? Try the Conrad Indianapolis, which was chosen as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s picks for top U.S. hotels. It offers travelers fine dining, the luxurious Evan Todd Spa & Salon, and a fantastic location in the heart of the city. The Westin Indianapolis, the Omni Severin Hotel and the Canterbury are a few other hotel choices.
Opened in 1996, the home of the Indianapolis Indians (a minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) sits smack-dab in the middle of downtown. It has been recognized as the best minor league ballpark in America by Baseball America and Sports Illustrated and is a must-see for baseball lovers.
MacNiven’s Restaurant and Bar
Grab a beer and food at MacNiven’s, a Scottish-American restaurant located in the heart of the Massachusetts Avenue Arts and Entertainment District in downtown Indianapolis. The pub offers hearty fare with an impressive craft beer selection. Try the Slippery Noodle Inn, too. It’s Indiana’s oldest bar and the home of the blues in the Hoosier State.
Cafe Patachou is just one of several amazing restaurants in Indianapolis. This popular spot prides itself on using locally grown and often organic ingredients to make all of its delicious dishes.
St. Elmo Steak House
St. Elmo Steak House has been a landmark in downtown Indianapolis since 1902, serving delicious steak, seafood and chops. If you’re looking for lighter, fast-food fare, we suggest you head to Bazbeaux Pizza.
Located in Indy’s Broad Ripple neighborhood, Vogue is one of the most popular nightclubs in the city, featuring DJs who spin '80s, dance and Top 40 music. The former porn theater packs in the crowds for big dance parties. It also hosts national touring singers, rappers and bands.
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Founded in 1989 by local philanthropist Harrison Eiteljorg, the museum that bears his name houses numerous collections of art and cultural objects. It is situated in downtown Indianapolis and prides itself on offering different exhibits that not only entertain, but also engage visitors.