Visiting Indianapolis - What to See and Do

(Indianapolis International Airport IND, USA)

There's no getting around the fact that Indianapolis loves its sports. Between the two major motor racing events and a smattering of professional sports teams, this city keeps the action moving all year round. Thankfully, Indianapolis doesn't neglect its artistic inclinations and provides a number of quality themed attractions for tourists.

The downtown has some fantastic historic neighborhoods that create the bulk of the city's charm, such as Lockerbie Square. There are just enough museums and art galleries to keep culture junkies fed for a short visit, and no shortage of tasty restaurants and fun bars around town.

The self-described 'Amateur Sporting Capital of the World' is definitely a great travel destination for those with a penchant for car races and sporting events. If you're looking for a rich cultural city, then Indianapolis may not be the best place to go. Most visitors find that the mix of the two is just right here.

Ten things you must do in Indianapolis

  • The city's oldest neighborhood, Lockerbie Square, is an absolute gem. It has been lovingly restored to its former 19th-century glory, complete with cobblestone streets, brick buildings and Victorian houses. It was the first district in the city to get restored, kicking off a welcome trend that has turned the downtown area into a highlight for visitors and residents alike.
  • One of the great things about Indianapolis is its effort to incorporate nature into its urban landscape. Eagle Creek Park is one of America's biggest green city spaces, offering some 4,000 wooded acres / 1,620 hectares of paths and meadows laced with trails for hiking and biking. There is also a massive lake in the park that lures boaters and dreamers in every season.
  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the Indy 500 each May, but is open all year round for visitors to tour the facilities and browse its impressive museum dedicated to motor racing and its heroes. Built in 1909, it is one of the world's oldest tracks and one of the most famous. Its stands can hold around 400,000 spectators, and they soon fill up each May when the Indy 500 runs.
  • The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art is one of the country's premier venues for Western and Native American artwork. Besides a focus on Indiana's three Native American tribes, visitors get a taste of the scope of America's indigenous craftsmanship of many other tribes. The museum's collection of works by leading American artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Frederic Remington provide additional attractions for visitors.
  • With more than 2,000 different creatures on exhibit at the Indianapolis Zoo, this attraction is one of the Midwest's better wildlife centers. Their natural habitats are well reproduced, and the entire layout of the zoo encourages an afternoon of strolling, resting and watching the wildlife.
  • Broad Ripple Village is to be found just 15 minutes north of the downtown core. This planned development is where the young and trendy hang out, with some of the city's best restaurants, bars and shops being based here. The entire complex sits along a canal that provides the perfect backdrop for shopping, strolling and indulging your appetite.
  • If you want to experience what 19th-century prairie life looked like, there is no better place in the Midwest than the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. The property recreates a prairie village from the 1830s in perfect detail, featuring authentic buildings and costumed characters re-enacting prairie life. During the summer, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra plays a series of concerts at the park's beautiful amphitheater.
  • The White River State Park sits right in the middle of Indianapolis, giving residents easy access to a huge space comprising waterways, grassy fields and walking paths. The canal winds its way through the park, and you can rent paddleboats, kayaks or let a gondola driver ferry you about. Bike rentals are also available, offering another way to get some fresh air while visiting the city.
  • For those who don't know much about just how this region of America was originally settled, the Indiana State Museum is a good place to get your background straight. Its exhibits showcase the trials and triumphs of the first pioneers who settled Indiana, and most of them are very interesting. The IMAX movies are another highlight here, while the museum's location within the White River State Park makes it easy to incorporate into a fun day outdoors.
  • The other big attraction based in downtown Indianapolis is Monument Circle, a public square with a 87-meter / 284-foot statue at its center. Ascend to the monument's observation deck for some of the best aerial views over the city, then walk a half mile over to the Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District. This 24-acre / 10-hectare district is a great mix of open gardens, outdoor sculptures and the impressive War Memorial Museum.

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