11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Indianapolis
Indianapolis, a typical Midwest city and capital of Indiana, lies southeast of Lake Michigan on the White River. It is almost exactly in the centre of Indiana, on a site selected by ten government commissioners in 1820 for the new capital of the state. Indianapolis is home to Indiana State University-Purdue University and the University of Indianapolis. The city's world fame, however, comes from the "Indianapolis 500", the car race held annually on the Sunday before Memorial Day on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the world's biggest single-day sporting event, drawing hundreds of thousands of motor sport fans.
See also: Where to Stay in Indianapolis
1 Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Indianapolis Museum of Art lies to the north of the city center in a spacious park. The Museum is housed in four pavilions: the Krannert Pavilion, which is devoted to American art from pre-Columbian times to the present day (including Edward Hopper's "Hotel Lobby") and Asian art; the Hulman Pavilion, with paintings from Baroque to Neo-Impressionism, and the Eiteljorg Gallery of African and South Pacific Art; the Clowes Pavilion, featuring medieval and Renaissance art, 18th century British painting, and watercolors by Turner; and the Lilly Pavilion, with British and American furniture and silver, as well as German porcelain.
Address: 4000 Michigan Road
2 Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a great place to take the family for an afternoon of educational fun. The museum is full of interesting, innovative, and interactive displays targeted towards young visitors. Some of the displays include topics related to transportation, science, culture, and archeology.
Address: 3000 N Meridian Street
3 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The United States' most celebrated car race, the legendary Indianapolis 500, is run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 7 miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis. It is only used for this race and two others; the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Race and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. The circuit, a 2.5 mi. oval, was originally designed as an automobile test track, but the first 500 mi. race in 1911 was so successful that it became a regular fixture. In the course of time the track, which was originally paved with bricks (still used to mark the finishing line), was adapted to cope with ever-increasing speeds. Accommodation for spectators was also increased and the speedway can now handle more than 250,000 people in the stands and over 150,000 on the ground.
4 Eagle Creek Park and Nature Preserve
The Eagle Creek Park and Nature Preserve is located in Indianapolis and is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. The park features 1400 acres of water and 3900 acres of dry land. The activities available in the park include sailing, windsurfing, bird watching; hiking, swimming, fishing, biking and walking. Also on site are a restaurant and concession stand.
Address: 7840 W 56th Street
5 Monument Circle / soldier and sailors war memorial
In Monument Circle, an oasis in the city center, is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial, erected in 1902 to commemorate the dead of the Civil War. To the north of the Monument whole rows of houses were demolished to make room for the Mausoleum and Memorial Hall. Three blocks to the south is the large Circle Center Mall.
6 White River State Park
White River State Park is a great place to escape from the fast pace of the city. Once in the park, you would be hard pressed to believe that you are in downtown Indianapolis. White River State Park boasts of expansive green spaces and the following attractions: Indianapolis Zoo, a baseball park, Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana State Museum, an Imax theater, NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial.
7 Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art is located at the entrance to White River State Park. The museum displays a remarkable collection assembled by the Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg. It includes painting and sculpture of the west from the early 19th century onwards, including works by the landscapists Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, and pictures and sculpture by the leading Western artists Frederick S. Remington and Charles M. Russell. Also on display is an extensive collection of works of the Taos Society of Artists, and Indian arts and crafts from all over North America.
Address: 500 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204-2775, United States
8 Indianapolis Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo opened in 1964 and today plays a major role in worldwide conservation and research. It is noted for accomplishing the world's first successful artificial insemination of an African elephant. The Zoo is located in White River State Park.
Address: 1200 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222-4552, United States
9 Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Benjamin Harrison, who was elected President of the United States in 1888, died in Indianapolis in 1901. His house at 1230 North Delaware Street, with its original Victorian furniture, is open to the public. Benjamin Harrison's sixteen room Italianate Victorian house, built in 1874-75, figured prominently in his campaign for the presidency. Visitors can learn about Harrison's skills as a lawyer, the cases he took before the U. S. Supreme Court, his reputation as a military leader of men, his conservation efforts, his expertise in foreign affairs and his expansion of the U. S. Navy.
This home of the 23rd President of the United States is also full of Harrison's personal items. The home also hosts several special events throughout the year including a President's Day celebration.
Address: 1230 N Delaware Street
10 Indiana World War Memorial
The Indiana World War Memorial is an imposing square monument which stands as a silent reminder to the folly of war, and honors the fallen soldiers. The Indiana World War Memorial has three floors. The Shrine Room on the 3rd floor symbolizes peace and unity as it is constructed with building materials from around the world. Also in the war memorial is a museum dedicated to the soldiers of Indiana.
Address: 51 E Michigan Street
11 State Capitol Building
The Indiana State Capitol is also called the Statehouse. This beautiful building, built in the Renaissance Revival style, was constructed in 1888 and has been in use ever since. The building has a wonderful interior with a stained glass dome, marble floors, and granite columns. Of particular note are the designs painted on the ceilings. The grounds of the Statehouse are pleasantly landscaped and have various historical monuments of interest.
Address: West Washington Street and Capitol Avenue
Where to Stay in Indianapolis for Sightseeing
Whether visiting Indianapolis for the Indianapolis 500 NASCAR race or just to see the sights, downtown is the best place to stay. Families may want to stay a bit to the west to be near the Indianapolis Zoo, but cultural mavens and history buffs will want to stay in the Wholesale District close to the museums, memorials, and the state capitol. Sports fans will likely want to be positioned slightly to the south near Lucas Oil Stadium. Below are some highly-rated hotels in great locations:
- Luxury Hotels: In the heart of downtown, Le Meridien Indianapolis is one of the city's premier luxury hotels. It occupies a prime location and is connected via skyway to Circle Center mall. The Conrad is a 23-story hotel offering 5-star luxury and is only a quick stroll from the city's famous Monument Circle. For an upscale boutique option with an eclectic art collection, head to The Alexander, a half-mile from the Amtrak station and within walking distance of Lucas Oil Stadium.
- Mid-Range Hotels: The Hampton Inn Indianapolis Downtown is housed in the beautifully restored 1929 Chesapeake Building, once the headquarters of the Big Four Railroad. It's in the Warehouse District, the city's lively entertainment area. Families may want to consider the Hilton, with large rooms, an indoor pool, and only a 1.5-mile walk from the zoo. Directly behind the State Capitol Building, the Courtyard Indianapolis at the Capitol has a prime location, with walking trails along the canal right around the corner and cheap parking rates.
- Budget Hotels: At the top-end of the budget category, Staybridge Suites offers comfortable rooms and is conveniently located adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium and Crane Bay Event Center. La Quinta Inn & Suites is close to the trendy Wholesale District and offers good value considering its prime location. Just two miles to the northwest of downtown and 2.5 miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the Sleep Inn & Suites and Conference Center, with a small pool.
- Indianapolis Museum of Art - official site
- Children's Museum of Indianapolis - official site
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway - official site
- White River State Park - official site
- Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art - official site
- Indianapolis Zoo - official site
- Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site - official site
- Indiana World War Memorial - official site
- State Capitol Building - official site