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What are Some Things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Feb 01, 2024
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Indianapolis is Indiana's capital city and you’ll find many great activities here. Whether you're a car enthusiast interested in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or you love interesting museums, you'll be sure to find plenty of fun things to do in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Zoo, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Indiana Medical History Museum, the Children's Museum and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway offer just some of the popular things to do in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis is known for the Indy car races and fans of the sport should definitely check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame. You can visit the museum or take the ground tour, or do both. The museum features items relating to the history of motor sports and is known to have Wilbur Shaw's Maserati as well as the Miller cars. The ground tour includes a tour of the winner's circle, press room and pit suite.

One of the best things to do in Indianapolis for those with children is to spend a day at the Children's Museum. This Museum has five storeys of fun for parents and babies to older children that include Science Port, Dinosphere, Story Avenue, Health House and much more. An area called Carousel Wishes and Dreams includes a full sized working carousel for families. Some activities here are hands-on while others are for viewing.

The Indiana Medical History Museum is in the former Central State Hospital's Old Pathology Building. Built in 1895, the Old Pathology Building is the oldest one of its kind left in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. For those interested in the history of medicine and psychiatry, visiting this Museum is one of the best things to do in Indianapolis. You can see 19 rooms that include an autopsy room and a teaching amphitheater.

The Indianapolis Museum of art has both ancient and modern art works that include a permanent collection of over 50,000 art pieces. Admission to the Museum is free. The Museum also has two outdoor gardens — one informal and one formal, plus two Wolfgang Puck-run restaurants.

Visiting the Indianapolis Zoo at White River State Park is one of the most popular things to do in Indianapolis. The Zoo has the largest aquarium in Indiana and 350 species of animals. It also has the largest shark touch tank in the world as well as the only totally underwater dolphin viewing area that offers group swimming experiences with the dolphins.

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Discussion Comments
By andee — On Nov 03, 2011

We have some friends who live in Indianapolis. The have a business in a big indoor flea market there that is open every weekend.

I was surprised at how many great museums this city has. One summer we were there visiting and after touring around the flea market, headed down by the city center.

There were several things to choose from, but we had to take our kids to the Children's Museum. It really was as good as everyone said it was.

We allowed for a good part of the day and used every bit of it. If you are ever in this area, it is definitely worth a stop at this museum. Just be prepared to have a lot of time to spend there.

The next day it was pretty hot, so we went to Central Canal and rented some boats to spend some time on this long canal. This gave us a different view of the city and some of the other attractions available.

By titans62 — On Nov 03, 2011

@Izzy78 - I would have to say White River is probably a little more urban than what you are looking for. Besides the zoo, that is where the NCAA museum and IMAX theater are located. They have a few green spaces and walkways with sculptures on them, but there is no real hiking.

I really liked reading about the medical museum. I have only been to Indianapolis once, but wouldn't mind going back. It's a great place for a weekend getaway. Are there any more strange or interesting attractions that are kind of off the beaten path? I have seen most of the major things and now would like to find some of the less well known things.

Also, I would note that there are a couple of casinos within 30 minutes of Indianapolis for people are are into that.

By Izzy78 — On Nov 02, 2011

I love being outdoors and checking out nature. Are there any good outdoor activities you can do while you are in Indianapolis? What about state parks or botanical gardens or anything? The article mentions the zoo being in White River State Park, but is this really an outdoor area?

I am also a big fan of going on bike rides in new places. For anyone who has been there, what is the biking situation like? Are there specific bike paths in town, or do you usually just have to ride with traffic? One of the other important things is how well drivers can cope with bike riders.

By Emilski — On Nov 02, 2011

I was in Indianapolis for a few days last year, and it was really a pleasant experience. I was there for a conference during the day, but before I went, I searched online for some cheap things to do in Indianapolis and wasn't disappointed.

What I really like is that the downtown area is very compact, so you can walk between almost everything. It wasn't too hard to drive around either, though. I am a big basketball fan, so I visted Conseco Fieldhouse where the Pacers play and checked out some of the exhibits. There is also a paid tour you can take, but I didn't have time for that.

I remember reading about the NCAA Museum, but it is a little bit outside of downtown if I remember correctly. If I am ever back, I would probably like to see that. Does it cost anything to get in?

By JimmyT — On Nov 01, 2011

I live an hour or so away from Indianapolis and have been there numerous times, but didn't know about the Indiana Medical History Museum. It sounds like a really neat place if you are interested in those types of things. I think I might check it out next time I have a couple of hour to kill when I am in Indianapolis.

Something else that wasn't mentioned is the NCAA Hall of Champions. It is sort of the Hall of Fame for college sports. They have a lot of different memorabilia from different famous college sporting events. The neat thing is that so many different sports are covered. You can really learn a lot about some of the less popular sports.

By chivebasil — On Oct 31, 2011

My family is taking a trip to Indianapolis to visit my husband's grandparents at the beginning of next summer. His grandparents are very old and not very mobile. We have three small kids and we are going to need to find a lot of things for them to do to burn off some of that energy.

I have heard a lot of great suggestions already, but can anyone tell me their top ten things to do in Indianapolis? I am trying to put together a big list so the kids will not get bored. Thanks for the help guys!

By backdraft — On Oct 30, 2011

I have been to Indianapolis a few times to go to the Indy 500. On all the occasions I haven't seen much besides the hotel and the racetrack but I have had some good meals in nice restaurants and had some fun times in creative looking bars. Indianapolis seems like a pretty decent city. I imagine I will end up there again for another race. I'll have to venture out a little more next time.

By manykitties2 — On Oct 30, 2011

@popcorn - There is an official tourism site of Indianapolis, you just need to search for it online. They have a list of all the events which are happening in the city and can also tell you some free things to do in Indianapolis.

One of the things I really like about the official tourism site is that they have printable coupons for some of the top things to do in Indianapolis. So, if you're on a budget these e-coupons can make a lot of activities more affordable.

My favorite free thing to do is spend a few hours wandering around The Indianapolis Museum of Art. Gorgeous exhibits and no need to spend cash.

By popcorn — On Oct 30, 2011

Does anyone know where to find out the things to do in Indianapolis this weekend?

I should be passing through Indianapolis sometime this weekend or next and would like to find some really up-to-date information. Also, since I am on a bit of a budget I want to know the cheap things to do in Indianapolis.

I am a big far of Indy car racing so I think I will take the time to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame just to get some souvenirs and perhaps a few photos of myself there. I know I have a few friends at home that would be mighty jealous if I went.

By animegal — On Oct 30, 2011

If you are in Indiana in August one of the cool things to do in Indianapolis is to break out your geeky side and head to Gen Con. This convention celebrates everything that is awesome about role-playing gaming, anime, tournament card games and eGames. Plus, a bit more thrown in for those that are into film and true dungeons.

One of the things I love the most about Gen Con is the costume contest, so there is always something to see when you go there. Just make sure you book your Indianapolis hotel early because the convention does attract quite a few people. You don't want something too far away from the convention.

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