The Best Free or Cheap Things to Do in Indianapolis

There are plenty of free or cheap activities to fill your days in Indianapolis.

The capital city of Indiana is as varied as they come, providing numerous attractions for both locals and visitors to explore, many of those options cost little to nothing. 

Canal Walk
Canal Walk (©Willy Feng/Flickr, Creative Commons)


The Canal Walk and White River State Park

The Central Canal flows through downtown, creating a picturesque cityscape. The three-mile Canal Walk is a haven for joggers and cyclists while the 250-acre White River State Park has enough green space for all types of activities including a number of festivals, weddings or just relaxing under trees. The park is also home to the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum and historic McCormick's Rock.

Garfield Park
Garfield Park Sunken Gardens (©Jim Wallace/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Garfield Park

The city's oldest park, Garfield Park is an oasis for recreationists with walking trails, tennis courts, baseball diamonds and an aquatic center with two pools. 

The Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden costs $2 for general admission and $4 for special events. The conservatory houses hundreds of tropical plants from around the world while the Sunken Garden is marked by majestic fountains, gorgeous flower beds and thousands of blooming tulips during spring months.

Indiana War Memorial
Hundreds of artifacts, photos and documents are on display at the Indiana War Memorial. (©susi.bus/Flickr, Creative Commons)


Indiana War Memorial

The building's design inspired by fifth-century Greek architecture, the Indiana War Memorial is a three-floor dedication to the participation of Indiana soldiers in armed conflicts. The memorial is free of charge, open Wednesday-Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.

The memorial is just a part of the Indiana War Memorial Plaza Historic District which is second only to Washington, D.C. in acreage and number of monuments dedicated to veterans.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
Depictions of war ring the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. (©Steve Baker/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument

The gray oolitic limestone monument pays tribute to Hoosiers who served in wars from the American Revolution to the Spanish-American War. At 284 feet, it is only 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.  The Observation Level is at 275 feet, providing dramatic views of the capital city below. The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum is on the lower level as is the gift shop.

Kennedy King Memorial
Kennedy King Memorial (©

Kennedy King Memorial

In 1968 just hours after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—and two months before his own assassination—Robert Kennedy delivered a dramatic address informing gatherers in the park at Seventeenth and Broadway of King’s death. His impromptu remarks called for love, wisdom and compassion toward one another.

The Landmark for Peace—or Kenndey King Memorial—was erected in Martin Luther King Park in 1994 to honor the contributions of both men. 

Crown Hill Cemetery
Crown Hill Cemetery (©DanO’Connor/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Crown Hill Cemetery

On a little over an acre of the 555-acre Crown Hill Cemetery is the Crown Hill National Cemetery, the final resting place for 2,135 soldiers. 

In addition to former President Benjamin Harrison, the Crown Hill Cemetery has other notables from actors and artists to gangsters. Themed tours are offered and from June to October there are public walking tours three weekends of the month. Private group tours are offered year-round and last about 90 minutes; $3-5 per person.

City Market
City Market (©Greg Wagoner/Flickr,Creative Commons)

Can't-Miss Attractions

City Market

The City Market is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been an Indianapolis Institution since 1886 when it began as a meat and produce market.  With an eclectic vendor list, products range from potato chips to soup and much more. After a hard day of discovering the varied goodies, head upstairs to the Tomlinson Tap Room for some liquid relief.

NCAA HAll of Champions
NCAA Hall of Champions on the Canal Walk (©Intiaz Rahim/Flickr, Creative Commons)

NCAA Hall of Champions

The NCAA Hall of Champions also calls White River State Park home and is dedicated to providing an understanding of the NCAA and its athletes. 

Two levels of interactive exhibits give visitors the feel for what it takes to make it as a collegiate athlete. Test your knowledge with a trivia challenge or get physical with a hands-on simulator.

Kurt Vonnegut self portrait
Kurt Vonnegut self portrait (©Son of Groucho/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library

The prolific writer of 14 novels—including 1969's masterful "Slaughterhouse-Five," has his life and professional career on display at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library. Sit at Purple Heart—his typewriter—and see Vonnegut through the eyes of family and friends in photographs. This museum is open to the public. 

2014 Indianapolis 500
Kurt Busch runs in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. (©Action Sports Photography/Shutterstock)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway 

A trip to Indianapolis wouldn't be complete without getting a look at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

One of the most iconic venues in sport, the track officially opened on June 5, 1909 for balloon races and sprang in automobile racing on August 19, 1909. So for a quick jaunt, head to 4790 W. 16th Street and have a gander—just don't do it on race day.