13 Top Things to Do in Indianapolis

Visit these attractions, restaurants and neighborhoods in Indianapolis for an interesting day visiting war memorials, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and historical parks.

When visiting Indianapolis, some spots stand out as obvious places you’ll want to visit. Everybody wants to see the home of the Indianapolis 500, and Monument Circle literally is the center of town, giving Indy its favored nickname, “Circle City.” Other spots, though helping to give the city its essential flavor, are a bit less obvious. A few are off the beaten path and favored by locals who perhaps resist letting a good secret out! Here’s a good mix: Our picks for a baker’s dozen of things to do in Indianapolis.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument/Indiana War Memorial

Standing just 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument at the intersection of Market and Meridian streets marks the center of Monument Circle and is considered the symbol of Indianapolis. Inside is the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, open 10 am to 5:30 pm Wednesday through Sunday. The Circle’s pedestrian feel will be boosted in August, when city officials plan to close the brick-lined roundabout surrounding the monument to vehicles. Just a few minutes’ walk to the north is Indiana War Memorial, with Greek-inspired architecture and its own museum, open 9 am to 5 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. 431 N. Meridian St., 317.232.7615

Indiana Statehouse

Besides serving as epicenter for the entire state’s government, the Statehouse building itself is a testament to the local: when it was constructed in 1888, materials incorporated included the famed Indiana limestone, and the doors are made of Indiana oak. Make sure to stand underneath the beautiful rotunda dome; if you want to see more, public tours are available Monday through Saturday; call for schedule. Corner of Capitol and Washington streets, downtown, 317.233.5293

Broad Ripple

About 20 minutes north of downtown is the enclave of Broad Ripple, which is the hot spot for barhopping, with dozens of bars, clubs and restaurants packed into a walkable few square blocks (plus bakeries and boutiques for the daytime crowd). Go north on College Avenue to Broad Ripple Avenue (62nd Street) and you’re on the main strip. 317.251.2782

St. Elmo Steak House

One of the city’s oldest restaurants and perhaps its most famous, St. Elmo’s is a favorite downtown destination for celebrities and sports figures when they’re in town. Doors don’t open till 4 pm, but sister restaurant Harry & Izzy’s, next door, is open for lunch and shares the same kitchen. Don’t miss the famed horseradish shrimp cocktail. 127 S. Illinois St., 317.365.0636

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

This year’s Indianapolis 500 was May 30 ... but even when there isn’t a race going on, the iconic track is worth a visit. Regular tours are available, and the adventurous can even schedule a ride around the raceway in an Indy car! For those who’d rather watch, the Hall of Fame Museum is a racing fan’s dream, with dozens of championship cars on display. 4790 W. 16th St., 317.492.6700

Conner Prarie

This interactive history park is located in the city’s northeast suburbs and makes a great day trip for kids. There are historical re-enactments, baby animals in need of petting, outdoor concerts and special events year-round. 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers, Ind., 317.776.6006

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Indianapolis has lots of museums and art galleries, and a unique one is the Eiteljorg. In the museum’s short history, it has acquired one of the finest collections of American Indian art in the country. Don’t miss the gift shop, which is filled with handmade jewelry and other unique items. 500 W. Washington St., 317.636.9378

NCAA Hall of Champions

Just two blocks west of the Eiteljorg, the NCAA museum houses thousands of photographs and memorabilia from all variety of collegiate athletics. 700 W. Washington St., 317.916.4255

Hinkle Fieldhouse

Speaking of basketball, Indy is proud of its Butler University Bulldogs for making it to the NCAA championship game held here in April. Hinkle is their home court, and a living shrine to Indiana hoops. This is where the film “Hoosiers” was shot, and the site of the actual game it was based on! 510 W. 49th St., 317.940.8121

Madame Walker Theatre Center

One of the most architecturally and historically interesting buildings in the city, this Egyptian-themed theater on downtown’s northwest side was built by Madame C.J. Walker, our nation’s first self-made African-American millionaire. Weekday tours are available, and musical and stage performances go on year-round. 617 Indiana Ave, 317.236.2099

Slippery Noodle Inn

Indiana’s oldest bar (est. 1850) is a downtown hot spot and blues haven. Live bands play most nights. Employees will regale patrons with stories about the building’s history, such as being a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War and rumors about ghosts inhabiting its darker corners. 372 S. Meridian St., 317.631.6968

Downtown Canal

Part of the White River State Park, Canal Walk zigzags for three miles underneath downtown, offering all sorts of vendors, waterfront refreshments and even gondola rides. Mostly, though, it’s a place for those seeking exercise or just a little serenity. 801 W. Washington St., 317.233.2434

Kennedy King Park

One of the lesser-known pieces of Indianapolis history is that Robert Kennedy gave a moving speech here on the night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder that kept the area calm while other cities erupted in violence. A silhouette statue depicts the civil rights icons reaching toward one another, for those seeking a moment of powerful contemplation. 601 E. 17th St., 317.327.7435

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