Top Things to Do in Indianapolis

First-time and veteran visitors to Indianapolis alike will find more to do that one trip will possibly allow. The city's serious commitment to neighborhoods (like funky Fountain Square and cobblestone-lined Zionsville), cycling (along the Cultural Trail), community institutions (even a short list includes the Eiteljorg Museum, the Indiana Statehouse, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, White River State Park, City Market, the Circle, and more), and of course, the annual institution of the Indianapolis 500 — the best-attended single-day sporting event in the world — no doubt factored into its inclusion on the 2014 New York Times global list of "52 Places to Go." All that plus legendary Hoosier hospitality? That's a winner.

Downtown/Monument Circle

In the center of downtown Indianapolis, this district is home to many of the city’s major cultural institutions, including the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Indiana Repertory Theatre and the Artsgarden, as well as the 285-foot tall neoclassical Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Indiana State Museum

This museum uses its exhibits to trace art, history, science and popular culture through a Hoosier state lens. Permanent exhibits complement fascinating temporary exhibits that change a few times per year. IMAX Theater located onsite. Admission: $8.95-13.95; $6-16 at IMAX. Open M-Sa 10 am-5 pm, Su 11 am-5 pm.

St. Elmo's Steak House

What started out in 1902 as a small tavern named after the patron saint of sailors has turned into Indianapolis’s oldest steakhouse in its original location and, in the process, has earned a national reputation for its top notch steaks, seafood and chops.

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Just north of downtown, this museum ranks as the fifth largest general art museum in the country and boasts a collection of more than 50,000 works. Permanent collections of significance include those of Chinese art and jade, African art, old master paintings, English porcelain, and Neo-Impressionism.

Eiteljorg Museum

Examine Native American and Western art, culture and history in dialog and cultural context. Galleries are devoted to Indiana’s indigenous people, native artifacts from tribes from coast to coast, and contemporary works. Tickets: $7-13. Open M-Sa 10 am-5 pm, Su noon-5 pm.

City Market

A downtown landmark, this public space opened in 1886 as a meat and produce market, and has always served as a community gathering place. Now, everything from summer squash and organic tamales to gourmet vinegar and scrumptious scones can be found. Tomlinson Tap Room, upstairs, is a one-stop bar for sampling local beers.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

Vehicles on display, from vintage to high-tech, include the Marmon Wasp that won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 race (in 1911) and a collection of A.J. Foyt’s winning cars, including the one that carried him across the finish line for a record fourth championship.

Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument

The star of Circle City’s eponymous circle, the Soldiers & Sailors Monument pays tribute to the Hoosiers who served in wars from the American Revolution to the Spanish-American War. Made of local limestone, it stands 284 feet tall, and houses an observatory at its top with 360-degree views.

Indiana War Memorial Museum

Housed in an imposing, formal 1927 edifice, the museum exhaustively chronicles the participation of Hoosier soldiers in armed conflicts from the Battle of Tippecanoe right to the present day, via artifacts, military posters, historic weaponry and vehicles, flags and much more. Free. Open W-Su, 9 am-5 pm.