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Why Go to Indianapolis

To the uninitiated, Indianapolis's nicknames — "Naptown" and "Indiana No Place" — may seem like accurate labels. After all, when compared to its neighbors, Indiana's capital doesn't initially stand out as a hotbed of culture quite like Chicago or Minneapolis. But if you look closer, you'll find that Kurt Vonnegut's hometown is just as vibrant as its Midwestern siblings. For starters, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is home to the Indianapolis 500, which, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans comprise the prestigious Triple Crown of Motorsport. Not much of a speed demon? That's fine  Indy has plenty of other sports to capture your attention, including the Indianapolis Colts, not to mention the Indianapolis Indians, the city's Triple-A baseball team who play in one of the country's best minor league parks.

And then there's the city's family appeal: Indianapolis is home to the world's largest children's museum and an impressive zoo. Meanwhile, culture hounds will be pleased to know Indy boasts one of only two museums east of the Mississippi that showcase both Native America and the American West. Plus, the city touts an 8-mile urban bike and pedestrian path that weaves visitors through neighborhoods, cultural districts and past some of Indy's top attractions. Still not convinced? Maybe the Hoosier hospitality and comforting Midwestern fare will help change your mind.

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Best of Indianapolis

Indianapolis Travel Tips

What You Need to Know

  • Avoid Memorial Day Unless you're in town for the Indianapolis 500, which always takes place over Memorial Day, you'll want to plan your Indy visit for another weekend. Flights and hotel rates will be pricey thanks to all the race traffic; budget travelers beware.
  • Don't let the Naptown nickname fool you Indianapolis is home to a vibrant nightlife scene, especially live, local music. Try Slippery Noodle for a sampling of Indy's sound.
  • You don't need a rental car Another pro for Indianapolis: The city is very walkable, especially the downtown area, where you'll probably spend most of your time. Instead of a car, rent a bike. You'll save a bundle and enjoy a more intimate view of Indy's treasures.  

How to Save Money in Indianapolis

  • Check with the visitors bureau Visit Indy offers coupons for attractions, restaurants and hotel packages on its website. Consult its site to see if any of the discounts apply to your itinerary. 
  • Ditch the airport taxi; take the shuttle instead The Go Green Airport Shuttle is an express service that transports visitors between the airport and downtown Indy for just $10.
  • Replace your rental car with BlueIndy If you do feel like you need to rent a car, consider using the electric car sharing service, BlueIndy, instead. Weekly rates start at $9.99. Even more affordable: the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare, meant for trips that are 30 minutes or less.

What to Eat

It's no secret that steakhouses are king in Indianapolis (especially St. Elmo Steakhouse, a landmark in itself), but there's more to this city than meat and potatoes. Whether you're looking for farm-to-table, Creole, Italian, Thai, Latin or anything in between, you'll likely find it. Foodies rejoice — Indy's dining scene knows no bounds.

For breakfast, locals and critics recommend you start at Cafe Patachou with one of its cooked-to-order omelets. When lunchtime rolls around, you'll have your pick of casual eateries, but Shapiro's Delicatessen (get the pastrami sandwich with a side of the matzo ball soup) and Yats (don't pass up the chili cheese étouffée) are Hoosier favorites.

If you're not in the mood for a steak dinner, sample the eclectic four-course tasting menu at Recess, which changes nightly. Bluebeard (which borrows its moniker from Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name) is another favorite among locals and visitors. Situated in the historic Holy Rosary neighborhood in a renovated 1920s-era factory warehouse, Bluebeard serves up a menu of contemporary American cuisine (try the chicken liver pate).

And then there's the beer. As is the trend across the country, the Indianapolis craft beer scene has exploded in recent years. Use this Visit Indy guide to map out your brewery crawl.

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