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Indianapolis Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Indianapolis

Besides the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum (which is a must-see for most visitors), the city offers the truly wonderful Indianapolis Museum of Art. If you're traveling with kids in tow, you'll definitely want to spend a few hours at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. The zoo, which is inside the verdant White River State Park, is another good pick for families, as is a stroll along the Central Canal. Did we mention the Indianapolis Colts? They're here too, winning games at Lucas Oil Stadium.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Indianapolis

Free
The Central Canal, which also goes by the name Indy Canal Walk, was born in the 1840s when the Indiana state government was trying to bring more commerce to the city. But soon after, the state found itself bankrupt and the plans for a 296-mile waterway were shelved. Today, the Central Canal is a 3-mile loop that flows by the Indiana State Museum, Victory Field, the Indianapolis Zoo and the 250-acre White River State Park, among other popular attractions. You can walk alongside the canal or book a segway tour, but you can also hire a gondolier or rent a pedal boat or kayak.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Central Canal
The Central Canal, which also goes by the name Indy Canal Walk, was born in the 1840s when the Indiana state government was trying to bring more commerce to the city. But soon after, the state found itself bankrupt and the plans for a 296-mile waterway were shelved. Today, the Central Canal is a 3-mile loop that flows by the Indiana State Museum, Victory Field, the Indianapolis Zoo and the 250-acre White River State Park, among other popular attractions. You can walk alongside the canal or book a segway tour, but you can also hire a gondolier or rent a pedal boat or kayak.
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#2

#2 in Indianapolis

Spread out across 152 acres and featuring more than 54,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is an impressive institution. It's also among the 10 largest art museums in the U.S. Superlatives aside, what visitors love most about IMA is its variety. Not only does it offer Neoimpressionist paintings (like Georges Seurat), contemporary art and Chinese ceramics, but it also boasts one of the largest contemporary art parks in the U.S. — The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres. The acclaimed outdoor space features a 35-acre lake and art installations set amidst woodlands and wetlands. And bonus: kids are welcome to play on the interactive installations. While you're outside, consider visiting the Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens, a 26-acre estate on the grounds of the IMA that is a National Historic Landmark.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Spread out across 152 acres and featuring more than 54,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is an impressive institution. It's also among the 10 largest art museums in the U.S. Superlatives aside, what visitors love most about IMA is its variety. Not only does it offer Neoimpressionist paintings (like Georges Seurat), contemporary art and Chinese ceramics, but it also boasts one of the largest contemporary art parks in the U.S. — The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres. The acclaimed outdoor space features a 35-acre lake and art installations set amidst woodlands and wetlands. And bonus: kids are welcome to play on the interactive installations. While you're outside, consider visiting the Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens, a 26-acre estate on the grounds of the IMA that is a National Historic Landmark.
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#3

#3 in Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been around since 1909, so this epic track has seen more than 100 races speed by. The 30,000-square-foot museum came about 50 years afterward, featuring about 75 cars and even a theater that shows Indy 500 footage throughout the years. Visitors have the choice to see the complex by purchasing race tickets, visiting the museum or taking the very popular (and comprehensive) grounds tour. Some of the most popular events here are the Indianapolis 500 (held in May) and the Brickyard 400 (held in July).
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Sports Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been around since 1909, so this epic track has seen more than 100 races speed by. The 30,000-square-foot museum came about 50 years afterward, featuring about 75 cars and even a theater that shows Indy 500 footage throughout the years. Visitors have the choice to see the complex by purchasing race tickets, visiting the museum or taking the very popular (and comprehensive) grounds tour. Some of the most popular events here are the Indianapolis 500 (held in May) and the Brickyard 400 (held in July).
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#4

#4 in Indianapolis

Free
Considered an Indiana landmark, the Indiana War Memorial comprises two museums, three parks and 24 acres of monuments, statues, sculptures and fountains. So, if you're a fan of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., you'll likely enjoy spending a few hours here. In fact, Indianapolis is second only to D.C. in acreage and number of monuments dedicated to veterans.
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Monuments and Memorials Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Indiana War Memorial
Considered an Indiana landmark, the Indiana War Memorial comprises two museums, three parks and 24 acres of monuments, statues, sculptures and fountains. So, if you're a fan of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., you'll likely enjoy spending a few hours here. In fact, Indianapolis is second only to D.C. in acreage and number of monuments dedicated to veterans.
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#5

#5 in Indianapolis

If you're in Indianapolis with kids, a visit to this museum is a must. Spanning 472,900 square feet and boasting 11 major galleries, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis lives up to its title as the world's largest children's museum. Exhibits at the highly praised facility include a planetarium, the heavily hyped "Dinosphere: Now You're in Their World" (featuring an archaeological dig) and the "National Geographic Treasures of the Earth" exhibit, which showcases re-creations of three archaeological sites, including an Egyptian tomb, a pirate shipwreck and China’s Terra Cotta Warriors. Beyond these standouts, there are also several more floors of exhibits and even some Chihuly glass for decoration. Plus, the museum boasts an impressive 12,500-year-old mastodon skeleton and its own carousel. 
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
If you're in Indianapolis with kids, a visit to this museum is a must. Spanning 472,900 square feet and boasting 11 major galleries, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis lives up to its title as the world's largest children's museum. Exhibits at the highly praised facility include a planetarium, the heavily hyped "Dinosphere: Now You're in Their World" (featuring an archaeological dig) and the "National Geographic Treasures of the Earth" exhibit, which showcases re-creations of three archaeological sites, including an Egyptian tomb, a pirate shipwreck and China’s Terra Cotta Warriors. Beyond these standouts, there are also several more floors of exhibits and even some Chihuly glass for decoration. Plus, the museum boasts an impressive 12,500-year-old mastodon skeleton and its own carousel. 
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#6

#6 in Indianapolis

Home to the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium is a must-see for sports fans, according to recent travelers. With the capacity to hold 67,000 fans and a retractable roof that features unbeatable views of the downtown Indianapolis skyline, the stadium (which opened in 2008 and hosted the 2012 Super Bowl) is consistently described as a "beautiful sports venue" by visitors. Recent fans who visited said the stadium was clean and noted that the design is easy to navigate. Sports hounds who caught a game during some warm Indy weather particularly appreciated the retractable roof. 
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Sports Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Lucas Oil Stadium
Home to the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium is a must-see for sports fans, according to recent travelers. With the capacity to hold 67,000 fans and a retractable roof that features unbeatable views of the downtown Indianapolis skyline, the stadium (which opened in 2008 and hosted the 2012 Super Bowl) is consistently described as a "beautiful sports venue" by visitors. Recent fans who visited said the stadium was clean and noted that the design is easy to navigate. Sports hounds who caught a game during some warm Indy weather particularly appreciated the retractable roof. 
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#7

#7 in Indianapolis

Spread across 64 acres and home to more than 1,600 animals and 23,000 plant species, the Indianapolis Zoo is a favorite among families visiting Indy. Easily navigate its sprawling acreage by planning your visit around the zoo's five biomes, or areas of plants and animals separated by climate: Oceans, Deserts, Plains, Forests and Encounters. Among the highlights for recent guests were the underwater dolphin viewing dome and the newly opened orangutan center. Travelers were also impressed with the White River Gardens, which boast a glass-enclosed conservatory, a water garden and 1½ miles of walkways, among other features. The zoo also offers "special zoo experiences" (not included in admission) ranging from swimming with dolphins to watching a penguin paint a work of art (that you get to take home).
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Indianapolis Zoo
Spread across 64 acres and home to more than 1,600 animals and 23,000 plant species, the Indianapolis Zoo is a favorite among families visiting Indy. Easily navigate its sprawling acreage by planning your visit around the zoo's five biomes, or areas of plants and animals separated by climate: Oceans, Deserts, Plains, Forests and Encounters. Among the highlights for recent guests were the underwater dolphin viewing dome and the newly opened orangutan center. Travelers were also impressed with the White River Gardens, which boast a glass-enclosed conservatory, a water garden and 1½ miles of walkways, among other features. The zoo also offers "special zoo experiences" (not included in admission) ranging from swimming with dolphins to watching a penguin paint a work of art (that you get to take home).
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#8

#8 in Indianapolis

If you're interested in learning more about the art, history and cultures of the American West and Native Americans, then a stop at the Eiteljorg Museum is a must. Another selling point: The Eiteljorg Museum is the only museum of its kind stationed in the Midwest, and one of only two museums east of the Mississippi that explore both Native America and the American West.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Eiteljorg Museum
If you're interested in learning more about the art, history and cultures of the American West and Native Americans, then a stop at the Eiteljorg Museum is a must. Another selling point: The Eiteljorg Museum is the only museum of its kind stationed in the Midwest, and one of only two museums east of the Mississippi that explore both Native America and the American West.
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#9

#9 in Indianapolis

Indianapolis doesn't boast its own MLB team, but it is home to a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Indianapolis Indians. Even if you're not a fan of baseball, you should consider attending a game at Victory Field, especially if you've got kids in tow. This 14,230-seat ballpark is consistently praised by locals and travelers alike for its cleanliness, affordable prices and stellar skyline views. Recent visitors with kids especially liked that there is ample grass space for children to play on and spots where families can spread out blankets to enjoy the game. Reviewers also reported that the crowd and staff are friendly and fun.
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Sports Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Victory Field
Indianapolis doesn't boast its own MLB team, but it is home to a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Indianapolis Indians. Even if you're not a fan of baseball, you should consider attending a game at Victory Field, especially if you've got kids in tow. This 14,230-seat ballpark is consistently praised by locals and travelers alike for its cleanliness, affordable prices and stellar skyline views. Recent visitors with kids especially liked that there is ample grass space for children to play on and spots where families can spread out blankets to enjoy the game. Reviewers also reported that the crowd and staff are friendly and fun.
... more
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