Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

#3 in Best Things To Do in Indianapolis
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum picture
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Key Info

4790 West 16th St


Sports Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
  • 4.0Value
  • 4.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

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).

Even if you only consider yourself a casual NASCAR or automobile history fan, you should make time to visit this National Historic Landmark, according to recent visitors. Aside from the sheer volume of memorabilia, travelers were also impressed with the friendly and knowledgeable staff. Reviewers said you should set aside a few hours to comb through the museum grounds, and if you're willing to fork over the extra cash, opt into the grounds tour. IMS also offers a bus tour around the track, but reviews were mixed; some enjoyed the experience, but others were disappointed the tour narration was provided by a pre-recorded tape and not a staff member. Some travelers also felt the tour would've been more interesting if guests could hop on and off the bus to explore more of the track.

Entrance to the museum costs $10 for adults and $5 for youths between the ages of 6 and 15; tickets cost $2 for children 5 and younger. If you want to take a 2.5-mile lap around the track in an IMS bus (which includes narration), you'll have to fork over another $8 for each adult and $5 for each child. And if you came for the full IMS experience, consider opting for a grounds tour. Though pricier than the other offered experiences ($30 for adults; $12 for children), the 60- to 90-minute guided tour allows visitors to see the oval track and stand on the start/finish line, plus a behind-the-scenes look at the media center, the victory platform and the garage area, among other highlights. It also includes admission to the museum. Tour times and dates vary depending on weather conditions and speedway events, but the museum is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. From March through October, the museum welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; it's open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through February. You'll find the museum about 5 miles northwest of downtown Indy. Parking is free.

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Time to Spend
#1 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.

Whatever mode of transport you choose, you'll enjoy a spectacular view of the Indianapolis skyline, not to mention a 17-foot waterfall, some of the city's best contemporary architecture, and memorials to the U.S.S. Indianapolis and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Keep your eye out for colorful murals on the canal underpasses, too. According to recent visitors, this is the spot for quiet relaxation in Indy. Aside from the peaceful atmosphere, travelers also love how clean the area is, calling the Central Canal an "asset to Indiana." 

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