Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Indianapolis | Midwest Living

Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Indianapolis

1) Soldiers and Sailors Monument Anchoring the heart of Indianapolis on Monument Circle, this 284-foot limestone spire is the tallest Civil War monument in the nation. For a few bucks, you can ride a tiny elevator to the observation deck for a 360-degree view of downtown. (Or if you’re feeling strong, climb the 330 steps to the top.) Each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, locals flood Monument Circle to see this landmark transform into a gigantic Christmas tree draped in holiday lights and decorations. (317) 232-7615;

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2) The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park: 100 Acres This former quarry has become a place to admire modern art among woodlands, meadows, wetlands and a lake. Seasonal guided tours run on weekends. (317) 923-1331; 

3) Bluebeard The price tag for dinner and drinks at this local culinary darling can add up, but fresh salads, farm-to-table lunch options, and small plates like assorted pickles, butter-dipped radishes and charcuterie provide more affordable ways to nibble. Try a basket of baked-on-site breads with whipped lard, anchovy butter and garlic oil to spread on top. (317) 686-1580;

4) White River State Park Time your visit to coincide with the first Tuesday of each month, when you can get into popular park attractions like the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the NCAA Hall of Champions at discounted admission prices. (800) 665-9056;

5) Sun King Brewing Company Sample some of Indy’s finest craft beer during free tasting hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the downtown warehouse headquarters. The house beers are always flowing—Sunlight Cream Ale, Osiris Pale Ale and Wee Mac Scottish Brown. Beyond that, you never know what crazy-flavor seasonals might show up. Don’t forget your growler. (317) 602-3702; 

Photo courtesy of Sun King Brewing Company

6) The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis With one-day admission running $18.50 for kids and $22.50 for adults, taking the whole family to the world’s largest children’s museum isn’t cheap. Plan to go on the first Thursday of each month from 4 to 8 p.m., when Target sponsors Free Family Nights. The museum can get crowded, but you’ll still find plenty of time and room to maneuver through the Dinosphere and Scienceworks exhibits and the new toddler Playscape. (317) 334-3322; 

Photo courtesy of Lavengood Photography

7) Bazbeaux Pizza One of the best lunch deals in town; your choice of hot-out-of-the-oven slices, a side salad and a soft drink costs about $5. We like the sausage pizza and the house-made creamy basil salad dressing. The food, family-friendly vibe and funky decor make Bazbeaux a local fave. Three locations;

8) IDADA First Friday gallery tour Indy (and indie) hipsters turn out in droves on the first Friday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m. when a couple of dozen Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association members host free open houses. Throw on something black, sip a little wine and wander the galleries to see great local art on this self-guided tour; many of the artists attend to talk about their work.

9) City Market Local food vendors, producers and businesses pack this year-round marketplace with tempting sights and smells. Reasonably priced coffee, baked goods, Indiana beer, artisanal cheeses, meats, crepes, pizza, cookies, potato chips, juice, chocolates—if you can’t find something appealing here, there’s just no hope for you. The building that houses it all dates to 1886, and on the first and third Saturdays of the month, you can get $12 tours of the mysterious catacombs underneath. (317) 634-9266;

10) Devour Downtown For a couple of weeks each summer and winter, several dozen of Indy’s best restaurants roll out three-course prix-fixe menus for $30 a head. Locals mark their calendars for this promotion; it’s a great opportunity to test-drive newer hotspots, such as Cerulean or Bluebeard, or revisit old favorites like St. Elmo Steak House and the Columbia Club for much less than you’d pay off the regular menu. Some eateries even offer dinner for two for $30! (317) 673-4211;