Sports are a big deal in the capital city—consider the Indy 500, the Colts, the Pacers, the Fever and the NCAA Hall of Champions. But explore cultural destinations, too, including art, history and children’s museums. Check out our guide for what to see, where to eat and where to stay in Indianapolis.

By The editors of
March 20, 2013

Due to possible coronavirus-related travel restrictions, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.


Broad Ripple Village This ethnically diverse area has an array of cafes, art galleries, brewpubs and indie shops.

The Children's Museum of IndianapolisThe world’s largest children’s museum added a $38.5 million sports-theme expansion with 15 experiences, including a mini Colts football field and Indy 500 pedal cars. Also new: a Jurassic Paleo Prep Lab inside Dinosphere.

Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center At the Indiana Experience, visitors investigate the state via interactive stage sets, a multimedia theater and touchscreens. The cabaret-style Cole Porter Room focuses on the Hoosier’s life and his music.

Indianapolis Cultural Trail The 8-mile bike/pedestrian path links six cultural districts, each with its own personality. Public art installations, such as the Glick Peace Walk, make the trail even better. Guided tours focus on topics such as the local food scene.

Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery Veteran Travis Barnes serves drinks named after the military phonetic alphabet (Victor Vodka, Romeo Rum) in a barnlike tasting room with exposed beams.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fans consider the 110-year-old home of the Indy 500 a pilgrimage site. On nonrace days, zip down the track in a car reaching up to 180 mph. The speedway’s museum displays race vehicles and organizes tours.

Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields Take a guided tour of the permanent collection or come for special exhibits such as Edward Hopper and the American Hotel (opening June 2020).

Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens Set aside a few hours to explore the five biomes. Book ahead for an Animal Art Adventure if you’d like to work with an animal to create a painting.

Indiana State Museum Exhibits inspire appreciation for the state’s natural and cultural history. Explore an ice age-era cave or try loading a Conestoga wagon.

Massachusetts Avenue Alfresco dining options, comedy clubs, art galleries, theaters and live-music venues make it easy to plan dinner and a show.

Massachusetts Avenue

NCAA Hall of Champions Two levels of exhibits let you test your athletic abilities as well as your knowledge of NCAA sports.

Monument Circle In the heart of downtown, the space around the 284-foot-tall Soldiers and Sailors monument draws events such as Monumental Yoga, held on the summer solstice.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Sun King Brewery Tours of the brewing facility downtown include samples of five beers, a souvenir glass and entertaining stories about the biggest player in Indy’s craft beer scene.

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park: 100 Acres Modern works—like Los Carpinteros’ Free Basket—dot the former quarry’s woodlands and meadows along the west side of the Newfields art campus.

White River State Park Follow the path along the canal as it flows past some of the city’s top attractions, including the zoo, Victory Field, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the NCAA Hall of Champions. Rent bikes or pedal boats, or take a gondola ride.

White River State Park. Photo: Courtesy of


Beholder Jonathan Brooks’ Milktooth is Indy’s holy grail of breakfast. At his sophomore restaurant, the chef’s inventiveness shines in dishes like grilled cucumber salad tossed in vinaigrette of the cuke’s charred skin.

Bluebeard The farm-to-table menu changes daily but might feature salmon with broccoli rabe or chicken with cashew-and-caper berry relish served in a renovated 1924 factory warehouse.

Bru Burger Bar Order one of more than a dozen chef-inspired burger variations, including the namesake with toppings like Taleggio cheese and onion.

Cafe Patachou Local ingredients star in the lineup of omelets, waffles and Broken Yolk Sandwiches (fried eggs with add-ons).

The Cake Bake Shop Elegant sweet treats and a storybook atmosphere draw diners to the Broad Ripple shop and a new location in Carmel.

Harry and Izzy's The younger, less-expensive sister of St. Elmo Steak House has an upscale atmosphere with rich wood interiors and items like a prime rib sandwich with horseradish sauce.

The Libertine Liquor Bar Prohibition-era cocktails stand out, along with gourmet small plates. Try the signature deviled eggs flavor trio or the bacon flight served with homemade sauces.

Meridian Restaurant and Bar Candlelight brightens wood rafters above diners enjoying an eclectic mix of dishes, including wild boar and duck leg confit.

Milktooth Breakfast is serious business here: no decaf coffee and no modifications allowed. We loved the Dutch baby pancake with roasted apples, lemon caramel and whipped sour cream.

Public Greens The menu changes based on what's growing in the adjacent garden at Indy's first restaurant in which all profits help feed at-risk and food-insecure children.

Public Greens

Rathskeller The menu at this grand old place is authentically German. A seasonal outdoor biergarten adds to the enjoyment.

Shapiro's Delicatessen The 110-year-old family-owned spot continues to churn out fist-thick corned beef, pastrami and brisket sandwiches. Try the coconut cream pie for dessert.

St. Elmo Steak House Filet mignon and spicy shrimp cocktail have stood the test of time at this special-occasion landmark.

Tinker Street Restaurant and Wine Bar Savor fare like shrimp and grits and a delectable s’mores pot de créme in a brick building on the outskirts of downtown.

Ukiyo Try sushi, homemade ramen and Japanese-inspired dishes, such as pork katsu with local pork loin, in a small, contemporary space in South Broad Ripple.

Vida A hydroponic wall of greens shows off the restaurant’s commitment to fresh ingredients. The tasting menu lets you sample creations like lobster terrine.


The Alexander Works curated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art decorate the lobby of this 209-room boutique hotel. Try seafood and pastas at the hotel’s new Nesso Coastal Italian restaurant.

Conrad Indianapolis All rooms feature plush bedding and marble in the bathrooms, but if you want to splurge, book one of four suites with original art by Picasso, Dalí and Warhol. 

JW Marriott Indianapolis Guests at this 33-story blue-glass behemoth enjoy easy access to downtown.

Le Méridien Indianapolis The 100-room 1928 hotel sports a modern palette of black, white and gray. Kick back with a cocktail in the Spoke and Steele restaurant.

Omni Severin Hotel The attention to service starts at the entrance, where bellmen welcome guests by name and offer them a bottle of water. Crystal chandeliers and marble staircases in the public areas recall the hotel's 1913 elegance, but the 424 rooms are thoroughly updated.

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