Indianapolis Attractions and Activities
Multiple things exist in Indianapolis that you can enjoy, ranging from festivals for those looking for a celebration to participate in, as well as museums, art galleries, and popular tourist spots, for those seeking to enrich themselves in the knowledge of Indianapolis’ history.
In 1999, Indianapolis designated six cultural districts to capitalize on cultural institutions within historically significant neighborhoods unique to the city’s heritage. These include Broad Ripple Village, Canal and White River State Park, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave, and Wholesale. A seventh cultural district, Market East, was designated in 2014. After 12 years of planning and six years of construction, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick officially opened in 2013. The $62.5 million public-private partnership, spurred by an initial donation of $15 million by builder/philanthropist Gene B. Glick and his wife, resulted in 8 miles of urban bike and pedestrian corridors linking six cultural districts with neighborhoods, IUPUI, and every significant arts, cultural, heritage, sports and entertainment venue downtown.
Indianapolis is home to dozens of annual festivals and events showcasing local culture. Notable events include the “Month of May” (a series of celebrations leading to the Indianapolis 500), Indiana Black Expo, Indiana State Fair, and Historic Irvington Halloween Festival.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest of its kind in the world, offering 433,000 square feet of exhibit space. The museum holds a collection of over 120,000 artifacts, including the Broad Ripple Park Carousel, a National Historic Landmark. Because of its leadership and innovations, the museum is a world leader in its field. Child and Parents magazine have both ranked the museum as the best children’s museum in the U.S. The museum is one of the city’s most popular attractions, with 1.2 million visitors in 2014.
The Indianapolis Zoo is home to nearly 1,400 animals of 214 species and 31,000 plants, including many threatened and endangered species. The zoo is a leader in animal conservation and research, recognized for its biennial Indianapolis Prize designation. It is the only American zoo accredited as a zoo, aquarium, and zoological garden by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is the largest privately funded zoo in the U.S. and one of the city’s most visited attractions, with 1.2 million guests in 2014.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum exhibits an extensive collection of auto racing memorabilia showcasing various motorsports and automotive history. The museum is the permanent home of the Borg-Warner Trophy, presented to Indianapolis 500 winners. Daily grounds and track tours are also based at the museum. The NCAA Hall of Champions opened in 2000 at White River State Park housing collegiate athletic artifacts and interactive exhibits covering all 23 NCAA-sanctioned sports.
Indianapolis is home to several centers commemorating Indiana history. These include the Indiana Historical Society, Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau, Indiana State Museum, and Indiana Medical History Museum. Indiana Landmarks, the largest private statewide historic preservation organization in the U.S., is also located in the city. The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, located in the Old Northside Historic District, is open for daily tours and includes archives and memorabilia from the 23rd President of the United States. President Harrison is buried about 3 miles north of the site at Crown Hill Cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other notable graves include three U.S. Vice Presidents and notorious American gangster, John Dillinger.
Two museums and several memorials in the city commemorate armed forces or conflict, including the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Indiana World War Memorial Military Museum at the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza. Outside of Washington, D.C., Indianapolis contains the largest collection of monuments dedicated to veterans and war casualties in the nation. Other notable sites are the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Crown Hill National Cemetery, the Medal of Honor Memorial, Project 9/11 Indianapolis, and the USS Indianapolis National Memorial.