Indianapolis Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in IndianapolisWhere to Stay
Downtown hotels make it easy to get around and visitors will find the usual name brand hotels and luxury high-rise hotels. Staying downtown makes it convenient to visit nearby attractions such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Victory Field, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Zoo and NCAA Hall of Champions. Train aficionados may enjoy staying in an authentic Pullman train car guest room at the Crown Plaza Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. For more intimate stays, there are plenty of bed and breakfast options in walkable neighborhoods near downtown as well.
Caution: Union Station operates as an active train station, so guests at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis at Union Station will hear the muffled rumblings of trains regularly passing through.
What to Eat
With a diverse roster of residential areas, from downtown's quaint Lockerbie Square to retro Fountain Square to funky Broad Ripple not far from downtown, Indianapolis has many dining destinations. St. Elmo Steak House has been a landmark in downtown Indianapolis since 1902 and popular among visitors and locals. Just a quick 15-minute drive north from downtown is the Broad Ripple Village which is lined with a range of great restaurants from casual to fine dining. For a more artistic dining scene, head southeast of downtown to Fountain Square where diners will have a world of restaurants options to enjoy.
Take It or Leave It: The wine cellar at St. Elmo Steak House holds more than 15,000 bottles.
Hot Tips: Downtown has more than 200 restaurants within walking distance.
Things to See
Indianapolis is known as the racing capital of the world because it's host to three of the world's highest-attended single-day events: the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400 and the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race. Professional sports are big here with the Indiana Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts. The city also boasts the world’s largest children’s museum among its many attractions. To enjoy the outdoors, check out Central Canal. The one-and-a-half mile long Central Canal offers locals and visitors alike access to gondola rides, pedal boats and bicycles of all kinds to rent.The Indianapolis Zoo is near downtown, too.
Avoid: Entering the Indianapolis Zoo parking right when it opens on a day that school kids are out. You may wait up to an hour to get in.
Take It or Leave It: At the center of Indianapolis is Monument Circle, which is how it got its name "Circle City".
Places to Party
Live music is a popular nightlife activity in Indianapolis. Located in the city's oldest standing commercial building, Slippery Noodle offers live blues music every night of the week. Head to Naptown for good, live, local music. Birdy’s Bar & Grill on the border of Broad Ripple and Glendale is one of the best small venues in the city to hear live music and doubles as a bartending school. Big Car Gallery in Fountain Square stages painting, sculpture and photography exhibitions, spoken-word jams, and live local music. Live theatre is plentiful and available at almost every corner in the city, too.
Take It or Leave It: Naptown is short for IndiaNAPolis.
Where to Shop
Shopping is as equally diverse as the neighborhoods in Indianapolis with a character all their own. Head to Broad Ripple Village for eclectic and trendy; Massachusetts Avenue (or Mass Ave as it’s called by locals) for artsy and independent shops; Fountain Square for vintage and unique. For larger malls, head to Castelton Square Mall or Circle Centre Mall located in downtown Indianapolis.
Best Local Souvenir: A piece of Indianapolis Motor Speedway asphalt.
Ready for Your Dream Vacation?
After an extensive beautification project that began in the 1980s, Indianapolis has evolved into a flourishing hub for industry, commerce, sports and entertainment. The capital of Indiana is a city full of superlative attributes. It has been voted "One of America's Best Places to Live and Work," ranked among the best cities for small business, and cited as an optimal choice among meeting planners. The city is known for hosting two of the largest single-day sporting events, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. It is also home to the NFL Colts and the NBA Pacers. Tourists are drawn to such famous sites as the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Zoo and Lucas Oil Stadium. Other popular spots to visit include Circle Center, which is the hallmark of the downtown area, and the Canal Walk, which allows visitors to navigate through scenic parks, gardens and trails. Plan a trip and prepare to enjoy a few days of good ole Hoosier hospitality.