The Cultural Experience
Whether you like outdoorsy activities or you’re a “shop ‘til you drop” day-tripper or you enjoy learning about art, history, flora and fauna—there is something special in Indy for you. We’ve outlined several Indy-style experiences with fun and worthwhile
sites to see, as well as places to eat.
The New York Times named Indianapolis among its 52 Places to Go in 2014, citing the new $63 million Indianapolis Cultural Trail (indyculturaltrail.org), consisting of an eight-mile walkable and bike-friendly pathway that connects five downtown historical neighborhoods. You can pedal through town by taking advantage of Indy’s Bike Share program, which launched in May. Additionally, Indy offers an abundance of world-class museums, sports venues, parks, hotels, restaurants and nightlife. You can even travel back in time with an elegant horse-drawn carriage tour (indycarriage.com) of picturesque downtown Indy.
Tops on any list when in Indy, no matter your age, is the world-class Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens (indyzoo.com), which is visited by more than a million guests each year. Acclaimed aquarium and dolphin shows are held daily. The zoo plays a major role in worldwide conservation. Animals are grouped in biomes that closely resemble their native habitats. There’s always something in bloom at the 3.3 acre White River Gardens, included with regular zoo admission. The Indianapolis Zoo has partnered with Riley Children’s Hospital to develop healthy food options and posts some allergens and menu ingredients on the zoo website.
Indianapolis is also home to some wonderful museums for children, historians, sports buffs and connoisseurs of the fine arts.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (childrensmuseum.org) is the largest of its kind in the world, with nearly 475,000 square feet. Five floors of exhibits are designed to be interactive, allowing children to participate and explore. In the popular Dinosphere, kids discover the clues that helped scientists learn about dinosaurs, along with special fossil specimens. This museum recently earned the top spot in the Best Museum for Families category in a readers’ choice poll conducted by USA Today and 10best.com. Its food court focuses on sustainable foods and includes allergy-friendly options.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art (imamuseum.org), founded in 1883, is among the ten largest and oldest general art museums in the nation, housing more than 54,000 works spanning 5,000 years. On the IMA grounds are also a year-round historic greenhouse and the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands and meadows. The IMA Cafe offers a number of gluten-free, allergy-friendly options.
The unique Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (eiteljorg.org) houses an extensive collection of Western American and Native American art, paintings and sculptures. The museum’s Mihtohseenionki gallery explores Indiana’s indigenous peoples—the Delaware, Miami and Potawatomi—through preserved rare objects, historical photos and interactive displays. Although the museum cafe does not offer allergy-friendly options, many other dining options are available close by.
The Indiana State Museum (indianamuseum.org) tracks the history of Indiana from dinosaurs up to the Civil War, World War II and the present. In a beautiful, modern setting along the picturesque Whitewater Canal, the museum also has a sculpture walk dedicated to the 92 counties of Indiana, an IMAX theater and a gift shop with unique Indiana-related souvenirs and memorabilia. The Farmer’s Market Cafe at the ISM features foods from the heartland and has several allergy-friendly options.
Besides these gems, there are more museums in and around the Indy metro area to suit just about every interest.
-Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (indymoca.org)
-James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home (rileykids.org/about/riley_museum)
-Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (connerprairie.org)
-Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum (indianapolismotorspeedway.com/facility/35204-Museum)
-NCAA Hall of Champions (ncaahallofchampions.org)
Next: Where to Eat Nearby