Top Attractions for First-Timers

Cultural Attractions

Immerse yourself in Indy’s rich history and culture by exploring some of its top museums and architectural landmarks. Visit the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, one of the largest museums of its kind, and check out interactive exhibits focusing on science, world cultures, and the arts. The Indianapolis Museum of Art showcases an impressive collection of works spanning 5,000 years. Architectural buffs will enjoy touring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and the majestic Indiana State Capitol building.

Sporting Events

Indianapolis is synonymous with sport. Experience the thrill of professional auto racing at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Cheer on the Colts NFL team on game day at Lucas Oil Stadium downtown. Baseball fans can catch the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the MLB Pirates, in action. Supercross races, basketball games, golf tournaments, IPL soccer matches, and more also take place year-round.

Nature & Parks

After exploring Indy’s urban highlights, spend some time outdoors in the city’s many green spaces. Hikers, bikers, and paddlers will delight at Eagle Creek Park, one of the country’s largest city parks at over 4,200 acres. Check out unique nature exhibits at the Indianapolis Zoo or stroll through the tranquil Indiana State Fairgrounds. Eagle Creek Park and the fairgrounds offer charming farmers’ markets on weekends.

Food & Drink

Satisfy your appetite at Milktooth, named one of the best restaurants in America. Sample farm-to-table fare, artisanal cheeses, and an extensive wine list. For classic Indianapolis street fare, try a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich or sugar cream pie. Sip local craft beers at Sun King Brewery in downtown. And you can’t leave Indy without trying a famous shrimp cocktail in a chilled glass at St. Elmo Steak House.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Lively nightlife options abound, like rocking out at a concert at Old National Centre or catching a show at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. For an elegant evening out, watch the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra perform at the Hilbert Circle Theatre. If you’re traveling with kids, check out laser tag, mini golf, and go-karts at Grand Park Sports Campus.


From indie boutiques to massive shopping malls, Indianapolis offers retail therapy for all interests. Find something for everyone at Circle Centre Mall or the Fashion Mall at Keystone. Locals head to the hip Mass Ave Arts District to browse independent shops, art galleries, vintage stores, record shops, and more.

The City Zoo

The city zoo is a must-see for animal lovers of all ages. Home to over 2,000 animals across hundreds of species, it provides an immersive experience into wildlife from around the world. Walk through habitats like the African savanna, filled with zebras, giraffes, and rhinos, or the tropical rainforest with colorful birds and monkeys swinging overhead. The zoo has excellent educational displays about the animals and conservation efforts. Be sure to catch one of the daily shows at the amphitheater to see trained seals perform or watch the gorilla families engage in lively play. Give yourself at least 3-4 hours to properly explore all the zoo’s pathways and exhibits.

The Science Museum

Dedicate a day to spark your imagination and discover something new at the massive science museum downtown. Spanning over 10 floors, this interactive museum brings science to life through hundreds of permanent and temporary exhibits. Feel an earthquake simulator, explore aviation and space travel, and get hands-on with physics experiments. The museum is very family-friendly, with lots of activities tailored for kids to get them engaged with science. Adults will also appreciate the fascinating displays on technology, human anatomy, and our planet. Don’t miss seeing the giant IMAX theater onsite as well. With so much to see, it’s easy to spend a whole day immersed in the wonder of science here.

The Botanical Gardens

Spend an afternoon surrounded by beauty and serenity at the sprawling botanical gardens just outside the city. Walking through these themed gardens is a feast for the senses, with vibrant flowers, trees, fountains, and sculptures around every turn. The Japanese garden with its tranquil koi ponds and pagodas is a highlight, as is the beautifully constructed Italian garden. The meticulously curated gardens are ideal for a peaceful stroll or resting on a bench and taking it all in. Visit the tropical greenhouse overflowing with exotic plants and orchids from around the world. The gardens host special events and classes as well for visitors looking for extra activities.

The Historic Battleship

Climb aboard the historic battleship permanently docked along the river downtown to experience a floating naval museum. This battleship saw heavy combat duty during several wars and now serves as a tribute to military history. Take an audio tour of the entire vessel, exploring the crew quarters, kitchen, engines, and most impressively, the upper decks with massive artillery weapons. See aircraft and boats docked on the ship as well, giving you a sense of the scale and scope of naval operations. Make sure to allot 1-2 hours to fully experience this unique museum and get insight into life aboard the historic warship.

The Outdoor Market

For local flavors, arts, crafts and more, you can’t miss the sprawling outdoor market open on weekends downtown. Here you’ll find stands, stalls, and booths set up by local farmers, artists, and craftspeople selling their wares. Sample fresh produce, baked goods, and cuisine from food trucks, peruse handmade jewelry and pottery from artisans, or pick up a unique souvenir. There’s live music and entertainment to enjoy as you browse. Wandering the market is a great way to support small businesses and creators while soaking up the buzzing local vibe. Come hungry and ready to people watch!

The Comedy Club

Get ready for a night of laughs and entertainment at the popular downtown comedy club. This intimate venue hosts stand-up by local up-and-coming comedians as well as nationally touring acts. The fast-paced show sees several comics doing tight 5-10 minute sets, keeping the jokes and punchlines flowing all night. Arrive early to get a seat close to the stage and be prepared for raunchy adult humor – the club doesn’t hold back. Besides the comedy, you can order appetizers and drinks (2 drink minimum) while enjoying the show. Expect a casual, lively vibe and comedy that ranges from clever to controversial. It’s an ideal night out for adults.

The Historic Cemetery

While it may seem an odd choice, the historic cemetery just outside the city offers beautiful grounds to walk through and fascinating history. Established in the 1800s, the cemetery is the final resting place for many significant locals, historic figures, and veterans. Wander past the ornate headstones and mausoleums adorned with stunning architecture and sculptures. Look for graves of the famous as you learn about the city’s past residents and heritage. The cemetery also has a museum onsite featuring exhibits and artifacts found there. It’s a quiet, reflective place to visit and offers a unique lens into the city’s gone-by eras and people.

How to Get Around Indianapolis

Public Transportation

IndyGo operates a network of city buses throughout Indianapolis and its suburbs. While the buses reach most major attractions, routes can be limited on weekends and wait times between buses may be longer outside of peak hours.

Taxis and Rideshares

Taxis can be hailed on the street in downtown areas or scheduled by phone. Popular rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available as well. These options work well for individuals or small groups traveling within the urban core, but pricing for larger groups can add up quickly.

Charter Buses

For larger tour groups, school field trips, corporate outings, and special events, chartering a private bus offers an affordable, convenient transportation solution. With charter bus services from Indianapolis Party Bus, you’ll have a professional team to shuttle your group around the city in a comfortable, spacious vehicle. Call us at 317-678-9118 to reserve a customized bus that fits your group’s needs.

Ready to Get Started?

Now that you know where to go and how to get around, it’s time to start planning your Indianapolis getaway. With so much to see and do in this lively Midwestern city, you’re sure to have an unforgettable visit. Get ready to experience Hoosier hospitality and create wonderful memories during your first time in Indy.