Indianapolis, colloquially known as Indy, is the most populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana and also its capital. Choosing Indy as your traveling destination is definitely a great idea because the city offers world-class attractions, amazing restaurants, and great neighborhoods open to be explored. Although quite small, Indianapolis also has some beautiful sights and wonders to be discovered, so if you are able to stop by for only 24 hours, there are still plenty of things to unwrap. This is a short guide that will help you find your best entertainment options while visiting this city, even if only for one day.
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What’s the best time to visit Indianapolis?
The best time to visit Indy is at the end of spring and the beginning of fall. This is when the weather is at its best and you can feel free to savor all of the city’s activities. You can book a ticket to a concert venue, visit your favorite museum, or walk through Indy’s peaceful parks. Since Indianapolis sees such extreme polar weather conditions (it can get super cold in the winter and very hot in the summer), your best bet is picking a month where the cold and heat balance each other out. So, September through November and May are your optimal months to visit Indy.
If, however, you’re here for Indy’s major events, you might want to look at different dates for your plane ticket.
The most important events to check out in the winter are:
– Christmas at the Zoo, during Christmas. Great for kids. Enjoyable due to Indy’s hot drink season, festive choral music, and awesome train rides.
– IPL Yuletide Celebration. Enjoy a true Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Christmas.
– Carmel Christkindlmarkt, during Christmas. A European Christmas market worth seeing.
Events during spring:
– The Indianapolis 500. Features Race Day and the Miller Lite Carb Day. The IPL 500 Festival Parade is also popular.
– The Indiana State Fair. Amusement park rides and concerts, fair food.
– Fourth of July. Always fun to explore.
– Symphony on the Prairie. Listen to soothing classical music and watch a fantastic firework show.
– Concert at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center. The coolest and biggest music venue in the state of Indiana. You could see Future, Coldplay, Blink 182, etc. LIVE.
– Watch any Indianapolis Colts Game.
– Get the Headless Horseman experience, a yearly tradition.
A few facts about Indianapolis:
If you’re excited about coming to Indy, here are some facts that’ll excite you even more. Did you know that Indianapolis replaced Corydon as the state capital in the year 1821 and that it is the largest major U.S. city not located on a navigable river? The White River passing through Indy is too shallow for that.
Indy also features the third largest cemetery in the United States, encompassing 555 acres. Here, John Dillinger, Whitcomb Riley, and Benjamin Harrison are all buried. On the bright side of things, Indy also features the largest Children’s Museum in the world and The Slipper Noodle Inn, one of the city’s most popular bars!
Indy is also called the “crossroads of America” because it has the most interstate legs in the U.S. Here, Elvis Presley held his last concert; the venue was called the Market Square Arena and was demolished in 1977. And if you’re visiting Indy, you must see Eagle Creek Park! It is one of the largest municipal parks in the country.
Don’t forget to take another look at the major events happening in different seasons. Indy’s most beautiful when it is celebrating!
One Day in Indianapolis Itinerary:
The coolest thing about spending only 24 hours in a city is that you get to experience everything at once! From local cuisine, to nightlife, and sights, everything is presented to you on the spot. This makes your trip even more spontaneous and intense, turning one day into a great learning experience. Take our advice on how to spend one day in Indy and have a blast.
Start with a visit to the Children’s Museum
You’d regret not visiting this beautiful museum if you’re visiting Indy. With kids or not, this place is a must-see because of its family vibe and cool dinosaurs.
Walking through the aisles you might feel like a child again; and it’s worth it. P.S. – you can learn how to control the snow in a snowstorm!!!
Get breakfast at Milktooth
This is probably one of your best restaurants in the world. Jonathan Brooks, the charming owner, offers amazing traditional breakfast and brunch foods for anyone willing to try. From Dutch pancakes to grilled cheese and potato latkes, you can literally try anything on the menu and be convinced that it’ll taste great.
Walk down Mass Ave
After a tasty breakfast, you’ll want to walk down Mass Ave. Here, you can get a quick taste of the local shops and attractions that Indy has to offer. You can bike all the way from Milktooth to Mass Ave if needed. Make sure you pass by Global Gifts, Silver in the City, The Best Chocolate in Town, and The Flying Cupcake. All of these small, local shops are a must-see.
Choose your tasty lunch
There are plenty of options available for lunch, so your selection palette is not scarce. If you want something traditional, stop by the Indianapolis City Market. You can have anything from vegan to meat-based! Some of the best spots we recommend are Three Carrots, The Spice Box, Circle City Soups, Gomez BBQ, and Mauricio’s Cheesesteak Grill. Don’t forget to pack a delicious snack for later from Twenty-Two Juice or Pat’s Philly Pretzels!
Visit Monument Circle
Your next stop is Monument Circle, where you’ll find out how the Circle City got its nickname. You’ll get to see the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (especially pretty if you’re here during the Christmas season) and will be able to ride through downtown Indy on a horse-drawn carriage!
Explore the Indy Zoo!
Tell your carriage to drop you off at the Indy Zoo, where you can experience more than 31,000 types of plants and 1,400 animals. This is how you’ll burn off some of your energy before heading to the dinner place.
Check out the Canal Walk
Before your dinner, explore the Canal Walk. You won’t regret it. If you’re able to arrive when the sun sets, your day will end more beautifully.
The Canal Walk is a calm, peaceful sidewalk along the White River, so ending your day with a slow walk after such a long day is a must.
Dine at the St. Elmo’s Steak House
You cannot leave Indianapolis before trying its world-famous steakhouse. St. Elmo’s been around for decades and it’s the best dining venue around. Their killer steaks blend well with their shrimp cocktails and spicy sauces! This is a must-try!
After that, head back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. You could wake up early and run to the General American Donut Company on East St. to get a delicious donut before catching your plane.
Where to stay in Indianapolis, Indiana?
Drury Plaza Hotel
9625 North Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46290
While it isn’t exactly located in downtown Indianapolis, Drury Plaza Hotel is nevertheless an excellent place to stay. This beautiful hotel serves a fantastic breakfast, and every room is exceptionally clean, with a private bathroom and a coffee machine. Add to that a jacuzzi and a pool, and you get absolutely everything you need for a pleasant stay.
Ironworks Hotel Indy
2721 East 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46240
You will absolutely love the design of this place because Ironworks Hotel Indy has a unique industrial charm that permeates its every room. But it is in no way lacking in any respect. Quite the contrary – the rooftop lounge will blow you away, and the restaurant is excellent, as well. If you want a special place to stay, this is most certainly it.
50 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Conrad Indianapolis is at the very heart of this beautiful city and boasts five stars and impeccable service. Apart from large rooms and an excellent spa, it also has a great wine tasting bar, so all your senses will be sent into overdrive. The staff really makes you feel welcome here, and you will certainly be getting your money’s worth if you decide to book a room.
4903 Winthrop Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46205
Looking for something more affordable? Indy Hostel will oblige! Bright, clean, and comfortable, it’s everything you could want from a hostel and more. It’s located in a quiet neighborhood, but you’re reasonably close to downtown Indianapolis, which is another big plus. Relax and enjoy your stay!
Day trips from Indianapolis
Should you decide to stay more than one day in Indianapolis, you may be tempted to go on a day trip to see some of the more interesting places in the vicinity. Here are a few suggestions you should definitely keep in mind. more of an explorer, here are some of the best day trips destinations from Indy.
A wonderfully serene place surrounded by lush greenery, Patoka Lake is an ideal destination for your day trip from Indianapolis if you want to take a break from that hectic city life. Take a boat trip or even book a floating cabin to bring this trip to a whole new level.
Shipshewana is something tourists may find quite fascinating because this lovely little town is the heart of Amish Country. Yes, that means carriages pulled by horses and a trip to the past, but don’t miss out on the local food, either. Oh, and they have a huge flea market here, too.
There are plenty of state parks around Indianapolis, so you have plenty of options to choose from if you want to spend your day trip in nature. Brown County is perfect in autumn, Pokagon has plenty of wildlife, and Indiana Dunes are quite a sight to behold. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong.
Marengo Cave is a majestic system of caverns that offers plenty of activities to any visitors. Sure, you can explore all of that with the help of a guide, but you can also mine for gemstones on your own! You will see some fascinating formations and enjoy a wonderful day out.
Your choice should be based on the season in which you’re visiting and the budget you have when arriving. You could plan ahead to worry less when getting here. But nevertheless, don’t forget to have some fun!
Extra tips for visiting Indianapolis:
Here are some of the things you did not know about Indy. It’s time you discover them before your arrival.
– The weather is unpredictable, so make sure you’re packing well.
– The city’s design makes it easy to navigate, so don’t worry about getting lost.
– Public transportation is not very common, but you can walk or bike.
– The local food is one of the best in the U.S.
– Always pick the craft drinks when hanging out at a bar or restaurant!
– This city is beautiful and there’s a giant community to be explored.
– Indies are super friendly and open, so you’ll make friends easily.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.