Top Things to Do in Downtown Indianapolis

to do in downtown indianapolis

Indianapolis is a city where you can experience the beauty of all four seasons. In other words, it’s always an exciting time to visit the Circle City, especially if you take in some of these fantastic attractions during your stay. Besides heading to Giordano’s for some authentic Italian food, you might find the below are among the best attractions in downtown Indianapolis to consider during your visit.

Sports in Indianapolis

Sports are an important tradition in the Hoosier state, with a healthy representation of professional and semi-professional sports teams. And, of course, there is the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 races take place each year, along with a variety of other motorsports events. Check out these fun teams:

  • Indianapolis Colts: The Indianapolis Colts are the National Football League team representing Indianapolis, and you can watch games at the state-of-the-art Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Stadium also hosts to a variety of conferences and events throughout the year.
  • Indiana Pacers and Fever: Basketball fans appreciate the opportunity to watch the Indiana Pacers play at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, located on Pennsylvania Street in downtown Indy. The Women’s National Basketball Association is also well represented in Indianapolis with the Indiana Fever, who also play at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
  • Indy Eleven: Additionally, Indianapolis is home to the professional soccer team the Indy Eleven. The Indy Eleven play at the Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium, located on the IUPUI campus in downtown Indy.
  • Indy Fuel: While Indiana may not have a major league ice hockey team, hockey fans will welcome the opportunity to watch minor league Indy Fuel hockey games at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Indy Fuel team is affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks organization and is a welcomed addition to the local sports lineup.
  • Indianapolis Indians: Indianapolis is also home to the Indianapolis Indians, a minor league baseball team in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization playing at Victory Field on Maryland Street in Indianapolis.

You have your pick of sports to enjoy, in every season, in the downtown Indianapolis area. Make sure you bring your best fan gear with you to enjoy the game — whatever your game may be — when you visit Indy.

Museums in the Circle City

Indianapolis is a city with a sincere appreciation of arts and culture and an abundance of museums to share with locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re taking a day to enjoy some of these offerings as a resident or visiting from out of town, you’ll find these museums are perfect additions to your itinerary.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum

A world-class museum by any standard, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum offers a wealth of experiences for young and old alike to appreciate. In addition to several permanent exhibits, a variety of traveling ones are on display at any time. This hands-on museum encourages children to explore science, history, culture and art in a way to stimulate their imagination.

The NCAA Hall of Champions

Located on West Washington Street in Indianapolis, the NCAA Hall of Champions features a variety of interactive exhibits on two full levels of the museum. The goal is to provide visitors with a better understanding of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the 1,000-plus colleges participating in this organization. The museum offers interactive exhibits designed to intrigue and engage visitors as well as video highlights and artifacts donated from the many colleges around the country representing the NCAA.

Indiana State Museum

Located in the White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum is a wonderful place to visit at any age. The museum offers a variety of interesting exhibits, including Heroes from the Heartland, Science at Play and many others that include mementos from the natural history of Indiana, such as geologic, geographic, archaeological and paleontological objects. Other core galleries include cultural artifacts related to Indiana, such as Civil War relics, Stutz automobiles, Abraham Lincoln history and RCA televisions.

authentic italian food in downtown indianapolis

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art offers an extensive selection of visual arts and artifacts to celebrate the indigenous people of America. It’s the only museum of its kind located in the American Midwest, and one of only two museums east of the Mississippi River celebrating both American Western Art and Native Americans. Not only does the Eiteljorg offer educational exhibits and stunning art, but it also features a shop where you can buy unique items to give as gifts or to keep for yourself.

Performances and Performing Art in Indianapolis

In addition to the cultural experiences you’ll find in area museums and the large variety of sports available in Indianapolis, you’ll also discover abundant opportunities to enjoy and appreciate the performing arts. From nightclubs and the local nightlife to more family-friendly venues, the Circle City is well represented when it comes to performing arts.

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Since 1930, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) has delighted music lovers from across the state with performances of timeless as well as modern classics. With performances scheduled throughout the year in a variety of venues, the ISO continues to delight fans of every music genre with stunning performances and guest artists.

Indianapolis Repertory Theatre

The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, IRT for short, features a host of performances throughout the year, which are sure to delight people of all ages, including the annual production of “A Christmas Carol” during the holiday season. While the offerings vary from year to year, the theatre presents an opportunity to explore a range of quality theatrical productions throughout the year.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

The Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre is located near the Pyramids at College Park on Michigan Road. In addition to the traditional theatre schedule filled with big-name productions, Beef & Boards also features at least two shows each season designed to appeal to children in the audience. Resident actors perform the shows. The performances at Beef & Boards in Indianapolis vary from year to year but have included:

  • “Guys and Dolls”
  • “Singing in the Rain”
  • “Annie”
  • “Mama Mia”
  • “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

sports in downtown indianapolis

Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Home to a variety of events as well as the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a venue to enjoy with a selection of popular musician performances, sporting events, conferences, charity events, comedy shows, and more. It’s always a highlight to see what’s going on at the Fieldhouse if you’re in town for a meeting, shopping or just to get away.

Murat Theatre at Old National Centre

Commonly referred to by locals as the Murat Theatre, Old National Centre hosts a nice selection of performances throughout the year. With acts like Eddie Izzard, hit musicals such as “Jersey Boys,” holiday performances like Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker,” “A Christmas Story: The Musical” and performances by Straight No Chaser, there is much to love at Old National Centre throughout the year.

Shopping in Downtown Indy

Shopping is a favorite pastime of visitors and locals alike — and downtown Indianapolis does not disappoint.

Circle Centre Mall

The Circle Centre Mall is the cornerstone of shopping in the downtown area. The following stores are just a sampling of the fan favorites you’ll find in this valued shopping destination:

  • Aeropostale
  • Aldo
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Banana Republic
  • Bath and Body Works
  • Brookstone
  • Carson’s
  • Clarks
  • Collectors Den
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Forever 21
  • Hot Topic
  • Journeys
  • Lids
  • Lucky Brand
  • Oakley
  • J. Maxx
  • Teavana
  • Tervis
  • The Children’s Place
  • Torrid
  • Victoria’s Secret

Mass Avenue Shopping

The Circle Centre Mall isn’t the only game in town when it comes to shopping in the downtown Indy area. In fact, there is a treasure trove of boutique shops, including those located along Mass Ave., which is a haven for unique finds, including specialty items at the following stores:

  • City Dogs Grocery: Where you can discover special food, treats, toys and supplies for cats and dogs alike.
  • The Flying Cupcake: Offering 25 cupcake choices daily, including vegan and gluten-free options.
  • Global Gifts: Specializing in fair trade goods and foods from 40 countries across the globe.
  • Crimson Tate Modern Quilter: Boasting a wide variety of quilting fabrics, patterns and notions along with classes on quilting.
  • Sage: A women’s clothing boutique offering unique jewelry, clothing, and accessories.

theater in downtown indianapolis

Gift Shops

The downtown area of Indianapolis offers an abundance of shopping experiences and opportunities from mass retail stores to boutique shops and unique, one-of-a-kind shops as well. There is a little something for everyone interested in shopping in Indy.

Of course, this doesn’t cover all the neat little shopping opportunities in the downtown area, and you shouldn’t forget to check out the gift shops at local venues and museums for fun items to give yourself, your friends and your family. This includes gift shops at:

  • Indiana Repertory Theatre
  • Indiana State Museum
  • Indianapolis Children’s Museum
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • Indianapolis Zoo
  • Eiteljorg Museum Shop

The Great Outdoors in Downtown Indy

While Indianapolis doesn’t have a Central Park like New York City, it does prevent vistas of green amongst the various attractions in downtown Indianapolis, including some of the following:

  • Gondola Rides on the Canal: Looking for a romantic adventure in Indianapolis? Consider a gondola ride on the canal. While this is a seasonal activity to enjoy in the Indy outdoors, it’s one that can add a little romance to your downtown Indy adventure.
  • Carriage Rides: Especially popular during the holiday season, but offered year-round, carriage rides enable you to enjoy beautiful downtown Indianapolis by horse-drawn carriage. As you clip-clop around the city, you can enjoy Indy’s most popular statues, landmarks, art exhibits, Historic Lockerbie Square district, or Canal Walk Overlook in a classic or lighted carriage.
  • White River State Park: Covering 250 acres inside the city, White River State Park offers a variety of attractions to consider for an afternoon or even a weekend. Among the attractions you can enjoy at White River State Park are paddle boat rides, bike rides — bring your own or participate in the rideshare program at the park — outdoor concerts, and Segway tours.
  • Indianapolis Zoo: The Indianapolis Zoo is a prime attraction for young and old visitors to the area. It was the first in the nation to be accredited not only as a zoo but also as an aquarium and botanical garden. In addition to the standard animals and exhibits you expect to enjoy when visiting the zoo, there are some zoo encounters unique to the Indianapolis Zoo, including Animal Art Adventures, Dolphin In-Water Adventures, and Family Experiences.
  • The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an eight-mile bike and pedestrian path running through various cultural districts in downtown Indianapolis. The trail includes more than 11 acres of trail pavers, eight different paths and bike-share opportunities.

Downtown Indianapolis Nightlife

The nightlife in Indianapolis has a lot to offer people from all walks of life. From live blues music to jazz and comedy clubs, it has a little bit for everyone. Some of the hottest nightclubs and bars in downtown Indy include:

  • Subterra Lounge: This Indianapolis martini lounge and dance club features live music as well as DJs. Latin Night is always popular with the guests, and there is plenty to enjoy about this club featuring an exotic décor and fun atmosphere.
  • The Vogue: Once a movie house with quite a reputation, The Vogue is now home to a variety of dance parties, concerts, burlesque shows and bars. The calendar is full and eclectic with acts ranging from Bluegrass to ‘90s dance music and all points in between. Guests can even reserve VIP tables for the evening.
  • Chatterbox Jazz Club: Located on Indy’s Mass Ave., Chatterbox Jazz Club is an intimate bar with a décor best described as, well, different. The Chatterbox features live jazz music from local talent seven nights a week and is a real boon for true jazz lovers in Indy and surrounding areas.

Giordanos in downtown indianapolis

Plan the Perfect Day in Downtown Indianapolis

Whether your interests lie in taking in the nightlife or daylight in Indy, you’ll have plenty of activities and points of interest to keep you busy throughout your stay. You’re also likely to work up quite an appetite with all your downtown Indy wandering.

Don’t forget to take a break and grab a bite to eat at Giordano’s in downtown Indianapolis. The menu is extensive and features a variety of foods, including Giordano’s famous stuffed pizza, hand-stretched thin crust pizza, salads, sandwiches and cannolis. Of course, this is in addition to standard Italian fare such as chicken parmesan, lasagna, spaghetti and fettuccine alfredo.

Located at 43 North Illinois Street in Indianapolis, Giordano’s is convenient to all the activities you’re sure to enjoy in the downtown Indy area. Whether you’re attending sporting events, visiting museums, taking in the trails, or giving your credit cards a workout at all the great shops, you’ll find a warm welcome and delicious food when you stop for a bite at Giordano’s.