Planning a trip to the Hoosier State? Be sure to spend some time in bustling Downtown Indianapolis. Encompassing Mile Square and several smaller historic neighborhoods, Indianapolis’s city center is packed with historic sites, excellent museums, and a buzzing nightlife.
Centered around the majestic Indiana Statehouse, Downtown Indy is home to some incredible museums that explore the state’s rich history. Delve into Indiana’s past, present, and future at the Indiana State Museum or journey back to the old American West at the Eiteljorg Museum.
Unwind in the beautiful surroundings of White River State Park or the Indianapolis Canal Walk, treat yourself to an evening of the arts at the historic Old National Centre, or catch the Indianapolis Colts in action at the Lucas Oil Stadium. Whether you’re a history buff, a sports fan, or a patron of the arts, Downtown Indianapolis promises to delight!
Ready to explore the heart of Indiana’s capital city? Plan your adventure with this in-depth guide for what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay in Downtown Indianapolis!
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What to see & do in Downtown Indianapolis
Indiana War Memorial & Museum
Pay tribute to the brave men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces at the Indiana War Memorial & Museum. Set on East Michigan Street, this historic landmark stands as a symbol of honor, remembrance, and gratitude for the sacrifices made by Indiana’s military personnel throughout history.
The centerpiece of the Indiana War Memorial & Museum is the grand Indiana War Memorial Building, an architectural masterpiece that dominates the city skyline. Designed by the renowned architect Paul Cret, this vast Neoclassical building creates an awe-inspiring sight with its towering columns and ornate sculptures.
Explore exhibits and galleries that chronicle the military history of Indiana and its servicemen and women. From the Civil War to present-day operations, Indiana War Memorial & Museum highlights Indiana’s contributions to the nation’s defense and the personal stories of those who served.
After your visit, meander through the beautifully landscaped gardens, walkways, and memorials dedicated to specific military units, conflicts, and individuals. Take time to reflect on the sacrifices and bravery of the armed forces at the USS Indianapolis Memorial, the World War Memorial Plaza, and the American Legion Mall.
Whether you’re a history buff or a lover of incredible architecture, the Indiana Statehouse will leave an indelible mark! Standing in the heart of the Mile Square area of Downtown Indianapolis, this magnificent architectural and historical landmark serves as the state of Indiana’s government seat.
Designed by architect Edwin May in the Greek Revival style, the Indiana Statehouse has a striking exterior with a central domed rotunda flanked by wings and intricate carvings. You can’t help but stand in awe of the building’s imposing and dignified presence.
Explore the beautiful interiors and the inner workings of the Indiana Statehouse on a guided tour. Venture into various chambers and halls that house the legislative offices and meeting spaces. Get a glimpse into the state’s political history and the functioning of the government in the House of Representatives Chamber, the Senate Chamber, and the Governor’s Office.
Stroll around the beautifully landscaped gardens after your tour and admire the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a tribute to the fallen soldiers of Indiana.
Celebrate the art, history, and culture of the American West at the fascinating Eiteljorg Museum. Home to a rich collection of artwork, artifacts, and engaging exhibitions, the museum is one of the premier museums of its kind and one of Indianapolis’s must-see attractions.
Founded in 1989 by philanthropist Harrison Eiteljorg, the museum’s striking architecture harmoniously blends elements of Western and Native American aesthetics, reflecting the spirit of the American West. Inside the Eiteljorg Museum, you’ll find captivating exhibits that showcase the cultural heritage of Native American tribes and highlight the stories of the American West.
Wander through the Western Art Galleries and admire masterpieces by renowned artists depicting the landscapes, wildlife, and people of the American West. Don’t miss the dedicated gallery space that focuses on the diverse cultures and artistic expressions of Native American tribes with its intricate beadwork, vibrant textiles, and ceremonial objects.
Stroll through the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, a beautiful outdoor space surrounding the Eiteljorg Museum. Scenic landscapes dotted with art installations offer a tranquil place to enjoy quiet moments.
Indiana State Museum
Want to explore some Hoosier history? Head to the Indiana State Museum to better understand and appreciate Indiana’s past, present, and future. As the state’s official museum, this dynamic institution boasts diverse exhibits and interactive experiences for all ages.
Blending seamlessly with its surroundings, the museum’s striking design features a unique exterior with rock formations and flowing waters reflecting Indiana’s geological history. Several galleries and exhibits inside the Indiana State Museum showcase everything from Indiana’s prehistoric past to contemporary artworks.
Take a journey through Indiana’s diverse landscapes in the Natural Regions Gallery and delve into the rich history and heritage of Indiana’s people in the Crossroads of America Gallery. Admire Indiana’s artists’ creativity, talent, and vision in the Fine Art Galleries.
After visiting one of Indianapolis’s most popular museums, relax over a coffee in the museum café and find one-of-a-kind souvenirs and locally-made products in the gift shop before you head home.
White River State Park
Escape the city for some downtime in the peaceful White River State Park. Spanning 250 acres along the banks of the White River, this lush urban oasis offers a perfect blend of nature, culture, and recreation.
Wander through the park’s lush green spaces and beautiful gardens. Stroll along the riverbanks, enjoying the calming sound of flowing water, and find a shady spot for a picnic.
Rent a bike to explore the park or head out on the picturesque waterway of the Central Canal on a paddle boat or a kayak. Exploring the canal, you’ll pass pretty bridges, charming water features, and eclectic public art installations.
White River State Park is also home to several world-class cultural attractions. The park houses the renowned Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana State Museum, and the Eiteljorg Museum. Catch an Indianapolis Indians ball game at Victory Field or enjoy an outdoor concert at the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn amphitheater.
Indianapolis Canal Walk
Another fantastic spot to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city is the picturesque Indianapolis Canal Walk. Stretching three miles along the historic Central Canal, this beautiful promenade offers a vibrant blend of scenic views, public art, recreational activities, and cultural attractions.
Lined with lush greenery, blooming flowers, and picture-postcard bridges, the walkway provides a peaceful respite for strolling, jogging, or simply relaxing. Admire various artistic creations, from captivating sculptures and murals to interactive displays around the park. Get active and rent a kayak or paddleboat, explore the waterway, hop on a bike, and cruise along the promenade admiring the scenic beauty.
If you want to explore further, Indianapolis Canal Walk is encompassed by the White River State Park, which is home to several top-notch Indianapolis attractions, like the Indiana State Museum, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and Victory Field baseball park.
Old National Centre
Visiting the magnificent Old National Centre on North New Jersey Street is a must if you’re a patron of the arts or love grand old buildings. Formerly known as the Murat Centre, this historic and iconic entertainment venue has delighted audiences for over a century.
Housed in a beautifully restored 1910 building, the Old National Centre is an architectural gem blending Egyptian, Moorish, and Baroque styles. The striking façade captivates, and the ornate moldings, majestic chandeliers, and intricate details will transport you back to a bygone era of luxury.
The centerpiece of the Old National Centre is the majestic proscenium-style Murat Theatre, where you can enjoy diverse performances from Broadway shows to ballet productions. With its intimate atmosphere and richly adorned walls, the Egyptian Room provides a more immersive concert experience. The Deluxe’s vintage-inspired décor and cozy ambiance cater to more intimate performances and private events.
Lucas Oil Stadium
Go Colts! If you’re in town during football season, set aside an afternoon to watch the Indianapolis Colts in action on home ground at the Lucas Oil Stadium. The state-of-the-art multi-purpose venue is a testament to the city’s love for sports and entertainment with its impressive design, cutting-edge features, and versatile facilities.
Some top features of the 67,000-seat stadium include high-definition video boards, crystal-clear views, and an advanced sound system with superb clarity. You’ll find plenty of food and beverage options, from classic stadium fare to gourmet dining experiences, and ample parking facilities.
Lucas Oil Stadium also hosts other major sporting events like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and the NFL Super Bowl XLVI. You can also catch concerts, trade shows, conventions, and large-scale performances at the stadium.
Where to eat & drink
Downtown Indianapolis is brimming with fantastic dining options, from casual cafés and fine dining restaurants to lively bars and cocktail spots.
Start your day with a hearty breakfast or brunch at the charming Café Patachou. This local gem is known for its fluffy omelets, croissant French toast, and classic Cuban brekkie. Freshly brewed organic coffee promises the perfect morning kick.
Craving some mouthwatering Mexican magic? The vibrant Nada serves modern Mexican cuisine with a twist and eye-wateringly strong margaritas. Expect classic dishes like enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, and tacos made with fresh ingredients and served with a smile!
Lively and inviting, Harry & Izzy’s is a beloved gem that offers a delightful blend of classic American cuisine and warm Hoosier hospitality. The dimly lit dining room exudes an old-school charm and an elegant atmosphere for wining and dining. Order the signature St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail followed by juicy, hand-cut USDA Prime steaks grilled to perfection.
Get your steak fix at Tony’s of Indianapolis. This upscale steakhouse is a go-to spot for prime cuts of meat, mouthwatering seafood, and delicious sides. Whether you’re sinking your teeth into a juicy filet mignon or indulging in their legendary shrimp cocktail, you’re in for a treat. Pair your meal with a fine bottle of wine from the extensive wine list!
For an authentic taste of Germany, the Rathskeller is your go-to spot. This lively beer garden and restaurant serves traditional Bavarian delights, including hearty sausages, schnitzels, and pretzels. Grab a cold German beer, soak up the festive atmosphere, and enjoy live music in their vibrant beer hall.
Looking for the kind of place where you can kick back, relax, and enjoy good company? Head to Loughmiller’s Pub & Eatery for a casual and laid-back vibe. It’s the perfect spot to grab a cold beer, savor classic pub fare like juicy burgers and tasty sandwiches, and unwind with friends.
Sophisticated yet unpretentious, Nicky Blaine’s Cocktail Lounge is a haven for cocktail enthusiasts wanting an unforgettable night out. Vintage-inspired décor, soft lighting, and plush leather seating call for Old Fashioneds and Negronis. Try a unique signature creation courtesy of the talented mixologists behind the bar.
Get ready for a lively and unforgettable night at Howl at the Moon Indianapolis. This dueling piano bar guarantees a fun-filled experience with live music, sing-alongs, and an energetic atmosphere. Grab a drink, sing your heart out, and join the party at this lively hotspot!
Where to stay
Home to many of the city’s main points of interest, Downtown Indy is the front-runner when choosing where to stay in Indianapolis. There are plenty of accommodations here to suit every travel style and budget, from hotels to even the odd vacation rental.
Heading to a game at the Lucas Oil Stadium? Homewood Suites by Hilton Indianapolis Downtown is the perfect choice. Unwind in contemporary rooms, studios, or two-bedroom suites featuring fully equipped kitchens and dining areas. Stay connected throughout your stay with complimentary Wi-Fi.
Set in the heart of the Bottleworks District and housed in a converted bottling plant, the aptly named Bottleworks Hotel is hip and happening. Boasting an art deco vibe, hotel rooms have marble bathrooms, minibars, and Keurig coffeemakers. Dine in a sleek pan-Asian eatery and unwind in a luxury spa.
Located in the vibrant heart of Downtown Indianapolis, the Hotel Indy, Indianapolis, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, offers an array of deluxe amenities, including a chic rooftop bar and an elegant restaurant. Fashionable rooms have retro-inspired decor, smart TVs, Bose speakers, and gorgeous city vistas. Enjoy seamless connectivity with complimentary Wi-Fi access.
Conrad Indianapolis is your best bet if you’re looking for a truly luxurious destination. Plush rooms and suites are spacious and stylish, with elegant décor, lavish furnishings, and exceptional service. Treat yourself to pampering at the luxury spa and savoring gourmet cuisine at the upscale restaurant and wine bar.
Expect spacious rooms with modern vibes and killer city views at the JW Marriott Indianapolis. Indulge in various amenities, from a well-equipped fitness center and a rejuvenating spa to an indoor pool. Multiple dining options and a prime location make this hotel ideal if you’re looking for comfort and convenience.