10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in Indianapolis

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As the host of the world’s largest single-day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500, it’s hard to link the city of Indianapolis with anything other than racing. But the city is thriving, and it offers travelers an abundance of options to fill up a visit: Museums and art galleries line the streets, the restaurant scene is booming, and there's a collection of monuments and memorials that are comparable to those found in Washington, D.C. It's also worth noting that that their airport (the first international airport designed and built after 9/11) has been named the best airport in North America every year since 2012. Downtown you'll find lots of activities at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center and the Circle Centre Mall. Meanwhile, White River State Park offers more than 250 acres of green space for your enjoyment. If you're happily surprised, you'll be glad to know there's more. Here are ten experiences you probably didn’t know you could find in Indianapolis.

By David Duran

Courtesy of VisitIndy.com

Fountain Square District

The Fountain Square District is one of Indy’s more quirky neighborhoods and can easily fill up a day and night of exploration. Catch a burlesque show at the White Rabbit, or head over to New Day for mead and cider tastings. Or grab an authentic po' boy and play some bocce ball over at B’s Po Boys. La Revolucion (1132 Prospect Street; 317/423-9490), a delicious Mexican food restaurant has an unexpected placed but very much welcome Tiki bar inside, and is uniquely decorated with both Day of the Dead decorations as well as surf décor. But one of the most unique activities located in the district is the historic Fountain Square Theatre building, a combination hotel, restaurants, and duckpin bowling lanes, a game that involves small pins and balls, and loads of entertainment.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of VisitIndy.com

Pacers Bikeshare

Getting around the city is easy with Pacers Bikeshare, a network of 250 bikes and twenty-five stations in the downtown area. Cyclists can also bike on the eight-mile Cultural Trail, an art-filled path that takes you through and around Indianapolis’s niche neighborhoods. The bike trail was created when urban planners removed one lane of vehicular traffic around downtown and transformed it into the bike trail that it is today.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of VisitIndy.com / Cerulean

Farm-to-Table Restaurants

Dive into Indy’s farm-to-table scene with hot spots like Milktooth, a brunch favorite in a former Downtown Car Care garage that is popular for items on their menu such as the sweet Dutch baby pancakes served with Meyer lemon-mango curd, kiwi, and macadamia nuts. Other notable places to eat include Bluebeard, which has ramen, schnitzel, and foie gras on their diverse menu. Black Market, Cerulean, Tinker Street, and Union 50 are also worthy spots to check out.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of Tinker Coffee

Coffee Scene

Indy’s coffee scene is flourishing with local roasters. If you ever wanted to learn about coffee-brewing techniques, coffee history, coffee-growing regions, or roasting, it’s all possible during a $15 cupping class with the guys at the newly established Tinker Coffee. After a class at Tinker, students will be inspired to go home and create their own café-worthy creations and shy away from basic, push-a-button-style coffee.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of VisitIndy.com / Hi-Fi

Live Music

Enjoy live music with big beers and stunning views of the city at Rathskeller’s Biergarten, or rock out with the locals while checking out some indie bands at HiFi or Radio Radio. For a big-stage concert experience, scan the upcoming shows at The Lawn, a downtown concert venue.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of VisitIndy.com / Conrad Hotel

Luxury Hotels

For travelers seeking a guaranteed luxury experience, the new suites at the Conrad Indianapolis called The Collection are the place to be. An entire floor at the hotel was dedicated to the four new suites and each one was created to provide a special space for guests to leave the world outside and immerse themselves within each art-themed suite. The Contemporary Suite is adorned with pieces by visionaries Russell Young and David Kramer, while the Modernism Suite is graced with hand-signed etchings from Picasso. The Surrealism Suite features original works from Dali, and the Pop Suite is of course dedicated to Andy Warhol.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of International Orangutan Center

International Orangutan Center

Test your IQ alongside eight apes at the International Orangutan Center, a one-of-a-kind, $26 million dollar Indianapolis Zoo project that provides an unparalleled experience for both humans and orangutans. The center was designed to stimulate the apes’ physical, social and intellectual abilities, and provides vital education and research, as well as conservation. The exhibit has dozens of viewing perspectives and very special interactive opportunities.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Central Canal

The Canal Walk is a lovely stretch alongside the Indiana Central Canal, which was dug in the early 1800’s. It’s a great place to take a stroll, hop on a Segway or cruise in a surrey. But for something a bit different, jump in a paddleboat and make your way through downtown Indianapolis by way of the canal. If you're not in the mood to paddle, imported Italian gondolas are also available. And for the more active visitor, kayaks rentals are always an option.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of VisitIndy.com

Indy Brew Bus

Beer lovers, board the bright green Indy Brew Bus to have a designated driver take you to several of Indy’s 30-plus breweries. Each tour visits four local breweries, such as Sun King Brewery, Flat 12 Bierwerks, Bier Brewery and more. Scorecards are provided for all participants so they can keep track of their favorites. The bus can also keep beer purchases ice cold during the tour, which accommodates up to 14 guests at one time.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

Courtesy of VisitIndy.com / The Smoking Goose

Cooking Class

The Smoking Goose, a meatery that sources local and provides meats for quality restaurants and markets coast to coast, also opens its doors to those wanting to learn the secrets behind making sausages. Take a sausage-making class from one of the country’s best butchers, Chris Eley, who owns and operates Smoking Goose. Students will learn to butcher, grind, spice, mix, stuff, and smoke their handmade sausages. The class even comes with a butcher’s uniform to help those brave enough to take the class play the part.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide

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