The Many Nicknames for Indianapolis?
Indianapolis, Indiana is often referred to by its many nicknames, including Circle City, Nap Town, Cross Roads of America, and Indy. These nicknames developed over time as a reflection of different aspects of the city. Circle City references the unique design of the center of downtown Indianapolis, which has a circular street around the Soldiers and Sailor’s Monument. Indy, on the other hand, is derived from the abbreviation of Indianapolis, providing a convenient shorthand for the city’s name. Naptown has been in use since at least the 1920s and derives from the slower pace of life in Indianapolis. Finally, Crossroads of America reflects Indianapolis’ important position as an intersection between national transportation routes as well as its emergence as a center for commerce and culture in the Midwest.
When the new state capital was planned in 1821, surveyors never thought it would grow beyond Mile Square. Today, the Indianapolis metro area is home to more than 1,858,000 residents, as well as seven universities, three Fortune 500 companies, two major league sports teams, and the largest-capacity sports venue in the world (Indianapolis Motor Speedway).
Indianapolis is also the:
- Capital of Indiana
- Largest city in Indiana
- 14th largest city in U.S., 2nd largest state capital
- Seat of Marion County
- Racing Capital of the World (home of the Indianapolis 500)
- Amateur Sports Capital of the World
It’s also a great place to live, work, and raise a family. From museums to monuments, from sprawling parks to urban trails, there is no shortage of great things to do in Indianapolis. The very active (and recently renovated) Indiana Convention Center is home to a number of major events that draw crowds from all over the city, state, and even the world. Explore Indy’s history by way of the Cultural Trail, which winds through the city’s cultural districts and other historic communities. Get to know the suburbs of Indianapolis that also make up the atmosphere of central Indiana. Learn more about Indy’s undying love for sports, both amateur and professional. Fall in love with the city that so many Hoosiers call home—and find your own home with M.S.WOODS!
Learn about Homes For Sale in Indianapolis
26 Interesting Things to See and Do in Indianapolis Indiana
1. NEWFIELDS (Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA))
Home to more than 50,000 items from around the world, the NEWFIELDS (Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA)) and its breathtaking outdoor spaces span 152 acres and consist of several pavilions, each with its own distinctive collections.
The Krannert Pavilion houses pre-Columbian through present-day art; the Hulman Pavilion houses paintings from abstract to impressionist; the Clowes Pavilion houses medieval, Renaissance, and 18th-century British paintings; and the Eiteljorg Gallery of African and South Pacific Art houses a massive collection of African art.
The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park (photos if the Fairbanks Park) sits on 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and lakes, bordered by the natural curve of White River on one side and the man-made canal on the other. Public tours are offered during the warmer months, typically from April through October.
The IMA is also home to the Tobias Theater, known colloquially as “The Toby.” This versatile venue offers a range of activities, such as expert-led discussions, unique performances, special programs, and, of course, movies.
2. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest children’s museum, with five floors of exhibit hall space (totaling 472,900 square feet) and over 120,000 artifacts. More than a million visitors pass through the Children’s Museum each year to explore the wide range of educational and interactive exhibits, designed for kids of all ages. Take a ride on an antique carousel (featuring original 1917 painted horses from Broad Ripple Park), learn about the origins of dinosaurs, or catch a live performance at the Lilly Theater.
3. Monument Circle
Just as every circle has a center, the “Circle City” of Indianapolis radiates outward in all directions from a single geographical location: Monument Circle. And at the heart of Monument Circle stands the 284-ft., 6-in. (86.72 m) Soldiers and Sailors Monument, completed in 1888. The climb to the top—a total of 331 steps—is practically a rite of passage for local Indianapolis residents. The neoclassical limestone monument also houses the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum.
Monument Circle is an urban oasis of sorts, with its brick-paved street, classic fountains, and large stone steps. All of the buildings along the Circle were purposely built to conform to the roundabout’s curve. A great spot to rest and catch some sun, Monument Circle is surrounded by hundreds of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Circle Centre Mall is located just three blocks south.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis stands tall and proud, its impressive form a testament to the service and sacrifice of all who have served in the armed forces. The monument is topped with a bronze statue of Victory, standing atop a staircase comprised of 44 granite steps that lead up to the central rotunda. Built in 1902, the structure is an architectural feat; its four columns are each 40 feet tall and are capped by ornate Corinthian-style capitals that support the grand dome at its center.
The overall appearance of the monument gives it an air of solemnity and reverence, yet there is also something whimsical about it. Its curved walls have been decorated with sculptures of soldiers from various branches of the military including cavalrymen, infantrymen, artillerymen and sailors. These figures are all looking outward as if to survey their surroundings; however, one particular figure has recently been modified so that it now has its eyes closed. This serves as a symbol for Naptown – an area located within Indianapolis where many veterans live – representing how these individuals sometimes struggle with issues such as PTSD or other mental health concerns due to their time in service to their country.
At night, when illuminated by floodlights and spotlights, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument takes on an even more imposing appearance that can be seen from several miles away. Further adding to its beauty is the fact that there are 88 flags flying above it: one for each branch of service along with those representing Indiana itself. Therefore, this edifice serves not only as a place for contemplation but also celebration; a place where we can come together as citizens to honor those who have fought bravely for our freedom.
4. White River State Park
White River State Park is a 250-acre cultural, educational, and recreational getaway located in the heart of Indianapolis, just west of downtown. The park as a whole is one of six designated cultural districts in Indianapolis.
White River State Park Attractions
With oceans, deserts, forests, and plains, the Indianapolis Zoo is home to over 250 species of animals and 2,000 varieties of plants from around the world. Several remarkable exhibits are must-sees, including the newly completed Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. The zoo hosts several special events throughout the year, most notably Christmas at the Zoo, an event that dates back to 1967.
Not far from the Indianapolis Zoo are the White River Gardens, a 3.3-acre botanical gardens facility featuring over 1,000 different species of plants. A popular destination for weddings, the Gardens include both the Hilbert Conservatory and the DeHaan Tiergarten, an outdoor park that changes seasonally.
The NCAA Hall of Champions Museum features kiosks for all 24 NCAA sports, as well as trivia challenges, current team rankings, video highlights, and much more. A virtual play area on the second floor offers interactive simulations to immerse visitors in the history of college athletics.
The Indiana State Museum (more photos of the Indiana State Museum) offers a history of Indiana from prehistoric times through present day, through various science, art, and cultural exhibits that are housed on three floors and 270,000 square feet of space. Even the building itself is infused with Indiana history and culture: each of the state’s 92 counties is represented on the exterior walls, which were built entirely from Indiana materials (limestone, sandstone, steel, brick, and glass).
The Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial is an impressive architectural piece, consisting of 27 curved glass walls, each symbolizing 15 different conflicts and the 3,456 Medal of Honor recipients that served therein. The memorial is located on the north side of downtown’s Central Canal in White River State Park.
The Indiana Historical Society is situated inside the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center and offers an impressive collection of artifacts, including tens of thousands of digital images, processed manuscript collections, catalogued maps, broadsides, pieces of sheet music, paintings and several million photographs in 610 visual collections.
Victory Field Baseball Park, home to the Indianapolis Indians, has been dubbed the “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” by several renowned sports publications. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the downtown skyline as they watch the game.
Military Park offers 14 acres of space to play Frisbee, walk the dog, or just enjoy some great views of the canal. It is the oldest park in Indianapolis, and also hosts several events, such as rallies, festivals, and outdoor concerts.
5. Eagle Creek Park and Nature Preserve
Eagle Creek Park, the largest park in Indianapolis, is one of the largest municipal parks in the entire country. Serving primarily as a nature reserve, Eagle Creek features 1,400 acres of water, 3,900 acres of forest, and 10 miles of paths, along with picnic areas and shelters, pontoon and sunset canoe trips, and a 36-hole golf course, among other activities and attractions.
6. Circle Center Mall
Circle Center Mall is located at 49 Maryland St, Indianapolis, IN 46204. This massive indoor mall features over 100 stores on four levels and connects to 9 hotels via covered skywalks: Omni Severin Hotel, Canterbury Hotel, The Conrad, Embassy Suites, Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Westin, Crowne Plaza, and JW Marriott.
Other features include a 3rd level food court, a 9-screen United Artists movie theater, and a glass dome called the Artsgarden, which is run by the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Carson Pirie Scott, H&M, Finish Line, Gap/Gap Kids, and Victoria’s Secret are among the more prominent merchants doing business in the mall.
7. City Market
City Market is located at 222 E Market St, Indianapolis, IN 46204. With a rich history dating back to 1821, canal is not only on the National Register of History Landmarks but is one of only a few authentic town market houses from the 19th century.
Inside, you’ll find close to 30 food and restaurant establishments, serving everything from juices, smoothies, tamales, crêpes and cookies to soups, salads and sandwiches.
Food genres range from Indian to Greek to Italian, and virtually everything in between. Vegetarian and vegan options are available too. Non-food establishments include a convenience store, a shoe shine business, a barber shop, and a jewelry store.
8. Monon Trail
The Monon Trail is an immensely popular, people-friendly rail trail that runs from just north of downtown Indianapolis, through Carmel and Westfield. This mega trail effectively stitches together a variety of neighborhoods, cultural centers and recreational facilities, and functions as a practical urban transportation corridor.
The 18.1-mile trail serves both pedestrians and other human-powered locomotion forms of transportation, such as bicyclists, inline skaters, skate boarders and even scooterists. And with close to 1.5 million visits per day, it is perhaps one of the most utilized trails of its kind in the U.S.
The Monon is open from sunrise to sunset and is one of the safest trailways in the United States. It is constructed of asphalt and has two lanes for opposing “traffic.”
The Broad Ripple and 96th Street trailheads are convenient access points for the Monon, as both offer parking. There are stations for parking, water and rest stops at 64th, 96th and 91st Streets.
9. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (more photos and Eiteljorg information) is located at 500 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204. The museum houses an extensive collection of Native American art and offers activities for children and families at various points throughout the museum, including a designated area for interactive learning.
The museum’s holding are consist of three primary collections: Native American Collection, Western Collection and Contemporary Collection. The collection started from the personal collection of founder Harrison Eiteljorg (1903–1997) and grew from there. At present, the museum houses arguably the finest collection of Contemporary Native American art in the world–and that saying something!
In addition to the collections, several exhibitions are typically open to guests at any given time. On the main level is a gift shop, and a small café that serves coffee, sandwiches, and salads. The Eiteljorg is a true gem of Indianapolis, and worth the time to check out.
10. Canal Walk
The Canal walk stretches roughly 3 miles, from the White River, near the Indianapolis State Museum to 11th Street. A walk along the Canal offers walkers, runners, bikers and sightseers a beautiful promenade for taking in the sights of downtown Indianapolis, which includes historic architecture, beautiful monuments, and a cornucopia of affordable activities such as paddle boating, Gondola rides, kayaking and even bike riding, all available on a rental basis.
The Canal Walk is an oasis of sorts, one which offers a fun, safe, environment for individuals and families to experience downtown Indy from a unique vantage point. Below, you can see another part of the Canal Walk at night.
11. Indiana Medical History Museum
Indiana Medical History Museum is the oldest surviving pathology laboratory in the U.S, and in many ways, represents the very beginning of medical research.
Once considered “state of the art,” it stands in stark contrast to the advancements of modern-day medicine. It is one the National Register of Historic Places.
The lab has been preserved just as it was over 100 years ago, vintage instruments and all. It offers an eye-opening look into the frighteningly unsanitary conditions that prevailed before the advent of germ theory.
Other highlights include a teaching amphitheater, several laboratories, photo archives, over 15,000 medical history relics, and old hospital records.
12. Rhythm! Discovery Center
Rhythm! Discovery Center is located at 110 W. Washington Street, Suite A, Indianapolis, next to the Indianapolis Artsgarden and Weber Grill Restaurant. Opened in 2009, the Center offers several hands-on exhibits and a collection of both rare and common percussion instruments on display.
In addition, the Center offers a number of interactive and dynamic educational opportunities, such as drumming in a circle and “make your own drum” classes, designed to introduce you to the role of rhythm and percussion in music and culture.
13. Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is located in the the Old Northside Historic District of Indianapolis, at 1230 N Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46202. For anyone who appreciates architecture, the home is a study in Italianate design, with its bracketed cornices, oak-trimmed staircase, impeccable woodwork, 3-story bay window, and parquet floors.
Of the home’s sixteen rooms, ten have been preserved for touring, each decorated in the Victorian style that was so popular at the time. A total of 3,700 pieces of memorabilia which belonged to the the Harrison family are also on display.
An on-site gift shop offers reproductions of china from the period, a curated collection of books, as well as various souvenir spoons, money clips, tote bags, note cards, postcards, etc.
14. Holliday Park
Holliday Park is one the city’s oldest parks, and a true urban gem. Located on the city’s north side, at 6363 Spring Mill Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46260, Holliday Park spans approximately 95 acres, and is home to woodlands, trails, wetlands, a beech-maple forest, natural springs, as well as close to 400 trees, plants and other wildflower species. Park amenities include an extensive native garden, an arboretum, several trails, a playground and a nature center.
It is a favorite destination among bird watchers, as it is home to an estimated 200 species. But birds aren’t the only species of wildlife that can be found at Holliday Park. Many other species that are native to the area, such as beaver, fox, rabbits, deer and squirrels are known to reside in, or occasionally pass through, the densely wooded ravines of the park.
15. Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is located at 340 N Senate Ave, Indianapolis. This boutique museum/library is a cultural and educational resource for anyone interested in learning about the life and literature of this iconic Indianapolis-born writer.
The museum features a variety of Vonnegut artifacts, such the typewriter he was known to peck away at, in addition to original art prints, drawings and doodles, reading glasses, and even his last pack of cigarettes. Photos taken by friends and family yield insight into Vonnegut’s everyday life.
The Kevin Scherr Collection contains first editions of every Vonnegut novel, along with several signed editions. Other artifacts include 300 magazine reviews, short stories, personal belongings donated by his family, and political commentary. Oh, and let us not forget the several rejection letters Vonnegut received from various editors of the day!
16. Castleton Square Mall
The Castleton Square Mall is located at 6020 E 82nd St, Indianapolis. It is the state’s largest mall, with over 130 stores, a food court, play area, a 14-screen AMC Theatre, and a variety of specialty shops. It is the economic “anchor” of the city’s north side, which includes not only Indy, but Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville.
17. Crown Hill Cemetery
If the idea of visiting a cemetery doesn’t exactly sound inspiring, then you’ve probably never been to Crown Hill Cemetery. Located at 700 W. 38th Street in Indianapolis, it is the nation’s 3rd largest non-governmental cemetery in the U.S., with over 500 acres of gently rolling hills, beautiful sculptures, trees, and guided public tours. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The entrance at 34th Street features an amazing Gothic gate built in 1885
The 34th Street entrance features a magnificent Gothic gate and vault built in 1885 that is very much worth checking out. Another must-see site is the James Whitcomb Riley Monument.
The historic Scottish Rite Cathedral is magnificent piece of Neo-Gothic architecture located in downtown Indianapolis at 650 N Meridian Street. A 54-bell carillon rises 212 aloft, in the main tower. Other noteworthy features include a floating ballroom, patterned ceilings, a 1,200-seat auditorium, ornate carved woodwork, a beautiful stained-glass window, a 2,500 lb. chandelier with 200 lights, and a large pipe organ. Guided tours are available on weekdays and the third Saturday of each month.
19. Fashion Mall at Keystone
The Fashion Mall at Keystone is an upscale shopping mall located at 8702 Keystone Crossing, on the north side of Indianapolis. It is a one-stop shop for high-end stores like Apple, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, The North Face and William Sonoma to name just a few.
Shoppers can also choose from several popular restaurants, such as Cheesecake Factory, Napolese Pizzeria, and Seasons 52. The Fashion Mall is a popular destination among affluent shoppers from Carmel, Zionsville, Indianapolis (north side), Fishers, and Geist.
20. The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
When May rolls around in Indianapolis each year, not only does it signify warmer, breezier temperatures and the annual breaking out of the grills, six-packs and barbecue pits, but for Indy residents, it’s officially time to begin celebrating the Midwest’s biggest sporting event of the year and Indianapolis’ sports star. Known as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indy 500 was officially born in 1911 and has been a staple of summertime in Indiana ever since. Indianapolis racing fans, start your engines!
21. The Indianapolis Indians and Victory Field
Victory Field is home of the Indianapolis Indians of minor league baseball fame and is located just west of downtown Indianapolis directly across West Washington Street from White River State Park. This ballpark has been recognized as the “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” by such sporting publications as Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. Victory Field has been home to the Indians since it opened its doors on July 11, 2006. The Indianapolis Indians are a minor league baseball team and a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
22. Lucas Oil Stadium
Lucas Oil Stadium in the center of downtown Indianapolis is an enormous conglomeration of world-class stadium, viewing suites, and concert and convention space. Just a brief walk from numerous world-class Indianapolis hotels, upscale Indianapolis restaurants and some of the best shopping in Indianapolis, the stadium is appropriately located in the heart of the Circle City. Directly connected to the new Indiana Convention Center, the stadium is one of the brightest gems in Indy‘s crown.
23. Indiana War Memorial
The Indiana War Memorial, known more formally as the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza Historic District, was constructed in the very center of downtown Indianapolis and doubles as a stunning entrance to the commercial sector of the city from the north. The plaza and all its installations were created to honor those who fought for the values of America and to inspire patriotism in all who visit them.
24. Indiana State Fair
The Indiana State Fairgrounds are located northeast of downtown Indianapolis at 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway. The fairgrounds have served the state as a central location for showcasing Indiana agricultural productivity and advancement. When not being used for the purposes of the Indiana State Fair, the grounds are used for various entertainment, Indianapolis sports, and Indianapolis education events.
25. Indianapolis Public Library
The Central Library of the Indianapolis Public Library is the main repository for information in Indianapolis. Located a few blocks north of Monument Circle and the Veterans Memorial Plaza, the downtown branch of the Indianapolis Public Library, commonly known as the Central Library, is a hallmark of Indianapolis education. Its mix of beautiful architecture, vast educational opportunities, and helpful staff make this library one of many great Indianapolis attractions.
26. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail
The $63 million Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a beautifully engineered bike path and pedestrian walkway system that showcases the vibrancy of downtown Indianapolis by connecting 6 distinct cultural districts, and promoting various forms of public art.
27. Indianapolis Sports
Whether on wheels or in cleats, Indianapolis loves athletics. This city has been dubbed the Amateur Sports Capital of the World, but it’s also home to ten professional sports teams—not to mention the national headquarters for both the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations).
Major Indianapolis Events
Each year, around the beginning of August, tens of thousands of devoted gamers from around the world, many from as far away as Australia and Japan, descend on downtown Indianapolis dressed in elaborate sci-fi and fantasy-themed customs for what can only be described as 4 days of utter gaming euphoria at the Indiana Convention Center.
This mammoth four-day gaming convention is not only the largest of its kind in the world, with a 2014 turnstile attendance record of 184,699, but also arguably the most highly renowned. It is the quintessential destination for gaming of all types, from traditional pen-and-paper, board, and card games to live action role-playing games, collectible card games, strategy games and electronic gaming.
With hundreds of game companies and other venders, along with award-winning authors and artists, and more than 14,000 events, it’s no wonder Gen Con has no problem drawing a crowd. It has been estimated that Gen Con generates anywhere from $25 million to $47 million into the local economy—now that’s big!
If you’re looking for a celebration of African-American culture, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more complete, more heavily-attended, more highly regarded event than the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration.
This huge, 10-day celebration, which takes place mid-July annually at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indy, features a steady line-up of entertainment, as well as numerous educational, networking, career and cultural opportunities. Black Expo attempts cover every facet of African American life, from employment, health, business workshops, youth, entertainment and spirituality.
In 2012, President Obama, who was unable to attend the corporate luncheon, took the time to issue a pre-recorded video message, in which he acknowledged the importance of Black Expo, and thanked the organization for all it has done to enrich the African American community in Indianapolis.
Black Expo has historically drawn as many as 350,000 visitors and as many as 250 different companies to downtown Indianapolis, resulting in as much as $40 million in spending.
Regions Bank Freedom Blast
Each year, on July 4th, people from all over central Indiana converge on downtown Indianapolis with their coolers, lawn chairs and blankets to watch the state’s largest fireworks display, which takes place around 9pm atop the 36-story Regions Bank Tower.
This visually stunning affair last approximately 25 minutes, and typically involves close to 10,000 shells. Attending an Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field is a popular thing to do, since not only do the Indians set off their own fireworks, but virtually every seat in the stadium seat offers an optimal view of the Regions Bank Freedom Blast display.
Indianapolis Home Show
For many Indianapolis residents, attending the Indianapolis Home Show has practically become a tradition. Each year, from late January through early February the Indianapolis Home Show comes to the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and brings with it a host of TV personalities, tons of venders, design experts, home-focused information and exhibits and, most importantly, the Centerpiece Home, which is a fully constructed, decorated and landscaped home built entirely inside Exposition Hall.
The 2014 Centerpiece Home was built by Cincinnati-based builder Fischer Homes, and featured 4 bedrooms, 3.5-baths, 4,100 square feet, a and finished basement. The home is designed to showcase all the latest trends in both architecture and style.
In addition to the Centerpiece Home, the West Pavilion of the fairgrounds is typically dedicated to gardening and landscaping. Attendees can purse around 25,000 square feet of greenery, floral designs, cash-and-carry bulbs, and a huge selection of gardening tools and related products. The Marketplace Pavilion is typically a showcase of potters, painters, artisans and interior designers.
Boat, Sport and Travel Show
Each year, around mid-February, Indianapolis is the place be for tens of thousands of casual-to-hardcore outdoor enthusiasts. That’s when the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show comes to the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This 60-year-old show bring with it a dizzying array of boats, RV’s, fishing tackle, hunting gear, outdoor destinations, paddle sports equipment, educational seminars, celebrities and unique and entertaining attractions, all packed into a combined 650,000 square-feet spread over six buildings. The show is so big, it would be virtually impossible to experience everything it has to offer in just a single visit.
The Annual Indiana Motorcycle Exposition typically coincides with the last part of the Boat, Sport and Travel Show, and includes the Bikers Showcase, Tiny Tots Test Track, a bikini show, as well as lots of cool displays and demos.
The Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl Expo, which is a subset of the show, features manufacturer’s archery demo lanes in addition to a variety of outfitters, seminars and speakers and contests.
Indiana Flower and Patio Show
Right around the time winter begins to lose its icy grip on central Indiana, and the first warm breezes of the year are felt, is when the Indiana Flower & Patio Show transforms the West Pavilion of the Indiana State Fairgrounds into a virtual oasis of landscapes, patio exhibits, educational seminars and exhibitors.
This 9-day show is a must-see for anyone with an interest in gardening, outdoor design, grilling, outdoor recreation, green products, grills, outdoor furniture, outdoor kitchens, pavers, pools, potted plants, tools, tubs and water features. The 2014 show featured a garden, which was a full-scale model of a city lot in which every bit of space had been put to a sustainable use. It featured a goat and chicken enclosure, composting area, raised bed gardens, a water catchment system, solar panels and zero offsite water emissions. There are always things to do for kids, such as the Children’s Play Zone, which features fully-assembled recreation equipment like backyard play sets, basketball goals, trampolines and other equipment, which kids can try out before parents buy.
Indiana State Fair
The Indiana State Fair is a 17-day extravaganza of fun rides, food, entertainment, games, educational exhibits, competitive events and interactive experiences. For the full experience, there is perhaps no better or more convenient way to get to the State Fair than by taking the Fair Train. This is especially true for families with young ones. The train departs from the Fishers Train Station at preset time, and passengers disembark at 39th Street and Millersville Road. From there, it’s just a short walk to the Fairgrounds.
The 4-H competition is one of the time-honored traditions of the Fair, in which kids work long and hard leading up to the Fair, for the opportunity show off their animals and hopefully win the coveted blue ribbon. The livestock barns are filled with everything from hogs to steers to thoroughbred horses, each of which has been an integral part of the history of the fair.
And, of course, what would any fair be without rides? Fair-goers can experience a dizzying number of rides, from giant slides, tilt-a-whirls, and Ferris wheel to white-knuckle roller coasters and various kids rides.
It goes without saying that a celebration of this magnitude will have food. Whether it’s grilled steaks, roasted corn on the cob dipped in butter sauce, hot dogs, popcorn or any number of other delicious, mouth-watering treats, you deserve a prize if you can leave the fairground without having succumbed to the temptations of all this awesome food!
The fair is organized into several main areas. These include a central “Midway” which contains lots of rides, food/drink venders and other fun stuff; a Midway for the Kids, in which all the kids rides can be found; a Main Street Stage area where concerts are held; the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand; a Family Fun Park; the Pepsi Coliseum concert area; and the Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park.
Christmas at the Zoo
The Christmas season is a very special time of the year at the Indianapolis Zoo. Each year, from late November through late December, as the Indianapolis Zoo transforms itself into an other-worldly holiday experience, with its annual Christmas at the Zoo celebration. For roughly one month, the zoo is covered in colorful, lights displays, which really come to lift after dark. Christmas at the Zoo has become a holiday tradition for so many people in central Indiana. It’s a great opportunity to catch some great views of cold weather animals, such as tigers, polar bears, seals, walruses and penguins, which wouldn’t otherwise be active during the summer months.
Other fun things to do include taking a ride with hot cocoa on the Holiday Train, decorating cookies with Mrs. Clause and caroling around bon fires. Santa’s Workshop is where kids get to meet Santa, and give him their wish lists.
The “Dolphin in Water Adventure” is a must-see event. This 20-minute, holiday-themed show offers a captivating look at these intelligent and graceful creatures, as they perform various stunts with trainers to the delight of the crowd.
Christmas at the Zoo is an opportunity to experience the Christmas season with friends and family in a way that is both fun and memorable.
Indianapolis Circle of Lights
There is perhaps no greater holiday tradition in central Indiana than the annual Circle of Lights celebration, when over 100,000 people converge on Monument Circle the Friday after Thanksgiving in eager anticipation of the lighting of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors monument.
It’s a sight to behold when close to 5,000 lights that have been strung from the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors monument, suddenly light up. The event typically kicks off at 6 p.m., and the lights come on when the switch is flipped, around 7:50 p.m. Several fun, live performances take place leading up to the lighting ceremony, which includes several prominent TV personalities.
The Circle of Lights is among the most popular Christmas displays in the country, and was even named one of the top five “must-see Christmas trees” in the nation by Travelocity. Maybe that explains why millions of visitors pass through the Circle each year to catch a glimpse of this beautiful centerpiece of downtown Indianapolis.
The countdown to the “tree” lighting is televised, so that the community as a whole can enjoy the moment
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- Wholesale District: Historic Cultural District
Suburbs of Indianapolis
While Indianapolis is unquestionably the economic, political and cultural engine that makes the wheels turn in Central Indiana, it just wouldn’t be the same city without its many suburbs. These small satellites of Indianapolis each lend a certain distinctiveness to the particular side of town they border, and in doing so, make Indianapolis a much more interesting place to live.
Located 15 miles west of downtown Indy, Avon, Indiana is a small town of about 13,000 people. Avon is home to the Perennial Gardens, a popular tourist destination, as well as a number of sports bars and strip malls.
Brownsburg, Indiana is another west-side suburb that offers a quite retreat from the big city. Located 17 miles west of downtown Indy, Brownsburg is perhaps best known as the home of Lucas Oil Raceway.
Carmel, Indiana is an affluent suburb with a population of 86,000, located just north of Indianapolis’s 96th Street border. It is known for its Arts & Design District, among many other attractions. Major events include Carmel Fest, an annual July 4th tradition, and the prestigious Carmel International Arts Festival.
Danville, Indiana is a small city of of close to 9,000 residents, located 25 miles west of downtown Indianapolis. It is home to a number of attractions, including the historic Blanton House, an elegant Georgian Colonial Style mansion, as well as several beautiful parks.
Fishers, Indiana is a northeast suburb of Indy, located just east of Carmel, Indiana. It is perhaps best known for the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, which has preserved the William Conner home. Actors reenact scenes from everyday life in the 19th century along the White River.
Franklin, Indiana is located 25 miles south of downtown Indianapolis. Franklin is known for its older, well-maintained houses and brick-paved streets. It is also home to Franklin College, a private liberal arts school with just over 1000 students. In 1842, Franklin College became the third institution in the nation—and the first in Indiana—to admit women.
Greenfield, Indiana is small city of roughly 20,000 residents, located 25 miles due east of downtown Indianapolis. The most popular attraction in Greenfield is undoubtedly the historic James Whitcomb Riley house and museum. Greenfield is also home to the Hancock Regional Hospital.
Greenwood, Indiana is one of the bigger suburbs of Indianapolis, with a population close to 50,000. It is home to the Greenwood Park Mall, a popular destination for not only Greenwood residents but also south-side Indy dwellers.
The city of Martinsville, Indiana is located 30 miles southwest of downtown Indy. One of the more popular attractions is the Old Morgan County Jail, which is on the National Register of Historic Places listings for Morgan County.
Mooresville, Indiana is located 19 miles southwest of downtown Indy, in Morgan County. It is a small town of roughly 9,300, perhaps best known as the home of the notorious gangster and bank robber John Dillinger. Attractions include the Academy of Hoosier Heritage and Family Aquatic Center.
With a population close to 52,000, Noblesville, Indiana is the 14th largest city in Indiana. Located north of Fishers, and 27 miles northeast of downtown Indy, Noblesville is known for its historic Courthouse Square, with its many mom-and-pop establishments. Other attractions include is Klipsch Music Center, Hamilton Town Center, the Indiana Transportation Museum, and Morse Park.
Plainfield, Indiana is a small town of nearly 28,000 residents, located 17 miles west of downtown Indianapolis. Attractions include the famous Chateau Thomas Winery, the Historical Plainfield Town Center, the Plainfield Recreation and Aquatic Center, and several parks.
Westfield, Indiana is located due north of Carmel, and approximately 28 miles north of downtown Indy. It is home to several independent shops and restaurants, as well as a number or parks and trails. Westfield is increasingly a sought-after place in which to own a home.
Zionsville, Indiana is one of the most affluent suburbs of Indianapolis. Located on the far northwest side of Indy, just west of Carmel, Zionsville is best known for its brick-paved downtown area, whose distinctly old-fashioned atmosphere is home to many restaurants and shops.