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Take the fast lane to urban thrills and adventure

The roar of engines and the smell of hot tires on asphalt make Indianapolis a top-tier destination for racing fans, but there’s more to this city than checkered flags. Family fun, cosmopolitan culture, natural wonders and more await visitors to Indiana’s capital city.

Start Your Engines

Of course, no article about Indianapolis is complete without mentioning IndyCar racing. The Indianapolis 500 is Indy’s most famous competition, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway has become a multi-attraction destination as a result.

In addition to the track, the Speedway is home to the Dallara IndyCar Factory, part of the IndyCar Experience. Explore more than 20,000 square feet of interactive, hands-on exhibits that reveal the engineering and science behind racing. A street-legal, two-seat IndyCar is even on hand to take you for a spin. For a more thrilling experience, the Victory Laps Indy Racing Experience lets passengers ride in a two-seater and race around the track at speeds approaching those of actual racers. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is home to race cars, dragsters, motorcycles and vintage autos, as well as a racing Hall of Fame.

Explore at a Slower Pace

Meander to the Canal Walk when you’re ready to slow things down. This three-mile loop takes pedestrians along the downtown waterfront and past numerous city attractions. Stop in at the Indiana Historical Society and enjoy learning about the people and events that brought recognition to the Hoosier State. The canal is also a great spot for boating and kayaking, and rentals are available along the loop for guests to take on a leisurely journey.

Pop in on a summer festival at Military Park and enjoy the tastes and sounds of local color and flavor. Popular events held here include the Vintage Indiana Wine and Food Festival, the Indianapolis Chinese Festival and Irish Fest. Or get a little wild at the Indianapolis Zoo inside White River State Park. Many of the world’s most fascinating species have a home here, where animal enrichment and visitor engagement are expertly blended for a memorable experience. The park also hosts the NCAA headquarters and a number of museums and historical sites.

Indiana History Thrives Indoors and Out

Native species are the focus of Eagle Creek Park, where the Earth Discovery Center rests under the forest canopy and is home to nature programs and live animal displays. Hiking trails run through the park and are accessible from the center. Birding is a popular activity at Eagle Creek, and the onsite Ornithology Center educates visitors on the various species that can be seen around Indianapolis and its diverse habitats.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis may be designed for little explorers, but its quirky design—two dinosaurs are trying to climb in through the roof—and numerous interactive exhibits appeal to the kid in everyone. From a chocolate slide to a circus where visitors are the performers, the museum’s attractions are designed to engage minds and activate imaginations. Ride the carousel, see a show at the theater and discover treasures of the world’s great civilizations, all under one roof.

While you’re in the district, look for historic buildings like the Hammond Block, a flatiron building, and the Athenaeum, a German Renaissance-style house designed by the father of Indiana native Kurt Vonnegut. The Rathskeller Restaurant is the home’s oldest tenant, feeding hungry patrons since 1898.

Catch a glimpse of the odd but eye-opening history of medical science at the Indiana Medical History Museum. Hour-long guided tours take guests through the pathology building of the city’s former Central State Hospital. The structure itself is the nation’s oldest surviving pathology building and was home to medical education and research, operating until the 1960s.

Travel through Indianapolis’s underground history—literally—on a guided tour of the City Market Catacombs. These corridors run underneath City Market’s Whistler Plaza and are all that remains of Tomlinson Hall, a community structure that burned in 1958 and was later torn down. The catacombs served as a storage facility during a flood in 1918, and the city’s homeless have found shelter there during bitter winters.

Practice Art Appreciation

Embrace your artistic side in the Mass Ave Arts District, a piece of historic downtown Indianapolis that’s opened its doors to art, culture and nightlife while preserving the essence of Indy’s hardworking past. Pop into an art gallery, yuck it up at a comedy club or take in an off-Broadway production.

Discover great works of art and thought-provoking exhibits at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This world-class institution celebrates the intersection of art, architecture and natural surroundings for an experience that appeals to all the senses.

Inside, peruse African, Asian, European and American works alongside contemporary pieces, including textiles and design arts. Outside, the grounds of the museum are home to the Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens. This historic estate is the site of the Lilly House, a historic museum that was once the residence of Indianapolis business tycoon J. K. Lilly Jr.

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park sits on 100 acres next to the museum and includes woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a lake; contemporary sculptures and architectural pieces are scattered throughout the park for visitors to enjoy.

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Indiana Office of Tourism Development