New to Indy? Locals Recommend Unique Things to Do in Indianapolis
There are plenty of reasons to move to Indianapolis. The largest city in Indiana offers the benefits of living in a major city while maintaining a little small-town charm. Countless unique activities allow newcomers to immerse themselves in their new city. So whether you just bought a home in Broad Ripple or are thinking of renting an apartment in Carmel, you’re guaranteed to find something fun and exciting to do.
To help you get started, we asked locals to share some of their favorite, unique things to do in Indianapolis – check out what they had to say and start exploring Indy.
Take a stroll along the Indianapolis Canal Walk
If you enjoy the outdoors and are looking for a breath of fresh air in the downtown area, you should check out the Indianapolis Canal Walk. This three-mile loop is popular among fitness enthusiasts and people looking to get outside and enjoy a scenic view.
“One of our favorite things to do in Indianapolis is to walk our dog along the Indianapolis Canal Walk,” says Indy local Victoria Rayburn. “This gorgeous, three-mile path along the canal—which is always full of joggers, walkers, and paddle boats—takes you through much of the city and most of the museum district. The Canal Walk is a great place to stretch your legs and see Indy. Plus, you can pop up the stairs almost anywhere along the path to find great food and drinks.”
Rayburn added that the Canal Walk played a role in her decision to relocate to Indy. “After spending a weekend in Indy, my husband and I decided to move to the city because we loved the idea of being able to walk along the Indianapolis Canal Walk whenever we wanted. Locals and visitors need to check out this aspect of the city.”
Immerse yourself in art and nature at Newfields
Whether you are a fan of the arts, a history buff, or love the outdoors, there’s something for you at Newfields. In addition to fascinating exhibits, Newfields is also home to The Beer Garden, where you can enjoy local and international beer and wine, and a cafe (aptly named The Cafe) where you can grab a quick bite to eat.
“One of my favorite things to do in Indianapolis is to spend an afternoon at Newfields,” says Alison Mae, an Indianapolis local. “Enjoy masterpieces at The Indianapolis Museum of Art, stroll through the beautiful gardens, or tour the historic Lilly House. For a more laid-back day, explore the trails and sculptures of Fairbanks Park, where art and nature collide. There is something for everyone at Newfields.”
Have a spooky good time with Historic Indiana Ghost Walks & Tours
For one of the unique things to do in Indianapolis, check out the Historic Indiana Ghost Walks & Tours. This is the perfect activity for newcomers in Indy who also happen to be paranormal enthusiasts. The tours offer a spooky way to get to know your new city.
“Nothing is better than when customers capture something during the tour during their hands-on experience,” says Nicole Kombrowski of Unseenpress.com, Inc. “They get to explore new destinations and the mysterious and uncertain nature of the paranormal. Our tour guides are true believers and experts in local history and haunts. Customers come for the history and stay for the ghosts. Guests love soaking in the local culture and finding the things that go bump in the night.”
Spend the day at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
When moving to a new city, it’s also important to find something fun and educational for the kids to do. A visit to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in the Historic Meridian Park neighborhood checks both boxes. The museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits ranging from science and art to Scooby-Doo and Barbie.
“The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of my favorite parts of living in Indy,” says Indianapolis local Kelsee B Hankins. “Not only is it the world’s largest children’s museum, but they are also incredibly open and giving to the community. They offer evening events for families and some adult-only evening events for the big kids who love to visit the museum without kids. It’s a place perfect for enjoying with visiting friends or family, or just to enjoy a day of fun no matter how old you are.”
David McWhirter of Coda Studios Photography also recommends the museum. “The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is the largest museum of its kind in the world, and it has something for kids (and adults) of all ages,” he says. “With a wide range of traveling and permanent exhibits, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum offers everything from hands-on learning experiences to rare artifacts. In addition to historical exhibits, the museum features a large outdoor sports-centric area and even hosts an annual haunted house for Halloween.”
Have an epic experience at Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park is the place to go for some heart-racing fun. Located on the east shore of Eagle Creek in west Indianapolis, they offer multiple courses and other activities like ax throwing.
“Go Ape is a fantastic zipline adventure in Indianapolis,” says Leah Severson, an Indy local. “The course takes you 40 feet into the beautiful forest of Eagle Creek Park, one of the city’s largest parks. The Go Ape zipline course takes two to three hours, and you must be at least ten years old to participate. It’s a great family fun activity in the city.”
Take a day trip the the WonderTree Farm
Located just outside the city, visiting WonderTree Farm is one of many unique things to do in Indianapolis. Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Indy, this farm is the perfect place for a rural day trip.
“WonderTree Farm is a great place to visit when you have a free Saturday,” says Kristeen Waddell of KristeenMarie Photography. “The local farm in Zionsville (just north of Indianapolis) has all types of animals, and you can freely roam the farm to pet and feed them. All the animals are super-friendly and do well with even small children. They charge $10 per car to park, but you will receive a $10 voucher that can be used to purchase local grass-fed meat, eggs, feed to feed the animals or delicious baked goods. The farm isn’t open every Saturday, so check the WonderTree website’s schedule.
Catch a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
One of Indianapolis’ main claims to fame is that it is the home of the most notable race in motorsports: the Indianapolis 500. It’s a great place to catch a race, and you can also tour the historic racing complex, which includes a museum.
“Visiting Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a favorite of mine,” says Amanda Cranfield of World of Wonder Travel. “There are more than 100 years of racing history in the museum, and you can add to your experience by taking a ride around the track. If you’ve never seen IMS in person, you can’t truly grasp the size of that 2.5-mile track. Kissing the bricks on the bus tour is an added bonus.”
Grab a bite to eat at The Eagles Nest
For a great meal and picturesque views of the city, look no further than The Eagles Nest, a restaurant located just north of Lucas Oil Stadium. “
A unique activity in Indianapolis that I love doing is going to The Eagles Nest for dinner,” says Jasmine Norris. “The Eagles Nest is the only revolving restaurant in Indianapolis and offers 360-degree views of the city. Their food is also to-die-for, and they use local ingredients. I highly recommend getting the baked brie as the appetizer.”
Check out the Indiana Peony Festival at Seminary Park
Every May, Seminary Park in nearby Noblesville, IN, hosts the Indiana Peony Festival. Peonies have been in the region since the 1800s and the first festival occurred in 2021. In addition to the Peony Festival, the park hosts concerts, weddings, and community events.
“One event that we love is the Indiana Peony Festival, which Kelly and Lindsey McVey founded, says Stephanie Groves of Indy Maven. “The peony is Indiana’s state flower, and at this local festival in May, you will find loads of gorgeous peony plants, flower growers sharing their expertise, and plenty of fun activities for kids.”
Explore the Indianapolis Cultural Trail
This eight-mile-long urban trail opened in 2013 and offers a bike and pedestrian path in downtown Indianapolis. The city constructed the path as a way to highlight its cultural assets. Attractions located along the route include the City Market and the Hilbert Circle Theatre. There’s no shortage of unique things to do and see along this Indianapolis trail.
“The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a world-class urban trail and linear park that spans eight miles (soon to be 10) and five acres throughout downtown Indianapolis,” says Autumn Monaghan. “Experience free family-friendly events such as live music, yoga, sound baths, and more in one of the spaces that intersect the Cultural Trail: the Downtown Canal, Lugar Plaza, and Georgia Street. Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Inc. operates the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare, with 50 stations and 525 bikes spanning from Broad Ripple to Garfield Park. Adaptive bike rentals are available by reservation.”
Spend an afternoon at the Indianapolis City Market
There are countless unique things to do and see at the Indianapolis City Market. “The market’s history is as rich as the promise of its future,” says Amy Crook. “When it opened in 1886, the market ushered in a new tradition: an open space for the sale of meats and produce, The Original Gathering Place, if you will.”
Crook adds, “The Indianapolis City Market is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a vibrant downtown event destination. Today, the City Market offers patrons an experience that combines the best of both yesterday and today with a wide variety of eateries, retailers, coffee, a barber shop, and an all-Indiana craft beer bar. The Market features bocce ball courts, corn hole, and ample outdoor seating to play and enjoy live music on occasion.”