Whether you’re visiting Indianapolis for your first very first 500, or you’re here for your 20th year, chances are you’re not venturing much outside Speedway and the west side. That’s too bad, because Indianapolis is a great city with a lot to do. We’re so much more than just auto racing.
Don’t get me wrong: we love our Indianapolis 500. But there’s something going on the other 364 days a year too.
(There’s the Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis GP. . .)
Here are four things you should do while you’re in Indianapolis, and assuming you’re here for more than just the weekend. (Looking at you, race teams and journalists. Come on, you know nothing’s going on at the track the Wednesday before Pole Day. Put that expense account to use on something other than burgers.)
1. Eat Around the World in One Location
Okay, we’re going to take baby steps. Just a couple miles north of the Speedway is a little plaza in the 5300 block of West 38th Street. Take Georgetown north to 38th, hang a left, and the plaza is on your right. There are some great international restaurants there, including Abyssinia (Ethiopian), El Mezcal (Mexican), Ginza Japanese Steakhouse, and one of my favorite restaurants, Machu Picchu (Peruvian).
While the plaza may be a little modest when you pull in, these are some of the best kept secrets in Indianapolis, and people from all over town will make the drive just for the little green sauce at Machu Picchu or the goat or lamb dishes at Abyssinia (there are also vegetarian dishes there).
2. Catch a PLay
Indianapolis is filled with live theater, especially around the downtown area, in the Mass Ave. district — Phoenix, Theatre On The Square, Indy Fringe Theatre, Cook Theatre — or downtown — Indiana Repertory Theatre, Madame Walker Theatre.
3. Visit a Museum
We have five major museums in Indianapolis: the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Indiana State Museum, and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, which is constantly ranked as one of the best in the country. There are other smaller museums as well, both historic and special interest-based:
- Morris Butler House
- President Benjamin Harrison House
- Freetown Living History Museum
- Indiana Medical History Museum
- Indianapolis Art Center
- American Legion Mall and Headquarters Museum
- Conner Prairie, a living history museum in Fishers, just north of Indianapolis.
And of course, don’t forget the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
4. Visit the Circle Center Mall
Indianapolis has plenty of malls in the area (Castleton Square Mall, Keystone Fashion Mall, Lafayette Square Mall, Greenwood Park Mall, Plainfield Metropolis Mall), including a couple outdoor walls (Clay Terrace in Carmel and Hamilton Town Center in Fishers/Noblesville). But the Circle Centre Mall in the center of downtown Indianapolis is huge, conveniently located, and is filled with plenty of stores that you won’t find elsewhere.