In the cold, snowy months we all dream of taking a warm, tropical vacation. However, there is still so much to do in this midwestern city. The locals are used to the snow, so bundle up and head downtown for a weekend trip to Indy.
Indianapolis is a big city, and it’s growing every year. With over 850,000 residents, this up-and-coming city constantly expanding its parks, events and local hotspots.
Here is a map of Indianapolis. Indy is divided into four quadrants. All around the city are signs showing you which quadrant you’re in!
Much of the Northwest quadrant is taken up by IUPUI, the local university. We’ll be almost entirely in the Southwest quad. If you get lost, just work your way to Monument Circle. It’s the very center of the city and from there you can refresh your directions.
Visit White River State Park
Yes, even in the winter state parks can be fun! This park is unique because it’s the only urban state park in America. This state park is located right downtown on land surrounding the White River. While it’s especially beautiful in the summer, there are still many things to do in the winter. If the day is warm enough you can walk the path along the river and spot sculptures scattered around.
However, it’s most likely going to be cold so pretty soon you will want to head into one of the many buildings found on the park’s property. This state park is filled with things to do. You could fill up most of your day here! The Eteljorg Museum focuses on Native American history, and for any sports fans, the NCAA Hall of Champions can be found here.
The Indiana State Museum here too. It’s an absolutely gorgeous museum. Walk around the outside of the building and find artwork for every county in Indiana! Porter County has a sculpture of the Indiana Dunes, Delaware County has Ball Jars & a Garfield statue. You will learn a neat fact about each county this way. It’s especially fun for Hoosiers who can walk around and try to find their home county.
Attend a City Event
A Mac & Cheese Fest was happening the day I went to Indy – how fun! There was also a whiskey festival recently. There are always things going on so be sure to explore the Calendar of Events to prepare for special outings.
Stop By The Capitol Building
Indianapolis is unique because its one of the few states to have all three branches of government working in the same building. The capitol building is just gorgeous. If you’re a political buff opt for a tour, otherwise admire it from the outside and read up on the statues located on the grounds.
Take a Walk on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail
This trail is a walking path and a bike path that goes all around the city! It hits six different cultural districts downtown and will take you everywhere you need to go. You can view the map here. As you can see, there are B Cycle stations all over the map, and these bikes are painted yellow for the Indiana Pacers! Because it’s cold I recommend waiting on the bikes until springtime. Walk between close destinations like White River State Park and the Circle Center Mall.
Cheer on a Local Sports Team
Indiana is home to two major league sports teams: the Indiana Paces & the Indianapolis Colts. If you’re a football fan head over to Lucas Oil Stadium. Football seasons generally run from September to February. If you’re more of a basketball fan, try Bankers Life Fieldhouse instead. Basketball typically runs from October to April. Both of these options are high-energy and fun!
Check Out Events at the ArtsGarden
The ArtsGarden is a neat art and culture venue downtown. It rises over the intersection of Washington and Illinois streets, so you can look out over the roads. It hosts hundreds of free events every year, from art exhibits to performances, and it can also be rented out for private parties and weddings. You can also find a concierge desk here to help answer any art & culture questions you have, or give you recommendations on things to do and events happening in the city.
Shop at Circle Centre Mall
Connect to the Arts Garden (so you don’t even have to step out in the cold!) is the Circle Centre Mall. Do some shopping. It has all the typical shops you’d expect to find like H&M, Banana Republic, and many others. There’s also a food court so you can grab lunch.
Go to the Art Museum
The Indianapolis Museum of Art if a few miles north of downtown, but it’s worth the drive. This museum hosts numerous beautiful exhibits at very reasonable rates. Specifically during the cold months, they have a Winter Performance & Film Series. Other exhibits they have currently are “From Picasso With Love” and “Portraits of Our City.” Of all the museums to explore, I always enjoy art museums.
This museum is unique because it was mentioned in the popular book “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, and Indianapolis native. That and the popular movie that followed made one of the works of art an icon in pop culture. The art museum is located on many acres of land, and there are beautiful gardens surrounding it. While it may seem a little daring in the winter, take a short hike out to the Meadow and see Funky Bones for yourself.
Atelier Van Lieshout is a Dutch artist who created this piece in 2010. Most people will opt out of this in the winter because it’s too cold, but the perk of visiting in February meant that I had the whole sculpture to myself!
Indianapolis is a hidden gem in this country. This is just the tip of the ice burg, and the activities only expand as the weather warms up. Don’t forget to try local bars and restaurants! Happy exploring!