The Indianapolis skyline
Indianapolis began a project of downtown beautification in the 1990s—the skyline is seen here in 2010

Indianapolis is in the Nine-County Region of Indiana, right at the center of the state; it is the capital and largest city. The population within city limits is approximately 830,000, making it the 13th largest city in the US; the metropolitan area has about 2 million (23rd in the US). Efforts to beautify and modernize the city have brought Indianapolis into the 21st century as a world-class destination for everything from business meetings and trade conventions to backpackers making their way across the States.

Indianapolis is known as the "Racing Capital of the World" due to the proximity of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500 and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard as well as the "Amateur Sports Capital of America" for hosting the NCAA. The city has several attractions outside of sports including museums, a large zoo, over 100 ethnic restaurants, several arts and historic districts, and a revitalized downtown. Although Indy has been mocked with the epithet "India-noplace", Indianapolis has several attractions for visitors, with a mix of both a large metropolitan city and a simple Midwestern community.


An aerial photograph of downtown Indianapolis
Indianapolis' downtown is cut through by the non-navigable waters of the White River

The founders of Indianapolis expected it to be the "Great Inland Port", but they neglected to consider the fact that the White River is impossible to navigate most of the year; other than during the spring, it is a melange of sandbars and temporary islands. However, this port desire left the city with a beautiful canal district, though the canal itself is used only for recreational paddleboats and kayaks.

Instead, Indianapolis is called the "Crossroads of America" due to its centrality in America's Interstate Highway System. The city is warm in the summer, with average highs in the mid-80s F (30°C) in June, July, and August. Indianapolis has a typical mid-western winter. January is the coldest month, with an average high of 34°F (1.1°C). Every few years, the winter gets sharp with significant snowfall and once a generation or so there is an ice storm or otherwise impassible winter weather event. Indianapolis exists within a tornado region but has never been impacted by major twisters. Travelers really only need to beware the occasional nasty winter and sometimes overly hot summer. The city has had two droughts since 1980, neither of which was disastrous.

In general, travel in and through Indianapolis is safe, clean, and logical. Visitors can always find something to do without becoming overwhelmed at a sprawling metropolis. In a few minutes, you can go from a sleepy and peaceful cornfield to a vibrant downtown.

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 35.6 40.2 51.7 63.4 72.8 81.9 85 84 77.6 65.3 52.2 38.9
Nightly lows (°F) 20.5 23.9 32.8 42.7 52.6 62.1 65.8 64.4 56.2 44.7 35.1 24.4
Precipitation (in) 2.66 2.32 3.56 3.81 5.05 4.25 4.55 3.13 3.12 3.12 3.7 3.17
Snowfall (in) 8.6 6.5 2.6 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.7 6.9
Sunshine (hrs/day) 9.68 10.62 11.87 13.2 14.33 14.92 14.65 13.68 12.38 11.07 9.93 9.38

Data from 1980–2010,

Visitor information

Get in

A two-story passenger drop-off at the airport
Indianapolis International Airport is home to one of the largest FedEx hubs and was rebuilt in 2008

By car

Indianapolis is known as the "Crossroads of America" for a good reason. Interstates 65, 69, 70, and 74 meet here. The city's outer belt is I-465. Travel directly through the city on I-70 (east and west) or I-65 (north and south). Direct travel using I-74 or I-69 is not possible; I-74 is routed around the center of the city on I-465, and I-69 currently ends at its intersection with I-465 to the city's north.

Note that 65 and 70 intersect at a region known as "the split" south of downtown. There is also a ramp onto Washington Street, which is the main east–west artery in the city. Traffic here can be extremely busy and construction is routine. It's possible that you'll have situations where you want to cut across five lanes of traffic going 70 mph (113 kmh) in a distance of less than a mile (1.2 km)!

By plane

By bus

By train

Amtrak has daily services from Chicago with either Hoosier State or Cardinal-trains. The Cardinal, which runs thrice a week, connects with Cincinnati, Washington, D.C. and New York City. Trains depart from the southern end of   Indianapolis Union Station (phone: +1-800-872-7245) located at 350 S Illinois St , next to the Greyhound station.

Get around

Outside of Downtown and Broad Ripple, you'll need a car to get around this sprawling city. While the public bus system is usually clean and efficient, routes can be complex, and large parts of the metro area are not serviced. Outside of peak hours, waits can be prohibitively long. Bike lanes alongside major roads have been constructed in the early 2010s, so beware that cyclists will be sharing the road.

By pedicabs

Indy Pedicabs serves downtown Indianapolis with pedicab transportation. They provide downtown area taxi service, downtown touring service, wedding service, and special events. It provides free taxi service within its service area while the latter charges $5 minimum for taxi service.

By car

The general speed limit on highways is 55–70 mph (88–113 kp/h). If there is no posted speed, assume that it is 35 mph (56 kp/h). An auto is necessary for almost all travel within the city. Indianapolis generally lacks the aggressive driving, bad roads, and congestion associated with major U.S. cities. The city planning is largely logical and follows a grid pattern with some exceptions. A handful of streets cut across the city north–south and only a few (10th, 38th, 82nd/86th, and 96th) go across east–west. Washington Street (formerly part of the Old National Road) is the main east–west through street, which bends to the south on the westside and Meridian runs north–south far past the boundaries of the city. Due to the flat terrain of central Indiana, you can see downtown from most spots in the city. If you are desperately lost, you can at least get your bearings by looking for the handful of skyscrapers.

Starting in the 2000s, Indianapolis and the surrounding areas—especially Avon in the west and Carmel in the north—have added several roundabouts. American motorists may not be familiar with them but they are safe (and have reduced collisions in the areas where they have been installed). Local drivers are accustomed to them. In 2013, a Michigan left was installed at 96th and Allisonville, the extreme north of the city. The junction can be very confusing and local drivers are not quite acclimated to it.

Parking meters are found downtown. The city sold control of these to a private company in 2011–2012 and parking tickets are handed out aggressively. Meters accept cards, coins, and small bills.

By bus

A sideview of an IndyGo bus
Indy Go buses will take you to any neighborhood in Indianapolis

Indy Go is the public bus system. It travels throughout the city and suburbs. Single fares are $1.75, day passes are available for $4, and all buses are equipped with two bike racks. The bus system is a very nice way to travel with the one exception of frequency—outside of rush hour routes, you can find yourself with a 30+ minute wait. Almost all routes travel from a locality in the outskirts of the city to the centrally-located bus stops downtown and back out; there are also a handful of smaller circulators and loops. Consequently, if you want to go across town, you will likely have to catch two buses.

Perhaps the most useful route for visitors is #17 College, which runs between all of the city's most popular dining and nightlife strips. It runs between Broad Ripple Ave and Downtown, where it travels along the popular Mass Ave strip, and loops around Capitol, Ohio, Delaware, and Maryland. Runs roughly M–F 5AM–9:30PM, Sa 6AM–9:30PM, Su 7PM–9PM.

#8 Washington St is a good route to travel quickly west of downtown to the Zoo and the Canal. It runs west through downtown on Ohio, then down West St by the Canal, and then on old US-40/Washington St past the Zoo, and then all the way out to the Airport, passing by a Latino district and along the old US-36 route. The #8 route also heads east from downtown and can be used to access the quaint neighborhood of Irvington. M–F 9AM–11PM, Sa 6AM–10PM, Su 7AM–7PM.

#18 Nora runs up from the Downtown loop around Capitol, Ohio, Delaware, and Maryland up Meridian St past the Children's Museum. M–F 6AM–9:15PM, Sa 8AM–9:15PM, Su limited.

#38 Lafayette Square is another convenient tourist route, as it runs up Meridian St past the Children's Museum from the Downtown loop, and then west on 38th past the beautiful Indianapolis Museum of Art and Crown Hill Cemetery. M–F 7AM–9PM, Sa 8AM–9PM, Su 9:30AM–7:30PM.

By bike

Biking is easy due to the flat terrain. Indy offers a variety of bike paths throughout the city, including the Monon Trail and the Central Canal. Currently under expansion is The Indianapolis Cultural Trail which takes riders through downtown providing signs with Indianapolis history. This world-class bike and pedestrian path marks an interconnectivity that no other city of Indianapolis' size can achieve, connecting the city's seven Cultural Districts, neighborhoods, and entertainment amenities, and serving as the downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system. Starting in 2008, Mayor Greg Ballard announced a plan to make Indianapolis a bike-friendly city for those venturing out on open, and often busy, roads. The plan includes constructing 200 miles (322 km) of additional bike lanes throughout the next 15 years, many of which are already constructed.

Note that motorists in Indianapolis are not known for being aggressive but it is still novel for many of them to share major roads with cyclists. Bike lanes are clearly marked but some drivers may encroach upon them. Also, while the Monon is a beautiful and well-traveled path, it is frequently unsafe at night—particularly north of Downtown. Solo biking along the trail at night is best avoided.

IndyGo buses include two bike racks in the front for storing your cycle but if they are full, then you'll be out of luck.

By taxi

Cabs are available including Yellow Cab Indy and Indy Airport Taxi and are readily available mainly downtown and in Broad Ripple Village. Call ahead: Taxis generally cannot be flagged down (with some exceptions Downtown and in Broad Ripple). Taxi services will take you anywhere within the city and the surrounding area, 24/7.

Indianapolis also has two additional options: Uber and Lyft. Download their mobile apps and you can get picked up anywhere in the metropolitan area and brought to your destination.



The sun rising over downtown

The tallest building in Indianapolis is the Chase Tower, standing at 830 feet (253 meters), followed by the OneAmerica Tower which is 533 feet (163 meters) and the One Indiana Tower standing at a height of 504 feet (154 meters). The fourth and fifth are the Market Tower (421 feet or 128 meters) and 300 North Meridian (408 feet or 124 meters). Other skyscrapers include the M&I Plaza (401 feet or 122 meters) and the JW Marriott Indianapolis (376 feet or 115 meters), which is the tallest hotel in the state and the largest JW Marriott in the world. All skyscrapers are in a relatively compact cluster downtown.

Outdoors and Landmarks

Several grave markers
Military gravestones at Crown Hill Cemetery


The colossal Indiana War Memorial


The Arts


The Indiana State House

Festivals and Events


Downtown's Canal District reserves a plot of land for Military Park


Indy Parks features information and links regarding all Indianapolis public parks. Below is an example of some of the cities finest—that attract visitors and locals alike.

Trees turning shade in autumn
Indianapolis has state parks, conservancies, small reserved areas downtown, and the natural resource area of Skiles Test Nature Park (pictured here in autumn).

Rides and Tours

Historic Locations and Activities


Indianapolis 500, ready to start


Includes art galleries, opera, classical and traditional music, dance, performance art.


Includes rock, punk, hip hop, top 40, soul, blues, jazz and all that goodness. A lot of great shows also take place in non-traditional venues (i.e. VFW's) so check out local papers for information.

Other Fun


Butler University's historic campus hosts Hinkle Fieldhouse, an apothecary garden, observatory, and Clowes Hall (pictured)


Indianapolis is made up of various areas that feature unique and typical shopping alike. From Broad Ripple Village and Fountain Square—two unique areas, to typical suburban shopping malls and chains like Castleton. Every area has different options and chances to experience all levels of shopping. Below are some local, regional and national shops and districts that are frequented by avid shoppers.

Broad Ripple Village

Broad Ripple includes several quaint houses converted into businesses and government operations, such as this firehouse

About 20 minutes north of downtown. Broad Ripple is Indy's closest thing to "Greenwich." A big variety of vintage, hippie, trendy, and punk shops. Gift shops galore too. It's a great place for unique local fare.


Castleton is Indy's biggest shopping mall chock full of mall-chains, mall rats and mall food. Surrounded by mega-shops and a few local joints.

86th St. is very complicated in this area because it alternates between 86th St. and 82nd St. There is a Vietnamese restaurant called Viet Bistro at the mall. There is also a large Japanese grocery store.

Historic Irvington

Irvington is a historic district located east of downtown.

Fountain Square

The Fountain Square district is built around the historic Fountain Square Theatre. You can now get barbeque and go duckpin bowling in the structure.

Fountain Square is a historical area about a mile from downtown Indy, to the Southeast. Mainly comprising of antique, thrift and art shops.

Keystone at the Crossing & West

Is easily findable as "86th and Keystone." West includes shopping West of Keystone—Nora, 86th & Ditch, etc. Indy's high scale shopping district with fancy chains and boutique shops and restaurants.

Mass Ave

Mass Ave's Athenæum, Das Deutsche Haus is a reminder of the city's German heritage

A hop skip and a jump from the Circle, Mass Ave has gone through an amazing rebirth to become one of the coolest shopping areas in town full of local shops.

Wholesale District

Is basically downtown Indy. The heart of the city. The main shopping attraction here is the mall.

Suburbs North

Northern Suburbs include Carmel, Zionsville , Noblesville, Westfield and Fishers. These start anywhere north of 96th St. and are about 30 minutes from downtown. Shopping varies area to area.

Suburbs West

Includes Speedway & Lafayette (parts of Indy incorporated) and Plainfield.




Sandwiches and such

Asian fare






Booze and Cocktails

To drink and get into bars you must be 21+. Bars close at 3AM; 12:30AM on Sundays. Alcohol cannot be bought in stores on Sundays. Age requirements vary and are listed below.



There are many national/international hotel/motel chains in town; listed below are some more unique and/or regionally owned operations.





Stay safe

Indianapolis is a generally safe city, but some areas of the city are prone to crime. The downtown center of the city is very safe, but the inner-loop (inside I-465) suburbs can be dangerous in certain area. The biggest exceptions to this are Northern Indianapolis (directly north of downtown) and much of the Eastside, particularly the Far Eastside. The Near Eastside is made up of a patchwork of neighborhoods which are generally safe and have historic buildings interspersed with some urban blight as a product of White Flight. The Near Eastside has been recovering in the 21st century and the break-up of some organized crime rings in the 2010s has had an uneven effect on crime.






Go next

Routes through Indianapolis (by train)

Chicago Crawfordsville  W  E  Cincinnati Charleston

Routes through Indianapolis (by car)

Lafayette Zionsville  N  S  Greenwood Louisville
Fort Wayne Fishers  N  S  END
St. Louis Plainfield  W  E  Greenfield Dayton
Urbana Brownsburg  W  E  Shelbyville Cincinnati
South Bend Carmel  N  S  Greenwood Louisville
Decatur Avon  W  E  Piqua Delaware
Terre Haute Plainfield  W  E  Cumberland Richmond
Lafayette Zionsville  NW  SE  Rushville Cincinnati
Michigan City Zionsville  N  S  Shelbyville Frankfort
Marion Fishers  N  S  Martinsville Bloomington

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.