This is the best of the Midwest. I’ve compiled a list of my “can’t miss” weekend in Indianapolis to take your itinerary to the next level and make sure you find all the secrets, hot spots and fan favorites. Indiana itself has a lot to offer but I made sure to put a list together that highlights all of the Circle City attractions you could knock out over a quick can’t miss Indianapolis weekend activities.
Indianapolis Weekend Activities
Eats & Treats
City Market is much more than a marketplace with vendors, it’s a building for food stalls, a meeting place for locals, an event space for celebrations and a historical monument for this city. When we first arrived for our tour there were construction workers on their lunch break playing ping pong at the urban park space in the front of the building. I noticed there were seating areas strategically placed to foster discussions and not sit alone, a corn hole game and green space with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Everything was clean and used respectfully, welcome to a Midwest city! The first floor is packed with local vendors, both selling prepared foods as well as produce, proteins and baked goods. Step up to the second floor and grab a local beer on tap or a coffee.
In addition to being a staple city meeting place, the market is the original open air market from the late 1800’s and you can still see the architecture from the old foundation in the buildings catacombs. Tours are only on specific days so make sure you check the site and book in advance to guarantee a visit.
We walked by this storefront earlier in the week and I made a mental note to revisit this sweet shack before I left . The cupcakes are delicious little works of paper wrapped art. They are one of the original cupcake shops in the city & they’ve expanded to several locations. I had the Red Velvet Elvis, it was life changing-ly scrumptious & check out their menu for other flavors including vegan and gluten free options.
Patachou Foundation has several restaurants in the city, but this was by far my favorite. It has an informal cafeteria style ordering system but with food that is far better than your fifth grade lunch line. Loads of healthy, local options and profits go back into the community towards helping food insecure families. I like this place so much it’s made my list not once, but TWICE.
An eclectic spot with a dive bar attitude, humorous menu and vegan food options and tons of craft beers. They only show cult classic movies and hockey games on TV and don’t forget your license because it seems like their policy is to card everyone at the door. Did I mention they have tator tots, need I say more?!
Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station seems to be a staple among the locals in the neighborhood. What once was a small train station has now been converted into a family run establishment. Any ice cream served at BRICS is in real glassware and they avoid using plastic spoons making environmentally friendly choices a priority. They are located right along the Monon Trail so you can easily grab a cone (or biodegradable cup) and take a stroll.
The beer scene in Indianapolis is bubbling over, it seems like craft beer and breweries are everywhere in Indy, so if you are a lover of beer, you’ve come to the right place. Metazoa was one of my favorite breweries, offering up delicious beers and this pet friendly pub also donates a percentage of it’s profits towards animal friendly organizations. You can drink and donate at the same time, a genius guilt free combination.
Sun King Brewery
This is Indy’s largest microbrewery, and is only distributed in Indiana. Sun King was the recipient of a Great American Beer Festival gold medal award for brewing, and it shows when you have a tasting at one of their 2 locations. We were in town for the unveiling of a seasonal grapefruit IPA alongside their 8th anniversary celebration and by the size of the crowd it was evident the locals enjoy Sun King as much as us tourists.
Ball & Biscuit
A speak easy style bar creating craft cocktails and serving up small plates. This original cocktail bar has been featured in Esquire as one of the countries “Best American Bars” so we had to try out some boozy beverages for ourselves. The attractive man behind the bar mixed up some tasty concoctions based on flavors or liquors that we told him we usually like. No one was disappointed. While on Mass Ave, the cities five block arts district, be sure to check out the other restaurants, theatre, shopping and dessert spots along the avenue. Aside from the delightful B&B, there are a lot of other wonderful options.
Sights & Sounds
Second to Washington DC, Indianapolis has the most monuments of any other city in the US. All of the monuments are easily reachable by foot, creating your own tour of the city. Tour the city and get all the rich history with a group by booking a spot with Active Indy Tours, they run daily and go as fast or slow as you like (running, biking or walking).
Travel Tip: I always see if there are free walking tours in cities I visit, it’s one of the first things I do to get my bearings and learn more about where I am and it’s a great way to figure out what you’d want to see and do while you are there. Indianapolis has self guided audio tours that can be downloaded to your phone courtesy of Walk Indianapolis.
It’s the largest children’s museum in the world, so it’s easy to spend a day here exploring. They have both permanent and rotating exhibits so each visit will be different than the next. The dinosaurs play a major role here, both in highlighting the architecture and education. Dinosphere offers viewers some of the most unique specimens you’ll see in any museum (think: a dinosaur named in homage to Harry Potter as well as one of the most preserved fossil ever discovered).
The Power of Children exhibit highlights three young change makers (Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White) showing kids and parents that you can make differences no matter what age you are, a powerful message.
On a sunny day this is another perfect one of Indianapolis weekend activities, walking or biking along the cultural trail. The Cultural Trail is a a well maintained route to give you an easy, safe connection to different downtown districts, neighborhoods and green spaces in and around the city. The Pacers Bikeshare is available along the trail making it easy to rent a bike and explore.
Shops & Souvenirs
We stumbled on a weekend urban market in the Broad Ripple district, conveniently set up right along the Monon Trail. There was live music playing, food vendors and dozens of tents and tables of local entrepreneurs and flea marketers selling a wide array of goods. It was a great place for window shopping and getting to know some of the local residents.
I could spend literally HOURS in this store! Home Spun shop offers hand made and locally crafted goods, with the idea of highlighting the artist. There are over 300 craftspeople and artisans whose works can be purchased here giving you a one stop shop to support local artists.
This has everything local you are looking for, vintage style t-shirts and apparel for adults and children. We went looking for one specific item, a blue Indy shirt that the tourism board had been sporting the weekend we were there and we all loved the logo & design. Show your pride for Indy and get one for yourself here.