Honestly, before heading to Indianapolis I had NO CLUE what to think. I’ve obviously heard of Indianapolis before and it was on my list of cities to visit, but I will admit, it wasn’t very high up there. I think that’s because I didn’t know a thing about Indy and didn’t know a soul who lived there to tell me how cool it was. After getting accepted into Bloghouse (a retreat full of up-and-coming bloggers), located in Indianapolis, I decided to come back to the USA after 9 months of traveling abroad just to see what Indy was all about!
Let’s just say I had a blast, fell in love with the city, and can’t wait to go back. How unexpected is that? And although Indy is a big time hit for families (think awesome Indy Zoo and Children’s Museum), there are also so many incredible things to do in Indianapolis for those of us in our 20s!
9 Fun Things to Do in Indianapolis as a 20-Something
Ready to have some fun in Indy? Here are 9 Fun Things to Do in Indianapolis in Your 20’s!
1. Booze at the Breweries & Bars
Let’s get right down to it people…the brewskis. Indy has enough breweries, cocktail bars, wine bars and sports bars that you couldn’t even hit them all up in a lifetime. Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it would take a LONG time. If you aren’t really into the traditional bar drinking there are also options for hopping on a bike bar where you bike around town with friends OR a brewery/winery bus tour! Many of the bars in Indy are large, spacious and have great outdoor seating which I found perfect for summer.
Another thing I found particularly cool is that Indianapolis doesn’t have an open container law. I don’t think the city is yelling this from the rooftops, but I like it because it means you can bring a drink with you on the streets. Also, I didn’t see anyone else doing it, but I liked the fact that it reminded me of New Orleans and Vegas as I brought my beer with me on a walk. I know I’m a #rebel. Whether wine is your thing, cocktails or just a great beer, there are endless amounts of places to have a night out on the town.
Here are a few of my recommendations:
Ball & Biscuit for an amazing cocktail
The Eagle on Mass Ave. for a chilled out vibe/good place to start the night
Metazoa Brewing Co & SunKing Brewery for some great brewskis
Indy Brew Bus for a brewery tour throughout the city
Bike around the city with The Handle Bar Bike Bar
The Broadripple area to find TONS of bars and restaurants
Meridian Street if you’re looking to get crazy like a college kid
2. Get Sporty
Indy is a mecca for sports fans! Not only do they host one of the most famous automobile races in the world, the Indy 500, but they have tons of sports teams and sports museums to check out. While in Indy you can catch a Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium (or just get a tour of the stadium), watch an Indianapolis Pacers basketball game, or check out the minor-league baseball team at Victory Field. Not in Indy during a game? You can also tour the NCAA Hall of Champions or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum!
3. Stuff Your Face With Kicka** Grub
Eat all the food! Indy is a foodie’s para-para-paradise! I had some incredible food while visiting the city and want to go back for more ASAP. Zagat even named Indy one of America’s hottest food scenes! So, of course, there are a lot of restaurants getting built and/or opening soon. The Indy foodie scene is definitely hot hot hot!
Here are a few recommendations:
Dinner: Mesh on Mass
4. Enjoy a Paddle in the Canal District
The Canal District in Indy is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a modern American city. It reminded me of a mini-Amsterdam with canals surrounding the NCAA Hall of Fame and winding next to the White River State Park. The best part is that you can rent a paddle boat on the canal for a leisurely afternoon and get amazing views of downtown Indy. If you’re lucky, you can also spot the #LoveIndy sign and get a picture standing as the ‘I’ like I awkwardly did here.
5. Rent a bike and bike on the Monon Trail.
Believe it or not, Indianapolis is an extremely bike friendly city (see more similarities to Amsterdam!). They’ve built amazing trails throughout the city and have paths that go out of the city to neighboring towns as well. You can rent a bike from places like the Indianapolis Pacers Bike Share (who have spots all over the city to pick up and drop off) and then you can hop on the Monon Trail for a little city getaway. This trail is about 10 miles long total and goes from downtown Indy all the way to Carmel in Hamilton County. Hamilton County is a must visit if you go to Indiana and a great day trip since you can bike the entire way there! The trail goes through forests, over bridges, and through many parks and is a perfectly nice weather activity if you’re up for it!
7. Visit Monument Circle and the War Memorial Plaza
Are you into history? If so, there’s a ton for you in Indianapolis. Monument Circle and the War Memorial Plaza are must see’s as you tour around the city. The plaza replicates the D.C. Mall and Monument Circle is a great place to start your tour and get your bearings — both are stunning! I also highly recommend checking out the War Memorials and Monument Circle at night during sunset.
8. Take a stroll on Indiana’s Cultural Trail or White River State Park.
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an 8-mile bike and walking path and it works it’s way through downtown Indy. If you follow the path it will take you through 6 districts including Fountain Square, Canal District, White River State Park and Mass Ave. You also won’t want to miss a sunset walk through the White River State Park!
9. Check out the Indianapolis Zoo & Children’s Museum
Have kids or a kid at heart? I sometimes forgot there are some of us out there in our 20’s with kids, (duh), but for those of you with kids and/or are kids at heart it’s important not to miss the Indianapolis Zoo or the Children’s Museum. My Bloghouse group got a tour of both and we all were amazed at how well done they both were. I felt like a kid again and especially enjoyed Zoolapalooza (a night at the zoo with live music and food) and the Take Me There: China exhibit at the Children’s’ Museum. Your kids will be happy and you will too!
I hope this list helps you have a fun visit to Indianapolis and I hope you get to meet some locals while you’re there! The hospitality of the people living in Indiana might be the best part about visiting and it surely made my experience that much more special.
WHERE TO STAY:
JW Marriott Indianapolis
I stayed at this hotel for the Bloghouse conference and LOVED it, First of all, the views of Downtown Indy, Victory Field and White Water Park were worth staying there in itself. The beds were comfy, bathrooms were large, and they had robes (my favorite part)! The most noteworthy is the location of the hotel as it’s perfectly located close to downtown and also very close to the park and the Canal District.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room
Homewood Suites by Hilton Indianapolis – Downtown
This is a great budget hotel located downtown and very close to Monument Circle and many great bars and restaurants. If you want to be directly downtown this is a good choice!
A huge shout out and thank you to Visit Indy, Visit Indiana, and JW Marriott Indianapolis, our conference sponsors at BlogHouse Indy. All travel and accommodation costs were paid by me. As always, all opinions are my own.
Some of the above links are affiliate links and I will earn a tiny percentage of the sale if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you.
It looks like you found plenty of fun things to do in Indy :-). How was BlogHouse — I had not heard of it before your post — how many participants were there?
I amazed at all there is to do and taste in Indy! It’s so close to me. I need to incorporate some of this into a weekend trip soon. I also want to learn more about Bloghouse. I wasn’t familiar with them. Thanks for sharing!
Juliann – Browsing the Atlas recently posted…The Horror of Lynching – Expressed Through Art
I enjoyed all these things and more during my experience in Indy. There is great food, great distilleries, and breweries, everything a foodie needs, all the rest is gravy!
This looks like so much fun! Usually cities that hibernate in winter really come to life in the summer. Would love to try a bike ride or paddle boat!
Jen recently posted…How to Get to Anafiotika: An Island Oasis in the Middle of Athens, Greece
I had no idea there was so much to do in Indy! I’d like to check out the food and beer/wine scene. Love your recommendations. Will remember this next time I do a US road trip.
A million times yes to #1 — so many more breweries and bars to visit in Indy 🙂 When I return, I want to check out their famous sports scene too. Even though you can enjoy Indianapolis in your 20s, it’s totally amazing for all ages 🙂
These all sound fantastic! (though I am 23 haha). I could pass on the booze though; we have enough of that up in Brew City (Milwaukee). But the food looks delicious, and I’m all about that children’s museum and the canal district!
I need to visit Indy the next time I visit U.S.! Everyone is talking about it and I seem to be missing out on all the fun! I would especially love to paddle in the Canal District!
Yes! You definitely should go. I loved it 🙂
Such a vibrant looking city! Love the food and beer scene. Hopefully I’d get to visit one day soon
Oh yesss! I bet you’d love it!
I moved to Indy almost a year ago. It has been the best decision I have ever made coming from Austin, TX. The cost of living is so much cheaper out here. Real estate prices are awesome compare to other awesome cities. Indy definitely flies under the radar and once people see it for themselves, they see how cool it really is.
Good write up!
Alexander recently posted…How I Purchased My Newest Rental Property with Full Details
You’re right! I’ve heard this is same exact thing…although I love Austin TX I think you made a great decision!
I just went brewery hopping on bikes last Saturday and it was so much fun. Would love to do it in Indianapolis if we ever go! The food looks delish too- will have to work off those calories with some paddling though 😛
I never knew that Indy had so many fun activities to offer! I have never been but now I will have to put it on my list. All of this looks really fun! Thanks for sharing!
Indiana natives love articles like this! So glad you had fun — there’s a lot to do and it’s so pretty here in summer. I was surprised about the no open container law, though —
so surprised that I looked it up. You’re right, there is no open container law. I had no idea! I admit that I don’t drink much downtown, but I’ve never once been allowed to walk out of a bar or designated outdoor drinking area with an open container. Now I want to try it. There IS a public intoxication law, so anyone testing this should take care that that their open container does not become evidence.
Yeah try it out! That’s so funny!