Indianapolis is synonymous with sports. Ask around the question, “What is Indianapolis known for?” and people will likely mention these three: Racing Capital of the World, the Indiana Pacers, and the Indianapolis Colts.
Indy, however, is also famous for other things beyond professional sports. It has a rich history, vibrant arts and culture, and a bustling food scene, among many others.
In this article, you’ll discover the many things that make Indianapolis unique and worthy of a visit. Get ready to fall in love with this city!
Unearthing Indianapolis's Rich History
Indianapolis’ history began from humble beginnings as a Native American settlement and trading outpost. Over the past 200 years, it has evolved into a thriving metropolis known for its vibrant culture, flourishing downtown, and growing high-tech industries.
Indy was constructed in 1821 in the image of Washington, D.C. It took shape around a mile square formed by a grid of perpendicular streets, with the state’s Capitol building on its west perimeter.
With the city’s expansion came the growth of manufacturing and wholesale districts. This attracted immigrants from several countries like Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Denmark, as well as newly freed African Americans, who became the heart of the Indianapolis working community.
In 1888, the Union Station railway hub was completed, and with numerous trains moving in and out of the city every day, Indianapolis was soon dubbed the “Crossroads of America,” a moniker that still sticks to this day.
Indianapolis Sports Scene
If you’re a sports fan, you’ll have a blast in Indy. The racing capital of the world is host to three of the world’s highest-attended single-day events – the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400, and the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One Race.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the oldest continually operating racetrack and the world’s largest sports seating facility, featuring IndyCar, NASCAR, USAC, and MotoAmerica. It hosts the largest single-day sports event, the Indy 500.
The Indianapolis sports scene is home to the NCAA and has hosted more Final Fours than any other city. Indy regularly plays host to Big Ten championships in both basketball and football.
When it comes to pro sports, the city is home to the Indianapolis Colts (NFL), Indiana Pacers (NBA), Indiana Fever (WNBA), Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A baseball), Indy Eleven (USL Soccer), and Indy Fuel (ECHL hockey).
The Vibrant Arts and Music Scene
Indianapolis culture boasts outstanding museums, one of which is the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) – the ninth oldest and eighth largest encyclopedic art museum in the United States. It is located on a 152-acre campus of lush gardens, historic homes, and outdoor sculptures.
Founded in 1883, the IMA features significant collections of African, American, Asian, and European contemporary art that span 5,000 years of history. Its permanent collection comprises over 54,000 works, including African, American, Asian, and European pieces.
The city also boasts the world’s largest children’s museum – with a 482,950 square-foot facility on approximately 30 acres of land. Founded in 1925, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is consistently ranked as one of the top children’s museums in the United States.
Over the years, the museum has hosted various immersive exhibits designed to engage every child, and child at heart, who comes to visit. In addition to its permanent galleries, the museum also showcases international traveling exhibits.
When it comes to entertainment, Indianapolis locals are visited by many touring artists and musicians, thanks to the city’s central location.
The Old National Centre is one of the busiest live music venues located in the heart of downtown Indy’s Mass Ave Arts District. The performing arts theater in the building, The Murat Theatre, is the oldest stage house in the area.
The Vogue is one of the most iconic venues in Indy. It converted from a movie theater to a nightclub in 1977, and it has hosted big-time headliners, including Johnny Cash, Snoop Dogg, and John Mayer.
The Rathskeller Restaurant and Biergarten hosts the best local bands for live shows. Its upbeat atmosphere, coupled with a view of the Indy skyline, makes this a perfect spot for unwinding after a busy day.
Indy's Food Culture
What else is Indianapolis famous for? Delicious food! Here are some of the culinary treats you need to try while in the city.
One of the city’s sought-after culinary creations is the Deep-Fried Tenderloin Sandwich – a giant disc of pork, pounded thin, breaded, and fried, then placed in a small bun and topped with lettuce, tomato, and pickles.
Some of the best places that serve this sandwich are The Rathskeller, Chatham Tap, The Mug, The Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant, Nine Irish Brothers, and Plump’s Last Shot.
The fiery Shrimp Cocktail is a crowd favorite at St. Elmo Steak House and sister restaurant Harry & Izzy’s. This appetizer is said to be intensely hot, so be sure you have a glass full of water when you try it!
Shapiro’s Delicatessen’s The Reuben satisfies the palate with a generous portion of its famous corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, all stacked on house-baked, hand-cut rye, then grilled to perfection.
The Workingman’s Friend has been serving smashed-thin, crispy-edged burgers dressed simply with American cheese and the usual fixings since 1918. Enjoy this zero-frills burger with an iced goblet of domestic beer.
Parks and Green Spaces
The city is teeming with parks and green spaces that offer some of the best views of the Indy’s skyline.
If you happen to visit in July, you must go to Highland Park, east of downtown Indy. This city park offers one of the best vantage points for Fourth of July fireworks.
Garfield Park is the oldest park in Indianapolis and also one of its lushest. The Sunken Garden and the colorful, fragrant herbs and plants inside Blake’s Garden will literally make you stop and smell the flowers.
Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the country, with 3,900 acres of nature and 1,300 acres of reservoir. It features 16 miles of walking trails, a dog park, a golf course, exercise stations, and several playgrounds.
There’s so much to look forward to when you visit Indianapolis. With so much to offer, you might just fall in love and decide to stay here!
If you are considering moving and buying a home in Indy, I’d be happy to show you all the best properties in the area. Feel free to give me a call at (317) 909-3111 or email me at email@example.com so we can schedule an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the city’s hidden gems worth checking out: The Ruins, Indianapolis Moon Tree, City Market Catacombs, and Traders Point Creamery.
The best time to visit Indy is between May and August, when the weather averages in the mid-80s and there’s a vast array of outdoor events, like the iconic Indianapolis 500.
Yes, some of the best places to visit with young children are The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, White River State Park, Indianapolis Zoo, Conner Prairie, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Rhythm! Discovery Center, and Dallara IndyCar Factory.
Yes, generally, Indianapolis is a safe city to visit.
Yes, Indianapolis has a robust public transportation system, making it convenient to move you around the city, from buses to bikeshares.