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15 Awesome Things to do in Indianapolis on Your Next Trip

Indiana may be a flyover state, but Indianapolis is a fascinating city full of rich history, lively shops, and bustling commerce. There’s no shortage of exciting things to do and see in Indianapolis, Indiana. From the fascinating Indiana Medical History Museum to the Sky Zone trampoline park to Fogo de Choa’s where they keep bringing different types of Brazillian meat to your table until you turn your green card over to red, there’s something for every hungry man, shopping woman, and bright-eyed child in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Skyline
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA skyline over Soliders’ and Sailors’ Monument at dusk.

The Best Restaurants in Indianapolis, IN

1. The Eagle’s Nest

If you’re looking for an anniversary or fancy birthday restaurant, you can’t beat The Eagle’s Nest, which is a giant round room mounted above the Hyatt Regency building that slowly revolves in a circle all night. Catch a view of the entire city as you dine without even rising from your chair. Popular Eagle’s Nest dishes include such upscale items as filet mignon, blue crab cakes, baked brie, shrimp bulgogi, and duroc pork chops. There’s no dining experience more luxurious than Indiana’s only revolving restaurant.

2. Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse

This all-you-can-eat Brazilian meat restaurant is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Each guest gets a card on arrival that is green on one side and red on the other. As long as you want to keep the food coming, leave your card with the green side facing up next to your plate. Every few minutes someone from the kitchen will bring out a hunk of churrasqueiro (Brazilian barbequed) meat and cut a piece off onto your plate.

Beef ribs, lamb chops, sirloin, Brazilian pork, chicken, and homemade sausage are some of the meats that could be added to your plate at Fogo de Choa’s. Salads and sides are also available here, and they’ve recently added seafood cooked with a Brazilian-style flare to their menu, and the locals can’t get enough of any of it.

3. Bosphorus Istanbul Café

How about some authentic Turkish cuisine? Nestled in a quaint, old Indy building with other restaurants and shops scattered around nearby, Bosphorus Istanbul Café is full of surprises. Their lovingly decorated building shows attention to detail and leaves you feeling like you’ve been transported from Indy to Istanbul itself. If you aren’t sure about Turkish food, grab their appetizer combo to start. You can’t go wrong with some pita bread and an assortment of dips to try.

Their classic Mediterranean dishes include lamb gyros, shish kebobs, Sultan’s delight, and stuffed eggplant. They also offer seafood specialties as well as vegetarian dishes. They don’t serve alcohol, but they do have Cay (Turkish tea) and Turkish Kahve (coffee) which you absolutely have to sample before leaving.

4. Porter Books and Bread

Just north of Indianapolis is the most delightful café and coffee shop in the state. Porter Books and Bread resides in one of the refurbished Fort Harrison buildings and has the exposed brick and stone inside to prove it. Between the original walls and the cast iron spiral staircase separating the dining area from the kitchen, it looks like the kind of place Tolkien would have penned Lord of the Rings.

Their excellent staff serves stunning breakfast and lunch dishes as well as coffees, teas, and hot chocolates. They recently started serving alcohol as well. All of their ingredients and drinks are locally sourced, and to even further support their community, they have a special table featuring books by local authors. The ambiance alone makes this place a must-see in Indy, and the food and drinks are a delicious bonus.

5. Books and Brews South Indy

Famous for their locally-sourced beer and book exchange program, Books and Brews South Indy is one of several Books and Brews restaurants. But Books and Brews locations are exclusive to Indiana, so make sure you stop by one of these before leaving the state because you won’t find another one anywhere else!

They have tasty bar food and specialize in beer, but they also have a few wine, cocktail, and cider options as well as coffee and tea. You’ll find live music every Friday and Saturday night, shelves bursting with board games for all types of groups, and walls full of books. Books are available for sale and if you’re a Mug Club member, you can participate in their Take a Book, Leave a Book program.

Slightly out of focus image of the interior or a restaurant

Interesting Natural and Historical Sites in Indianapolis, IN

6. The White River Canal Cultural District

The White River Canal runs along many of the main attractions of Indianapolis including the zoo and several museums and restraints. You can take a leisurely stroll along the canal on either side of the wide stone walkway, or you can charter an authentic gondola ride. Authentic as in, the gondoliers actually sing like they would in Italy as they push the gondola down the canal. If you’re the type who’d rather not plan your whole vacation but just see what happens, a trip along the canal is the perfect way to keep the surprises coming all day.

7. Indiana Medical History Museum

Located on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital, the Indiana Medical History Museum resides inside the Old Pathology Building, the oldest surviving pathology building in the nation and a structure on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Pathological Department opened in 1896 and focused on the physical causes of mental disease. Closed in the 1960s, it’s actually been a museum since 1969.

Visitors can view the amphitheater; laboratories for bacteriology, clinical chemistry, histology, and photography; the library, reception room, and records room; as well as the autopsy room and anatomical museum. Dozens of preserved specimens still reside in this room. Most of them are brains organized by pathology.

8. Eiteljorg Museum

The Eiteljorg Museum is named for the family who created the museum to safely house their enormous collection of Western North American historical art and Native American artifacts. They also have a contemporary Native American art collection that has been ranked one of the best in the world. It is the Eiteljorg’s mission to present “the art and heritage of the American West and the Native peoples of North America as a diverse story of human accomplishment, adversity, and perseverance with respect and sensitivity to all cultures.”

9. Monument Circle

Monument Circle features the Soldiers and Sailors’ Monument in the center of a giant round-about with roads to the rest of the city connected to the circle. Shops, tasty restaurants, and food trucks sit all around the circle, and there’s even a gift shop and observatory within the monument itself.

10. Indiana Repertory Theatre

Founded in 1972, the Indiana Repertory Theatre has become a nationally recognized institution for the arts. The IRT has received many endowments and trusts from the community to keep it going. With three separate performing spaces (the OneAmerica Stage, the Upperstage, and the Cabaret) the IRT seeks to produce top-quality professional performances to engage, challenge, and entertain their viewers.

White River Canal in Indianapolis

The Best Places to Shop ‘Til You Drop in Indianapolis, IN

11. Circle Center Mall

The Circle Center Mall is a sprawling set of connected buildings throughout the core of Indianapolis. There are many top-quality clothing brands as well as more affordable shops and children’s toy stores. You can also grab a quick bite at their cafeteria or stick around for a more luxurious dinner at one of the connected upscale restaurants like Harry and Izzy’s.

Exciting Things for Kids to Do in Indianapolis, IN

12. Indianapolis Zoo

Stroll through the forests and meet the tigers, lemurs, and sloths. Visit the dessert for bearded dragons, iguanas, tortoises, and the attached reptile room bursting with fascinating and gorgeous snakes. Soar through the Flights of Fancy exhibit and meet flamingos, parrots, and budgies (you can even feed the little budgies!). Take a walk through the hot plains to see the ostriches, zebras, lions, and cheetahs, the cool off in the oceans exhibit, or the arctic biome.

The Indianapolis Zoo also features a flock of specially trained parrots who fly freely over the zoo and the whole city, but still come back when called. They have no tracking devices, no shock collars, no harnesses of any kind, but because of an incredible new training technique, they always return home.

13. The Indianapolis Children’s Museum

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is impossible to miss. There are literally dinosaurs breaking out of it and walking around the front landscape. Inside are several exhibits featuring fascinating historical and scientific facts and stories. There’s also the PlayScape, an enormous indoor playground made of soft materials that kids can play on and run around safely.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum was founded in 1925 by Indianapolis resident Mary Cary. With the help of many other local women and donations from local families, Mary brought the dream to life. It will be celebrating its one-hundredth birthday soon!

14. Sky Zone Indy South

Have you ever heard of a trampoline park? Well, you have now! Sky Zone Indy has loads of trampoline floors and walls for jumping, tumbling, and general delighted squealing. They also have a parkour block area both children and adults can race around and over, a warped climbing wall, skyslam trampoline basketball, and even a Ninja Warrior course for those who really want to challenge themselves.

15. 100 Acre Wood at Indianapolis Museum of Art

Situated next door to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the 100 Acre Wood is a wonderful place of outdoor discovery. There are various playgrounds throughout the area, as well as unique art displays, many of which are also for climbing and playing on. There are fields, forests, and a pond in the wood, making it the perfect place to let your kids run off some energy and get some outdoor playtime in.

Giraffes at the Indianapolis Zoo

Time to Visit Indianapolis!

Are you dying to try one of these restaurants, learn more about the local history, or experience the Children’s Museum with your kids? Let us know what you’re most excited about in the comments!

And after you have explored this amazing city, be sure to check out everything South Bend has to offer.