Indianapolis, IN

Destination Location

  • 39.768403, -86.158068:primary
  • 39.717222, -86.294722:secondary

Overview

Welcome to the racing capital of the world! This world class city is home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500, and the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Averaging over 20 million visitors each year, this Midwestern city is home to over 800,000 people and the first Union Station in the United States.

Indianapolis' cultural districts are on par with other great cities like Boston and New York. For those travellers who want to get the local experience, these districts contain the city's finest offerings.The Wholesale District is home to Circle Centre mall, historic architecture, diverse cultural events and live performances. But if it's arts and theatre that you're truly after, Mass Ave is a must see. Home to the city's most renowned live theatre and music venues, you'll also find trendy galleries, locally owned shops and restaurants to peruse in this incredibly walkable neighbourhood.

Broad Ripple Village is best known for its art scene and street life. Historic buildings, charming, walkable neighbourhoods are all here for you to take in with a breathtaking backdrop of greenways and waterways. For those looking to get out after hours, Broad Ripple Village is home to the most unique music venues and nightlife destinations in the city. For a laid back and funky neighbourhood, locals recommend Fountain Square with its European style town square and central fountain. This part of the city offers up a mix of independent, artistic and bohemian style destinations.

The Canal and White River State Park is one of the city's most impressive outdoor experiences. It's known as a hub for museum and cultural attractions. The 250 acre park and canal feature Victory Field (baseball), Indiana State Museum, White River gardens, and the south portal to the Central Canal. Marvelous art, history, recreation, leisure and sports, all showcased along a beautifully restored urban waterway – visitors to Indianapolis couldn't ask for a better package deal.

And let's not forget what this city is best known for – the Indianapolis 500, or Indy 500, which has been called the greatest spectacle in racing. With a seating capacity of over 250,000, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the city's most remarkable venue and an essential destination for any visitor looking to catch a glimpse of the spirit of Indianapolis.

Whether its music, theatre, museums, or sporting events, the diversified enclaves throughout the city showcase the many colourful cultural offerings of Indianapolis that you simply do not want to miss out on.

For more information, visit the official Indianapolis tourism site at visitindy.com.

WestJet is pleased to offer service to this destination through our code-share agreement with our great airline partners.

Destination basics

Like most cities in the Midwest, Indianapolis has four noticeably marked seasons. Winters are chilly, with daily highs rarely above 0 C (32 F) and lows reaching as cool as -18 C (0 F). Spring brings with it some unpredictable and seemingly erratic temperatures, bouncing anywhere from 16 C (60 F) to 30 C (86 F). Summer months are accompanied by hot and humid temperatures with highs averaging 32 C (90 F) and some days exceeding 35 C (95).

 

Weather chart

Wholesale District
The Wholesale District is Indianapolis' bustling city center, so amongst all the big-draw attractions are littered numerous exciting food and drink options both historic and not so historic. The Slippery Noodle Inn is as historic as they come. In operation since 1850, it's seen never a dull moment, and continues to win awards of excellence as both a bar and restaurant and a live blues venue. A few blocks south is Shapiro's Delicatessen, a vibrant slice of Indy like not other. Diners grab a tray and line up at the counter to bellow their orders at the staff. Pastrami on rye is a classic done absolutely right, but here (unlike at similar delis in New York) it's not about tourists ordering "classics," it's about locals ordering the comfort food they love. So you'll hear requests for "beef stew... and a hamburger bun," and they'll warm your heart.

Closer to the commercial heart of the neighborhood, chains big and small, regional and otherwise, dot the landscape, from White Castle and Steak n Shake to Le Peep, Morton's and the Weber Grill. Liquor stores are few and far between in this neck of the woods, so if you're looking for a bottle of bubbly or a six pack of local beer to bring back to the hotel, head straight for John's Fine Wine & Spirits, a modest storefront with a killer selection.

Mass Ave
From the southwest end of diagonal Massachusetts Avenue to the northeast, every single block boasts a dining or drinking destination. First up is Bazbeaux Pizza, an absolute institution known for its crusty pies and laid-back vibes. The next block's big winner is the Old Point Tavern, a corner watering hole in a flatiron-style building with plenty of patio seating, plenty of cheap drinks, and plenty of heartwarming pub grub. Further up is the world-famous Rathskeller, a multifaceted German-themed restaurant, bar and all-around hot spot in the cellar of a striking building designed by Kurt Vonnegut, Sr. and friends.

Next up is Yats, an exemplar of perfectly tuned simplicity. Yats serves Cajun-creole food, with few bells and whistles. Food is ordered up front and picked up at a pick-up window. The menu is a sparse one, different everyday, scrawled on a chalkboard by the front door. Five items tops, with maybe a couple extra for vegetarians. Everything is a stew or a curry and everything is served over rice with a hunk of crunchy bread on the side. No alcohol. It's the bare minimum, but sweetly so. The food warms the heart and soul, and you're in and out in a flash. The next block up is home to the Chatham Tap, an inviting British-style pub with a lengthy beer list and authentic eats.

Fountain Square
The Fountain Square Theatre Building alone houses a variety of eateries. At Smokehouse on Shelby, it's all about the ribs. St. Louis-style ribs to be exact, to be consumed alongside a cold beer and followed by a game of pool.

Lockerbie Square
Lockerbie Square is a quiet, pleasant little old neighborhood, but that doesn't preclude it from being home to a raucous dive bar and some of the best fine dining in the city. Lockerbie Pub is that dive bar, and they traffic in live music, greasy eats, cheap beer and good conversation.

Broad Ripple
As a suburban cultural center, Broad Ripple has its share of fine dining. And as a renowned party spot, it has a heap of beer parlors to choose from as well. Brugge Brasserie is a little bit of both. The kitchen delivers Belgian specialties like frites and crepes, and there's plenty of beer to wash it all down. Here, it's beer of the Belgian variety as well -- heavy on sour notes and fruity flavors. For something more familiar, Broad Ripple Brew Pub has American-style microbrews and all the burgers and sandwiches you can eat.

Little Mexico
It's something of an accepted axiom that the Midwest is devoid of good Mexican food. Little Mexico begs to differ. La Posada Mexican Food is a humble little hole-in-the-wall taqueria, but it serves up the real thing. Both the carne asada and chorizo are as choice as anything in even the famed burritos of San Francisco's Mission District. For dessert, pick up a bag of cookies at Mama Ines Mexican Bakery.

With wide boulevards and waterways, monuments and grand old neighborhoods galore, Indianapolis is a capital as stately as they come. Each district is distinctive, even within the confines of the relatively small downtown area.

Wholesale District
Once a humble discount shopping destination, the Wholesale District has become Downtown Indianapolis' central commercial and cultural hub. The Indiana Statehouse and the obelisk-like Soldiers and Sailors Monument are twin landmarks trumpeting the neighborhood's weighty stature. Indiana Convention Center is here, as are Conseco Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium, homes of the NBA Indiana Pacers and NFL Indianapolis Colts respectively. Hotels, theaters, shopping centers and restaurants fill in the gaps, ensuring that the area never ceases to bustle.

Mass Ave
Of the big diagonal boulevards leading out of the city center, Massachusetts Avenue is the surefire choice for excitement. It's just under a mile long, but that mile is absolutely jam packed with stuff to do. First and foremost, Mass Ave is a serious theater district. Theaters up and down the way serve up compelling selections throughout the year, and the annual Fringe Festival sees all those theaters and more taking to the streets with a week of boundary-busting programming. In addition to theater, the area features expertly curated galleries, like the McFee Gallery & Studio, and trendy boutiques like Tantrum, which is full of cutting-edge designs from the region and beyond. In terms of food and drink there are also many options, including beloved restaurants and friendly neighborhood bars like the Old Point Tavern.

The Canal and White River State Park
The Canal and White River State Park tell the story of Indianapolis' segue from the industrial cloud of the past into a bright, shining future. Once a failed attempt to lure water-bound commerce and trade into the region, the canal itself is now a charming landmark. Leisurely walkways, manicured gardens, top-flight museums and cute condominiums line its banks, all leading the way to White River State Park. Here you'll find the Indianapolis Zoo, stunning views of the city, and miles of pristine riverbank. Don't miss the Indiana State Museum, right on the canal, with its comprehensive overview of Hoosier history. Military Park and the Herron School of Art & Design are both just a stone's throw north of the canal, the park full of shade trees and monuments, Herron full of brooding design students and galleries open to the public.

Fountain Square
Another relic-of-the-past-turned-symbol-of-the-new is Fountain Square, a historic entertainment district revitalized by bright new businesses and a real sense of culture. The Fountain Square Theatre Building is the heart of it all. Outwardly, it appears at the convergence of three major thoroughfares, looming above the fountain for which the neighborhood is named. Inside, there is a theater, a cafe, a diner, a smokehouse, an inn and two floors of duckpin bowling (Action Duckpin. on the fourth floor, with views of the neighborhood below, and Atomic Duckpin in the basement).

The neighborhood's premier mid-size concert venue is Radio Radio, which has a classic atmosphere befitting its location in Fountain Square. While some of the acts performing here can be a bit retro too, Radio Radio is also a fine place to see contemporary groups perform.

Lockerbie Square
Lockerbie Square is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city -- and lovingly preserved. The cobblestone streets and handsome old Victorians are intact, as is the neighborhood's overall old-world feeling. The Historic James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, itself a beautifully preserved structure, tells the story of Lockerbie Square as well as that of the poet himself. On the quaint area's outskirts are great pubs and neighborhood restaurants, and the action of Mass Ave is just a few blocks away.

Woodruff Place
Of all the region's grand old neighborhoods, Woodruff Place is one of the crown jewels. It's just a few square blocks in size, but its drives are lined with ancient trees and regal mansions, and there's an ornate fountain at every intersection. What's more, the neighborhood inspired The Magnificent Ambersons, which in turn inspired The Royal Tenenbaums (and in it, Gene Hackman's heartbreaking performance in the title role).

Broad Ripple
Once an outlying municipality of its own, Broad Ripple was enveloped by the ever-growing city of Indianapolis, and is now considered the place to party in Indy. Broad Ripple Avenue is lined with bars, clubs, shops and interesting dining options. One of the best record stores in the Midwest is here. It's called Indy CD & Vinyl, it has a gracious staff and a superior selection. Off the strip, the fun continues. More businesses and sights can be found throughout, and a canal snakes through the center of the neighborhood and leads the way into Broad Ripple Park, a riverside haven of fields and trees.

Bacon Swamp
There's really not a whole lot going on in Bacon Swamp. It's an outlying residential area with a couple of fast food chains and maybe a gas station. But its name is Bacon Swamp!

Little Mexico
Little Mexico is a brief stretch of town on the West side, anchored by a taqueria on one end and a futbol field on the other. A handful of shops and businesses sit in between.

Indianapolis, being the metropolis it is, has no shortage of entertainment possibilities. Nonetheless, there are some specific areas in which the city truly excels.

Museums
Founded and funded by local dignitaries and captains of industry, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) has been a picture-perfect art museum from the start. Housed in a breathtaking multistory building on a spacious plot of land surrounded by history, the museum traces thousands of years of art history from the traditional works of ancient cultures to groundbreaking experiments by contemporary pioneers. There are several different areas, including the European wing, the African/Asian hall, and the contemporary art floor. Back on the ground floor, tucked away in a gray little hallway is the Gallery of the Machine, a retrofitted vending machine that dispenses original works of art by local Indianapolis artists, which make for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Another way to connect with the Hoosier community is to visit the Indiana State Museum. This one focuses on history and culture, meaning a lot of dioramas about agriculture, industrialization and Native Americans. There are quite a few interactive exhibits for kids, and the facility is striking, located right on the canal. Also geared toward kids is the aptly named Children's Museum of Indianapolis, a bastion of art, science and adventure.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is a decidedly different experience, and affords visitors the opportunity to take an actual lap around its world-famous loop. Inside, there are dozens of retired Indy cars on display, as well as histories of each and walls full of priceless memorabilia. The stories shared here are inspiring to say the least. Also inspiring are the medical advancements celebrated at the Indiana Medical History Museum, located nearby and loaded with artifacts and testimonials about centuries of valuable achievements.

Theater
IndyFringe, a multi-day, multi-venue theater festival is the centerpiece of performing arts in Indianapolis, but there's plenty going on year round as well. The Indianapolis Civic Theatre is one of the foremost community theaters in the state, and programs a variety of appealing shows from musicals to dramas and more. Musicals are the single focus at American Cabaret Theatre, located in the historic Athenaeum building (above the Rathskeller). Kitty corner from all of that is the Murat Centre, an historic venue often home to traveling Broadway productions, among other things. Over on Indiana Avenue, the Madame Walker Theatre Center is another historic facility home to drama, music and more.

Music
Touring musicians have a number of options when performing in Indianapolis. Some perform at the aforementioned Murat Centre, others at the aforementioned Rathskeller. Down at Fountain Square, there's the inviting speakeasy vibe of Radio Radio, a club known for great sound and great acts. The Melody Inn was long a beloved watering hole for Hoosiers of every stripe, and today it's one of the city's foremost live music haunts, hosting local performers, regional performers, and the occasional national or international touring performer.

Spectator Sports
Indianapolis is nothing if not a legend in the sports world. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a big part of that reputation, having played host to decades of editions of the Indianapolis 500, probably the most revered automobile race in the history of the world. Today, other events are held here as well, and the aforementioned Hall of Fame Museum is open to the public year round.

If gridiron is your game, the Indianapolis Colts might be the show for you. They pass and tackle at Lucas Oil Stadium on many a given Sunday. The Indiana Pacers are all about passing as well; see them in action at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Participatory Sports
Watching sporting events take place is great, but sometimes, you want to actually be a part of the action, and Indianapolis has solutions for that as well. Duckpin bowling is a rare and exciting variation on traditional lane bowling. Both the pins and the balls are a few sizes too small, making for zippier play. The Fountain Square Theatre Building houses two sets of lanes, Atomic and Action.

For something that'll really get your blood pumpin', visit the gymnasium at Key Learning Community on the west bank of the White River on a Tuesday or Thursday evening. Badminton is the name of the game, and here they do it right: regulation nets and floor markings, tournament-quality shuttles. The festivities are open to the public. First time's free and subsequent visits cost a mere $2. Bring your own racquet.

Indianapolis

State: Indiana

Country: United States

Indianapolis By The Numbers
Population: 853,100 (city); 2,372,500 (metropolitan area)
Elevation:  715 feet / 218 meters
Average Annual Precipitation: 42 inches / 107 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 26 inches / 66 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 27°F / 2.8°C
Average July Temperature: 76°F /24.4°C 

Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 volts AC, 60 Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time zone: GMT -5; Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Codes: 317 & 463

Did You Know?

Indianapolis is home to the largest water clock in North America.

More interstate highways connect in Indianapolis than in any other city in the United States.

Orientation  

Indianapolis is the capital of Indiana and is located in the center of the state. The city is about 183 miles (295 kilometers) from Chicago, IL and 112 miles (180 kilometers) from Cincinnati, OH.

Fresh Capital
Until 1825, Corydon was the capital of Indiana. Corydon was a nice enough place, but it was determined that a bigger, grander capital city was due such a promising Midwestern state. To fulfill that order, employed was one Alexander Ralston, a city planner best known for his having apprenticed under the great Pierre L'Enfant. Together, they'd planned the brilliantly conceived and executed Washington, DC. For Indianapolis, Ralston envisioned something radical: a fully symmetrical city but one square mile in area. This worked temporarily, until unforseen population growth forced Indianapolis to expand.

Growth
The decision to place Indianapolis where it was placed was influenced by its location on the banks of the wild and woolly White River. It was assumed the White would prove a valuable commercial advantage. Unfortunately, these plans were made in the days before truly effective dredging technology, and the White turned out to be prohibitively sandy. Efforts to force some coin out of the surrounding waterways proved ineffective as well, producing nothing more than some useless canals and mounting debt.

Ultimately, as in many emerging American cities, it was rail that made the difference in Indianapolis. Service began in 1847 and the subsequent influx of people and capital led to big changes. Industry sprouted in every corner of the city, and before long Indianapolis was a true-blue manufacturing juggernaut. Automobile manufacturing was a huge factor in this growth, with local concerns like National and Stutz hanging tough with Detroit in the battle for auto industry supremacy. Detroit won out, but Indianapolis found luck elsewhere.

Thanks to its central location, the city was a natural hub for commercial exchanges involving a number of neighboring cities. This meant a little profit here, a little profit there -- and it all soon added up to a lot. Combine that with a measure of oil wealth, and this little burg was on its way!

Bust
Throughout the better part of the 20th century, Indianapolis suffered. The rise of the automobile led to early suburbanization, leaving the inner city close to ruin. Race relations were not pretty. In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan reigned supreme before its leader raped and murdered a young schoolteacher and was brought to justice. Race relations remained less than desirable.

There was one bright spot in this area however. Indianapolis is remembered as the one major American city where rioting did not occur in the aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination. This blessing is attributed to an impromptu speech given by presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. He was in town campaigning, and moved by the tragedy, turned in a memorable and moving remembrance that kept the people of Indianapolis level headed even in the face of such a horrifying and infuriating event. Clearly, the people of this great city had within them a certain fortitude.

Sadly, they would need it in the years to come. Increased suburbanization throughout the '70s and '80s left the region more segregated than ever, and funding was not necessarily funneled fairly.

Vital Again
In the 1990s, the city began to get its act together. Commendable revitalization efforts saw a re-energized city center drawing crowds once again. Once-cast-aside neighborhoods were being celebrated for their unique qualities, and even that old useless canal was cleaned up. They slapped some walkways along its banks, condominiums sprouted up accordingly, and suddenly the thing was a destination.

Today, tourists, conventioneers and locals alike run amok enjoying the various corners of the city. Pacers games, Colts games, shopping at Circle Centre, bar hopping on Mass Ave -- it's all good in Indy.

Points of interest in Indianapolis, IN

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