Indianapolis Area Attractions
While Indianapolis remains inextricably linked to the Indy 500, the city's metropolitan appeal spreads to its world-class museums, burgeoning dining scene, antique shopping, and myriad parks, among other attractions. The city is also in the midst of $3 billion in new tourism-related developments - all slated to come online by the time it hosts the Super Bowl in 2012.
The city is renowned for its namesake speedway, but its evolving nature is giving it a number of other selling points. Visitors can take full advantage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500 and host to the Indy Racing League, NASCAR, and Formula One. The speedway offers group packages and behind-the-scenes tours. It is also home to the Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, with the world's largest collection of racing, classic, and antique cars.
The city's cultural riches are on par with its wealth of sports venues with its National Art Museum of Sports, with one of the largest collections of sports-themed art in the world. Art buffs can also head to the 1934-era Indianapolis Art Center and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, founded in 1883 and currently showcasing over 50,000 pieces of art. Adjacent to the museum and located on 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and a 35-acre lake, is 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park. The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park is one of the largest museum art parks in the country, and the only one to feature the ongoing commission of site-specific artworks. 100 Acres presents art projects, exhibitions, and discussions designed to strengthen the public's understanding of the unique, reciprocal relationships between contemporary art and the natural world.
Another new attraction downtown is the Rhythm! Discovery Center, located next to the Arts garden. The center features three galleries exploring the expansive history and cultural connections ofrhythmand percussion. There is also a hands-on area that allows visitors to play a variety of drums and percussion instruments, including a 96-inch drum.
Other options include the Indiana State Museum, which features a hall dedicated to the Hoosiers. The museum is located at White River State Park, also home to a sculpture garden and some 250 acres of green space, as well as the Indianapolis Zoo, White River Gardens, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the NCAA Hall of Champions.
For trendy restaurants and nightlife, Mass Ave is one of the city's main neighborhoods, while the Lockerbie area is Indianapolis oldest surviving neighborhood, dating back to 1847. Many of the Victorian homes in Lockerbie have been preserved.
A short drive southeast of downtown, Fountain Square is home to more than 200 antique dealers, specialty stores and art galleries.
Visitors can explore downtown via the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick, which is an urban bike and pedestrian path that connects five downtown cultural districts: Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave, Canal and White River State Park, and the Wholesale District. The Cultural Trail is being expanded to connect with the Monon Trail, allowing visitors easy access to Broad Ripple Village from downtown.
Visitors also have a variety of options just outside the city. In November 2008, the $1.1 billion Indianapolis International Airport Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal opened. The 1.2 million-square-foot terminal is slated to be the largest LEED-certified building in the Midwest. One highlight is Civic Plaza, a pre-security, 25,000-square-foot space with 100-foot glass windows overlooking the runways and views of the city's skyline. More than 50 retailers and restaurants are featured throughout the terminal as well as free Wi-Fi.
Autumn is popular in Brown County State Park, an hour south of the city, while the area is also known for its art galleries, shops, and theaters. Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Country Star Museum is also south of the city.
North of Indianapolis is the 4,000-acre Eagle Creek Park, also featuring a 1,300-acre reservoir, which offers canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and windsurfing. Its Earth Discovery Center has learning laboratories with live native animals. Eagle Creek Park also offers groomed cross-country skiing.