Indiana is one of the most versatile and exciting places to live, offering bold and boisterous experiences you won’t find anywhere else the world. It’s impossible to be bored here. Indiana has everything from the largest and longest water coaster in the world, to interactive, historic hot air balloon rides, and the most renowned collection of Native American art in the country. There’s so much to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming. But thankfully, we’ve rounded up the best of the best around the state. Don’t leave Indiana without checking off these items from your Hoosier State bucket list.
The Indianapolis Zoo is known for giving visitors not your average zoo. The St. Vincent Dolphin Pavilion is a rarity, offering an up-close-and-personal, in-water viewing experience from a dome located 17 feet under water! The pavilion also includes the Midwest’s only in-water dolphin program. You’ll also find the gorgeous White River Gardens — a complete botanical experience featuring both indoor and outdoor conservatories — and an exciting orangutan exhibit. The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is home to one of the largest families of orangutans in the U.S., where they are frequently seen swinging over the heads of guests.
White River State Park
White River State Park sits on over 250 acres in downtown Indianapolis. You’ll find it conveniently near the Indiana State Museum, White River Gardens, Indianapolis Zoo, and the Eiteljorg Museum — and it’s just minutes away from the beautiful downtown Central Canal. Rent a traditional bike at Wheel Fun Rentals to speed around the sights, or opt for something more unique like a Surrey, Quad sport bike, or tandem bike.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Photo by Daniel Morrison via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where you can be part of the action through the racing experience. It’s only fitting for The Racing Capital of the World to be home to renowned, prestigious racing events like the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400. Don’t forget to check out the IMS Museum during your visit. It’s recognized as one of the most highly visible museums in the world dedicated to automobiles and auto racing, and includes rare artifacts and race cars from the storied history of auto racing.
Lucas Oil Stadium
The Lucas Oil Stadium is home of the Indianapolis Colts, where you’re bound to experience football at its best. This state-of-the-art facility can hold up to 67,000 fans, features a retractable roof, and is large enough to host events like national conventions, concerts, and trade shows. You can also schedule a behind-the-scenes tour to see the playing field, locker rooms, and many other areas of interest for any football fan.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Let your inner child run free in the world’s largest children’s museum, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. They have an incredible array of year-round exhibitions. Walk through the Jurassic Era in the Dinosphere, blast off into space in Beyond Spaceship Earth, or uncover an Egyptian tomb in Treasure of the Earth. During the summer, the museum offers an exciting outdoor program focused on sports, from baseball and football to tennis and track. Kids will also love climbing the Tree of Sports, a 25-foot-tall playscape with viewing platforms and slides.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument has come to be one of the most recognized landmarks in America. It stands in official memory of the Hoosiers who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Frontier Wars, and the Spanish-American War. You can also get a 360-degree view of the city from its observation level, 275 feet in the air. It is located in downtown Indianapolis, surrounded by the bustling city and shopping centers.
Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, Photo by Leigh Caldwell via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin’ Safari
Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari is unlike any other theme park. This park offers two for the price of one, and includes unlimited soft drinks throughout your visit. Holiday World has been voted the number one water park on numerous occasions, and is much loved for experiences like the Mammoth Water Coaster, the world’s longest water coaster as certified by the Guinness World Records. While you’re there, you should check out the Liberty Launch double-shot tower, the Raging Rapids white water raft ride, and the Scarecrow Scrambler ride.
Conner Prairie Interactive History Park
A living history museum for children of all ages, Conner Prairie is one of the most unique experiences you’ll find in Indiana. You’ll feel like you flashed back in time when you visit the historic 1836 Prairietown village, or join the fight in the 1863 Civil War Journey. You’ll also have a ton of fun floating above Lafayette, Indiana in a hot air balloon voyage that comes with an interactive exhibit about the history of hot air balloon and its inventor, John Wise.
Running Deer Fountain at Eiteljorg Museum, Photo by Mark Goebel via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art
The Eiteljorg Museum is in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, and features American Indian and Western art. Founded by local Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg, the mission of this museum is to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history, and cultures of the American West and indigenous peoples of North America. You’ll find works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Kay WalkingStick, and the institute’s contemporary Native art collection is ranked among the best in the world.
Marengo Cave is a U.S. national landmark in Indiana and a fascinating attraction that has been providing tours for more than 130 years. A tour inside the cave will teach you everything there is to know about rock and cave formations. Check out the Crystal Palace, a 40-minute winding trail through formation-filled rooms and flowstone deposits. When you’re above ground, try your hand at canoeing or gem stone mining, and round out your experience with a few nights spent in the on-site cabins or camping ground.