What to do in Indianapolis

In the heart of central Indiana, the capital city of Indianapolis is home to excitement, thrill, adventure, and more. Between the biggest children's museum in the world and the famous Indy 500 NASCAR extravaganza, Indianapolis has everything you might need for an exciting graduation celebration trip or an educational getaway with your student group. Pack your bags and get ready for Indianapolis!

1. Indianapolis Zoo

Zoos are a fabulous attraction for any group age or type. Educational wise, a field trip can easily make exhibits and enclosures of exotic animals academic with topics on animal behavior, conservation, ecology and environmentalism and more. On the other hand, zoos are so much fun, and especially the Indianapolis Zoo, that it's automatically a celebration destination. Home to one of the world's largest Orangutan Centers, the zoo's animals represent nearly 250 species of global creatures spread over five distinct themed zones including Oceans, Deserts, and Forests.

2. Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The world's largest children's museum resides in Indianapolis with over 120,000 objects working to carry out the museum's mission to inspire imagination and an appreciation for learning. Even if you don't have kids in your group, an excursion to this stunning facility will leave anybody smiling. Arrive and see the giant Brontosaur outside, sticking his head through an upper floor window to see what's going on. What's inside is pretty exciting too as you'll find a variety of themed exhibits ranging from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to interactive science labs to historical and cultural looks at worldwide nations.

3. Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA)

Founded over 130 years ago, IMA has continued to collect, inspire, and encourage an appreciation for the visual arts. The collections contain over 54,000 pieces of art spanning 5,000 years and are taken from every continent, representing nearly every era of artistic evolution. Find stunning acquisitions by El Greco, Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, and much more. Explore the museum grounds, its galleries and halls, and discover renderings of sight and magic on every wall from the ceremonial artifacts from ancient Africa to the ceramics of Asia and the contemporary architecture of western Europe.

4. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art 

The only museum of its kind in the Midwest and one of only two east of the Mississippi devoted to the history and culture of American Indians, the Eiteljorg Museum's renowned exhibits continue to wow visitors and enlighten minds. Built for education with family-friendly exhibits, the Eiteljorg houses collections of paintings, traditional artifacts and modern creations. Find collections representing all major tribes of North America with pieces including Navajo saddle blankets, paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, Hopi Katsina carvings, jewelry, vases, baskets and much more.

5. USS Indianapolis Memorial

In 1945, the first operational atomic bomb was delivered to the island of Tinian by the USS Indianapolis submarine. On its way back to the base in Guam, the submarine was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, effectively sinking the American ship. Of the 1,196 crewmen on board, only 900 or so made it into the water only to wait for a delayed rescue, suffering days of shark attacks, injuries, dehydration and exposure. Of the 900 who went into the water, only 317 were rescued alive. Today, you can visit the monument in Indianapolis, built by the survivors as a legacy for the fallen. Available to the public 24/7, the memorial is a lovely, poignant, and effective reminder of the submarine's tragedy.

6. Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

Home of the nation's twenty-third president, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is a national landmark founded with the mission to educate the public on American government and on the life and times of President Benjamin Harrison. More than just a home, the birthplace was also used as President Harrison's campaign spot, using the front porch to speak to gathering crowds in 1888. The exhibits within follow a series of scheduled topics and may focus on death in the White House, Civil War battles, and national holidays among others. Go on a guided tour led by a costumed presidential authority to learn all you can about this interesting and significant president.

7. Murat Theatre at Old National Centre

Opened in 1910, the Murat Theatre was the oldest stage house in Indianapolis but it wasn't always so. Originally, the Murat was a Masonic Shrine, the world's only with a French name, and was one of the largest Masonic temples of its time. Restored and renamed to Old National Centre, the Murat Theatre continues to perform live entertainment including Broadway shows, musicals and opera, as well as a number of individual performers. Sit in a plush red theater seat, watch as the thick red curtain pulls back and experience the awe and grandeur of a historic site come to life through the energy of live performances.

8. Oldfields-Lilly House and Gardens

A stately mansion estate seeming more suited to the pages of Austen than the fields of Indianapolis, Indiana, the Oldfields is located on the grounds of the Museum of Art and is a nationally registered landmark for its historic significance to the city. The French chateau style mansion began construction in the 1920s as part of a real estate development project that blossomed into a stunning creation of opulence and prestige. Come by during the regular season for guided or audio tours of the 26-acre estate and gardens to learn more about this incredible home.

9. Indiana State Capitol

Named one of the top capital cities for travel, Indianapolis' own State Capitol building is both wildly beautiful and intensely pragmatic. A gorgeous Neo-Classical structure, the Indiana State House was built in 1888 to house the Supreme Court and the Indiana governor and is actually the fifth such building to do so. Tours of the Capitol building are free and groups are welcome to stop by and learn about the state and federal government, witness the three branches of government in action, and peruse the many exhibits and architectural beauties around the historic building.

10. World War Memorial

Built to honor the veterans of the first World War, the Indianapolis World War Memorial Plaza is situated on 23 acres and was commissioned in 1919 after the end of the war. In the center of the plaza, and visible for all, is the grand Memorial designed after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Inside is a military museum, a Shrine Room, and an auditorium where presentations and lectures are often given. Visit at any hour to pay your respects to the fallen heroes or come by during museum hours to explore the history of the Great War and learn more about the soldiers' sacrifice.