Discover Indianapolis: A Guide to the Racing Capital of the World

By: Amy Lynch

December 30, 2013

Nicknamed the “Crossroads of America,” Indianapolis presents a diverse blend of culture, sports, entertainment and history, all from a convenient Midwestern location within a day’s drive of half the U.S. population. Dubbed the racing capital of the world, here’s how to discover Indianapolis like a local.

The 13th largest city in America officially got its start in 1821 with the platting of a one-mile square centered around Monument Circle. Today, the majestic Soldiers and Sailors Monument anchors this brick-paved roundabout at the heart of what is now known as the Circle City.

Discover Indianapolis | Racing Capital of the World | Indianapolis Cultural Trail

A stop on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail © Lavengood Photography

Indy’s stunning modern airport dazzles travellers with art installations and easy navigation, and the good first impressions don’t stop there. Downtown, you’ll find the city divvied up into five cultural districts, each with its own personality and all linked by the newly completed Indianapolis Cultural Trail. This world-class bike/pedestrian path makes it easy to get a little exercise while you’re getting around town, with eye-catching public art along the way for unexpected punches of visual appeal. Or, stretch your legs in one of Indy’s many public parks and green spaces; with a scenic canal running through it, the White River State Park covers 250 gorgeous acres of downtown ground.

Discover Indianapolis | Racing Capital of the World | Indianapolis Children's Museum

The fun-filled Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, complete with dinosaur © Lavengood Photography

Between the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the Indiana Repertory Theatre, culture-seekers may have a hard time deciding what to do and see first. Lest little ones feel left out, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is just the right size for young adventurers, and packed with interactive exhibits and activities. (The new Playscape section might just make you wish you were five years old again.)

Discover Indianapolis | Racing capital of the world | IMS Hall of Fame

The world-famous IMS Hall of Fame © Indianapolis Motor Speedway

For first-timers to the city, the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a must-see. Stop in the Hall of Fame Museum to marvel at the Borg-Warner Trophy and 75 racecars past and present, then board a bus for a lap around the famed track itself. And with the Indianapolis Colts, the Indiana Pacers, the Indianapolis Indians, the Indiana Fever and the Naptown Roller Girls in town, there’s no shortage of home teams to cheer on here, whatever your sporting preference.

Discover Indianapolis | Racing Capital of the World | St Elmo Steakhouse

The famous shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s Steak House © St. Elmo’s Steak House

Hungry? Guests definitely aren’t starved for choice in Indianapolis. A local landmark since 1902, St. Elmo’s Steak House offers succulent steaks and the spiciest shrimp cocktail ever. The busy Mass Ave district delights diners with tastes ranging from trendy to traditional, and the roster of global eateries that populates Fountain Square is well worth exploring.

In addition to Indy’s thriving restaurant scene, visitors will find a booming slate of microbreweries, all proudly pulling pints with good, old-fashioned Hoosier hospitality. Cheers!

Written by Amy Lynch

Booking a trip to Indianapolis? Our codeshare arrangement with Delta makes it simple for you to travel all over North America.

Have you visited the racing capital of the world? Where would you recommend checking out in Indianapolis? Share your tips with us in the comments below.


Amy Lynch

Amy Lynch is a freelance writer and editor in Indianapolis, Ind., and has traveled extensively throughout the United States and western Europe. A member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, Amy’s work has appeared in Delta Sky, the Chicago Tribune, Midwest Living, Indianapolis Monthly, Cincinnati Magazine and Draft.

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