Home of incredible Play around at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Museum of Art, See the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and fun of activities to do on Memorial Day in Indianapolis. We've compiled some of the best things to do in Indianapolis on this Memorial Day holiday.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the world's largest children's museum. It's huge! This is a great place to visit on Memorial Day with the whole family and you don't have to be a kid to enjoy it. The museum is full of interesting, innovative, and interactive displays. Some of the displays include topics related to transportation, science, culture, and archeology.
Some of the museum's biggest hits are its dinosaurs - including the brontosaurus who is trying to peek in the top floor. The Dinosphere exhibit recreates the world that the dinos lived in, allowing visitors to experience the sights and sounds of 65 million years ago and even touch a real Tyrannosaurus Rex bone. Among the dinosaurs on display is a recently discovered species named Dracorex Hogwartsia in honor of Harry Potter's alma mater.
Other attractions include a series of interactive exhibits about music, toys, pop culture, science, and space travel.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art lies to the north of the city center in the spacious Newfields park. The museum's main galleries include works by legends like Rembrandt, Cezanne, Picasso, and O'Keefe.
The Krannert Pavilion is devoted to Asian art and American art, from pre-Columbian times to the present (including Edward Hopper's Hotel Lobby). Other areas of the gallery include the Hulman Pavilion, which houses paintings from the Baroque period through Neo-Impressionism.
The museum grounds are also home to the Lilly House, a 1913 estate that displays authentic furnishings and decorative art. Visitors during Memorial Day will also enjoy a stroll through the Gardens, an outdoor space that offers a wide variety of flora, including the Formal Garden, the Ravine Garden, the Rain Garden, and more.
Adjacent to the museum grounds is the hundred-acre Fairbanks Park, home to both natural wonders and temporary installations.
The United States' most celebrated car race, the legendary Indianapolis 500, is run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, seven miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis. It is only used for this race and two others: the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Race and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.
The circuit, a-2.5 mile oval, was originally designed as an automobile test track, but the first 500-mile race in 1911 was so successful that it became a regular fixture. In the course of time, the track, which was originally paved with bricks (still used to mark the finishing line), was adapted to cope with ever-increasing speeds.
Accommodation for spectators was also increased, and the speedway can now handle more than 250,000 people in the stands and more than 150,000 on the ground. The race is held each year in late May, and the speedway holds many special events for visitors and racing enthusiasts.
During Memorial Day visitors who want to learn more about the race and racing but can't make it for the big one can visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, located on the speedway grounds. In addition to changing exhibits that feature past winning cars, the permanent vehicles in the collection here include a 1922 Dusenburg, 1938 Maserati, and a 1960 Watson, among others. Additional exhibits include memorabilia and photographs from past races.
The Central Canal runs through White River State Park, built in the early 19th century to help bring goods in and out of the city. No longer an industrial waterway, the fully updated canal is now full of paddleboats and kayaks, which give visitors a new perspective on the downtown area on Memorial Day; rentals can be found just across the canal from the Eiteljorg Museum.
Along the water is the three-mile Canal Walk, a well-kept pedestrian way that stretches from 11th street into the park, flanking both sides of the water. The space is popular with tourists and locals alike, providing easy access to many of the city's shops, attractions, and restaurants.
The Soldier's and Sailor's Memorial is located in Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis and is the city's most important landmark. Completed in 1902 after a five-year construction, this limestone monument commemorates the lives lost in the Civil War.
To the north of the monument sits the Mausoleum and Memorial Hall, and three blocks to the south is the large Circle Center Mall. The memorial includes several sculptures honoring past leaders, the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, and an observations deck.
The Indiana World War Memorial is another important tribute. This imposing square monument stands as a silent reminder to the folly of war and honors the fallen soldiers. The Shrine Room on the 3rd floor symbolizes peace and unity, as it is constructed with building materials from around the world.
Also in the war memorial is a museum dedicated to the soldiers of Indiana. Exhibits include an AH-1 Cobra Attack helicopter, military uniforms and weapons, and other military-related artifacts and information. Must visit with your family during Memorial Day weekend.
White River State Park is a great place to escape from the fast pace of the city during Memorial Day. Once in the park, you would be hard pressed to believe that you are in downtown Indianapolis.
White River State Park boasts expansive green spaces and is home to some of the city's top tourist attractions, including Indianapolis Zoo, a baseball park, the Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana State Museum, an Imax theater, NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial. The Canal Walk along Central Canal is also part of White River State Park.
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art is located at the entrance to White River State Park. The museum displays a remarkable collection assembled by the Indianapolis businessman Harrison Eiteljorg.
Exhibits include painting and sculpture of the west from the early 19th century onwards, including works by the landscapists Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, and pictures and sculpture by the leading Western artists Frederick S. Remington and Charles M. Russell. Also on display is an extensive collection of works of the Taos Society of Artists and Indian arts and crafts from all over North America.
The Indianapolis Zoo opened in 1964 and today plays a major role in worldwide conservation and research. Located in White River State Park, it contains not only a zoo but also an aquarium and botanical garden. The botanical garden covers three acres and includes both permanent and changing gardens that represent flora from around the world.
The Oceans aquarium features multiple tanks, including a coral reef ecosystem. The zoo's animals are divided among the various habitats, which were re-created to give both visitors and the animal residents the sense of a natural environment.
The Plains animals are among the zoo's most popular, including some of the biggest and most dramatic animals, like giraffes, elephants, rhinos, and zebra. The Forests habitat allows visitors on Memorial Day to walk beneath soaring birds and see animals like the mischievous red panda looking out from the trees.
Tourists on Memorial Day looking for a peaceful spot of nature will love Holliday Park, located along the White River. It offers 3.5 miles of trails that wind through the woods and wetlands, including a wheelchair-accessible viewing platform by the water. The park is also home to lovely year-round gardens that are maintained by various local garden groups, as well as a picturesque rock garden and an arboretum featuring more than 1,200 trees.
Photographers will be most interested in the ruins, which are the remains of a façade taken from New York City's former St. Paul building. The lovely stone pieces, as well as three limestone statues were placed in the park after the original structure was demolished, and stand today as an art installation. They are set within the gardens and are accompanied by a fountain and a children's water table.
The park also offers several free things for families to do in Indianapolis, including a Nature Center with hands-on exhibits and activities. Kids will love visiting the live animals and watching birds and wildlife stop at the feeding station. There is also a good playground at the park, a covered pavilion, and updated rest facilities.
Follow the Indianapolis Cultural Trail
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an excellent way to see the city and appreciate its many public art installations. The majority of its stops are located in the downtown area, and there are more that extend down Virginia Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue. To make a tour easier on the feet, there are more than two dozen Bikeshare stations positioned along the route, so that visitors can cycle portions (or all) of the trail.
Part of the trail follows the Glick Peace Walk, a series of luminary gardens and sculptures that honor some of the country's greatest thinkers, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and the Wright Brothers. Many of these are found along the median on Walnut Street between Capitol Avenue and Virginia Avenue. Even if you don't go to the end of Virginia Avenue to Fountain Square, be sure to head in that direction far enough to enjoy the stunning lights at Swarm Street, an illuminating installation on your visit during Memorial Day weekend.
Along Alabama Street, tourists will find a collection of poetry at Poet's Place, and at the corner of Alabama and Massachusetts Avenue stands "Ann Dancing," a digital statement piece by British artist Julian Opie. There are additional thought-provoking installations along Massachusetts Avenue including Chatham Passage by Sean Derry and Care/Don't Care by Jamie Pawlus.
After enjoying more stops along the Glick Peace Walk on Walnut Street, tourists can proceed to the Indiana Avenue Cultural District to see Looking Through Windows, a stained-glass sculpture inspired by the area's historic homes.
Nearby on Blackford Street, on the Indiana University Purdue campus, is "Talking Wall," a multimedia installation focused on American history. The IUPUI campus is home to several other excellent public art installations, including Zephyr by Steve Woolridge and several others.