Skip to Main Content

Indianapolis 101: Downtown Indianapolis

Highlights some Indianapolis activities, neighborhoods, and resources for new Butler students and their families

Downtown Indy

Indianapolis ranked No. 3 Downtown in the U.S. two years in a row based on entertainment options, beautiful architecture, green spaces and planning that went into the city's design, according to


When you go downtown, take a walk around Monument Circle, Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and beyond, to see key public spaces and scenery of the 12th largest city in the nation. Listed below are a few highlights of the area.

  • Hilbert Circle Theatre: Attend a performance by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, which at one time had its home at Butler, in Clowes Hall. Current Music Director Krzysztof Urbański and Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly are well known around Indianapolis and far from the Circle City.

  • War memorials, White River State Park, the Indiana History Center, the Statehouse, NCAA headquarters, museums, the Central Library and Indiana State Library, federal, state and city offices are all part of downtown Indy.

What to Do and See

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

  • The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 (“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”) took place on May 29, 2016.

  • The Speedway, which opened in 1909 with balloon, motorcycle, and auto races, is a National Historic Landmark. 

  • NASCAR's Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis GP Moto GP race are very popular; this fall, there will be a balloon race in October. The track formerly hosted a Formula One race and is also a concert venue. Even the Rolling Stones have performed there.

  • The Hall of Fame Museum and Auto Racing Hall of Fame draw visitors year-round; some enjoy the bus ride around the two and a half mile oval.

Victory Field

  • Named “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” by Sports Illustrated and Baseball America

  • ​Fans can attend Indianapolis Indians baseball team games from April to September. The Indians are a professional Triple-A baseball club affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Victory Field can accommodate 14,230 fans per game. In 2015 the Indians welcomed 662,536 fans to the ballpark, setting a new attendance record.

  • Fans may seek autographs on the outfield side of both dugouts (Sections 107 & 117) from the time the gates open until 30 minutes prior to game time.

Lucas Oil Stadium

  • A state-of-the-art retractable roof multi-purpose venue that is the home stadium of the NFL Colts (the 2007 Super Bowl champions).

  • Open for tours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, depending on the event schedule.

  • Also a site for events such as basketball's Final Four, the Big Ten Football Championship (through the 2021 season), Drum Corps International, weddings, receptions, conventions, concerts and trade shows. Connects to the Indiana Convention Center.

  • Stadium Journey named it Best in the NFL for the past five years; named “Sports Facility of the Year" by  SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily in 2009.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Hinkle Fieldhouse

  • The home court of Butler University men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball teams. 
  • Built in 1928, known as a "classic basketball palace"
  • On the National Register of Historic Places
  • Home of the state basketball championships until the 1990s; the movie "Hoosiers" was filmed here.
  • Fieldhouse architect Fermor Spencer Cannon was a founding member of the Indiana Society of Architects.

NCAA Hall of Champions

  • Represents 24 NCAA sports
  • Take a novice to historian trivia challenge; watch video highlights; see memorabilia from colleges around the nation. 
  • Compete virtually and hands-on through sports simulators, a 1930s retro gymnasium, ski simulator, etc.

Indianapolis Zoo

Entertainment is easy to find and at relatively inexpensive prices downtown. The Indianapolis Zoo has animals from all the great plains, from dolphins to cheetahs. You can book tickets online through their website at lesser values and plan your trip ahead of time. 

  • While prices may vary, if you book online you’ll get the cheapest tickets available.

  • Visit animals from different habitats such as dolphins in the ocean or tigers in the plains.

  • Invite the whole family to explore different rides and shows such the 4-D theater experience! Shows vary but are always exciting.

White River State Park

The State Park offers a unique glimpse of Indiana history.

  • The Indiana State Museum has many attractions about science, the arts, and history of Indiana.

  • Take tours of the park on segways, bikes, or boat rentals.

  • The Celebration Plaza and Amphitheater is an lush space with plenty of greens and perfect for relaxing.

  • Connect with Indianapolis Zoo and see new sights you haven’t before.  

War Memorials

Indiana War Memorial Plaza (Free)

was originally built to honor the veterans of World War I.  The seven-block area is now a historic district and is an architectural history showcase

  • Soldiers & Sailors Monument located on the brick street is bedecked with holiday lights at Christmastime - and had been dubbed “the world’s largest Christmas tree” - still recognizing that it’s a monument, not a tree.
  • Indiana War Memorial is a landmark inside and out.   In addition to its history, its interior War Memorial Museum is also a wedding spot. It’s lit at night as well.
  • American Legion Mall  from St. Clair Street to North Street between Meridian and Pennsylvania Streets is also a popular spot for festivals, political candidate appearances, and watching parades  
  • Veterans Memorial Plaza - looks like the Washington Monument but isn’t.
  • University Park between Vermont and New York Streets, is popular spot for brown bag lunch by the  fountain
  • USS Indianapolis Memorial on the canal commemorates the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945

Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Located at 1230 N. Delaware St., home to the 23rd President, is open for tours, holds events, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1937, Harrison's widow sold the home to the Arthur Jordan Foundation, which used it as a dormitory for its music school. When the music school moved to Butler University in 1951, the foundation restored the house and opened it to the public. In 1966, it created the President Benjamin Harrison Foundation, which operates the house as a historic house museum.

James Whitcomb Riley's house
Located at 528 Lockerbie St., was the poet's home for the final 23 years of his life. Furnishings include the desk where he wrote poems such as Little Orphant Annie and The Raggedy Man. The Victorian treasure in the historic downtown Lockerbie Square neighborhood opened to the public as a museum in 1922.

History Sites Abound

Numerous Indianapolis historic sites and neighborhoods are part of the National Parks Service Discover Our Shared Heritage itineraries.  Irvington is listed as an Underground Railroad Preserve America site.  The NPS Indiana heritage topics are Aboard the Underground RailroadAmerican PresidentsCivil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who ServedIndianapolisMadison, Indiana; and Veterans Affairs National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

Circle Centre Mall 

Opened in 1995. Four-story building and parking garage.

Includes stores, restaurants, a movie theaterthe Simon Youth Academy high school, and the Indianapolis Star newspaper offices.

Located across from Simon Property Group headquarters.

Where to Eat

If you like to eat then Indianapolis is the place for you! Downtown Indianapolis offers nearly 300 restaurants; anything from a good old fashioned American cheeseburger to fine Italian to authentic Mexican food. 

Below are some additional websites that can help you find your new favorite restaurant. 

Visit Indy - A useful website on all things Indianapolis. This link will take you to the "where to eat" section on this website which will allow you to select different types of cuisine and which area of town they are in! This is the best way to taste your way around the city of Indianapolis. 

Indianapolis Monthly - Dining recommendations are a staple of this magazine, and some great content is available online if you're not near a paper copy of it. The Monthly's Best of Indy articles share the best health, arts, and food suggestions. 

Trip Advisor is one of several travel sites with visitors giving their opinion. The tabs of cuisine type, price level, and area are helpful.

10 Best  from USA Today voters, includes take-out among its categories of breakfast, lunch, cuisine type, steakhouses, etc. 

Zomato and Yelp are two other quick search websites that can help you find a great restaurant. They have a lot of great user recommendations and guides to finding a great place to eat throughout the city.

Check out the link below to see the restaurants in Indianapolis that have been on TV! 


Image attributions from left to right. 


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

Like us on FacebookInstagramFollow us on Twitter