Indianapolis is full of fun stuff to do that will cost you no more than a gallon of gas and maybe a parking meter fee. Whether you prefer an indoor activity like a museum or something out in the fresh air, you can always find something fun to do even if you are low on cash.
Indianapolis Museum of Art
The art museum is free and great whether you prefer indoor or outdoor activities. Outside be sure to check out the beautiful gardens. Also check out the adjacent Virginia B. Fairbanks art and nature park, which includes 100 acres of meadows, woodlands, and a lake, along with lots of intriguing sculptures and art. Then be sure to go inside the Museum, which is also free of charge, and check out the 50,000+ works of art. You can also tour the Oldfields-Lilly house on the property. Most of the attractions close at 5:00 pm, so be sure and plan to spend several hours here so you can see everything.
The canal is a beautiful waterway located at White River State Park. It is a great place to go for a walk or jog. Take in the scenery and listen to the steam clock in front of the Indiana State Museum play a song every quarter hour. Check out the USS Indianapolis Memorial on the canal banks. If you want to walk the whole three miles of the canal walk, you will be rewarded by amazing views of the city, many fountains, and the picturesque canal itself. You may even hear a gondolier or two along the way.
Indiana World War Memorial Plaza
The Indiana World War Memorial is an amazing place. Downstairs you will find an informative military museum, complete with an actual helicopter and a replica of the interior of a submarine. Upstairs you will be in awe of the shrine room, a huge, silent room with marble pillars and massive flag hanging over a marble alter. The room is reverent and unexpectedly impressive. This is one place you should see for yourself, as pictures do not do the shrine room justice.
Outside of the memorial you will find a park with perfectly manicured green spaces, flags from all 50 states, a magnificent obelisk fountain in the center, and more monuments dedicated to our military service.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
A monument that is very popular with the downtown lunchtime crowd, as the steps are a great place to sit and enjoy your lunch on a nice day. Inside you will find the civil war museum, an interesting place where you can learn about the civil war and Indiana’s role in it. For a great view of the circle and the city, you can climb up the 331 steps for free, or pay a mere $2.00 to take an elevator to the top. In my opinion, the fee is worth it because I found that 331 steps are more than they sound like. However, it is definitely good exercise to walk. At the top you will find breathtaking views and great photo ops. Be sure to enjoy the view from the bottom as well, as the circle is a neat place and the fountains around the monument are quite nice as well.
City County Building Observation Deck
Another place to find great views for free, this is the tallest building in the city that has a public observation deck. Accessed by taking two elevators to the top, you will find amazing views of the city and many photo opportunities. You can also check out some history of the city and one of the mayor’s old desks in the large room. The city county building is only open on weekdays, and the observation deck closes at 3:00, so it can be tricky getting there in time, but the views are definitely worth it.
There are plenty of other great things to do in Indianapolis for free, from the city parks with their beautiful landscaping, hiking, and playgrounds, to window shopping at the malls or in quaint villages like Broad Ripple and Mass Ave. It doesn’t take a lot of money to have a lot of fun.