What to do in Indianapolis for a day in mid-July?

Yet another “what should I do in this city?” thread.

I’m going to be in Indianapolis for a conference in mid-July and I believe it’s at the Sheraton City Centre. I’ve been warned that the conference organizer often ends the meetings early, but I have the room pre-paid for several days and won’t try to reschedule to an earlier return flight. In any case, I may have a whole day free. I won’t have a car and I’m in my late 60s.

Any suggestions? The free day would be a weekday.

If you like racing, it looks like you’re about 5 miles away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum. If you don’t like racing, but you do like thrills, you could still go there and drop $500 for them to drive you around the track a couple of times at high speed.… i’ve done the low speed version, and it was kind of fun.

Despite being a Hoosier I’m indifferent to motorsports but last time I was in Indianapolis I visited the Motor Speedway and had a good time. I found the place - both museum and tour of the actual racetrack - interesting and impressive. You may need to Uber/Lyft if you yourself do not have a car, but no need to drop hundreds at the track for the “high speed” tour.

I saw a really interesting clock in Berlin, once. It was about 10 meters tall and told time with colored water flowing through glass tubes. The same artist created another one that’s at the children’s museum in Indianapolis (last I checked). I don’t know how far out of your way it is, or if it’s worth paying the admission just to see one thing, but if I’m ever there I’d check it out.

I had indeed given thought to a visit to the IMS, but wasn’t sure how interesting it would be to a NC (former) NASCAR fan.

I’ll have to look into the colored water clock. Never heard of this before.

+1 for the Indy suggestions above.

If you liked the movie Hoosiers (1986) or are otherwise a basketball or sports fan, the bar named Plump’s Last Shot in the Broad Ripple District is a must. It’s a sports bar owned by the guy who hit the last shot in the 1954 state championship game, Bobby Plump in real life and Jimmy Chitwood in the movie. Many memorabilia there. Well worth the visit.

Another: the President Benjamin Harrison house and museum. Good history in a small museum.

Benjamin Harrison is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery and it’s an east site to visit. On the way there you’ll pass the gravesite off Robert Irsay, former owner of the NFL team Baltimore / Indianapolis Colts. It’s easy to spot because the big headstone has the Colt’s team icon, a horseshoe.

There are probably other famous people buried there.

STRONGLY DISAGREE! If you are a race fan, and if you can afford it, and if their schedule lines up with yours, riding in the IndyCar two-seater is definitely a peak experience you will never forget. Here’s what I wrote about it five years ago:

The main problem may be scheduling. Looking at the site, it looks like most dates in July for the oval are sold out, although there were some slots for the road course.

But if you can’t, or don’t want to, do a driving experience, I agree that the museum and tour are interesting, although I’m a long-time open-wheel fan, and not a NASCAR fan.

The Indiana State Museum is not far from downtown, IIRC, and has an IMAX theater and a lot of exhibits about the history and natural history of the state. If you’re interested in those subjects it might be worth a visit. I don’t remember any real “wow!” moments from my visit, but take a look at the website; I might be doing them an injustice.

Indianapolis in mid-July is going to be unholy hot. Whatever you do, plan on doing it indoors.

The Indiana State Museum is just a couple blocks west of the Sheraton past the Statehouse and government center. It’s next to the canal walk and even has an entrance right off of it. I’ve been there a few times for events, so I didn’t really get a chance to “do” the museum per se, but it seemed pretty cool. The Eiteljorg Museum and NCAA Hall of Champions are also right there.

The Eiteljorg Museum is an exquisite collection of Native American art.

If you happen to be there on a game day, maybe catch an Indianapolis Indians AAA baseball game. Victory Field is a beautiful place to watch baseball.

There is a nice zoo, if it isn’t too hot. I took my grandson there a couple of times.
There is also a

Drum museum. Haven’t been there though.

And a nice children’s museum which we have been to.

I like that clock. Probably not enough to be around kids, but I like it.

Thanks for all the great suggestions! Sounds like going out to the speedway might b the best option. (Again, Indy racing is not my thing, but I can handle it. I know there will be NASCAR exhibits.)

It is difficult to get around Indy without a car. The “public transport” is too few buses on too few routes that come by too infrequently and sometimes wildly late or even way too early.

Taxis were always a pretty bad deal–you’d call to order one and it might not come for an hour. That was a while ago and maybe Uber and Lyft make things better now.

Still, a taxi or Uber ride from downlown to say, the Speedway is going to be pretty expensive as will a trip to anywhere else outside of downtown. If you really want to go a few diffenet places on your free day you should consider renting a car for that day.

I grew up in Indy and felt then that there was not really much to do at all in Indianapolis. But I was younger then… I think it might feel like a better fit for a “sixty-something”.

We go to the Children’s Museum often, but I wouldn’t pay admission for the clock. The video gives you the jist of it.

The 500 museum is really cool, and worth a trip for something you’re not going to see anywhere else. If you’re a baseball fan, catching an Indians game would be very high on my list if they’re in town - Victory Field is an absolute gem. If museums are more your speed, both the Eitlejorg and the Indiana State Museum are within walking distance and well worth it. Indiana State Museum has an IMAX if you want to catch a movie.

An Uber will be significantly cheaper and less hassle than renting a car and paying for downtown parking.

Yes, I really don’t have any problem with Ubering places. The expense is negligible.

I’m not a sports fan at all, so sports-related (other than motor sports) activities are probably not an option.

Also, since I have no idea if I will actually have a day off, I will lean towards things that don’t require reservations or advance planning. The museums (Indy and others) sound like the best options.

Yes. But if the OP wants to go to more than one (1) place on his free day than renting a car could be worth it instead of paying $25 each for four or five different trips (and maybe even more trips–see below)

I don’t know if you (Munch) are familar with Indy but the thing is you can’t even go to a drug store or grocery store (or anywhere including restaurants and meetings unless they are inside of your hotel. So unless the OP wants to pay for a taxi or Uber for each and every little thing plus all the big things, it would be wise to weigh the pros and cons of car rental vs. Uber and taxi. Only the OP knows how much he needs to travel around. I’m only pointing out that one has very limited options in Indy.

In Indianapolis you can’t even usually choose to walk someplace because there will be no sidewalks (other than downtown), pedestrian crossing lights, etc. To walk you’ll be in danger of being hit by cars plus you often have to walk way out of the way to get around all the curbs and so forth that are for car traffic, not pedestrian. A fucking nightmare, unless you’re an oil company executive.

I have lived in Indianapolis for the last 21 years. The OP is going to be staying in a hotel downtown on Monument Circle. Going to restaurants, museums, movies, baseball games or find any shop he could want to go to will require him to go outside and walk 1-10 blocks. The Speedway will require an Uber. Anything else is downtown. I guess if wanted to go to Fountain Square because he found an interesting restaurant or store on Yelp or something, he’d need to Uber again, or he could rent a scooter or bike.