Indianapolis is a friendly city that’s easy to visit on a tight budget. Its central location makes it a great road trip destination for Midwesterners looking for a quick getaway. The city is loaded with free and inexpensive attractions that will appeal to adults and families alike.
Image via Flickr by Intiaz Rahim
Indianapolis is served by its own international airport (IND), but the network of highways that serve the city has earned it the nickname Crossroads of America. Interstates 65, 69, 70, and 74 meet here, making Indy an ideal road trip destination from all over the region. I-70 or I-65 will take you directly into the city, while I-74 routes around the city. I-69 ends just north of the city at I-465, which serves as the outer belt for city traffic.
Indianapolis is home to a full range of hotel options. Local chains include Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, and Courtyard. There is also a hostel in Indianapolis, unlike many smaller cities in the U.S. It’s called the Indy Hostel and offers a private room option as well as shared rooms. If you’re looking for cozy lodging that doesn’t feel like a chain, book an inn where you can take advantage of Hoosier hospitality.
Once you’ve booked a room, there are lots of free things to do in the city. Inside the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the center of town is a free Civil War Museum. You can also ascend to an observation tower on top of the monument itself by climbing 331 steps, or take an elevator most of the way if you prefer. If you’re interested in war memorials, you should be aware that Indy is second only to Washington, D.C. in the number of memorials sprinkled around town.
Free events in the city include concerts in the parks during the summer and free self-guided tours of local art galleries on the first Friday of each month. Check the Indianapolis Public Library’s schedule of events for fun things to do while you’re in town, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
Of course, the Indy 500 is a huge draw. On non-race days, you can get a look at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just by stopping by. If you want to see the track in action, watch the Speedway’s website for events and tickets. Other city highlights include the historic City Market and the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library.
Plan to spend a day at White River State Park, which is home to museums, zoos, and other attractions. The Indianapolis Arts Garden hosts hundreds of live performances for free all year long. A Children’s Museum, the city’s Central Canal waterway, and a host of beautiful parks and gardens round out Indy’s recreation options.
Indianapolis is an easy city to visit on a budget. Food and lodging are affordable, and the city boasts enough free or affordable entertainment options to keep visitors enthralled for a weekend or even longer without draining your bank account.