Weekend in Indianapolis: How to Spend 3 Days in the City

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Have you been looking for the best 3-day Indianapolis itinerary? I’ve got you covered!

If you’ve been looking for the ultimate itinerary for a weekend in Indianapolis, look no further. As a local, I’ve explored every nook and cranny of Indianapolis to bring you a weekend packed with fun, food, and culture. Since finding fun things to do is my superpower, I’m here to guide you through an unforgettable weekend. Whether you’re looking to entertain the kids, enjoy some quality couple time, or explore solo, I’ve got your back.

Indianapolis, often dubbed the Crossroads of America or Circle City, is more than just a pit stop (get that racing reference?). Indy is a vibrant city brimming with activities that cater to every interest and age group. From thrilling sports events to serene art galleries, Indy offers a unique blend of experiences. Ready to dive into the heart of the Midwest? Let’s make the most out of your next Indianapolis adventure!

🤩 For a comfy stay, consider booking your Indianapolis weekend getaway at the JW Marriott. Perfectly located and family-friendly, it’s your home away from home.

Carriage House Cocktail at Livery in Indianapolis

Day 1 Indianapolis Itinerary: Dinner & a Show

Dinner at Livery

There’s no better way to kick off your Indianapolis weekend than with dinner at the Livery. This eatery is one of my all-time favorite Indy restaurants. With a menu that boasts an eclectic mix of Latin American-inspired dishes, there’s something for everyone. The ambiance? Think cozy yet sophisticated. It’s the perfect setting for a family dinner or a romantic evening.

I’ve dined here with my family many times, and it is always a hit. The empanadas are our favorite (we like to get a few different ones and share, but potato and corn are my favorites), the cocktails are top-notch for the adults and don’t even get me started on dessert. Plus, the rooftop seating offered stunning views of the city at dusk.

🍹Insider tip: the BEST cocktail at Livery is the Carriage House. Get it. Drink it. You’ll thank me!

Livery, 720 N. College, Indianapolis, IN

Murat stage performance of Anastasia and Playbill

Catch a show at the Murat

After dinner, why not catch a show at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Centre? This historic venue hosts a range of performances, from Broadway plays to concerts and comedy shows. The architecture alone is worth the visit, with its stunning Middle Eastern and Moorish styles.

My family has had Broadway tickets for years here, and it’s always a fun night. The acoustics are incredible, the seats comfortable, and the performance? Always wonderful. It’s an experience that brings everyone together, sparking joy and conversations long after the curtain call.

Murat Theatre, 502 N Jersey St. Indianapolis, IN

🤩 Want to stay within walking distance of the Murat? Then the Bottleworks Hotel is the place for you!

Indianapolis circle monument building and salesforce building

Day 2 Indianapolis Itinerary: History, Museums, Sports

Get your day started with coffee

I always search out the best coffee shops when I travel, but in Indy there are half a dozen excellent ones downtown, so it’s a bit hard to choose! Since you are starting your day with a tour of downtown, I’d recommend Quills Coffee. Their convenient location on the canal is a great way to start your day.

Quills Coffee, 335 W. 9th St. Indianapolis, IN

Historical tour of downtown

If you’re hitting up Indy for a quick 3-day weekend, there’s no better way to get the lay of the land than by joining a 90-minute guided walking tour downtown. You’ll meander through the bustling streets, with stops at Indy’s iconic Monument Circle, where the vibe is always lively, and Mass Ave, (one of the city’s designated arts districts) buzzing with arts, eats, and unique shops.

Indy has plenty of memorials such as the World War Memorial, a place that’s both awe-inspiring and humbling. The walking tour is a casual stroll, but you’ll pack in loads of info and insider stories that you’d miss out on if you were just doing it on your own. Whether you’re a history junkie, a culture enthusiast, or just in it for the good times, this walking tour’s got you covered.

🤩 Ready to lock in your spot on this must-do downtown Indy walking tour? Check it out on Viator, where you can book your 90-minute guided adventure

Beyond Spaceship Earth exhibit at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Based upon who is in your traveling party, I’d suggest a quick lunch downtown (maybe in the Garage Food Hall?) and then a visit to either the Indiana State Museum or the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

Indiana State Museum or The Indianapolis Children’s Museum

I’ve had fantastic experiences at both the Indiana State Museum and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and each holds a special place in my list of must-visit spots in Indy. The Indiana State Museum, located right downtown by the canal, is a spot my family and I keep coming back to, thanks to its mix of educational exhibits and those memorable school field trips.

But if I had to pick my favorite exhibit, the top floor steals the show for me every time. It’s all about famous Hoosiers, and walking through, you get this awesome sense of connection to the incredible folks who’ve left their mark on both our state and the world.

Then there’s the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which is like hitting the jackpot if you’re visiting with kids. Four floors packed with hands-on, educational exhibits mean the fun (and learning) never stops. We were members for many years, spending countless Saturday mornings exploring every corner.

From unearthing dinosaur bones to experimenting in the science labs, the museum was our go-to for a dose of fun and education. It’s much more than a museum—it’s a place where learning and play go hand in hand, creating unforgettable family moments that are all about discovery and joy.

Indiana State Museum, 650 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, IN

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 N. Meridian St. Indianapolis, IN

soccer stadium with JW Marriott and Lucas Stadium in the background

Sporting event – take your pick!

Sports in Indianapolis are a big deal for my family and me, and honestly, the city knocks it out of the park with options. Whether you’re into football, basketball, soccer, baseball, or college sports, Indy has it all.

We’ve got the Indianapolis Colts for NFL fans, the Pacers if NBA is your thing, Indy Eleven for soccer enthusiasts, and the Indianapolis Indians for those warm, popcorn-filled baseball nights. And let’s not forget about the college sports scene, with powerhouses like IUI and Butler right here in the city.

Every year, without fail, we make it to at least a game or two. It’s become a bit of a family tradition. There’s something about being in the stadium, surrounded by fans, the energy, the cheers, and yes, even the groans, that brings us together in a way that’s hard to describe.

Whether we’re bundled up in scarves and hats at a Colts game, cheering on the Pacers at the buzzer, or enjoying the summer breeze at an Indians game, these experiences are some of our most cherished family moments. And the college games? Talk about spirit and intensity. The rivalries, the young talent (we even know some of the soccer players these days thanks to years of competitive travel soccer!), the passion in the stands – it’s all part of what makes living in Indy so special for a sports fan.

So look to see who’s playing the weekend you are visiting and get tickets – you are sure to have a fantastic time, no matter what game you go to!

🏎️ Insider tip: Into racing? Squeeze in a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The IMS is home to the Indy 500 (the greatest spectical in racing) along with a terrific museum that shares the history of racing.

picture of "Who's Your Tree" at Newfields Museum of Art in Indianapolis

Day 3 Indianapolis Itinerary: Art, Food, Shopping

As always, coffee first

Today, I’d recommend enoying a leisurely brunch before heading out. There are plenty of excellent brunch options in Indianapolis – we do love our breakfast foods! Since most of our activities have been downtown, my recommendation is Cafe Patachou. This local favorite has been serving delicious brunch options in Indy for years.

Cafe Patachou is the place we tend to go to for Mother’s Day, to celebrate the end of the school year, birthdays, etc. The coffee is smooth and strong, the omelets delicious and very filling, and don’t even get me started on their homemade cinnamon toast. YUM!

Cafe Patachou, 4911 N. Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, IN

Newfields Art Museum

Spend your late morning at my favorite art museum – Newfields. My visits to Newfields have been nothing short of amazing. This place is a true gem in Indianapolis for anyone who appreciates art and nature. One of the coolest things about Newfields is how the exhibits are always changing. You can visit one month and come back the next to find something completely new and exciting to explore.

The space itself is incredible. Walking through the open galleries, you get this relaxed vibe that’s all about enjoying and appreciating art in your own time. And then there are the Lume experiences on the top floor. Wow, just wow! I’ve been there for Dali, Van Gogh, and Monet exhibitions, and each one was a mind-blowing journey into their worlds. Grab a drink at the attached bar and immerse yourself in the experience. The way they light up and animate the artwork is something you’ve got to see for yourself.

But it’s not just the inside that’s worth talking about. The grounds of Newfields are stunning. Whether it’s a sunny day or a crisp fall afternoon, just walking around and soaking in the beauty is a treat. They’ve got outdoor exhibits that you can enjoy for free, and even installations the kids can climb on (a prime example is Funky Bones by Atelier Van Lieshout which is featured in the book and movie “A Fault in Our Stars”) which is a huge plus. It’s like they’ve thought of everything to make art accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

Newfields, 4000 Michigan Rd. Indianapolis, IN

slice of tiramisu

Discover all the best places to eat in Indy!

Instead of eating lunch at just ONE restaurant, why not fill yourself up with tastes from some of the best restaurants in downtown Indianapolis by going on a food tour. There are two terrific neighborhoods in the city that offer food tours, and either would be fabulous!

Insider tip: sometimes these tours are only offered on Saturdays, and if your Day 3 is a Sunday simply swap your afternoon adventures with Day 2. It will still work out perfectly!

Hopping on a food tour in Indianapolis, especially around Mass Ave or Fountain Square, is like going on a culinary adventure that’s perfect for anyone spending a long weekend in the city.

And what I love about food tours like these, is that it’s not all about filling your belly; it’s a learning journey too. As you move from one spot to another, you get the inside scoop on the area’s history and its role as one of Indy’s designated cultural arts districts.

It’s a blend of culture, art, and deliciousness that gives you a richer, fuller understanding of what makes Indianapolis tick. Plus, it’s a blast to explore the city’s culinary diversity, share stories with fellow foodies, and maybe even discover your new favorite dish.

🤩 Ready to embark on a culinary journey through one of Indianapolis’s most vibrant neighborhoods? Book your spot on a Mass Ave or Fountain Square food tour today!

spiked coffee in a blue Easy Rider Diner mug

Explore a cultural district

Now that you are full, consider continuing to explore the neighborhood you find yourself in, or conversely, check out one of the other fun designated cultural districts in Indianapolis such as Broadripple, Fountain Square, or Mass Ave.

Exploring the cultural districts in Indianapolis has always been a highlight of living here, and I’ve had some incredible experiences in Fountain Square, Mass Ave, and Broad Ripple. Each district brings its own unique vibe and flavor, and on days when we have nothing to do, we’ll often just drive to one of the neighborhoods, park the car and explore.

Starting with Fountain Square, this place has a quirky and artsy feel that I absolutely love. It’s where you can find some of the best live music venues in the city, alongside vintage shops that seem to transport you back in time. The food scene here is just phenomenal, with a mix of cuisines that can satisfy any craving. One of my personal favorites is a cozy little diner (Easy Rider) that serves the most amazing brunch. And don’t get me started on the duckpin bowling – it’s a must-try for anyone visiting the area.

Mass Ave is another gem in Indy that I can’t get enough of. The vibe here is vibrant and energetic, thanks to the eclectic mix of theaters, restaurants, and boutiques. Walking down the avenue, you’re greeted with colorful life-size murals and street art that add to the district’s charm. For foodies, Mass Ave is paradise. My favorite chocolate shop, Kilwins, is on Mass Ave, and in addition to great chocolate, their sea salt caramel is to die for!

Broad Ripple holds a special place in my heart for its laid-back, bohemian atmosphere – and my parents grew up near there. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll along the canal on the Monon Trail or browsing through unique shops. The farmers market on Saturday mornings is a real treat, offering everything from fresh local produce to handmade crafts. And the coffee shops here are ideal for anyone looking to unwind with a good book or catch up on some work.

inside a plant/gift store in Indianapolis Indiana

Best Time to Visit Indianapolis

For families planning a weekend visit to Indianapolis, I’d say the best time to come is between late spring and early fall. During these months, the weather is just perfect for being outdoors and really soaking in everything the city has to offer. Imagine strolling through the cultural districts with the sun warming your back, picnicking by Monument Circle, or exploring Newfield’s gardens when the flowers are in full bloom.

This period brings out the city’s vibrant energy too, with festivals, outdoor concerts, and farmers markets popping up, giving you a real taste of Indy’s community spirit. The mild temperatures make it comfortable for all-day adventures, whether you’re wandering around Mass Ave, taking a leisurely walk on the Monon Trail, or discovering the city’s rich history and art.

outside of the Bottleworks Hotel in Indianapolis

Where to Stay in Indianapolis

Bottleworks Hotel

Located in the bustling Mass Ave district, the Bottleworks Hotel is a unique testament to Indianapolis’s rich industrial heritage, transformed into a modern luxury experience. This hotel is part of the larger Bottleworks District which is an area known for its vibrant entertainment and dining options.

With its art deco design and attention to detail, the Bottleworks Hotel offers you a unique stay where history meets contemporary comfort. It’s a terrific location for walking to all the wonderful restaurants, bars, and shops on Mass Ave!

Bottleworks Hotel, 850 Massachusetts Ave. Indianapolis, IN

🤩 Like Bougie? Book your stay at the Bottleworks Hotel!

JW Marriott Indianapolis

The JW Marriott Indianapolis is a beacon of luxury in the city’s skyline, offering panoramic views of the downtown area and beyond. Known for its exceptional service and upscale accommodations, this hotel is a favorite among visitors seeking a blend of comfort and elegance.

Located near the White River State Park, the JW Marriott provides easy access to some of Indianapolis’s best attractions, including the baseball stadium and the Indiana State Museum. Thanks to its spacious rooms, state-of-the-art fitness center (always important to my teenager), and variety of dining options, it’s a perfect base for families, couples, and business travelers alike.

JW Marriott, 10 South West Street, Indianapolis, IN

🤩 Book your stay at the JW Marriott today!

Conrad Indianapolis

The Conrad Indianapolis epitomizes luxury in the heart of downtown, offering guests a sophisticated and refined stay. With its prime location, the Conrad is just steps away from the Indiana Convention Center and the Circle Centre Mall, making it an ideal choice if you are looking to explore the city’s shopping, dining, and entertainment offerings.

The hotel features elegantly appointed rooms, a world-class art collection, and top-notch amenities, including a spa, fitness center, and fine dining options. The Conrad’s commitment to personalized service ensures a memorable experience for everyone, making it a standout choice for those seeking luxury in Indianapolis.

Conrad Indianapolis, 50 W. Washington, Indianapolis, IN

🤩 All about luxury? Book your stay at the Conrad Indianapolis.

driving in a jeep

Getting Around Indianapolis

Getting around Indianapolis, you’ll find that having a car is your best bet. While the downtown area is quite walkable, with many attractions, restaurants, and shops within easy walking distance, to truly experience all that the city has to offer, you’ll need to drive.

Indianapolis sprawls beyond its downtown core, and many of its gems (like Newfields) are tucked away in neighborhoods and areas not easily accessible by foot. Public transportation options are available, but they may not provide the flexibility or coverage needed to explore the city thoroughly. Having a car will give you the freedom to discover Indianapolis at your own pace and on your own schedule.

🤩 Find a great deal on your rental at DiscoverCars!

ruins at Holliday Park in Indianapolis

FAQs: A Weekend in Indianapolis Indiana

How many days should you spend in Indy?

There are plenty of things to do, so plan on at least 3 days!

How much money do I need for 3 days in Indianapolis?

You can easily enjoy a really nice weekend in Indianapolis for $1K or less, but you can also spend several thousand if you want to do it up with fancy dinners, a bougie hotel and an Indianapolis Colts game!

What is Indianapolis known for?

It’s often called the racing capital of the world thanks to the Indy 500!

Is there anything fun to do in Indianapolis?

Indianapolis bursts with fun, from world-famous sports venues and the largest children’s museum to vibrant cultural districts and beautiful parks, ensuring entertainment for all.

Why is Indianapolis called naptown?

Originally it was a jazz reference, but later became due to it being thought of as a sleepy town (not much to do – which is NOT true!)

Final Thoughts: 3-Day Indy Itinerary

And there you have it—a snapshot of the perfect 3-day weekend in Indianapolis, a city that promises adventure at every turn. From the roar of the engines at the Speedway to the quiet corners of its world-class museums, Indy is a place where memories are made.

Whether you’re indulging in the culinary delights of Mass Ave, exploring the artistic lanes of Fountain Square, or taking a leisurely stroll along the Canal, Indianapolis offers a blend of experiences that cater to every taste and interest.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your loved ones, and plan your next getaway to Indianapolis. Discover the heart of the Midwest, where every visit is sure to leave you planning your next. Let Indianapolis surprise you, delight you, and invite you back for more. Start planning your visit today and see for yourself why I consider Indy to be a city where fun and culture meet.

Ready for more info to help plan your Indy weekend?


Ultimate Indianapolis Weekend Guide