15 Best Things to Do in Central Indiana, IN

Central Indiana, IN
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Central Indiana, Indiana, is a great place to live, work, and play.

There's something for everyone here, from family-friendly attractions to outdoor adventures.

Flourishing in the heart of the Midwest, Central Indiana is a hidden gem, comprising 33 counties.

Native Americans first inhabited the area dating to 10,000 B.C., starting with the Mound Builders.

Since then, Central Indiana has grown and evolved; it is now home to some of the State's best attractions and tourist spots.

Many Hoosiers and Indiana residents regard central Indiana as the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

Central Indiana is often referred to as the "Crossroads of America," thanks to its central location and the numerous interstate highways that run through the area.

Whether you're a history buff, nature lover, or just looking for the perfect place to relax, you'll enjoy Central Indiana.

The region has a little bit of everything in the best way possible.

Below are 15 of the best things to do in Central Indiana.

Enter the Animal Kingdom in the Indianapolis Zoo

The entrance of Indianapolis Zoo
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The Indianapolis Zoo is one of the best spots in Central Indiana.

Situated on 64 acres in White River State Park downtown, the Zoo is home to more than 3,800 animals.

People visit the Zoo to see the unique exhibits, including daily dolphin performances and the flamingos mingling in their display.

A pretty flamingo at Indianapolis Zoo
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In addition to its many attractions, the Zoo also features several educational opportunities, such as behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, and workshops.

You can also enjoy the White River Junction Train Ride, the 4-D Theater, and the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center.

These exhibits simultaneously inform you about animals and their habitats while also being enjoyable and entertaining.

The Indianapolis Zoo is open year-round and is an excellent place for families, friends, and groups to spend the day.

A unique marine animal in Indianapolis Zoo's aquarium
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Explore the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Exterior of Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
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If you're interested in exploring the culture and history of the American West, then visit the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

Located in Downtown Indianapolis, the museum preserves and shares the stories of the Native Americans and the pioneers who settled in the West.

Besides its permanent collection, which includes works by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, the museum also hosts several rotating exhibitions.

Name sign of Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
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The museum also offers a variety of educational programs, such as hands-on art activities, speaking engagements, and film screenings.

It doesn't matter if you're an art lover or a history buff.

You'll enjoy the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

Water fountain in front of Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
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Take a Hike through the Hoosier National Forest

Petoka lake surrounded by Hoosier National Forest trees
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The Hoosier National Forest is where to go if you want to escape city life and enjoy the wonders of nature.

This tiny but magnificent 204,000-acre forest is a local treasure, with back-country trails, rolling hills, and rural crossroad communities.

It is 30 minutes away from downtown Bloomington and the Indiana University campus.

Rocky trail at Hoosier National Forest
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The Hoosier National Forest also features several recreational opportunities, such as camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and hiking.

It features Indiana's only wilderness region, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness—it offers a calm refuge and a variety of natural activities to enjoy.

Moreover, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness boasts 36 miles of hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding paths that wind through a picturesque hardwood forest and various terrain with views of nearby Monroe Lake.

Whether you're looking to escape the city or get closer to nature, the Hoosier National Forest is the perfect place.

Nature trail of Hoosier National Forest
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Cheer on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium

Aerial view of Lucas Oil Stadium
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One of the best things to do in Central Indiana is to catch a game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Home to the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, the stadium is in Downtown Indianapolis and can seat up to 62,421 fans.

Interior of Lucas Oil Stadium
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Besides football games, it hosts various other events, such as concerts, basketball games, and conventions.

The Lucas Oil Stadium has retractable windows and roofs, making it one of the world's most technologically advanced stadiums.

Lucas Oil Stadium is perfect whether you're a die-hard Colts fan or just looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening.

A football game in Lucas Oil Stadium
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Step Back in Time at the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park

A wigwam at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park
Valerie Everett from Shelbyville, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to learn more about Indiana's history, you need to visit the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

Located in Fishers, just northeast of Indianapolis, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is a living history museum that recreates life in Indiana during the 19th century.

The park consists of 12 different historic areas, each telling a different story about the State's past.

One of the 12 attractions of the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is the experience of the 1836 Prairie Town.

It lets you interact with the people, animals, objects, and daily routines of life in 1836 Central Indiana.

You can also find out how the William Conner family lived as you explore the Conner Homestead, Prairietown, one of the oldest brick homes in Indiana.

Relive their experience of transition and transformation as Indiana went from territory to state.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is where to go if you want an educational and fun way to spend the day.

Be Captivated by the Quiet Beauty of Eagle Creek Park

Fall foliage on Eagle Creek Park's waters
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More than 1,400 acres of water and 3,900 acres of forest comprise Eagle Creek Park.

Eagle Creek Park offers a wide range of activities, such as fishing, boating, and hiking.

Eagle Creek Park is in Indianapolis and is a great place to explore the outdoors for a day or two.

Stack of boats at Eagle Creek Park
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The park also features unique attractions, such as the Eagle Creek Ornithology Center, dedicated to studying birds.

It also houses the Earth Discovery Center, which offers hands-on exhibits about the environment and ecology.

From ziplining to swimming, to simply taking a walk along with one of the many trails, there's something for everyone at Eagle Creek Park.

A wooden bench overlooking Eagle Creek Park's lake
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Check Out the Children's Museum of Indianapolis

A dinosaur design on Children's Museum of Indianapolis' building
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The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children's museum in the world.

You'll find the Children's Museum of Indianapolis just a few minutes away from downtown.

It has five floors of interactive and fun learning that can change the lives of children and families through the world's cultures, arts, humanities, and sciences.

A dinosaur designed as if it's peeking inside the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
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One of the museum's most popular exhibits is the Dinosphere, which features life-sized dinosaurs that will leave your mouth hanging in awe.

Other popular exhibits include the American Collection, which tells the story of America through interactive displays and objects, and the Museum Theater, which offers a variety of performances throughout the year.

Exercise your creativity at the Travel Adventure Exhibit, which takes you on an around-the-world adventure through hands-on play.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the perfect place to spend a day with your family.

Dinosaur sculptures in front of Children's Museum of Indianapolis
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Explore the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Entrance to Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
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The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is a nationally recognized zoo with 40 acres of animals, rides, and visually stunning landscapes for families to enjoy.

There are four distinct areas of the Zoo, each designed to give children and families a different experience.

The Australian Adventure lets you get up close and personal with kangaroos, wallabies, and emus.

Giraffes at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
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You can also learn more about the African Rift Valley at the African Journey exhibit, featuring lions, hippos, and gorillas.

Don't forget to check out the Indonesian Rainforest, where you can see tigers, Komodo dragons, and orangutans.

And finally, take a ride on the Zoo Train or the Carousel to complete your perfect day at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

For non-stop fun and education, the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is the perfect place to take your family.

Flock of ducks at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
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Explore the Prophetstown State Park Nature Trail

Scenic sunset at Prophetstown State Park Nature Trail
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Prophetstown State Park Nature Trail is in West Lafayette, Indiana, and features over 10 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.

The park gets its name from the Battle of Tippecanoe, fought on the banks of the Tippecanoe River in 1811.

Prophetstown State Park Nature Trail is located in the town of Battle Ground, northeast of Lafayette, where the Tippecanoe River meets the Wabash River.

The Nature Trail takes you through various ecosystems, including prairies, wetlands, and woodlands.

The Nature Trail also features a 30-foot tube slide, lazy river float area, water slide, adventure channel, and an aquatic activity area with basketball available at the Aquatic Center.

The Prophetstown State Park Nature Trail is a great place to enjoy a peaceful stroll and take in the beauty of nature.

Visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Exterior of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is one of the most prominent museums dedicated to autos and auto racing globally, with its unusual location inside the historic 2.5-mile oval track.

You can enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and absorb the mystique, majesty, and enormity of the World's Racing Capital.

It also houses a collection of automobile and motor racing cars and memorabilia, focusing on the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

A race car in Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
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The goal of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is to preserve and share one of the world's most important collections of automobile and motor racing cars and memorabilia, focusing on the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

One of the most popular attractions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is the "Indy Experience," which allows visitors to take a simulated lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is a must whether you're a racing fan or a car enthusiast.

Trophies in Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
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Discover the Wonders of the Marengo Cave

The view inside Marengo Cave
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One of the largest caves in Indiana, Marengo, is located in the southwest part of the State.

It is an Indiana national landmark and a unique sight that has been offering tours for over 130 years.

The Cave features a variety of tour options, including the Historic Tour, which takes you back in time to when the Cave was first discovered.

Likewise, join the Crystal Palace Tour, a 40-minute winding trek that takes you through formation-filled halls and flowstone deposits.

Rock formations in Marengo Cave
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The Cave is also home to many unique animals, including bats, salamanders, and cave crayfish.

The Marengo Cave is a great place to explore the underground world and discover the wonders of nature.

Try kayaking or gemstone mining when you're above ground and round off your adventure with a couple of nights in the on-site cabins or camping grounds.

Displays in Marengo Cave
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Discover Your Inner Artist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Exterior of Indianapolis Museum of Art
Mike Steele, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With more than 50,000 pieces of art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is one of the country's largest and most comprehensive art museums.

Visitors can also tour the historic Oldfields home and stroll through gardens created by the legendary Olmstead Brothers in the 1920s.

Interior of Indianapolis Museum of Art
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Likewise, the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park is one of the best contemporary sculpture parks in the United States, with installations woven among meadows, wetlands, woodlands, and lakes.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art lets you learn about various arts and cultures and enjoy the outdoors.

Clowes pavilion in Indianapolis Museum of Art
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Take a Trip to Indiana Dunes State Park

The beach of Indiana Dunes State Park
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Located in the northwest corner of Indiana, Indiana Dunes State Park is one of the State's most popular attractions.

Its sandy beaches result from thousands of years of shifting terrain.

Guests will find a three-mile stretch of dune-lined shoreline and outdoor spaces to explore at this state park, opened to the public in 1925.

Nature trail of Indiana Dunes State Park
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There are almost 70 miles of hiking trails and 15 miles of beach to swim in and splash about.

Climb the park's three tallest dunes in the Three Dune Challenge.

Indiana Dunes State Park is also home to various plants and animals, including over 300 species of birds.

Whether you want to go hiking, go to the beach, or learn about the local flora and fauna, Indiana Dunes State Park is perfect.

Pathway leading to Indiana Dunes State Park's beach
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Appreciate the Rare Beauty of the Brown County State Park

Fall foliage on Brown County State Park's waters
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One of Indiana's most popular state parks, Brown County State Park, appears to be a miniature version of the Great Smoky Mountains.

It lies in the southern part of the State, known for its beautiful fall foliage.

Indiana's most extensive parkland spans about 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) of steep ridges, hazy ravines, lush valleys, and jagged mountaintops.

Brown County State Park's road lines with trees
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You can try to walk through the rural landscapes of southern Indiana to experience a diverse range of trees that turns this region into an autumn destination.

Besides stunning scenery, the Brown County State Park is also home to various wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and red-tailed hawks.

The park is also home to various hiking trails, and it even has an on-site campground.

Whether you want to appreciate the beauty of nature or get some exercise, the Brown County State Park is a must-see place for you.

A boardwalk at Brown County State Park
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Appreciate the Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Aerial view of Soldiers and Sailors Monument
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The Soldiers and Sailors Monument pays tribute to the men and women who served in the Armed Forces.

Bruno Schmitz designed the monument, which was completed in 1902.

Gray Oolitic limestone taken from the Romona quarries in Owen County comprise the monument.

The monument is 284 feet tall, only 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.

The top half of the tall Soldiers and Sailors Monument
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It's in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, surrounded by busy streets and commercial malls.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a great place to learn about the history of Indianapolis.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument provides a panoramic view of the city from its viewing deck to see many attractions, such as the State Capitol Building, the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, and the Circle Centre Mall.

Details of Soldiers and Sailors Monument's bottom half
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Final Thoughts

Central Indiana is a great place to visit, whether you're looking to appreciate the beauty of nature or learn about the history of the United States.

So, if you're looking for some great ideas of things to do in Central Indiana, look no further.

Make the most of your visit by checking out this list of terrific destinations.

From world-class museums to beautiful nature preserves, there's something for everyone in this charming corner of the Midwest.

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