Best Fun Free Things to Do in Indianapolis

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If you haven’t visited Indianapolis for a while, you might not recognize the city. Downtown Indianapolis has been remade with terrific parks, gardens and museums, many of which offer free admission. Once a sleepy capital town, Indianapolis is now a vibrant city with a beautiful downtown. It offers world-class attractions like the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Yet, it’s still affordable for families, particularly when you factor in all the free things to do in Indianapolis.

Just a few of the top things to do in Indianapolis include the Indianapolis Zoo, which boasts the incredible International Orangutan Center, free on Martin Luther King Jr. Day each year. Also free on MLK Day are the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and the Indiana State Museum. Here are 12 more of the fun free things that we recommend for your next visit.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Always check the website for destinations and attractions before you go. Opening times and dates are subject to change without warning. 


Indianapolis Artsgarden is one of the fun free things to in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Artsgarden is one of the free things to in Indianapolis. Photo credit: Chris T Pehlivan for Shutterstock

1. Indianapolis Artsgarden

This glass-enclosed structure attached to Circle Centre Mall hosts more than 250 free activities, including dance performances, storytelling, visual art exhibits, musical performances, films, lectures, readings, fairs and festivals.

The Indianapolis Artsgarden also houses the Cultural Concierge, a centralized source for free maps, ticket information, travel guides and directions for Indianapolis arts events. This seven-story-tall glass structure is suspended 17 feet above the intersection of Illinois and Washington streets. Don’t miss a chance to stroll through. Even if there is no performance, it’s a peaceful spot to rest during a busy day exploring the city.

Read More: The BEST Indoor Waterparks in Indiana

2. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Hands down, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of the best children’s museums in North America, if not the world. It’s also the world’s largest children’s museum — and offers fun for all ages. While kids under 2 are always free, families can take advantage of free admission each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day,  Presidents Day, Fiesta Familia and Christmas Eve. On the first Thursday of each month, admission is a discounted $6 from 4-8 p.m. As an added bonus, parking at the museum is always free.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Buy your tickets online in advance to ensure you get a spot before it sells out.

3. Indianapolis Art Center

Home to many local artists, this center houses more than 50 art exhibitions in six art galleries, eight exhibition spaces, 13 state-of-the-art studios, a 224-seat auditorium, a library, a gift shop and a riverfront deck and stage. The center’s ArtsPark stretches 9.5 acres along the banks of the White River and features interactive sculpture gardens. The building itself is a work of art, designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves. The Indianapolis Art Center is open seven days a week and entrance is free.

Read More: Indiana’s Best Hidden Gems

4. Free Summer Concerts 

The Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis and Indy Parks present free Pops concerts every summer. The concerts include a mix of patriotic songs, jazz, light classical, movie themes and operetta. All concerts begin at 7 p.m. and the parking is also free.

Indianapolis Concerts on the Canal are offered on Thursday nights from 6-8 p.m. throughout the summer with free seating on the grass. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a picnic dinner to keep the event free. Or buy food from the Stardust Terrace Café.

Indy Parks also host free movie nights and all of these together create a fun summer of free things to do in Indianapolis with kids.

Read More: Check Out the Famous Shipshewana Flea Market and More Fun Things to Do in Indiana’s Amish Country

5. Indianapolis City Market

This public market offers live music on the first Friday of the month and hosts a farmers market on Wednesday mornings from May through October.

White River State Park is one of the best fun free things to do in Indianapolis with kids.
Central Canal in White River State Park, downtown Indianapolis. Photo credit: Lavengood Photography

6. Walk, Bike or Run the Indianapolis Cultural Trail

The 8-mile $63 million Cultural Trail in downtown Indianapolis connects the city’s Cultural Districts. It’s a great way to explore the city. As a bonus, it’s flanked with $26 million in public art. Or just take a stroll along the 3-mile Canal Walk in downtown Indy where you may spot pedal boats and Venetian-style gondolas as they glide along on the water. This is a great way to get outdoors and breathe in the fresh air.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Download this file for a self-guided walking tour before you go.

7. Indiana War Memorials

Many of Indy’s monuments and memorials to fallen veterans are free. The USS Indianapolis was one of the worst at-sea naval disasters in history. But it also played a pivotal role at the end of World War II; it was the last U.S. ship to sink.

Visit the memorial, on the east bank of the Central Canal downtown. At the Indiana World War Memorial, step inside the Shrine Room. It’s stunning and emotional, packed with incredible stories and history.

8. Workout Wednesdays

Start the day with Sunrise Yoga on the Canal. Bring your own yoga mat. Parking is free until 7 a.m. Or, if you prefer a later day workout, choose the cardio and interval training class at noon on Wednesdays. Classes are offered throughout the summer.

9. Soldiers and Sailors Monument and Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum

Sitting on Monument Circle, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is Indiana’s official memorial to the Hoosiers that served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Frontier Wars and the Spanish-American War. It stands 284 feet, 6 inches high, only 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.

The observation deck at the top offers 360-degree views of the city skyline from 275 feet up. Getting to the top is free if you’re willing and able to climb the 331 steps. If you prefer a ride, spend $2 to take the elevator most of the way, and then climb the final 31 steps. The elevator ride is always free for veterans.

The Monument is closed on all national and state holidays except for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum on the lower level of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument explores the impact of the Civil War on the people of Indiana.

10. Rolls-Royce James A. Allison Exhibition Center

Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust Allison Branch is responsible for maintaining and promoting all aspects of the rich heritage of Allison, which became part of Rolls-Royce in 1995. It includes an extensive collection of aircraft engines made by Rolls-Royce and USA predecessor Allison Engine Company. Admission is free although donations are accepted.

11.  President Benjamin Harrison Home

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, which was home to the 23rd President of the United States (and the only president to hail from Indiana), offers free tours and birthday cake on Benjamin Harrison’s birthday, August 20. 

The tour covers three floors and 10 rooms of the house and includes a nationally significant collection of more than 10,000 artifacts. More than three-quarters of the objects on display are original to the Harrison family. The home also features The President’s Theatre, a spot frequently used for theatrical performances and events.

12. Indianapolis Museum of Art

While the museum itself is no longer free, its Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park at Newfields still is. Pack a picnic and let the kids run while you enjoy the scenery and large-scale quirky art installments. Funky Bones is probably the most famous piece inside the Park. It was featured in the New York Times Bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars, which was later turned into a movie.

Read More: We’ve got a list of fun free things to do in all 50 states.

Find Places to Stay Near Indianapolis, Indiana

There are lots of options for hotel stays near Indianapolis, including vacation rentals. Use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.


Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of She also is the mom of two now grown kids who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, “I want a barf bag too!” She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.
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