I hope this Indianapolis Luxury Travel Guide helps you fall in love with this iconic midwestern capital city just as we did!
Where to Stay
We loved our stay at the beautiful art hotel right in the center of downtown Indianapolis, Conrad Indianapolis, so it only makes sense that I include it here in my Indianapolis Luxury Travel Guide. The staff were exceptional, our suite was decked out in Salvador Dalí art, and there are other famous works of art by Picasso and Andy Warhol scattered around the hotel. They have a full Aveda salon and spa, a fitness center, and on site fine-dining. What more could a person ask for? Read my full review of the hotel, and why we loved our stay so much, here.
Where to Eat
Indianapolis is home to some of the best food in the midwest. Whether you’re in the mood for Asian food, something vegan, uniquely crafted dishes you can’t find anywhere else, fusion food, craft beers or wines, Indianapolis has an excellent assortment of options for everyone. Each restaurant in my Indianapolis Luxury Travel Guide has ample gluten free options.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner here, and the atmosphere was casual, light hearted, and the restaurant itself is reminiscent of a used book store. It’s very quaint yet lively, and the food was phenomenal.
I Recommend: Charcuterie, Tartine, Curry, & Sanctuary
We first tried Café Patachou during our first visit to neighboring Carmel, IN in Hamilton County, and we loved it! Everything is very fresh and thoughtfully paired with drinks. Perfect for a light brunch or breakfast.
I Recommend: Simple Broken Yolk, Yogurt, Granola & Berries, Gluten Free Vegan Omelette
The Capital Grille
Located inside our hotel on the ground floor, The Capital Grille was a convenient and delicious fine dining option. They had a delightful variety of seafood and vegetable based dishes, in addition to their dry-aged steak selection. The Conrad Hotel in Indianapolis also has an in house sommelier, so it’s of course necessary to sample the hotel’s wine selection while in town.
I Recommend: Cast Iron Garlic Shrimp, Tuna Tartare with Avocado, Mango, and Sriracha, Pan Seared Sea Bass
Grab a coffee whilst strolling the Indianapolis Cultural Trail near Monument Circle, and enjoy some of Indianapolis’ finest coffee. You can even buy bags of coffee beans to make at home.
I Recommend: Iced Black Coffee
A charming Italian inspired café along the Central Canal, just behind where the Indianapolis Gondola Rides pick up. This café serves Italian food, Italian drinks, and gelato.
I Recommend: Trillium Cheese Board, Aperol Spritze
I loved Garden Table so much I’ve dreamt of it. Okay, it was just one dream, but it was a wonderful dream nonetheless. Featuring raw, fresh pressed juices, vegan and main stream fare in a bright and airy setting, Garden Table is one of my favorite places to eat in the Midwest. Read my full restaurant review here.
I Recommend: Fresh Pressed Juice Flight, Açai Bowl with Homemade Almond Butter and Seasonal Fruits, Smoked Salmon Hash, and Green Matcha Latté.
Another fabulous Indianapolis staple, Milktooth serves breakfast and brunch starting at 9am daily, but from 7am to 9am they offer casual café staples such as pastries, iced and hot coffees, and more. Read my full breakdown of Milktooth here.
I Recommend: Cranberry Walnut with Gouda & Raclette Grilled Cheese featuring black truffle honey, and a local sunny duck egg, as well as the Fried Swiss Cheese Polenta Cake with Sunny Egg on top of horseradish sauce, pickled apple, and celery, cashew, pesto
They have a different soup every day, and create some of the best sandwiches we’ve ever had.
I Recommend: Giovanni, Tomato Basil Soup
An awesome spot to grab a drink and sample wine.
Have I mentioned how awesome Indianapolis’ food scene is? It’s amazing! Tinker Street was one of the more inventive restaurants we dined at, as they served reimagined version of classic dishes like their delicious take on Pad Thai, or their repurposed S’mores dessert. Read more about Tinker Street here.
I Recommend: Mushroom Bruschetta, Squash Pad Thai, Blistered Indiana Asparagus with Quinoa, S’More Pot De Créme
What to Do
As the capital of the state of Indiana, there’s more to do in Indianapolis than anywhere else in the area, so no matter what your interests are, you’re bound to find something exciting to any time of the week. When I’m traveling somewhere new and looking for something specific to do, I simply Google the activity and the city I’m in, and I have great luck with that. I know that seems obvious, but since it’s impossible to list out each individual activity here in this Indianapolis Luxury Travel Guide, below are a few of my favorites to spark your curiosity that.
Garfield Park Conservatory
A beautiful spot to explore in the cooler months, or a rainy warm weather day. I love coming here when we are in town and enjoying the tropical plants.
Enjoy an hour long cruise in an authentic Venetian Gondola down the Central Canal. The views were surprisingly lovely in this aritifically built canal, and we were able to see some Indianapolis’ most expensive and prestigious real estate along the way. Plus, our gondolier, Flavio, serenaded us in Italian.
This park might be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beautiful views. Get an awesome view of the Indianapolis skyline, and watch the sunset in this walkable park. It’s the perfect place to take photos of the city skyline.
Indianapolis Cultural Trail
This 8 mile long trail connects Indianapolis’ six cultural districts, which not only improved the walkability of the city, but it also helped improve nearly a dozen other metrics of city quality and citizen happiness. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is credited with also improving the health of Indianapolis’ citizens and pets, increasing the number of jobs in the city and property values in the area, plus it has made the city even more beautiful. Along the trail we found museums and art galleries, camera shops and used book stores, cafés, boutiques, public parks, murals, and so much more.
Indianapolis Zoo & Botanical Gardens + Butterfly House
This zoo and gardens was beautifully maintained and very involved in conservation efforts both locally and globally. We witnessed zoo staff talking lovingly about the animals in their care, most of which were either rescued or could not survive on their own in the wild, and it was truly inspiring to see how much they cared about the work they were doing. In addition to conservation efforts and city wide recycling initiatives, they also teach classes about wildlife and what visitors can to do encourage a healthy ecosystem.
This four and a half mile long trail connects even more of the city and is a fantastic spot for jogging, biking, or walking.
Newfields Museum & Gardens
1 of top 10 largest museums in the United States, Newfields has a beautiful museum, which currently houses a vast array of Japanese art and artifacts, as well as a sprawling garden and sculpture park. Located on more than 100 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and lawns, we loved strolling around the grounds, admiring the foliage and exploring the pop ups that change every time we visit. It’s also one of the more beautiful gardens we’ve visited, so of course I had to include it in my Indianapolis Luxury Travel Guide.
White River State Park
Where city dwellers go to get a taste of the outdoors right in downtown Indianapolis. If you’re looking for a place to have a picnic, rent kayaks, or just enjoy the expansive 250 acre green space, this is a beautiful option. Once you’re done enjoying the park, head over to the nearby Indianapolis Zoo & Botanical Gardens.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Home of the indy 500)
Indiana World War Memorial
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Getting Around & Parking
Indianapolis has an extensive bike sharing program through the city, as well as an ample supply of Bird scooters conveniently located around town, so if you’re interested in exploring more or less independently, this is the way to go if you’re not much for walking. Otherwise, the city is very drivable, and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are popular enough that there’s never much of a wait time.
If you’re interested in a unique view of the city, try a Gondola Ride through the Central Canal.
Parking in Indianapolis is inexpensive and there is ample parking all around the city.
Indianapolis is moderately safer than most cities of a comparable size. As with anytime you’re out in public, be sure not to wander alone late at night, stick to well lit streets, and don’t flash your valuables. Indianapolis’ police have a reputation for being very kind and helpful to everyone and they like to walk around town, which made us feel safer during our time in Indianapolis.
Sometimes Bird scooters aren’t left propped up, or they fall down and we witnessed someone trip and fall over one as they were walking and texting. Be aware of the black and white powered scooters strewn around town, and check parking spots, sidewalks, and doorways for errant scooters.
Day Trips From Indianapolis
23.3 mile Drive
Carmel is a charming, well-to-do small town just outside of Indianapolis. A lovely blend of quaint countryside and beautiful art, Carmel is a lovely place to visit in the midwest, particularly if you’re able to catch a show at The Palladium, their beautiful, $180 million dollar state of the art performance hall that has welcomed famous musical acts from around the world.
184.1 Mile Drive
One of the United States’ major cities, Chicago is home to the finest food, drink, performances, shopping, art, and architecture in the midwest. Explore the Magnificent Mile to shop high fashion designers, soak in luxurious tranquility at AIRE Ancient Baths, or head to one of the city’s more than 100 museums. As of 2020, the Windy City boasts 25 Michelin Starred restaurants, including the city’s highest rated, 3 Michelin Star restaurant Alinea.
112.2 Mile Drive
The Queen City has an abundance of art galleries, fine dining options like Boca Restaurant, the most gorgeous zoo and botanical garden in the nation, and a strong sense of community unlike any other large city.
175.6 Mile Drive
Enjoy a dinner at M. Miranova or The Refectory, Columbus’ finest dining establishments, and then head to Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus Museum of Art, or a local winery. Enjoy a stay at Le Méridien Columbus Luxury Hotel’s Deluxe Executive Suite, the most elegant hotel room in Columbus.
287.2 Mile Drive
Detroit aka The Motor City, located along the Canadian–American border, is home of some of the most incredible architecture, art, and small businesses in the entire state. Explore the Detroit Institute of Arts, home of one of the largest collections of art by Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, and more in the nation, or head to the Detroit Zoo to see one of America’s most ecologically conscious zoos (as well as a lion that was given to a Detroit mayor by the Emir (King) of Qatar!) Visit during the North American International Auto Show to explore everything auto from futuristic concept cars to classic, one-of-a-kind vehicles, and then head to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and Botanical Garden to get in touch with nature.
French Lick West Baden
100.3 Mile Drive
French Lick West Baden is a fascinating town in Southern Indiana that was once one of the most sought after vacation destinations in North America for the well-to-do. After the Great Depression set the town, and most of the United States, down a path to near ruin, the town was revitalized and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, attracting visitors from around the world to marvel at some of the most impressive architecture in the nation, like West Baden Springs Hotel, as well as the area’s incredible natural beauty. This area is one of the midwest’s best kept secrets, and one of the most interesting cities to visit in all of Indiana.
263.2 Mile Drive
Grand Rapids, MI is the art and beer capital of the midwest, and is home of the world’s largest art competition, Art Prize. More than a dozen incredible museums, an abundance of festivals, pop-up restaurants, and proximity to Lake Michigan, as well as more breweries per capita than just about any other U.S. city, Grand Rapids is a wonderful place to spend a weekend, or longer. If you’re craving a taste of nature, head to Frederik Meijer Gardens’ Japanese garden to walk about a garden that expertly replicated from gardens in Japan.
What are your favorite things to do in the city? Let me know in the comments, and I might include them in my Indianapolis Travel Guide!
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Carrington Barfield says
Ahhh I so wish I would have had this last year! I went to Indianapolis for a work conference and had NO IDEA what to go out and do lol. Good thing is we go to the conference every year so I’m sure I’ll be going again and will most definitely be referring back to this!
Indianapolis is lots of fun, I hope this guide helps you enjoy the city even more on your next visit!
Rebecca P says
What a great and thorough travel guide!!! Looks like such a great time! Do you have any recommendations for salons in the area?
Anna Lazarson says
I never realized how many things there are to do in Indiana! It also looks so gorgeous!
Staying the center of downtown of any destination is always a good idea!! Love being close to all the FUN!
Laura S says
So fun! I’ve never been to Indianapolis but it looks so fun!
Garden Table and Milktooth sound perfect to me! And wow look at those pretty flamingos.
I’ve never been but I’ve always wanted to go! Saving this guide for later!
Such an amazing travel guide!! Definitely need to bookmark this for future reference, thanks for sharing babe!
cute & little
One of my best friends is from Indianapolis, and she’s always raving about it. I really want to plan a trip here at some point, so I definitely will be saving your suggestions so I can refer to them when I go!
Such great tips & info on Indy! It’s been forever since I have been there!
Indy is one of my favorite spots! Such a beautiful city that has a lot to offer. Great guide lady!!
Been dying to check out Indianapolis! Ill have to bookmark this post for when I go!