Things to Do in Indianapolis for the Indy 500

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Advisor - Josie Arnold
Curated By

Josie Arnold

  • USA

  • Indianapolis

  • Indiana

  • City Travel

  • Domestic Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Group Travel

  • Indy 500

  • Foodie

  • Local Food

tall buildings in a city during daytime
Curator’s statement

Growing up in Indianapolis, the entire month of May is basically a holiday leading up to the Indy 500. For those who don't know, the Indy 500 is the greatest spectacle in racing but is also the greatest spectacle, period. This guide will give some helpful tips as well as some of my favorite spots that I can't wait to go to when I am back in Indy for the 500 this year.

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Where to stay in Indianapolis, Indiana

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Things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana

orange cars on a speedway

The 500 is Memorial Day weekend so there are tons of race and non-race festivities going on.

Carb Day is Friday at the racetrack. If you're looking to come to Indy on that Friday and want to relax before a weekend of partying, there are tons of great restaurants and bars for any vibe you might be looking for. Dinner on Mass Ave then a cocktail at the speakeasy inside Goodfellas, ending the night at Rathskeller for live music is a personal favorite way to spend Friday night.

Option 1 for Saturday: Renting a pontoon boat on Geist Reservoir (about 30 min from downtown) is so much fun - there is a cove (Cocktail Cove) where all of the boats link up with one another and it's just a giant party. Boat rentals are available through Geist Marina.

Option 2 for Saturday: Check out downtown Indianapolis. The art museum, recently renamed Newfields, is amazing and has really beautiful grounds with a beer garden and a gorgeous historical mansion you can check out. It's easy to spend 3+ hours there, especially on a beautiful May day. They're always doing foodie pop-ups inside the museum as well so even if it's a rainy day, hanging out inside the museum is still really fun. This is just a quick 10-minute Uber from the Circle (the center of downtown).

Option 3 for Saturday: Broad Ripple. Starting with either a cute brunch at Petit Chou or a casual, great-for-a-hangover option at Bagel Deli. There are some really cute boutiques for shopping in the area so if you like to shop when you travel (and not for tacky, touristy things) this is a great area for it. Then going to Flatwater Restaurant which is located on a small canal but always has a poppin' patio for people of all ages. Kilroys is a famous Indiana sports bar - the original is in Bloomington at IU but it's a fun time and their breadsticks are legendary.

Sunday is Raceday! Get up early, dress white trash (if you like themes) and make your way to the Speedway! From downtown, it's actually an easy bike ride and there are group meetups for this. Otherwise, homes and businesses surrounding the track offer parking in their yards and parking lots. It's usually about $20. Traffic leaving the event is a pain but you just need to be mentally prepared to not be in a hurry and try to enjoy the people-watching and whatnot.

Places to eat & drink in Indianapolis, Indiana

coffee cup on table next to coffee pot


  • Provider.

  • Kaffeine.

  • Commissary - for the gentleman who might be needing a shave or a trim, this is a coffee shop/barber shop and I've heard nothing but great things.




  • Vida - the best fine dining restaurant in Indy, IMO.

  • Tinker Street (super vegan friendly but definitely not a "vegan restaurant").

  • Union 50 - great cocktails too.

Late Night/Cocktails

  • Goodfellas/Wiseguy Lounge - Wiseguy Lounge is this great speakeasy behind a pizza-by-the-slice place with a whiskey cocktail focus but honestly, all of their cocktails are delicious and it's surprisingly inexpensive for the quality and experience. The pizza is solid too.

  • Kilroys.

  • Ball & Biscuit - an upscale cocktail lounge.

  • Rathskeller - a beer garden/music venue.

Need to Know

This guide will be helpful for a general Indianapolis trip as well, I just think the 500 is a great excuse to be in town.

Planning a trip to Spain? Check out my guide to La Rioja: Three Days of Wine & Tapas in La Rioja, Spain Wine Country.

Advisor - Josie Arnold

Travel Advisor

Josie Arnold

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