Indianapolis has a lot more to offer than the football and car racing. Sure, it’s world famous as the site of the Indianapolis 500, and getting worldwide attention as the site of Super Bowl XLVI between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, but that’s just for starters.
Indianapolis has one of the best children’s museums on the planet. Children’s Museum Indianapolis has kid-pleasing exhibits on favorites like Barbie and Mr. Potato Head, plus extensive hands-on learning spaces and spaces to crawl through and around, and an antique carousel to ride around. Exhibits are built around a center atrium, at the center of which is a monumental, colorful tower of glass by artist Dale Chihuly — something more appreciated by the adults who visit than the kids. The museum is easy to find — just look for the huge dinosaur guarding the front entrance. It’s also an eco-friendly museum, with a green roof that saves energy. Click here for a virtual tour.
Indianapolis also is home to one of the best museums in the country that showcases Native American history, arts and crafts, plus Western art. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western is a beautiful, modern museum, located in White River State Park, in the heart of the city. If you appreciate the incredible workmanship and creativity of Native American crafts, including beadwork, masks, pottery, jewelry and totem poles — as I do — you’ll find the Eiteljorg Museum in the same class as the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in New York City and Washington, D.C., the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, all of which I have visited. The Eiteljorg collection includes tribal artifacts from the Southwest to the Northwest. There’s a special exhibit through August 2012 called Steel Ponies — a collection of historic motorcycles including one used by Evel Knievel for many of his famous jumps.
Of course, you should visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, where hundreds of racecars are parked, including the 1911 Marmon Wasp that won the first race, in 1911, of course.
If you prefer trains to cars, then head to the Indiana Transportation Museum, to see restored, operating examples of steam, diesel and electric rail transportation from the early 1900s. There’s even the chance to take a ride on a historic former Nickel Plate Railroad.
More great things to see and do in Indianapolis —
- visit the grave of gangster John Dillinger
- attend a performance at the theater named for Madame CJ Walker, the first female African-American millionaire, who made her fortune in cosmetics and hair products created and manufactured in Indianapolis
- grab your boots and Stetson and head for Cadillac Ranch Indianapolis, to two-step around the dance floor or try your luck on the mechanical bull — or both.
- take a leisurely paddle boat cruise down the scenic White River
- Sing along — or not — with the Dueling Pianos at Howl at the Moon, a popular nightlife destination that’s part club, part concert, and all fun.
For more information about visiting Indianapolis, after the Super Bowl, visit Visit Indy, the official Indianapolis website. FYI — I’ll be returning to Indy in September 2012. Looking forward to it.