What are the best outdoor activities to do in Indianapolis, Indiana?

What Are the Best Outdoor Activities to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana?

Indianapolis, the capital city of Indiana, is a bustling metropolis with a vibrant downtown area, world-class museums, and exciting nightlife. However, what many visitors may not know is that Indianapolis also boasts a plethora of outdoor activities for nature lovers and adventure seekers. In this article, we'll explore the best outdoor activities to do in Indianapolis, Indiana.

1. Visit White River State Park

White River State Park is a 250-acre park located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. It features several attractions, including the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the NCAA Hall of Champions. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the park's beautiful gardens or rent a bike to explore the park's scenic trails.

2. Explore Eagle Creek Park

Eagle Creek Park is the largest park in Indianapolis, spanning over 3,900 acres. It features a 1,400-acre lake, hiking and biking trails, a nature center, and a bird sanctuary. Visitors can rent a paddleboat, kayak, or canoe to explore the lake, go fishing, or take a guided nature walk.

3. Go Biking on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an 8-mile urban bike and pedestrian trail that connects several of Indianapolis' cultural districts, including Fountain Square, Mass Ave, and White River State Park. The trail is beautifully landscaped and features public art installations along the way. Visitors can rent a bike from one of the many bike-share stations located throughout the city or bring their own bike.

4. Take a Stroll Through Garfield Park

Garfield Park is a historic park located on the south side of Indianapolis. It features a conservatory, a sunken garden, and several miles of walking trails. Visitors can also enjoy the park's picnic areas, playgrounds, and athletic fields.

5. Visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a must-see attraction for any motorsports fan. Visitors can take a tour of the speedway, visit the museum, and even take a lap around the track. The speedway also hosts several racing events throughout the year, including the famous Indy 500.

6. Go Ziplining at Koteewi Aerial Adventure Park

Koteewi Aerial Adventure Park is a zipline and ropes course located just outside of Indianapolis. It features several courses of varying difficulty levels, including a kids' course and a "Ninja Warrior" course. Visitors can also enjoy horseback riding, archery, and a nature trail.

7. Hike the Central Canal Towpath

The Central Canal Towpath is a 5.3-mile trail that follows the historic Central Canal. The trail features several scenic bridges and offers beautiful views of the downtown skyline. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll, go for a jog, or bring their bike. Eagle Creek Park is the largest park in Indianapolis and offers over 3,900 acres of outdoor fun. The park features hiking trails, a swimming beach, a nature center, and a golf course. You can also rent a kayak or canoe to explore the park's lake. Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle on weekdays and $6 on weekends.

8. Visit Fort Harrison State Park

Fort Harrison State Park is a 1,700-acre park located on the northeast side of Indianapolis. It features hiking and biking trails, a golf course, and a 18-acre fishing lake. Visitors can also explore the park's historic sites, including an old military fort and a cemetery.

9. Go Camping at Brown County State Park

Brown County State Park is located just over an hour's drive from Indianapolis and is the largest state park in Indiana. It features over 15,000 acres of rolling hills, forests, and streams. Visitors can go camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding. The park also has several picnic areas, a swimming pool, and an amphitheater for outdoor concerts and events.

10. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

For a unique and unforgettable experience, visitors can take a hot air balloon ride over the city of Indianapolis. Several companies offer hot air balloon rides that provide breathtaking views of the city's skyline and surrounding countryside. The rides typically last for an hour and include a champagne toast upon landing.

11. Visit the Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo is a must-visit destination for animal lovers of all ages. With over 1,400 animals from around the world, including lions, tigers, and bears, the zoo offers a unique experience for visitors. You can explore the gardens, catch a show, or even feed a giraffe! The zoo is open year-round, but hours may vary depending on the season. Be sure to check their website for more information.

12. Explore White River State Park

White River State Park is located in downtown Indianapolis and offers a variety of outdoor activities. You can take a walk along the river, rent a bike, or even take a gondola ride! The park also features several museums and attractions, such as the Indianapolis Zoo and the NCAA Hall of Champions. Parking is available for a fee, or you can take public transportation to the park.

13. Walk or Bike the Indianapolis Cultural Trail

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an 8-mile trail that connects six cultural districts in downtown Indianapolis. The trail is perfect for walking, jogging, or biking, and it features public art installations, green spaces, and unique architecture. You can rent a bike from one of the Pacers Bikeshare stations located along the trail, or bring your own. The trail is free and open to the public 24/7.

What is the best time of year to visit Indianapolis for outdoor activities?

The best time of year to visit Indianapolis for outdoor activities is during the spring and fall months when the weather is mild and comfortable. Summer can be hot and humid, while winter can be cold and snowy.

Are there any guided tours available for outdoor activities in Indianapolis?

Yes, several companies offer guided tours for outdoor activities such as biking, kayaking, and hiking. Check with local tour companies for availability and pricing.

What should I bring when visiting Indianapolis for outdoor activities?

Be sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear for the activity you plan on doing, as well as sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water. It's also a good idea to bring a camera to capture the beautiful scenery.

Further Reading

For more information on outdoor activities in Indianapolis, check out these resources:


From parks and trails to museums and sports, Indianapolis has something to offer for everyone. Whether you're a nature lover or an adventure seeker, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in this vibrant city. So grab your hiking boots, bike, or kayak and start exploring all that Indianapolis has to offer.

Rickie Koning
Rickie Koning

Freelance tv enthusiast. General travel scholar. Certified coffee advocate. Devoted beer fan. Hipster-friendly beer enthusiast.