Things to Do in Indianapolis (While Waiting for the Last NFL Game of the Season)

Okay, you’re going to Indianapolis for Big Game No. 46.  Game tickets are in hand (or, in case your business travels are taking you to the Circle City around this time, and your “fantastic plastic” can take the hit, consider picking up tickets to said Big Game), transportation to Indy has been arranged, and you’ve even got a nice place to stay not far from Lucas Oil Stadium.


But the game isn’t until Sunday.  What’re ya gonna do until then?  Not to worry, there’s actually plenty to do in Indianapolis.  Of course there are the collected parties and other events, but also consider these.




“We’re in Indianapolis, and you want to see art.”

– from the movie “Forget Paris”


First, let’s address the elephant in the room.  Yes, you will want to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with its Hall of Fame Museum, at 4790 W. 16th St.  A significant number of cars are always on display, and you can also take a short bus tour of the racetrack, as well as view all kinds of 500-Mile Race memorabilia.  A small admission price is charged.


Now, if you really do want to see art while you’re in Indy, there are two superb places to do so.  First is the Indianapolis Museum of Art, just a little north of the downtown area at 4000 N. Michigan Rd. just north of the corner of W. 38th St.  IMA features a number of collections including Asian and African art, ancient art of the Americas, and American painting and sculpture to 1945.  There are also a number of current exhibitions…and the nice thing is that it’s all free of charge.


The second art museum is the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, just west of downtown at 500 W. Washington St..  The primary gallery collection is Art of the American West, including works from the Taos Society; also featured is the Gund Collection of Western art, which includes works by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell; and the Native American Collection.


If you’ve brought the kids along, you will definitely want to make a stop at the Childrens Museum of Indianapolis (3000 N. Meridian St.), one of the largest of its kind; or possibly the Indiana State Museum, just a little past the Eiteljorg at 650 W. Washington St.  Those interested in presidents will want to visit the Benjamin Harrison Home (1230 N. Delaware St.), which celebrates the life of the 23rd President. 


There are a pair of significant war memorials; the large Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument at the very center of the city and encircled by Monument Circle; and the USS Indianapolis National Memorial, located along the Canal Walk skirting the west edge of downtown.


Finally, there is the NCAA Hall of Champions at 700 W. Washington St., which is loaded with college sports artifacts and exhibits. The National Art Museum of Sport, located in IUPUI’s University Place (850 W. Michigan St.), is unfortunately closed during this time.




If you need some live sports to hold you over until the Big Game, there are a couple of great options, both of them hoops-related – which is nice, considering Indiana’s reputation as a basketball hotbed.


The Butler Bulldogs, NCAA Division I national runners-up in 2010 and 2011, are in the midst of yet another hot Horizon League campaign.  The Bulldogs, currently in the middle of a very tightly bunched Horizon League pack, have a pair of key home games coming up at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, on Feb. 2 against Wright State’s Raiders and Feb. 4 against the University of Detroit Titans.


While they haven’t been the same since Reggie Miller retired, the resurgent Indiana Pacers entertain the Orlando Magic on Feb. 4 at the recently-renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse, one of the great modern venues in the NBA.




In addition to the Pepsi Fan Jam concerts — at the Indiana Convention Center on Feb. 1 and the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ Pepsi coliseum on Feb. 2 – a number of classic Indianapolis venues will be featuring outstanding acts.


The historic Slippery Noodle Inn, which proclaims itself as Indiana’s oldest bar, will be featuring retro swingers Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Feb. 3, and bluesman Buddy Guy on Feb. 4.


At the Rathskeller, be on the lookout for former Bears QB Jim McMahon, as he’s lent his name to a “Swang ‘n Super Bowl Bash” on Feb. 2.  While there’s no big names scheduled, the tiny Chatterbox jazz club on Massachusetts Ave. has a reputation far larger than its size.


The Vogue Theatre, at the heart of the hip Broad Ripple district, features the Laces Out Party hosted by Pat McAfee, and a DJ set by Sasha Grey.


(The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, a highly-regarded regional ensemble, is quiet during the weekend of the Big Game.)


Theatre and Comedy


The Shaquille O’Neal All Star Comedy tour comes to Clowes Memorial Hall on Feb. 4,  featuring a number of comedians.  Also at Clowes Hall on the preceding evening, Feb. 3, is a Gospel Celebration hosted by Rev. Run (formerly of Run-DMC), and featuring a number of noted gospel artists.

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