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An Indianapolis City Guide - IndyCar racing, an urban state park, and a vivacious artistic streak

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Indy is a fitting nickname for a city so full of creative energy, start-ups, and artistic enterprises. An international reputation for motor sports and beer could leave Indy with something of a macho reputation, but with an outstanding collection of museums, markets, and children’s activities, it’s just seriously cool. Even if it’s the lure of the racetrack which brings you here, you’ll discover so much more.



From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Indianapolis revs up with racing fever. The headline act is the Indianapolis 500, with its breathtaking, risk-taking, record-breaking spectacle. It also hosts the Brickyard 400 stint of NASCAR, while champion motorcyclists hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tracks for the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Indianapolis also has a packed program of festivals, including film, food, and beer. You’ll definitely need a caffeine fix or two to cope with the scorching pace of events here.


Family attractions



At the center of Indianapolis is the White River State Park, making this a superb city for families. Not only does the park provide a vast, safe expanse for bike tours, boat trips and picnic areas, it is bursting with family attractions. The highlight is Indianapolis Zoo, which features all the big critters that kids love. For rainy days, there’s an IMAX cinema inside the park too. Elsewhere in the city, the whole family will be awestruck by the interactive exhibits on volcanoes, dinosaurs and outer space at the immense Children’s Museum.


Where to eat



Food in Indianapolis is a joyful thing. From the young chefs getting their hands dirty with farm-fresh produce, to the deep-fried pork tenderloin sandwiches which dominate every race day, dining here is based on hearty Midwestern flavors. Beyond the all-American grills and steakhouses, downtown also boasts several upscale restaurants serving traditional Italian fare or innovative seafood. In the artsy areas of Mass Ave and Broad Ripple, organic produce and trendy juice bars are all the rage. For a gourmet eat on the go, grab a bite from one of the city’s pop-up food carts.


Where to shop



Just a few blocks from the sleek, modern Circle Centre mall is the raucous atmosphere of the Indianapolis City Market, a covered market which has been trading for centuries. Add a few trendy districts cluttered with vintage boutiques, record stores, and independent art galleries, and you have Indy’s diverse shopping scene. You can find most of that in and around the center, so it’s perfect for exploring on foot. For an upmarket fashion fix, head to one of the edge-of-town malls, where you’ll find designer labels and high street brands galore.