Downtown Indianapolis is a booming metropolis and the heart of Indiana.

Exterior Canal in Indianapolis

My Indy story began four years ago, when I first arrived here in a U-Haul with my furniture in tow. After a 14-hour drive from Upstate New York with my cat by my side, I was ready to start my life here in Indianapolis. For weeks, I’d been researching the city, trying to learn as much as I could about my new home. I gathered info on the local businesses and attractions, the community and its politicians, the sports teams and arts scene, and so much more.

Essentially, I wanted to know what made this city tick. I was a twenty-something Jersey girl who didn’t know a single person in the region, and I wanted to understand what the Hoosier State was all about. But the thing is, Google can only get you so far. Once I got here, I couldn’t wait to discover what my new home had to offer!

My first few weeks in the city were spent blissfully walking along the Canal, exploring White River State Park, and grabbing a fresh pastry at Coat Check Coffee. Now, over my four years here, I’ve met friends who have turned into family. I’ve found a coffee shop that knows my order the moment I walk in. And I’ve discovered a city with endless amounts of culture, art, concerts, and sporting events.

Most importantly, I realized that Indianapolis is a place where I can be my true self, without the judgement of others. I may not have been born here, and honestly, I haven’t lived here for very long. But I’ve been welcomed with open arms by so many people here! It makes me proud to consider myself a Hoosier, and I’m so grateful to live in Indianapolis.

Alexa and her cat in the cab of a U-Haul

Photo courtesy of Alexa Green

Alexa Green stands by the Indy sign in downtown Indianapolis

Photo courtesy of Alexa Green

Downtown Indianapolis is both a travel destination and a vibrant home.

While not quite as famous as other major metros, Indianapolis is a popular place with a brilliant culture and amenities that rival even our biggest neighbors. Downtown is home to dozens of award-winning restaurants and shops, all ready to welcome you with our patented Hoosier hospitality. You can catch a concert at the amphitheater overlooking the White River, explore one of the nation’s top zoos, or bring the family to the world’s largest children’s museum.

Whether you’re shopping on Mass Ave or visiting Monument Circle, Indy’s vibrant spirit invites you to make yourself at home. Many people choose to live outside of the city and simply commute downtown for work and weekend fun. (After all, the interstate makes it easy with a super quick 30-minute drive!) But in between all of our major attractions, downtown Indianapolis is also home to about 30,000 local residents! 

Strolling through the city streets, you’ll see diverse people from all walks of life, finding their place right in the center of the action. From their downtown homes, residents can easily walk or bike to a world-class array of museums, parks, and sports venues. And depending on their view, they only have to open their apartment windows to catch a glimpse of the local festivals, admire the public art and monuments, and enjoy the sounds of the city. 

I asked the experts about what makes downtown Indianapolis a great place to live.

Whatever your interests, there are countless reasons to live downtown. So, when I started writing this piece, I went to the experts and asked other Indianapolis residents about why they love their home. 

For resident Sandy Wagner, it’s the neighborhoods that make Indianapolis special! Downtown Indianapolis is a unique area all its own, but we’re also surrounded by beautiful cultural districts and historic neighborhoods. You can enjoy the creative community of Fountain Square or explore the winding streets of the Irvington Historic District. Each neighborhood around downtown feels like an entirely different place, so you can live where you feel most at home. 

Andrew Dettmer said that the city has lots of hidden gems to explore, “no matter how long you’ve lived here.” While it’s true that Indianapolis has major, big-ticket tourist attractions, there are also countless small businesses that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. 

And Cameron Reid said that the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is “one of the best pieces of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the United States.” The Cultural Trail is an eight-mile bike and pedestrian path runs through all six of Indianapolis’ designated cultural districts. And there’s no better way to explore the city!

Downtown

Fun Facts

Indianapolis maintains more acreage dedicated to honoring U.S. veterans than any other city in the United States, and we are second only to Washington D.C. in the number of war memorials and monuments.

American artist Robert Indiana was born in the Hoosier state, and his original LOVE sculpture is now located inside the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.

A hidden network of subterranean passageways lies beneath Indianapolis’ bustling City Market. You can even spend a weekend touring the catacombs!

Exterior Indiana War Memorial Plaza

Indianapolis sports is about more than just race cars.

You likely know by now that Indy’s major claim to fame is our namesake: IndyCar and the iconic Indianapolis 500. The annual race is the largest single-day sporting event in the world. And the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” brings more than 400,000 fans to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just 15 minutes from downtown.

But sports in Indianapolis includes so much more than racing. Indianapolis has been called the Amateur Sports Capital of the World, with four Olympic national governing bodies. We’re home to fan-favorite college sports and the headquarters of the NCAA. And if you’re looking for a world-class sporting event, we have teams for just about every major sport! 

You can watch the Indianapolis Colts play at Lucas Oil Stadium, catch an Indiana Pacers game, or cheer on the Indy Eleven soccer team. We also have the Indy Fuel if you’re interested in hockey and the Indianapolis Indians for some Minor League Baseball at Victory Field. 

Downtown Indianapolis hosts world-renowned sporting events.

Indianapolis is also well known for hosting major sports tournaments and competitions, like Super Bowl XLVI, the Men’s NCAA Final Four, and the Big Ten Football Championship. In the words of Indy resident Brad Huber, “This city puts on the biggest sporting events in the world.”

Since the 1980s, Indianapolis has hosted more than 450 national and international sporting events, and people keep coming back for more. Because when it comes to sports, no city does it quite as well as Indy. 

“There is great camaraderie between locals and fans who are visiting from out of town. People from all over the country talk about how well they’re treated in Indy,” explained Matt Saunders. 

This year, the entire NCAA March Madness tournament will be held in the Indianapolis region, a huge first for our city! It’s another opportunity for Indianapolis and all of us Hoosiers to show the world what we have to offer. And in 2022, Indy will welcome the Big Ten Football Championship again for another year. You won’t want to miss the weekend of the big game, with the Fan Fest inside the Indiana Convention Center and plenty of tailgating!

Downtown Indianapolis is a hub of delicious restaurants.

I am a self-proclaimed foodie. I’m that girl who takes Instagram photos of all my meals, and yes, I have a Foodstagram dedicated to the Indy region’s restaurants! (It’s a real thing, I promise.) For me, that means eating and grabbing drinks at the newest bars and local eateries is always high on my priority list. 

In my expert opinion, the Indianapolis region has a thriving culinary scene that’s constantly evolving and growing. From your classic steakhouses to vegan diners, Hoosiers can enjoy in restaurants with affordable prices and mouth-watering meals you just can’t get enough of. Trust me, I still dream of Vida’s ricotta donuts.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Condé Nast Traveler actually named Indianapolis the “Most Underrated Food City in America,” and there’s a reason for that! Indianapolis truly is a hidden gem in the foodie world, where no one seems to realize all we have to offer. Best of all, dining in the region is always a fun experience because you get to see up-close and personal what Hoosier hospitality is all about!

Grab a bite at The Garage Food Hall.

Recently, Indianapolis also opened the city’s first ever food hall: The Garage at the brand-new Bottleworks District. The district is Indy’s newest cultural hub for shopping, entertainment, and—of course—good food! A few weeks ago, I was in the area, so I finally decided to check out The Garage for myself. And let me tell you, I was beyond impressed.

As I walked through the hall, I thought to myself, “Is this really Indy?” The 30,000-square foot building has been transformed into a beautiful, modern food hall, featuring 1930s Art Deco terracotta facades and roll-up garage doors for that indoor-outdoor experience. Inside the renovated space, you can pick from over 20 local food vendors, featuring all different kinds of cuisines and cultures. From a traditional British fish and chips shop to the Brazillian meals at Gaucho’s Fire, there’s something for everyone. 

Walk Score

97

Bike Score

99

Nearby
Schools

  • Indianapolis Public Schools

  • Purdue Polytechnic High School Englewood

  • Indiana UniversityPurdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

Local
Restaurants

  • St. Elmo Steak House

  • The Tap

  • Bazbeaux Pizza

Local
Shops

  • Silver & The City

  • Homespun

  • Three Dog’s Bakery

Nearby
Attractions

  • Lucas Oil Stadium

  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse

  • Bottleworks District

Airport
Commute

  • 15 Miles from Indianapolis Airport
  • 20 Minute Drive 

Nearby
Dog Parks

  • The Dog Park at Immanuel 
  • White River State Park
  • Indianapolis Canal Walk

Downtown Indianapolis is an easily walkable neighborhood at The Crossroads of America.

If you still have a map at home, dust it off and take a look. You’ll soon realize why Indiana is known as The Crossroads of America. Our state is at the heart of the Midwest, centrally located and criss-crossed with major interstates. We are the leading state for pass-through highways, and downtown Indianapolis is right at the epicenter of it all!

For local residents, that means you’re only a quick road trip from nearby destinations like Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and even Nashville. But here in downtown Indianapolis, you rarely need a car to get where you need to go! From Monument Circle at the center of downtown, you can easily walk to Mass Ave, Fountain Square, IUPUI, or any of the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Downtown connects you with accessible transportation.

Whether you love hiking trails or biking through the streets, Hoosiers have plenty of pathways and accessible transportation to help you get around downtown. On foot, residents can reach hundreds of local restaurants, shops, and other attractions within minutes from their front door. There are electric rental scooters available at sidewalk corners throughout downtown.

And along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, you can hop on a Pacers Bike Share bicycle and peddle your way through the neighborhood streets. There are 52 Bike Share rental stations across the city, which makes it easy to find a set of wheels and get moving. Away.com named Indianapolis one of the “Best Cities to See from a Bicycle,” so you know you’ll enjoy the ride!

For public transportation, the IndyGo bus system spans 13.1 miles, with electric buses arriving at each stop in about 20-minute intervals. They also recently added the Red Line, a rapid transit bus running from Broad Ripple through downtown Indy to the University of Indianapolis. Every station includes real-time screens displaying the wait times for the next bus arrivals, and passengers can plan their trips ahead of time using the IndyGo Red Line app. 

Exterior Cultural Trail

Downtown Indianapolis is a place you have to see for yourself. 

Indianapolis is already a city I’m proud to call home, but I can tell that the best is yet to come! Every day, new restaurants, shops, and homes are popping up around the corner. New companies are moving in and establishing their headquarters here. Young professionals, families, and empty nesters alike are moving downtown for our accessibility and culture. 

When you’re in downtown Indianapolis, you can feel the vibe—the excitement shared by life-long Hoosiers and new arrivals as we contribute to this growing city. Indianapolis truly embodies the “home, work, play” lifestyle that so many Hoosiers desire. 

So, what are you waiting for? Come see Indianapolis for yourself! Do what I did four years ago, and walk the streets of downtown Indy. You can talk with business owners, volunteer at local non-profits, and meet the people who make this city tick. Once you do, I’m sure you’ll want to join our momentum because Indy is just getting started!