Travel back in time at Garfield Park, the oldest park in Indianapolis.

Park with walking path, flowers, and fountains

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

Garfield Park is both a historic treasure and a modern-day cornerstone of Indianapolis’ vibrant southside community. It was officially established in 1889 as the city’s first public park, and there’s still nowhere like it here today. Famous landscape architect George Kessler designed the historic park, artfully crafting 128 acres of gardens and greenspace.

The crown jewels of Garfield Park are the Conservatory and the Sunken Gardens. The Conservatory is like exploring a tropical rainforest, carving a winding path through exotic plants. Meanwhile, the Sunken Gardens imitates the style of traditional European gardens, including show-stopping fountains. Both spots are stunning glimpses into history, transporting you to another place and time. 

But there’s even more to experience beyond the park’s thoughtfully preserved beauty. Garfield Park anchors the surrounding neighborhood of the same name, becoming a central focal point to the local community. On the park grounds, you can watch a stage performance, attend festivals, cheer on youth sports teams, check out a book at the local library branch, or take a dip at the aquatic center.

The Garfield Park neighborhood is a tight-knit community with involved and invested residents who love their park. A blend of long-time locals and new families live in the two-story homes lining the edges of the park. There’s also nearby access to Indy’s Cultural Trail through the Pleasant Run Trail, and the IndyGo Red Line Rapid Transit Bus connects the neighborhood to Fountain Square, downtown, and Broad Ripple. 

Garfield Park Conservatory

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

Explore Garfield Park’s classic beauty and historic gardens.

The Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens create a stunning retreat. The Conservatory was originally built in 1915 and has since been rebuilt and expanded over the decades. Now, the Conservatory is a 10,000-square foot space designed to create the perfect environment for tropical plants to grow. Walking into the Conservatory truly feels like stepping into a humid, vibrant rainforest filled with flourishing plants. All year long, the park showcases bold tropical blooms, ferns, palms, coffee and banana plants, and a world-class orchid collection.

As you walk outside the Conservatory, you’ll step into the elegant Sunken Gardens. The three acres of landscaped gardens are anchored by three lighted fountains and paved brick walkways. The gardens’ unique design has been preserved for over a century, including the careful planting of thousands of bright blooms. Each year, a sea of tulips welcomes spring, while colorful annuals take their place in the summer.  

Just steps away, the Blake’s Children’s Garden is where kids can play, explore, and get their hands dirty in a space specially designed for them. Families can attend Critter Chats to meet one of the garden’s friendly residents or even learn how to plant a vegetable garden! 

Garfield Park offers a calendar full of flower shows, bird walks, and outdoor concerts in these beautiful and fragrant surroundings. And during the holidays, you can escape the cold and see the Conservatory’s festive display of lights and poinsettias.  

Garfield Park champions local artists and businesses.

Garfield Park also takes pride in supporting the surrounding neighborhood’s lively and eclectic arts culture. The Garfield Park Arts Center is a hub for local artists to practice and showcase their creative talent. Anyone can try something new or hone a craft at one of the many classes. You can dance to a DJ, learn how to paint watercolor landscapes, and practice martial arts. And if you want to learn about a new artist or exhibit, the center’s art galleries are free and open to the public.

Brick building with purple and blue mural painting

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

Art installation

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

Whether an outdoor rock concert or a Shakespearen play is your style, you can enjoy all kinds of performances underneath their century-old amphitheater. It’s officially the MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts, but locals just call it the “MAC.” And every June, the park hosts the popular Garfield Park Art & Music Festival. The festival features local musicians, poets, and dance groups, and as many as 40 local artists host booths with art for sale. The festival is free for all ages, with special activities and crafts just for kids! 

This supportive Indianapolis neighborhood continues to embrace the park.

From the local library branch to the bike trails, there are many ways that Garfield Park has become the centerpiece of the neighborhood. On Saturday mornings from May through October, you can also browse the Garfield Park Farmers Market. With a focus on sustainable farms and local producers, the market is overflowing with fresh produce, live music, and happy families. 

The Burrello Family Center is another hub for indoor and outdoor recreation at Garfield Park. For peak summer fun, their pools are the place to be, with water slides for the big kids and a splash play area for the little ones. In all seasons, you can take a yoga class, compete in a pickleball tournament, or find many other community activities at the indoor gym and facilities. And the bike trails, sports fields, and playground also attract active local families to the park. 

With so many things to see and do, Garfield Park has a long history and a wide reach. Considering the diligent care used to preserve its beloved historic features, Indianapolis’ oldest park is sure to leave a thriving legacy for years to come.