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Follow the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to discover the best of the Circle City.
It’s fitting that Indianapolis—known as the Circle City—now has another famous loop worthy of celebration! When the Indianapolis Cultural Trail officially opened in 2013, it was a bold move, big in scope and impact. The city transformed its sidewalks and streets to pave an eight-mile urban trail network. But it’s so much more than just bricks and concrete!
The biking and walking path threads through downtown’s signature landmarks, attractions, and locally loved spots that give the city’s neighborhoods their character. The eight-mile journey takes you through the vibrant streets of Indianapolis’ six distinct cultural districts: Indiana Avenue, White River State Park & The Canal, Mass Ave, Market East, the Wholesale District, and Fountain Square.
This sprawling network of accessible urban greenways has plenty of room for everyone! You’ll see cycling commuters using the Pacers Bikeshare, families taking a leisurely stroll, people walking their dogs, and groups of visitors taking in the sights.
There is so much to explore along the Cultural Trail, you may need more than just a map. That’s why guided tours have become a popular option for first-time visitors. Some tours dive deeper into the dynamic history of the city’s cultural districts, while others are perfect for the art lover or foodie looking for their next favorite downtown spot.
The trail has also paved a new way for Indianapolis to showcase beauty and nature. Standout public artworks are like jewels sprinkled along the trail, inspiring both appreciation and conversations along the way. And lush gardens and landscaping border the pathways, making the trail a truly scenic route.
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail takes you to six unique cultural districts.
The Cultural Trail gives you a street-level view of the people and places that make each cultural district’s character unique. Traveling around the neighborhoods, you can appreciate their rich history while experiencing their current renaissance.
Indiana Avenue is a historic African American neighborhood.
On Indiana Avenue, you’ll discover the enduring legacy of African American art, music, and business in Indianapolis. It was the home of the city’s lively jazz scene during the roaring 20s, and that creative and innovative spirit continues to thrive today.
The true cornerstone of the district is the Madam Walker Legacy Center. Registered as a National Historic Landmark, the Walker Building was once the headquarters for Madam C.J. Walker’s beauty empire. The famous Indianapolis resident was America’s first Black woman to become a self-made millionaire. Today, it is a living monument to her achievements and lasting impact on her community. Adults and children can participate in educational workshops, watch comedy and jazz performances, and learn about entrepreneurship.
White River State Park is perfect for nature lovers.
The three-mile stretch of trail looping through White River State Park and the Canal is where you’ll find many of the city’s must-see attractions. In this neighborhood alone, you can feed the giraffes at the Indianapolis Zoo, learn about history and art at our museums, or catch a baseball game at Victory Field. White River is Indiana’s only urban state park and the place to be for outdoor concerts on warm summer nights. Or you can take a break from the pavement and go on a relaxing trip down the Canal on a gondola or paddle boat!
Mass Ave is a hotspot for shopping and entertainment.
It may officially be named Massachusetts Avenue, but both locals and visitors quickly learn it’s simply Mass Ave. Known as the “Arts and Theater District,” this neighborhood celebrates style and originality. The street cuts a diagonal path through the northeast corridor of downtown, so you can easily spend the day popping into countless eclectic shops, art galleries, and theaters along the avenue.
Among the new crop of condos, you’ll find enough restaurants and bars to satisfy any craving. And the end of Mass Ave is now home to the Bottleworks District and the Garage Food Hall, a first for Indianapolis. There, you can taste the cuisines from the local chefs who are putting Indy on the culinary map.
Market East is a historic downtown district.
Market East is an emerging district anchored by the historic City Market. Originally opened in 1886, the renovated landmark is now home to 25 locally owned businesses. For downtown’s lunch break crowd, this is your go-to spot with a wide variety of local food vendors. It’s also a great place to grab a local pint at the all-Indiana craft beer bar!
Fountain Square is a hub for arts and culture.
Southeast of downtown is Fountain Square, an artsy neighborhood with a retro flair. This historic district celebrates the creative and artistic people who call it home. And with businesses flocking to this area, more people are choosing to live and work here! It’s also a place that takes pride in its funky and off-beat appeal. Fountain Square is home to some of the city’s most popular local restaurants, shops, and art galleries.
The Wholesale District is the heart of downtown Indianapolis.
In the center of it all is the Wholesale District, with the Soldiers and Sailors Monument towering over Monument Circle and the bustling streets below. The Wholesale District truly showcases why Indianapolis is a town for sports fans. In the heart of downtown, you can cheer on the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium or the Pacers and Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And if you’re not a sports fan, you can listen to classical music from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra or shop at Circle Centre Mall.
You don’t have to leave the streets to find art and nature.
What sets the Indianapolis Cultural Trail apart is its focus on public art and nature. One of the trail’s most famous installations is “Ann Dancing” in the Mass Ave district. The LED screen posted on the avenue sidewalk features a woman happily swaying and dancing. Ann has become a familiar fixture on one of the district’s busiest corners. The trail also offers beautiful nature scenery with hundreds of new trees and five acres worth of gardens lining the path.
One of the best ways to experience all eight miles of the Cultural Trail is on two wheels. With wide bike lanes and expanded accessibility through the Pacers Bikeshare program, Indianapolis is now a cycling town. If you find yourself downtown wanting to take a spin, you can rent one of the 525 bright yellow bikes found at 50 different stations throughout downtown.
With plans to expand the Cultural Trail in the works, access to downtown Indy and its neighborhoods will continue to make the city a great place to live and explore!