Stuck in Indianapolis? Some Tips for Enjoying those (Un-)expected Layovers in Naptown

Events, Hotels, Things to Do, Travel Tips, What's New — By Emily Rath on August 29, 2011 at 9:30 pm

With all of the crazy weather on the East Coast, chances are better than usual that you might find yourself spending an extra couple of hours (or days, or nights) in an unexpected city. Layovers in Indianapolis, however, do not have to be filled with boredom and frustration. Instead, the close proximity of the airport to many of the city’s most popular landmarks and cultural hotspots can turn a couple of dull hours into an exciting and, often, educational break from traveling.

First of all, getting from the airport to the city and back is possible via taxi, bus, or rental car. Information about all of these services are available at the airport’s guest services desk . Also, there are a wide variety of hotels that are located right near the airport.  If you do end up spending a night in Naptown, you do not have to be this guy…

Man Sleeping in Airport

Photo Courtesy of Derek Morrison (

After securing your transportation to and from the airport and  (hopefully) a comfortable place to get some shut-eye, it’s time to explore the city.  Depending on your interests, how much time you have, and how much money you are willing to spend on your little side adventure, the following suggestions might help you narrow down your choices.  Each one of these points of interest are located between 20 and 30 minutes from the airport (estimated times by car, courtesy of google maps, are given in parentheses).

Indianapolis is home to 10 professional sports teams, the national headquarters for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), and is known as ‘The (Car) Racing Capital of the World.’  Sports enthusiasts can take an hour-long tour of Lucas Oil Fieldhouse (21 minutes via 1-70E), home to the Indianapolis Colts, any Tuesday or Wednesday at 11am, 1pm, or 3pm.  This might be of particular interest to football fans this year as the Super Bowl will be held in Indianapolis come February 5th.  The tour allows fans to see the press box, an NFL locker room, and many other parts of the stadium that are not usually open to the general public.

Lucas Oil Stadium

Photo Courtesy of Josh Hallett (

Another option for sports fans is to head north (24 minutes via I-465N) to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  You can visit the Hall of Fame Museum, play a round of golf on the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, and even see the famous mile-long track firsthand.

Luckily, downtown Indianapolis offers a lot of sight-seeing opportunities for visitors, all walkable and within minutes of each other:

Option #1: NCAA Hall of Champions, Indiana State Museum, White River State Park, Eiteljorg Museum, the canal, and of course the Indianapolis Zoo.  Although you probably won’t have time to do it all, this area of the city is rich in culture, history and beauty.

White River State Park Indianapolis

Photo Courtesy of Stevan Sheets (

Option #2: Monument Circle (23 minutes via I-70E).  Indianapolis has the second greatest number of war memorials in the country, second only to Washington, D.C.. Park your car in the parking garage off of Washington Street (near the mall) and put on your walking shoes.  A group called Walk Indianapolis has created a self-guided tour of the monuments and memorials in the area surrounding Monument Circle.  Simply download the MP3 files to your mobile device and follow the map found on their website.

Option #3: Check out one of Indianapolis’ 6 main cultural districts.  The two with the most to offer and nearest to the airport are Fountain Square (25 minutes via I-70E) and Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave, (26 minutes via I-70E).


Tags: "Indianapolis Motor Speedway", "Super Bowl", "Things to do", airport, Indianapolis, layover