On a Budget? $50/day in Indianapolis Can Go a LONG Way

Food, Things to Do, Travel Tips — By Emily Rath on September 1, 2011 at 1:30 am

The recession is droning on…and on…and on…and those of us who love to travel might have had to tighten our purse strings a bit more than usual as of late.  There is, however, some good news on the horizon for those of you on a budget who happen to be visiting Indianapolis. $50/day can be more than enough to fully experience this lively Midwestern hotspot!  Skeptical?  Read on!


Unfortunately Indianapolis has only one hostel, Indy Hostel ($22-26/night) that is not within easy walking distance to Indy’s major attractions, though it is very close to Monon Trail, a bicycle path that runs through the city (see below).  A night at an Indianapolis hotel will leave you with nothing to spend on anything else if your budget is $50 (or even $70), so you might have to get creative with your accommodations.  For the more adventurous folks out there, you may want to consider couchsurfing.com, a website that connects travelers from around the world with locals offering up their coach for a night or two – for free.  Otherwise you might have to shack up with a friend in the area or consider pitching a tent.

Camping TentPhoto Courtesy of Henry Burrows (http://www.flickr.com/photos/foilman/2713470024/)


Indianapolis buses do not run very regularly, but the fare is fairly cheap.  For one day, you will pay a total of $4, though the low price might not exactly offset the headaches caused by the confusing, not extremely dependable system.  Instead, you may want to consider renting a bicycle for a few hours either through DG Bicycles (which rents bikes for $24 for 3 hours) or Wheel Fun Rentals (which rents a “cruiser” for $8/hour or $20/half day).  Renting a bike to ride along the city’s canal and through White River State Park is a popular pastime for locals looking to enjoy this particularly beautiful part of town on the weekend.  You can also take a ride to the trendy Mass Ave district or lively Broad Ripple Village.

Indianapolis actually has quite a few walking/biking/rollerblading trails which give visitors and locals easy access to many of the city’s exciting districts.  The Indianapolis Cultural Trail connects Mass Ave and the Canal & White River State Park to Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, and the Wholesale District. The Monon Trail connects downtown Indianapolis to Broad Ripple, while White River Wapahani Trail follows along the White River, traveling through the city from the northeast to the southwest.

If you’re not into biking, walking is free!  Indy is a great place for pedestrians, especially since many of the city’s must-see sites are located within walking distance of one another.  A great place to start is the tourist center located at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.

Indianapolis Arts Garden at NightPhoto Courtesy of Serge Melki (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sergemelki/3057493734/sizes/m/in/photostream/)

Food and Beverage

Urbanspoon.com has a list of some of the best (and cheapest) food in Indianapolis. Some other can’t-go-wrong options include Siam Square, a new Thai restaurant located in the Fountain Square District (lunch entrees are all $8.99 and include soup and a spring roll) and Bourbon Street Distillery, a favorite among college students.  This restaurant/bar has a great outdoor patio and an amazing Bourbon Street Burger!


Once you have your hostel booked, your transportation planned out and your sights set on some food, it’s time to dig a little deeper and discover all that Indianapolis has to offer.  To stretch your dollar while not compromising on having a good time, you may want to consider taking advantage of some of these free things to do in Indianapolis.  Keep in mind, too, that the Indianapolis Museum of Art offers free admission to their permanent exhibitions and botanical gardens, which are well worth the trip to Indy in and of themselves!   

Tags: "free things to do", "Things to do", budget, Indianapolis