How to Spend 24 Hours in Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis | © Serge Melki / Flickr
Courtney Johnston

Are you looking to have the perfect day in Indianapolis? With so many world-class attractions, restaurants, and neighborhoods to explore, 24 hours in this bustling, little city is not nearly enough time to soak in all of the beauty and wonder that Indy has to offer. But if you’re crunched for time, here’s the best way to spend 24 hours in the Circle City.

1. Grab breakfast at Milktooth


Nestled in the heart of Fletcher Place, this stunning restaurant made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the best restaurants in the world. Owned by inventive chef Jonathan Brooks, this charming and unique brunch spot offers an eclectic take on traditional breakfast foods. You’ll love their Dutch baby pancakes (in a variety of tempting flavors), potato latkes, and truly unforgettable grilled cheese. You’ll also find a variety of pastries and unique coffee concoctions. Their menu changes frequently, but you can be sure that you’ll find a seasonally appropriate and delicious breakfast or brunch dish at this beloved café.

Milktooth, 534 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN, USA, +1 317 986 5131

2. Stroll around Mass Ave

If you want to get a taste of the local shops and attractions around Indy, your next stop has to be Mass Ave (short for Massachusetts Avenue). A quick walk or bike ride away from Milktooth, this popular street is bursting with charm and attractions. The most commercial shop you’ll find here is Starbucks, but since they have a walk-up window, you’ll still have quite a unique experience. You can browse handmade jewelry and gifts by local artists at Silver in the City, shop fair trade items at Global Gifts, and support literacy efforts at the funky and well-stocked Indy Reads Books. You can also grab a quick cup of coffee and some sweet treats at the adorable The Best Chocolate In Town shop or snag a cupcake to snack on from The Flying Cupcake.

Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, IN, USA

3. Choose your own lunch at The City Market

Farmers' Market, Market, American, Fast Food, Dessert, BBQ, Indian, Soup

It’s hard to say what you’ll be in the mood for when lunchtime rolls around, so give yourself plenty of options by stopping by the famous Indianapolis City Market. This small, yet bustling market has plenty of meal choices—from vegan food at Three Carrots to Indian dishes at The Spice Box to breakfast, lunch, and dessert crepes at 3 Days in Paris. You also can’t go wrong with more traditional options like Circle City Soups, Gomez BBQ, and Mauricio’s Cheesesteak Grill. Don’t leave without grabbing a snack from Pat’s Philly Pretzels, Twenty Two Juice, or Circle City Sweets!

4. Visit Monument Circle


Find out how the Circle City got its nickname when you visit this cobblestone-lined circle. Here you’ll find the incredible Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, which turns into the largest Christmas tree in the country during the holidays. You can also take an incredible horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Indy while you’re here.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial, 1 Monument Cir, Indianapolis, IN, USA, +1 317 232 7615

5. Explore the Indianapolis Zoo

Aquarium, Botanical Garden, Zoo

Burn off some energy while exploring the world-class Indianapolis Zoo, where you’ll find over 1,400 animals and 31,000 plants throughout this incredible exotic animal experience. The Indy Zoo was the first in the country to be accredited as a zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and American Alliance of Museums. Come and explore their distinct habitats of Oceans, Deserts, Encounters, Forests, and Plains where you’ll find surprises around every bend.

Indianapolis Zoo, 1200 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN, USA, +1 317 630 2001

Indianapolis Zoo | © Jeremy Thompson / Flickr

6. Dine in style at St. Elmo's Steak House

You can’t leave Indy without tasting the food from this historic and world-famous steakhouse. St. Elmo’s has been around since the early 1900s and has an incredible 1933 Lounge where you can grab classic cocktails and drinks, as well as their traditional dining room. Not only do they have killer steaks, but their shrimp cocktail’s spicy sauce is the stuff of legends. Once you’ve finished with dinner, you’ll find several nearby bars and lounges to explore before calling it a night.

St. Elmo’s Steak House, 127 South Illinois Street, Indianapolis, IN, USA, +1 317 635 0636

7. End your trip on a sweet note

After waking up the next morning, you’ll probably be sad to know that your 24 hours in Indy is drawing to an end. Before heading to your next destination, be sure to stop by the General American Donut Company for a delicious treat to round out your trip in the Circle City. You’ll find unique flavor combinations such as maple bourbon bacon, coffee and cream, salted caramel, bennies (croissant/donut hybrids), vegan options, and much more. They open as early as 6:30 am most days, so you’ll be able to snag a donut quickly before you have to depart.

General American Donut Company, 827 S East St, Indianapolis, IN, USA, +1 317 964 0744

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