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Indiana is known as the 'Crossroads of America', and in Indianapolis, the intersection of several major Interstate highways, this is literally true. This makes the state capital's multiple attractions easily accessible, including the one many consider to be hallowed ground, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Those who know nothing else about the city know that each May racing devotees flock to Indianapolis by the thousands for the Indy 500. During the winter, Indianapolis is a hotspot for football fans, whose fervour for the Colts has reached frenzied heights since the team won the XLI Super Bowl.
No worries for those less enthusiastic about spectator sports. Once dubbed 'Indiana No Place', Indianapolis now caters to a variety of other interests, not the least of which is history. At the centre of town is Monument Circle, home to the 284-foot (87m) Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, among many others. From the circle, the city spreads outward in a grid and is divided into six cultural districts. Broad Ripple Village mixes sidewalk cafés and upscale boutiques with retro fashions and original music venues. Fountain Square is a funky downtown neighbourhood laid out like a European village. Both are known for their artistic leanings and abundance of ethnic restaurants. Indiana Avenue showcases the city's African-American heritage, and Mass Ave is the free-spirited, friendly arts and theatre district.
The final two cultural districts may have less of an eclectic vibe, but they are packed with attractions. Those in search of good, old-fashioned American consumerism need look no further than the Wholesale District's Circle Centre, a large shopping mall connected to the Indiana Convention Center and a number of downtown hotels via skywalks. Wholesale is the home of the business district as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the Indiana Pacers play, the Colts' RCA Dome and loads of chain restaurants. For visitors who wish to spend a bit of time enjoying the fresh air, there is the Canal and White River Park district. The Canal Walk snakes through the city, offering an urban respite for fitness buffs, while scattered throughout the 250-acre state park are top museums, unique festival and concert spaces and the Indianapolis Zoo.
The Indianapolis 500 takes place each May, but the iconic Speedway remains an exciting attraction all year round. In addition to hosting other racing events, including motorcycle racing, it is the home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, which has a huge collection of memorabilia and racing, classic and antique cars, as well as Brickyard Crossing, a Pete Dye-designed golf course with four holes inside the raceway oval. Visitors can explore the museum, or join a tour of the entire grounds. Buses offer the chance to take a lap on the track, and the Indy Racing Experience allows people to experience the track as a passenger in a real Indy racing car.
Americans follow university athletics with as much passion as they do professional sports. The Hall of Champions' 25,000-square-feet of exhibit space capture the traditions, historic moments, student athletes, and coaches of the 23 sports administered by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and 88 national championships. The museum has two levels of exhibits and offers interactive areas for visitors to compete both digitally and hands-on. It even has a 1930s retro basketball gymnasium. The Campus Corner gift shop offers all the NCAA logo merchandise a college sports fan could imagine. Though perhaps not an exciting attraction for the uninitiated, fans of American college sport will be enthralled by the NCAA Hall of Champions.
The only museum of its kind in the Midwest, the Eiteljorg Museum contains one of the best Native American and Western art collections in the world. Designed to encourage appreciation and understanding of the cultures of the indigenous peoples of North America, the museum showcases work by contemporary artists like N.C. Wyeth and Georgia O'Keeffe. It also displays art and artefacts including pottery, woodcarvings and apparel, of the Delaware, Miami, Potawatomi and many other Native American cultures. A great attraction for families visiting Indianapolis, the museum also has a number of interactive exhibits children will love, including a stagecoach, totem pole, and wigwam. In addition, a number of events are hosted throughout the year, including storytelling on Saturdays, outdoor markets and concerts, and social dances.
Indianapolis has a humid subtropical climate, experiencing hot, humid summers (June to August) with average temperatures ranging from 64°F (18°C) to 89°F (32°C). Winters are cold, dipping down to 24°F (-4°C) in January, and occasionally getting as cold as -15°F (-26°C), although this is rare. Snowfall is unpredictable; while some years receive almost no snow, occasional blizzards can bring as much as 19 inches (48cm) in a 24-hour period. Spring is the wettest time of year, with May receiving up to 12.5 inches (32cm) of rain. The best time of year to visit Indianapolis is late summer and early autumn (August to October).
Those who visit Indianapolis between August and January have the opportunity to see the city's NFL team in action at the massive Lucas Oil Stadium in Downtown. Its past roster includes Peyton Manning, the renowned quarterback considered one of the greatest of all time.
But talented and inspiring players still remain to excite the crowds, and watching a game should be a priority. Visitors should also look to experience the tradition of tailgating or take part in the huge pregame family parties found around the stadium.
Since its inaugural race in 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has become the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing'. Each year, the world's top drivers compete for one of the most prestigous prizes in all of sports, the Borg-Warner Trophy. The 500 Festival takes place in the weeks leading up to the event, including the nation's largest half-marathon and culminating in the IPL 500 Festival Parade the day before the race. The Indi is an action-packed, exciting event drawing travellers from all over the world.
Indianapolis' multitude of major highways makes the self-drive option quite convenient. Traffic congestion, however, can be a problem. Public transportation is provided by IndyGo at $1.75 per single ride and $4 per all-day pass. The red and green lines service downtown attractions, hotels, restaurants and shopping and nightlife spots.
Indianapolis is a major Midwestern metropolis, with no end of attractions for curious visitors. A walking tour of the city includes major landmarks such as the Indiana State Capitol building, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Indiana War Memorial, and the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
On pleasant days, Indianapolis has a number of parks and gardens to enjoy, including the White River Gardens, Garfield Park Conservatory, the Oldfields-Lilly Estate, and of course the Indianapolis Zoo.
There are plenty of cultural attractions in Indianapolis, as the city boasts more than a dozen excellent museums. Families will want to visit the Holbomb Observatory and Planetarium and the Children's Museum of Indianapolis; while history buffs can enjoy the Conner Prairie Living History Museum, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
The city also offers a number of art galleries and performing arts venues, and is home to fun summer events like the Indiana State Fair, the Rib America Fest, Bands of America Grand Nationals, and the Indy Fringe Festival.
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