City Orientation Walk, Indianapolis (Self Guided)

Indianapolis’ rich history is reflected in its multiple landmarks. Monument Circle, a traffic circle in the center of Indianapolis, contains the famous Soldiers & Sailors Monument, and a concentration of the city’s tallest buildings surrounding it. Take the following tour to discover Indianapolis’ best landmarks.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: USA » Indianapolis (See other walking tours in Indianapolis)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 km
Author: Caroline
1
Indianapolis Central Library

1) Indianapolis Central Library

The Indianapolis Central Library, adjacent to the World War Memorial Plaza, was designed by Paul P. Cret. Completed in 1917, it is regarded as a unique architecture. Bronze gates, Solemn Greek columns, extensive steps, limestone, Vermont marble and carved stone elements make up its stunning exterior. Its collection consists of over 2.1 million items in various formats.
2
American Legion Mall

2) American Legion Mall

The two auxiliary buildings on the plaza are used by the American Legion. Both buildings were constructed from Indiana limestone in neoclassical style, similar to the public library just to the north. The east building at Meridian and St. Clair, designated building B on the original plan, houses the Indiana Department of the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the National Forty and Eight.

The four-story building served as the national headquarters until the second building was completed. The larger west building at Pennsylvania and St. Clair, building C, serves as the Legion's national headquarters. The headquarters deals with the mail, archives, and other internal administrative functions of the Legion; the lobbying efforts of the Legion are based in its Washington, D.C. Office. Its two wings each mirror building B and are joined by a recessed central entrance. Three semi-circular granite memorials list the names of the Hoosiers killed in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

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3
Scottish Rite Cathedral

3) Scottish Rite Cathedral (must see)

The Scottish Rite Cathedral is a historic building designed by architect George F. Schreiber, located in downtown Indianapolis. It was built between 1927 and 1929 at the cost of $2.5 million. The Cathedral is one of the largest Masonic buildings, and considered by many as the finest example of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. The main tower features a 54-bell carillonand rises 212 ft (65 m) above Indianapolis. It also has a floating ballroom. Other features are patterned ceilings, ornate carved woodwork, and stained-glass windows.

The auditorium has 1200 seats, and has been commended for the craftsmanship with which its fittings and decorations were made. It also has a large pipe organ. The main entrance, known as the Tiler's Room, is a cube of 33 ft (10 m). It features both Masonic symbols and the signs of the Zodiac. In recent years it has received 100,000 visitors a year. Guided tours are available on weekdays and the third Saturday of each month.

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4
Veteran's Memorial Plaza Obelisk

4) Veteran's Memorial Plaza Obelisk

The Veteran's Memorial Plaza Obelisk is made of black Berwick granite and encircled by a fountain. The nation’s basic principles, law, religion, science and education, are engraved on a tablet on the obelisk’s base. This impressive 100 foot structure was erected in 1929.
5
Indiana World War Memorial

5) Indiana World War Memorial (must see)

The Indiana World War Memorial Plaza is an urban feature located in Indianapolis, originally built to honor the veterans of World War I. The five-city-block plaza was conceived in 1919 as a location for the national headquarters of the American Legion and a memorial to the state's and nation's veterans. At the north end of the plaza is the American Legion Mall, which is the site of the administration buildings of the Legion, as well as a memorial cenotaph. South of that is the Veterans Memorial Plaza with its obelisk.

The centerpiece of the plaza is the Indiana World War Memorial, modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Within is a military museum, the Shrine Room, and an auditorium. At the south end is University Park, the oldest part of the plaza, filled with statues and a fountain. On October 11, 1994, the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza was designated a National Historic Landmark District.

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6
Depew Memorial Fountain

6) Depew Memorial Fountain

Depew Memorial Fountain, completed in 1919, is located in University Park in downtown Indianapolis in the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza. Composed of multiple bronze figures arranged on a five-tier granite stone base with three basins, it measures approximately 25 x 45 x 45 feet. A memorial plaque is located on south side of the basin. Designed by Karl Bitter, it was commissioned in memory of Dr. Richard J. Depew, by his wife Emma Ely, following his death in 1887.

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7
Christ Church Cathedral

7) Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral is the oldest religious building in continuous use in Indianapolis. It was founded in 1837. The present building was constructed in 1857 and is the oldest building on Monument Circle. It became the cathedral for the Diocese of Indianapolis in 1954. It is known for its Choir of Men and Boys and Girls' Choir, and for its pipe organs, one of which was donated by Ruth Lilly. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

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8
City Market

8) City Market

Construction of the City Market and the adjoining Tomlinson Hall was completed in 1886. D.A. Bohlen designed this arched structure in a mixture of German styles. Using brick and stone details, remnants of its original flanking towers and pilasters can be seen.
9
Circle Tower

9) Circle Tower

Circle Tower, the tallest building on Monument Circle at 57.91 meters, was erected in 1930. An example of Art Deco architecture, with its ziggurat peak and sculptures, it is made of Indiana limestone. Its facade and entrances are decorated with Egyptian elements. Included on the National Register of Historic Places, it serves as an office building.
10
Hilbert Circle Theatre

10) Hilbert Circle Theatre

The Hilbert Circle Theatre, located in Monument Circle, was built in 1916 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Reopening on October 12, 1984, it is home to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1996 it was renamed the Hilbert Circle Theatre after being endowed by Stephen Hilbert and his wife, Tomisue. It has 1,781 seats and space for an 87-member ensemble. It was also the venue for the weightlifting competition in the 1987 Pan American Games.

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Sight description based on wikipedia
11
The Soldiers & Sailors Monument

11) The Soldiers & Sailors Monument (must see)

The Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument is neoclassical monument in the center of Indianapolis, that was designed by German architect Bruno Schmitz and completed in 1901. The monument was erected to honor Hoosiers who were veterans of the American Revolution, territorial conflicts that partially led up to the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the US Civil War, and the Spanish American War.

In addition to its external commemorative statuary and fountains (made primarily of oolitic limestone and bronze) the basement of the monument is the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, a museum of Indiana history during the American Civil War. At the top there is also an observation deck that can be reached by stairs for free or by elevator for a $2.00 charge. It takes 331 steps to reach this deck, 330 of which are numbered. In 1902 the cost to build this monument was (US) $598,318. It has been estimated that building a similar structure today would cost over $500,000,000.

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12
Indiana State Capitol

12) Indiana State Capitol (must see)

The Indiana Statehouse is the state capitol building, housing the Indiana General Assembly, the office of the Governor of Indiana, the Supreme Court of Indiana, and other state officials. Built in 1888, it is the fifth building to house the state government. The building is designed in the shape of a cross. A large central rotunda with a glass domed ceiling connects the four wings. The structure is four stories high.

The building was constructed for the purpose of holding the entire government of the state. For several decades all the government bureaus were housed within the building, until the government again outgrew the structure; most of the state's bureaus have gradually been moved out of the building. In front of the Statehouse stands a statue of Oliver Morton, governor of Indiana during the Civil War. Located inside and around the Statehouse property are more than 40 works of public art that depict many important individuals and events related to the State of Indiana. The collection spans more than 130 years of artistic activity in a variety of mediums.

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13
Indiana Historical Society

13) Indiana Historical Society

The Indiana Historical Society is one of the United States' oldest and largest historical societies and describes itself as "Indiana's Storyteller". It is the oldest state historical society west of the Allegheny Mountains. Since 1830, the Society has been Indiana's Storyteller, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving, interpreting, and disseminating the state's history.

A private, nonprofitmembership organization, the IHS maintains the nation's premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups, publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; and provides youth, adult and family programming, including Indiana's participation in the National History Day Competition series. It also appoints and trains 92 county historians.

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14
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

14) Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (must see)

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is located in downtown Indianapolis and houses an extensive collection of Native American art, as well as Western American paintings and sculptures collected by businessman and philanthropist Harrison Eiteljorg (1903–1997). The museum houses one of the finest collections of Native contemporary art in the World. The museum is currently part of Indianapolis's White River State Park. In June 2005 the museum opened an extensive expansion that doubled the public space of the museum by adding three new galleries, the Sky City Cafe, an education center, outdoor gardens, and event space. The new galleries include two galleries dedicated to the museum extensive contemporary art collection.

Operation hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday: 12 am - 5 pm.

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15
Indiana State Museum

15) Indiana State Museum (must see)

The Indiana State Museum is a museum located within White River State Park in Indianapolis. The museum houses exhibits on the science, art, culture, and history of Indiana from prehistoric times up to the present day. The museum is also the site of the state's largest IMAX theater.

The museum was started in 1862 by then-state librarian R. Deloss Brown as a natural history collection. For many years, the museum was located in various rooms in the state Capitol building in Indianapolis. It was moved into its first permanent home in the old Indianapolis City Hall building at 202 N. Alabama Street in 1967. The Indiana State Museum Society was established in 1969 as a private fund-raising support organization. The museum moved to its current location on May 22, 2002. With more than 40,000 square feet (4,000 square meters) of exhibit space, and over 300,000 artifacts in collections, the museum covers the history of the natural world, Native Americans, cultural history, and the future of Indiana.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm.

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16
Old Washington Street Bridge

16) Old Washington Street Bridge

Old Washington Street Bridge, built in 1916 as an element of the National Road over White River, is a seven-span arch bridge with a pedestrian crossway from Washington Street to the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens. The bridge serves as an open gallery for Indiana sculptors involved in a biannual sculpture program. Visitors can browse the sculptures, which are for sale, while overlooking the splendid view of Central Canal.
17
Indianapolis Zoo

17) Indianapolis Zoo (must see)

The Indianapolis Zoo was first opened to the public in 1964. Its current home in White River State Park was opened in 1988 with a size of 64 acres (26 ha). The zoo hosts more than a million visitors each year and plays a role in worldwide conservation and research, including accomplishing the world’s first successful artificial insemination of an African elephant.

The Indianapolis Zoo is the only institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Association of Museums as a zoo, an aquarium, and as a botanical garden. The zoo is a private non-profit organization, receiving no tax support and is supported entirely by membership fees, admissions, donations, sales, grants, and an annual fundraiser. The Indianapolis Zoo's stated mission is "The Indianapolis Zoo empowers people and communities, both locally and globally, to advance animal conservation."

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18
White River Gardens

18) White River Gardens (must see)

The White River Gardens (3.3 acres) are botanical gardens located adjacent to the Indianapolis Zoo at 1200 West Washington Street. The gardens are a part of the White River State Park. The gardens were opened in June 1999. They contain over 1,000 plant varieties plus special exhibits. From 2000 through 2010, it also included a butterfly conservatory filled with plants and a myriad flying butterflies. The butterfly exhibit was discontinued in 2011.

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Walking Tours in Indianapolis, Indiana

Create Your Own Walk in Indianapolis

Create Your Own Walk in Indianapolis

Creating your own self-guided walk in Indianapolis is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Indianapolis Religious Buildings Tour

Indianapolis Religious Buildings Tour

Indianapolis contains an extensive variety of churches which have influenced the social geography of the city. The following tour will guide visitors to the city’s oldest and most significant religious architecture.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 km
Fountain Square Tour in Indianapolis

Fountain Square Tour in Indianapolis

The Fountain Square district is a more than century-old mercantile and cultural center. It is famous for its fine art galleries, significant antique trading, unique restaurants, live entertainment and multiple retailers. Remarkable constructions such as the Town Square Fountain, churches, Fountain Square Theatre Building and other landmarks can be found here. Take the following tour to discover...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Famous Downtown Indianapolis High-Rises

Famous Downtown Indianapolis High-Rises

Indianapolis contains many high-rises concentrated around Monument Circle, the historic center of the city. Symbols of Indianapolis’ impetuous development, their names are often part of their addresses. In the following guide, admire the city’s best and most celebrated high-rise buildings.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Indianapolis Museums Tour

Indianapolis Museums Tour

Indianapolis’ variety of museums and galleries appeals to those interested in the city’s history and architecture. Following this tour you can see its most popular museums, libraries and houses, and discover the historical, cultural and social life of Indianapolis.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.5 km
Architecture Tour in Indianapolis

Architecture Tour in Indianapolis

Indianapolis contains many unique constructions throughout the city that gives it an inimitable identity. Some of its best buildings are located along the diagonal avenues coming from Mile Square, according to the city plan of Alexander Ralston in 1821. Many of them are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore Indianapolis’ architectural treasures in the following tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
White River State Park Tour in Indianapolis

White River State Park Tour in Indianapolis

White River State Park, spread across 250 acres, houses the Indianapolis Zoo and and White River Gardens, theater and concert venues, museums, bridges, abundant green spaces, waterways and many other amazing attractions. Follow this tour to discover Indianapolis’ White River State Park.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Indianapolis for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Indianapolis has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Indianapolis, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.