Indianapolis Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Indianapolis

Indianapolis, also known as Indy, is the Indiana state capital, as well as the Marion County seat and Indiana's largest city. The Indigenous people had lived in the area as far back as 10,000 BC. In 1818, the local tribes relinquished their trabal land in the Treaty of St. Mary's. The city of Indianapolis was found in 1821.

Most of the city's early settlers were descendants of immigrants from northwestern Europe. During the Civil War, Indianapolis served as a hub for the Union. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Indianapolis became a crucial manufacturing hub. Since the 1960s, the city has expanded into professional sports, revitalized the downtown area, and set up cultural districts.

The historical sights that are definitely worth visiting include The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, The Scottish Rite Cathedral, and The Indiana State Capitol, all of which have fascinating collections to see. Indianapolis is host to sites honoring veterans, including The American Legion Mall, Veteran Memorial Plaza, Indiana World War Memorial, and Monument Circle.

Visitors who are interested in learning more about Native Americans and life in the American West will enjoying visiting the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Visitors who want to take full advantage of outdoor activities will want to include White River State Park in their itinerary.

Take this self-guided walking tour to get a fuller appreciation of everything that Indianapolis has to offer for visitors.
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Indianapolis Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Indianapolis Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Indianapolis (See other walking tours in Indianapolis)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
  • American Legion Mall
  • Scottish Rite Cathedral
  • Veteran Memorial Plaza
  • Indiana World War Memorial
  • Indianapolis City Market
  • Monument Circle
  • Indiana State Capitol
  • Central Canal
  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
  • White River State Park
1
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

1) Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site (must see)

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site was the former home of the twenty-third President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison. It is in the Old Northside Historic District of Indianapolis. Harrison had the sixteen-room house with its red brick exterior built in the 1870s. It was from the front porch of the house that Harrison instituted his famous Front Porch Campaign in the 1888 United States Presidential Campaign, often speaking to crowds on the street.

Benjamin Harrison arrived in Indianapolis in 1854 in order to begin a career as a lawyer. In 1867, following his service in the military, he bought a double lot from an auction and built this house on it in 1875. Except for the time Benjamin Harrison served as United States Senator from Indiana (1881–1887), and his time as President of the United States (1889–1893), he lived at this home for the rest of his life.

While running for president in 1888, Benjamin Harrison issued campaign speeches to listeners on the street outside his home, in what were called "front-porch speeches". It is interesting to know that the house back then did not have a front porch. The front porch you see today was not built until 1896, 3 years after he left the presidency. Benjamin Harrison died in the master bedroom of the house on March 13, 1901.

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site became a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Today the house is open to public as a house museum.

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:00 - 15:30; Sunday: 12:00 - 15:30
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
American Legion Mall

2) American Legion Mall

The American Legion Mall helps give Indianapolis its reputation for being host to the second-highest number of monuments after Washington, D.C. Memorials commemorating World War II, Korea, and Vietnam are present. The national headquarters for the American Legion is also in this park. A nightly light show illuminates the monuments using a patriotic theme.

All of these monuments sit in an open lawn area that also features shade trees. The World War II Memorial features both limestone and granite, built in a half-circle. Indiana residents who paid the ultimate price in Korea and Vietnam are commemorated by name on the two cylinder-shaped memorials. Cenotaph Square celebrates the life of Cpl. James B. Gresham, Indiana's first World War I casualty.

Visitors looking for the name of a person commemorated on one of the memorials can access a weatherproof computer display. This database also lists the veterans who returned home, as well as POWs and MIAs.
3
Scottish Rite Cathedral

3) Scottish Rite Cathedral

The Scottish Rite Cathedral was designed by architect George F. Schreiber and plays an essential role in Scottish Rite Freemasonry's life in Indianapolis. This Neo-Gothic building was constructed between 1927 and 1929. Some of the highlights include a 212-foot tower with a carillon known as the "Singing Tower".

Sculptures depicted on the exterior include key figures such as King Solomon and King Hiram. Marble floors at the eastern and southern entrances feature centerpieces with the 12 Zodiac signs. These windows depict important symbolism to Freemasonry, as well as symbolism representing 1920s technology, as well as the liberal arts and sciences.

A ballroom with a floating floor and Elizabethan architecture also has a chandelier with over 200 lights. There is a Cathedral Gothic theater that features over 50 hand-painted backdrops. In addition to taking advantage of tours of this magnificent building, visitors can also stop at the Double Eagle Cafe for lunch.
4
Veteran Memorial Plaza

4) Veteran Memorial Plaza

The Veteran's Memorial Plaza dates back to 1930 and was known as Obelisk Square for much of its history. This plaza offers a fitting tribute to all of Indiana's veterans. The north end of the plaza hosts the American flag and all 50 state flags, demonstrating the importance of the veterans' contributions for all Americans.

This plaza's focal point is its obelisk, which attracts attention very easily at 100 feet tall. The obelisk's construction is Berwick granite, in an elegant tribute. This monument's shape is designed to represent the country's aspirations and hopes. Henry Hering created four tablets in bronze that represent education, religion, science, and law as the country's founding principles.

There is also a fountain in the plaza that spans an impressive 100-foot diameter. The materials used in the fountain's construction include pink marble from Georgia and terrazzo. All of these elements blend together to create a unique space for reflection.
5
Indiana World War Memorial

5) Indiana World War Memorial (must see)

The Indiana World War Memorial exemplifies the design that was popular during the City Beautiful Movement of the early 20th century. This memorial's design is Neo-Classical, modeled after architecture used in the fifth century in ancient Greece. Ionic columns and a pyramidal dome help round out the interior's beautiful design.

Inside the building, visitors can explore three floors, with the Shrine Room on the third floor being one of the key attractions. There are 24 pillars of red Vermont marble that support the ceiling, a Swedish crystal Star of Destiny, and an Altar of Consecration to the American flag that serves as a place of remembrance.

The interior has a military museum that commemorates Indiana veterans, starting with the Battle of Tippecanoe all the way through modern conflicts. There is a gallery devoted to the USS Indianapolis, an AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter, and artifacts that include firearms, uniforms, documents, and photos.
6
Indianapolis City Market

6) Indianapolis City Market

The Indianapolis City Market is a historic public market founded in 1821 and officially opened in its current facility in 1886. The market building is a one-story, rectangular brick building trimmed in limestone. It has a front gable center section flanked by square towers. The market was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Today Indianapolis City Market features over 25 local businesses that visitors will enjoy supporting. These businesses offer everything from gourmet food to boutique-style gifts and even craft beers. One of the key highlights is the Original Farmer's Market, where visitors can easily find local in-season produce, herbs and spices, and baked goods.

Some of the food merchants where you can sample different cuisine choices include Gomez BBQ, Mauricio's Pizzeria, and Ameer Middle Eastern Cuisine. Additional merchants that visitors can enjoy include Circle City Sweets, Twenty Two Juice, and The Flower Boys. Visitors will also want to stop by the Tomlinson Tap Room, with a rotating selection of 19 craft beers from Indiana.

Visitors can also take advantage of regular special events, such as live performances. Regular public art installations take place at this market, many of which coincide with holidays. Multiple merchants will also often take part in sale events for holidays.
7
Monument Circle

7) Monument Circle (must see)

This site was originally called the Governor's Circle because of its designation as the future site of the Indiana governor's residence. The Circle was a hub of community life from the town's beginning in 1821. A weekly market was held on the site from 1822 to 1824. As Indianapolis grew and developed during and after the Civil War, the area became a popular meeting place for mass gatherings, public rallies, and celebrations of wartime victories. In 1867 the site was cleaned up, fenced, and designated as the city's Circle Park.

In August 1875 George J. Langsdale, a newspaper editor of the Greencastle Banner, presented a plan for a memorial during the first reunion of Civil War veterans, which was held in Indianapolis. Construction on the monument, which began in 1888, took thirteen years to complete. The obelisk was completed in 1892, the main elements by 1894, and its final installations in 1901. In 1893 the circle was renamed Monument Place.

Today the Circle is surrounded by retail shops, studios for several local radio stations, the Hilbert Circle Theatre, home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, financial institutions, the Columbia Club - one of the oldest social clubs of Indiana, Christ Church Cathedral - a historic Episcopal church.

Monument Circle is the premier public gathering place in Indianapolis to commemorate notable events, including concerts, political demonstrations, and photo opportunities. Visitors can enjoy the sights of the Downtown area and beyond from the monument's observation level. This area can be reached by either climbing a staircase of 330 steps or taking an elevator that reaches the 290th step.

This area has a nightly light show that often changes with the seasons. All the lights used during the show feature synchronization to a theme that the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has composed for the event. This nightly light show starts at dusk and is available every night.
8
Indiana State Capitol

8) Indiana State Capitol

The Indiana State Capitol, in its current building, goes back to 1888. The Capitol is one of the most popular attractions in Indianapolis, having welcomed visitors from all fifty states and many countries. An extensive renovation in 1988 helped mark the building's 100th anniversary and keep it in ideal condition for future generations.

This structure's style is Renaissance Revival, sharing some of the same influences as the U.S. Capitol. The grounds host flowering trees and shrubs, as well as memorials and monuments. All of the ceiling and wall designs are period, and there are two three-story atriums within the building.

The Capitol building features Indiana limestone construction. Noteworthy interior features include granite columns, marble floors and stairs, and a dome crafted of stained glass. Public tours are an excellent way to fully take advantage of everything that this building offers.
9
Central Canal

9) Central Canal (must see)

Central Canal in Indianapolis is a canal dating back to the city's earliest days in the early 1800s. During the earliest times, the canal served as one of the city's primary trade routes. Today, the waterside area of the canal serves as a popular promenade. Walkers and sightseers, joggers, and bikers all use the walking space to take advantage of Downtown's most popular sights.

One of the popular attractions that the canal itself boasts is access to paddleboats available for rent. The location immediately west of the Indiana Museum is where visitors may rent these boats. When you take a paddle boat up the canal, you will see everything from a new perspective.

The area near the canal offers a vintage feel that you will appreciate, with antique lamp posts and beautiful flowering trees. You might even spot an outdoor concert going on while checking out this area. This canal is always worth your time.

In 1971 the canal was designated by the American Water Works Association as an American Water Landmark.
10
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

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

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art has extensive collections of Native American and Western art. Collections that are available represent a diversity of experiences, including women and different Native tribes. Artist talks and tours help visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the works currently displayed.

Native American collections include art and historical artifacts that represent the breadth of Native life. The Western art collection includes art from early modernists, and the contemporary art collection includes work from Native American artists. In the form of statuary, there is also a large collection of art found on the grounds.

This museum hosts a store where you can take home gifts and other items representing Native American or Western culture. Another excellent feature that the museum offers is a cafe where you can dine indoors or outdoors. The cuisine includes favorites prepared by in-house chefs to quality standards.

Operation hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday: 12 am - 5 pm.
11
White River State Park

11) White River State Park (must see)

White River State Park is one of Indianapolis' most popular outdoor recreation areas. The park is a popular spot for art exhibitions, walks, and other outdoor recreation, and special events that are ideal for the entire family. Several of the most popular downtown attractions, such as the Indianapolis Zoo and Victory Field, fall within the confines of this park.

The Amphitheater at White River State Park regularly hosts headliner performances and performances from local acts. Permanent art exhibits are present in the park, including Prime Commonality that celebrates the connection between chimpanzees and humans, Harmony that emphasizes our balance with the world, and the wire-crafted American Bison sculpture. These cultural attractions help demonstrate how vital the arts are to this city.

The Urban Wilderness Trail offers abundant opportunities to encounter wildlife. One of the things that you'll find is the first sanctuary in Indianapolis for Monarch Butterflies. You can also easily spot bald eagles and beavers in this park.

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.
Historical Churches Walking Tour

Historical Churches Walking Tour

Indianapolis contains an extensive variety of churches which have influenced the social geography of the city. This self-guided walking tour leads you to the city’s oldest and most significant religious architecture.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Architectural Jewels

Architectural Jewels

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 laid out in 1821 by Scotland born architect Alexander Ralston who was also a co-architect of the city plan of Washington D.C. Many of the buildings are registered on the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles