You can find plenty of free things to do in Indianapolis often called "The Crossroads of America." You can visit monuments, go for a scenic walk, and take in the arts scene. There are free concerts and window-shopping at the best malls in the city to enjoy. This list will get you started on your low-cost visit to Indianapolis.
Climb to the glassed-in observation platform of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, honoring soldiers dating back to the Revolutionary War, located in the middle of Monument Circle downtown. The 284-foot monument affords a panoramic view of the city from the platform. On the lower level, visit the Col. Eli Lilly Civil War Museum.
It's always free to look! Check out Castleton Square, Indiana’s biggest mall, on Indy’s northeast side. It's home to about 130 stores, a food court, and play area. Some folks take advantage of this indoor mall's long corridors to do some power walking in the mornings.
Take a stroll down Massachusetts Avenue to see unique shops and art galleries and catch the area's free-spirited vibe. You can admire the area's public art and historic architecture in this five-block area that was revitalized in the 1990s. One of six designated cultural districts in Indianapolis, it’s located just a few blocks northeast of Monument Circle. In 1981, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visiting the area termed, "The Ruins" on Indy’s north side at Holliday Park is an interesting free thing to do in Indianapolis. Here, you’ll find three massive statues made of Indiana limestone, representing The Races of Man, designed by famed architectural sculptor Karl Bitter.
Holliday Park became the home of the statues after their original location, the St. Paul Building in New York City, met its demise in the 1950s. Holliday Park has been renovated and features many free things to appreciate: manicured gardens, a fountain, walkways, sculptures, and educational kiosks.
Lockerbie Square, Indianapolis’s oldest surviving residential neighborhood and the former home of famous Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, is a quaint historic district worth exploring. Lockerbie Square was the city's first historic district to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The neighborhood is a mix of quaint cottages and Italianate, Federal, and Queen Anne houses and is a delightful area to explore on foot.
The Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation maintains 208 parks in Marion County, ranging from six large regional parks to many community and neighborhood/mini parks. Among the local parks, you'll find dozens of playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, family areas, and aquatic centers. You'll also find nature centers, trails, golf courses, dog parks, and an ice rink. Getting outside is a great way to stay active, and best of all, it's free.
One of the favorite parks is the Downtown Canal Walk where you can do a 3-mile loop along the canal running through town. As you walk, see pedal-boats and gondolas on the water and keep an eye out for pedal-surreys and Segways on the walkway.
Take in a Free Outdoor Concert
You can even bring your dog to the summer concerts at the Eiteljorg Museum. Wednesdays at 6 p.m. you can hear artists from a variety of genres perform on the grass outside the museum, showcasing bluegrass, light rock, and folk music.
Tour a Winery
Easley Winery, Indiana’s oldest family-owned winery, is right in Indianapolis and you can visit seven days a week for wine tasting and sales. On weekends, they offer free winery tours at noon and 1 p.m. Tastings of a flight of seven wines is offered for a reasonable price of $5.00.
Browse the City Market
The Indianapolis City Market, reminiscent of the markets of Europe, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The renovated historic public market has more than 30 merchants and year around you can find a place for lunch or a brew and peruse souvenirs. In the summer you'll find a huge farmer's market.
Bike the Cultural Trail
You can walk or bike along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to experience six Cultural Districts. The 8-mile trail winds through downtown and offers stops to see the public art and visit the area neighborhoods. Don't have a bike? In downtown, you can pick up a bike share at one of 29 stations.
Gallery Hop on First Friday
Each month you can go from gallery to gallery to enjoy local art and refreshments during downtown's First Friday. It's a self-guided tour of over 35 art galleries that remain open in the evening for the special event.
At the historic City Market, enjoy "Art at the Market" on First Friday featuring local artists, a musical performance, and Indiana craft beer at the market tap room.
Visit Museums for Free
Many Indianapolis museums offer free admission on specific days of the year (often on Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day). There is plenty of information available about the museums and the days they offer free admission. Visit such marvelous museums as the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, the Indiana State Museum, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on these free days.