White River State Park, located just west of downtown Indianapolis at 801 W. Washington Street, is the nation’s only urban state park and provides a wide variety of fun from its many attractions and entertainment options. Its locale is convenient to various Indianapolis attractions, including several Indianapolis museums, an IMAX theater, the Indianapolis Zoo, Victory Field, and the downtown Indianapolis Canal Walk, providing a wide variety of venues for those visiting White River State Park.
The park serves as the anchor for the Canal Cultural District, which is one of the many Indianapolis cultural districts the city has designated to promote the many Indianapolis events and cultural options that the downtown area has to offer.
The 250 acre park covers both sides of the White River just west of downtown, between Washington and New York Streets. It originated as part of a revitalization plan in the 1980’s with the goal of providing first class entertainment, sporting complexes, gardens and museums to the downtown area. While the Indianapolis sports facilities were ultimately built elsewhere, the former industrial area that had been designated as the location for the park would eventually house all the remainder of the plans included in the initiative.
White River Gardens
White River Gardens is an indoor and outdoor garden setting featuring thousands of blooming flowers and an extensive butterfly exhibit in the Hilbert Conservatory. A major Indianapolis landmark, the White River Gardens belongs at the top of your “things to do in Indianapolis” list, along with the other fabulous locations listed here.
The Canal Walk
Connecting the park with downtown is one of the most prominent and popular areas of the park, the Indianapolis Canal Walk. Visitors can utilize the canal’s paved walkways for jogging, walking, skating, biking, boating, or just relaxing and enjoying the scenic waterway, murals, fountains, or waterside café. Pedal boats are available for rental to enjoy the waterway from a firsthand perspective, as well as the offering of old world gondola rides. Bicycles can be rented for family fun in addition to Segway tours of the scenic park and waterway.
The Indianapolis Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo is another exciting attraction available to visitors of White River State Park. Experience the variety of animal exhibits including an ocean area, dolphin show and marine mammal exhibit, a desert dome featuring a variety of desert dwelling animals including snakes and reptiles, a plains area with roaming lions, and a interactive petting area for the entire family. The Indianapolis Zoo’s Oceans Biome is home to one of the finest indoor aquariums in the country. You can take the kids to the Indianapolis Zoo’s Encounters Biome, for some memorable muzzle-nuzzling or an educational chat with the zookeeping experts. Or you can visit the Indianapolis Zoo’s Forest Biome and Common Areas, or the ever-popular Indianapolis Zoo Deserts Biome and the sweeping Indianapoils Zoo Plains Biome. Better yet, spend the day and plan to leave no stone or lily pad unturned!
Indiana State Museum
The Indiana State Museum offers a wide variety of exhibits representing Indiana’s 92 counties. Art, science, and culture represent Hoosier history from the conception of earth into the 21st Century. The contents on display in the galleries of the museum are rotated on a regular basis in order to provide a new experience for the patrons of the museum on each visit. The museum also offers two restaurants and a two-story gift shop, in addition to the IMAX Theater housed inside the museum.
The Eitlejorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art offers visitors a learning experience in Native American art, history, and culture through various exhibits. The cultures of the American West as well as South America are represented in the ever changing displays. The addition of a new wing to the museum brings a cave, outdoor gardens, library, and education center to the museum’s offerings.
NCAA Hall of Champions
The NCAA Hall of Champions Museum offers examples of the rich history of American Collegiate sports. The museum features three theaters for presentations, a turn of the century gymnasium, The Hall of Champions which highlights past and present college sports champions, in addition to a wide variety of attention grabbing exhibits for the sports lover in us all. The Hall of Champions also houses the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s national headquarters.
Victory Field Home to the Indianapolis Indians
Sports lovers can also enjoy an Indianapolis Indians baseball game at Victory Field, located directly across Washington Street from White River Park. This ball park, named the “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” offers Indianapolis sports fans baseball games from April through September each year. The park offers open air seating and a spectacular view of the downtown Indianapolis skyline.
Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial
Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial On the last Memorial Day weekend of the 20th century, the city of Indianapolis raised a beautiful and moving monument to heroism called the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial. Located inside the White River State Park, close to the famed Military Park of Indianapolis, this is a prized landmark in Indianapolis and sight to see. Quite a bit of land was set aside next the the canal for its blue-green pillars of etched glass that record some 3,436 names of those who were bestowed this most auspicious medal. At night, the recipients’ prerecorded stories are recited for all who care to hear them, while stunning lighting shimmers off the glass monuments and the canal nearby.
The Lawn at White River State Park
In addition to the wide variety of Indianapolis attractions available in the park, is The Lawn at White River State Park, an outdoor concert venue providing some of the nation’s top acts in its summer concert series. This venue, named one of the top 100 outdoor concert venues, provides music lovers with an unforgettable outdoor concert experience on the banks of the White River. A 6,000 person seating capacity with a VIP section, the Lawn at White River State Park is fast becoming a favorite place to make memories for Indianapolis kids, their parents and Indianapolis music lovers in general.
IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum
A visit to the IMAX Theater is an unforgettable experience that transports each and every viewer into worlds beyond. IMAX uses award-winning technology to offer up heart-stopping, breath-taking, mind-blowing movie magic unique to its giant screen, a full half-football field in size. The IMAX movie screen wraps around the walls and presents film whose frames are ten times the size of regular film. The effect is instant, fantastic and addictive.
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