Things to do in Indy on race weekend

May 23, 2014

I’m a proud Hoosier and this is a HUGE weekend for Indianapolis because of a little race called the Indy 500. :) I find many people visit Indy and are surprised with what we have to offer – it really is a fun city. When we hosted the Super Bowl a few years back I shared a few of my favorite spots. Those were mostly indoor activities and restaurants, but the trees are green, the sun is shining and if you’ll be in town with kids this weekend our zoo is a great spot to visit!

We LOVE our zoo. I’ve not been to many others so I can’t compare it much, but we think it’s pretty awesome. There are two sections to the Indy Zoo – the White River Gardens and the animal exhibits. White River Gardens is one of my favorite spots in all of Indianapolis:

white river gardens Indy

Throughout the spring and summer you can see the butterflies at the Hilbert Conservatory, along with hundreds of tropical plants.

That building itself is pretty awesome, but then you walk out to the gardens – my favorite: white river gardens Indy

white river gardens Indianapolis

It’s three acres of some of the prettiest gardens. There are fountains, shade gardens, gazebos, beautiful stonework, a lily pad pond, (yes, complete with frogs), and flowers! So many flowers!

It’s just gorgeous:

white river gardens Indianapolis

It’s a large space but they break it down into little “secret” gardens – all so beautiful. You just want to bring a book and sit on a bench all day:

white river gardens Indy

white river gardens Indianapolis

There are a ton of little statues throughout – our favorites are the spitting frogs:

spitting frogs white river gardens

I took most of these pics a couple weeks ago when things were still growing in. It’s even more stunning now. There are flowering vines throughout that grow thick and cover everything so beautifully:

white river gardens Indianapolis

We were there to catch the tail end of the tulips in bloom: white river gardens Indianapolis

white river gardens Indianapolis

At the end of the gardens is a huge lawn where weddings are held:

white river gardens Indianapolis

The pergola wraps around and is covered in vines in the summer – it’s one of my favorite areas in the gardens! I have a lot of favorite spots in there, if you can’t tell. :)

The zoo itself is full of fun stuff as well, but the big event this weekend is the opening of the new orangutan exhibit – we’ve been watching it go up and were so excited to finally get inside:

orangutan exhibit indy zoo

It opens to the public tomorrow but members got to see it a little early. I’ve never seen anything like it! The orangutans are able to go outside and climb up onto poles that go around the whole exhibit – they go across the wires right above you. There’s also a gondola ride that you can take around the whole thing – I’m sure it will offer some awesome views of the city! (And you’ll go right by the orangutans!)

This guy was going back down into the exhibit:

orangutans indy zoo

It is seriously SO cool to see them just hanging (literally) right over your heads! It’s fascinating to watch.

Inside you can get up close and personal with them:

orangutans indy zoo orangutans indy zoo orangutans indy zoo

It was so cool to get that close to them! I don’t know their temperament but from where we were standing they seemed like very calm, sweet souls.

There are so many spots outside to see them too – windows everywhere:orangutan exhibit indy zooIf you’re in our lovely city for the race this weekend or live nearby and want to do a quick trip, don’t miss the zoo! It’s fun with the family or not. :)

I’m so proud of our city – there’s so much to do in Indy! Are you visiting for the race? Have you ever been? If you are coming into town be safe and have a blast!

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  1. I love INDY! My mom live in IN so I'm able to visit about once a year. Orangutans are special. When visiting the San Diego zoo once, my then 9 year old daughter had an amazing experience: there was a tiny hole in the enclosure, through which a young orangutan was pushing a little stick through. My daughter would grab it and push it back through the hole, then the orangutan would do the same. They played like this for about 10 minutes. It's a treasured memory!

  2. You have a beautiful city! Years ago, when the World Police & Fire Games were held there, my mother, my son, and I went up for the week. While my son watched some basketball games, my mother and I went to the gardens and spent most of the afternoon enjoying the beautiful flowers, plants, and butterflies. We also went to a little 'village' outside the city where we toured a Prairie town. I can't remember what it's called, but my mother had the best time participating as a 'wedding guest' for a prairie couple's special day. My dad was a huge Bill Monroe fan and we got to stop at his place in IN on our way home to West TN.

  3. I have been to lots of zoos and the Indianapolis Zoo is my FAVORITE! WE loved it so much. We live in a state that doesn't have a single zoo (West Virginia) so when we are in Indy we hit it every time. We are actually talking about coming in next weekend for a friend's comissioning. I'd love to go to the zoo while we're there :-)

  4. I lived in Indy for about two years after being transferred there from our home state of Alabama. I was terrified of moving "north" but we LOVED it!! We are back in Alabama now but we miss it all the time. We LOVED the zoo as well.

  5. The animals are wonderful but I LOVE those frogs.

  6. Makes me home sick! I grew up in Carmel and miss it dearly. Never one time in my 21 years did I get to the 500 though... It's a great city that doesn't always seem like it has much to offer, but man, so much cool stuff!

  7. Thanks for this post! We will be in Indianapolis for the Indy 500 next year (kid in marching band performing in honor of the event.) Can't wait to see the sights and enjoy the city while we're there! Always love visiting your site, too!

  8. Although I live in Texas now, I am a proud Hoosier from Indianapolis. I get homesick all the time. Indiana is a beautiful State. Thanks so much for sharing the zoo pics, it's been a few years since I've been there. Indy also has a wonderful Children's museum.

  9. I live in Kokomo, about an hour north of Indy. I went to the Indy 500 once and it's not my thing. Now the zoo, that's my thing! It's been a couple of years so I think I am due for a trip soon :) Sad to say I've never seen White River Gardens though. Need to put that on the summer to do list.

  10. Thanks so much for this!!! I went to IU and my bestie lives in Indy - I'm definitely a proud Hoosier! When Indy hosted the Super Bowl, it was AWESOME. I wish I could be there for the races, sigh. And the Zoo is great. I went during Christmas when it was all lit up. Loved it!

  11. The Indy 500 is my favorite event in the world. I really miss my dad in May because I got hooked on it in the 60's because of his love for all automobiles & he never missed it,. even when we had to listen to it on the radio because it was blacked out on TV while live. I have never been to the race but have spent a night in Speedway & toured IMS. I was born in MI, but lived most of my life in TX. I am always a little depressed when the race is over (like I am after Christmas). Your photos are wonderful!

  12. Enjoyed reading all the comments, I agree, Indy is a very pretty town. Been thru it several times in a semi truck. Didn't get to see any of the great features offered there but it is a nice town. People were very friendly in Indy. I had to drive up from KY (Bowling Green area) couple times to pick up hubs there, he had to leave his truck there. Really nice drive and we got to stop at the Outlet malls. We have a Botanical Gardens in Grand Junction, CO, never been to it but see events going on on tv. We live out about 20 miles west from Grand Junction, don't go to town that often.
    Wow from the photos you shared it looks so pretty, would love to go there. Looks like there is a lot to do in Indy. After living in KY, CO is pretty drab looking next to IN. G.J. is pretty much more desert like. Hope you're having great weekend

  13. We are going there tomorrow! :)

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  15. It looks like you really know your stuff when it comes to home decor. I like what you did with the outsides of these homes, especially. It is not easy to turn your backyard into something that looks this nice.

  16. I stumbled upon your blog somehow and have wondered if you live in Indy based upon some stuff you've said. I also live close to Indy. My happy place is the gardens! :)


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