Archive for July 20, 2011

Indianapolis Downtown: 50 Under $50

July 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Indianapolis Artsgarden

ABOVE: The Indianapolis Artsgarden (with The Conrad Hotel in the background) is one of many outstanding venues located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. staff photo.

Guest Blogger:
Brittany Smith, Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.

Who ever said date night had to empty your wallet? The following is a list of Downtown Indianapolis date ideas under $50.

*** denotes a seasonal event or activity.


1. Visit Easley Winery Downtown and receive a FREE guided winery tour on Saturdays and Sundays. More than 2,000 wine and grape-related gadgets, home accessories, glasses, wine racks and more are available. You can also enjoy a glass of fine wine and great jazz at the Easley Winery ***Groovin’ in the Garden FREE concert series Tuesdays and Saturdays through September.  Local acts perform and carryout is available from a variety of Downtown restaurants. Visit for more information or call 317-636-4516.

2. ***Head to the Canal for numerous outdoor concerts. Spend Thursday evenings at the Indiana Historical Society’s Concerts on the Canal! Enjoy FREE musical performances along the canal plaza. Bring your own chairs and blankets or reserve a table. Concerts take place every Thursday 7 p.m. June through mid-August. Log on to for more information or call 232.1882.

3.   The famous LOVE sculpture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art was ranked by USA Today as one of the top ten locations for marriage proposals. Meander through the beautiful outdoor gardens situated on 152 acres of land.  Adjacent to the Museum and located on 100 acres that includes woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a 35-acre lake, 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park is one of the largest museum art parks in the country, and the only one to feature the ongoing commission of site-specific artworks. Admission to the Museum, Lilly House and 100 acres is FREE. Check out for more information or call 923.1331.

4.   Did you know that the Soldiers & Sailors Monument located on the circle is just 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty? Visit the top of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and get a top-notch view of the city. There is a $2 fee to use the elevator or walk the stairs for FREE. Visit for more details or call 232.7615.

5.   If it’s outdoor public art you enjoy, take a stroll along Massachusetts Avenue and admire talent of many different artists. The Mass Ave Arts & Theater Cultural District boasts unique, one-of-a-kind art in various locations that can’t be found anywhere else in Indianapolis. Find out more at

6.   Downtown Indianapolis displays the second largest number of war memorials in the U.S. next to Washington, D.C. Explore them all and learn about Indiana history at

7.   In an Old World atmosphere, the Indianapolis City Market hosts several shops and restaurants offering fresh produce, meats, baked goods, flowers and imported foods and coffees.  A variety of food stands offer traditional, ethnic and specialty cuisines. ***During the summer months, visitors will find a traditional farmers’ market as well as live music Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on the West Plaza.   Check out for more details.

8.   The Lawn at White River State Park accommodates up to 5,000 people for various events, concerts and more. This summer O.A.R., Ke$ha and Wiz Khalifa will be performing at one of the best concert venues under the stars. Visitors are welcome to relax or enjoy a picnic in the area when no events are taking place. While you’re there check out the many sculptures that adorn the area. Log on to for more details or call 317-233-2434.

9.   Take a bike ride or stroll along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The world-class trail links all six Indianapolis Cultural Districts. Discover art and natural beauty any hour of the day on this fully lit, safe, path through Downtown. Stop for a bite anywhere along the way amongst Downtown’s over 200 restaurants. For a map of the route, visit

10. Located above the busy intersection of Washington and Illinois streets is the Indianapolis Artsgarden, a unique glass-domed structure suspended 17 feet over street level and rising to 95 feet above the ground.  Owned and operated by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Artsgarden provides residents and visitors with more than 300 free arts performances and exhibits each year. Visit for more details or call 317-624-2563.

11. Join IDADA every First Friday of the month and visit Downtown’s great art galleries for FREE. Meet the artists and browse the collections! For a map of galleries and exhibits, visit

12. The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, located in the Indiana Soldiers & Sailors Monument, tells the story of the Civil War through the experiences of Hoosiers who lived during that time.  The exhibits look at both the soldier’s experiences while away at war and the homefront activities that supported the war effort. Visit for more details.

13. ***The Circle of Lights® presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481 is illuminated the day after Thanksgiving through the beginning of the new year as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument shines with 4,784 multi-colored lights on 52 garland strands.  For more information, call 237.2222 or log on to .

Under $25:

14. ***Take your sweetie to an Indianapolis Indians game! Victory Field was voted “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” by Sports Illustrated. Enjoy fun promotions like Friday Night Fireworks, Monday Dollar menu and FREE giveaways. Visit for more details or call 317-269-3542.

15. The Indiana State Museum in Downtown’s White River State Park is the crossroads of everything interesting, educational and unique about the state.  The Indiana State Museum features original works of art, hands-on exhibits devoted to Hoosier culture, science and history, an innovative gallery on Indiana’s future and an atmosphere that invites discovery and exploration.  Learn more at or call 317-233-4629.

16. Surprise your date with some good, old-fashioned ice skating at Indiana/World Skating Academy, located at the Pan American Plaza. The twin rink facility has both the standard NHL size rink and one of the few Olympic Rinks in the nation. Call 317-237-5565 or visit for more details.

17. IntoSalsa Latin Dance Studio is conveniently located Downtown and offers numerous classes including Intro to Latin dance, beginner, intermediate and advanced salsa, salsa aerobics, hip hop/jazz and more! Walk-ins are welcome! Call 317-496-4196 or log on to for more details.

18. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is one of two museums east of the Mississippi that showcases Native-American and Western art.  The museum contains one of the best Native American and Western art collections in the world, including traditional and contemporary work. Students and faculty of IUPUI receive FREE admission. or call 317-636-9378.

19. Visit McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, located at 110 North Illinois St., one block west of Monument Circle. Enjoy tempting appetizers starting at only $1.95 each Monday though Friday from 4 – 6:30 p.m. and Monday through Thursday 9:30 p.m. to close. Enjoy scrumptious appetizers including baja fish tacos, half-pound cheeseburger, Oyster Shooters and more! Visit for more information or call 317-631-9500.

20. Start your engines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame! For $5, see approximately 75 historic race cars on display! For a richer experience, visit the Tony Hulman Theatre to catch rare Indy 500 footage! The museum and grounds are on the National Historic Landmark registry and are open 363 days a year! Two gift shops and a snack shop make this the perfect stop for any racing fan! For more information, visit or call 317-492-6784.

21. Located in the heart of Mass Ave Arts and Theater District, Comedy Sportz Indianapolis is team competitive improvisation. No, it’s not comedy about sports, it’s comedy played as a sport! Two teams of improvisational “actletes” compete against each other for points by playing improv games based on audience suggestions. Ticket prices are $15 per adult; $12 for students and seniors; $8 for children 5 -11 and FREE for children 4 and under. Check out for more information or call 951.8499.

22. ***Visit the Biergarden at the Rathskeller. This outdoor venue is one of the hottest spots in Indianapolis during the summer. Enjoy a full service walk-up bar, gourmet pub style food and no cover charge. The Biergarden features live entertainment throughout the week. Log on to for more details or call 636.0396.

23. Did you know that St. Elmo Steak House goes through more than 760,000 pieces of shrimp and 65 tons of beef each year to please guests looking to savor their world-famous culinary delights? Lovebirds on a budget can stop in for an appetizer and try St. Elmo’s renowned shrimp cocktail with its famous fiery sauce for under $15. Log on to for more details.  (You can also get the shrimp cocktail at Harry & Izzy’s, or call 635-0636.

24. The IMAX Theatre at the Indiana State Museum is a 404-seat theater specializing in 3D and 2D films projected onto a giant six-story-tall screen. Featuring cutting-edge     technology, films in the theatre are a one of a kind experience for any visitor. The Academy award – winning IMAX technology brings images to life like no other. Treat your senses to the most powerful and involving movie experience yet created. Log on to for more details or call 233.IMAX.

25. Jillian’s is complete with bowling, billiards, video games, great food and more. Make plans to play the day away! Bring your date for a fun night out! Log on to for more details or call 822.9300.

26. Nothing says romance like a good, old-fashioned night at the movies. The UnitedArtists Theatres is located on the fourth floor of Circle Centre mall.  The venue holds nine state-of-the-art auditoriums that feature Hollywood’s latest films. Show a college ID and receive a student discount. Visit for show times or call 237.6356.

27. Many of Downtown’s restaurants offer late night fare for those that aren’t ready to end their night. Head to Champp’s Americana or Scotty’s Brewhouse for classic appetizers at half the cost!

28. ***The Indianapolis Zoo is the nation’s only accredited combined zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. The White River Gardens continues the Indianapolis Zoological Society’s mission of connecting animals, plants and people. On Community Tuesdays, the first Tuesday of the month, admission to the Zoo and Gardens are discounted to $8 a ticket. Visit to learn more or call 630.2001.

29. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis was ranked the #1 museum in the Midwest by FamilyFun magazine and Best Children’s Museum in the Nation by Child magazine in 2002.  Attracting over a million adults and children per year, this five-story museum houses 110,000 artifacts, the largest collection of any youth museum in the world. The museum is open for FREE the first Thursday of each month from 4 – 8 p.m. for Target Free Family Days. Free Days also include Christmas Eve (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.); Martin Luther King Jr. Day; Presidents Day and El Dia de Los Niños.  Log onto for more details or call 334.3322.

30. The President Benjamin Harrison Home, built in 1875, was the home of America’s 23rd president. The 16‑room Italianate mansion, from which Harrison campaigned in 1888, has been carefully restored to its late 1800s appearance with original Victorian furnishings and political mementos. Check out for more information or call 631.1888.

31. Be transported to another era in time with Action Duckpin Bowl in the Fountain Square Theatre Building. In addition to the eight lanes of bowling, Action Bowl has a café area with a vintage pool table. Windows surround the cafe for a magnificent view of downtown Indianapolis. Visit for more information or call 686.6006.

32. The Chatterbox Jazz Club, located in the heart of the Mass Ave Arts and Theatre District, showcases live jazz five nights a week. Log on to for more information or call 636.0584.

33. A magnificent view of Downtown can be found on the canal located in a romantic urban park in the heart of Downtown Indianapolis.  Imagine floating down the waterway in a pedal boat and viewing waterfalls, a 40-foot geyser and sprinklers. ***Wheel Fun Rental Company offers manual and electrically powered pedal boats in various sizes and is open mid-April through October and all holidays. Call 767.5072 or log on to .  

34. Show off your moves at the Fountain Square Theatre’s Friday Night Swing Dance. Beginning swing dance lessons are from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Enjoy live musical entertainment from 8:30 – 11:30 p.m. Admission is $12 at 7:30pm or $10 at 8:30pm.     or call 686.6010.

35. Join the Indy Swing Dance Club and jive at the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Open to all ages and levels of dancers. Dance lessons from 2 – 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

36. An extension of the Percussive Arts Society, the educational and interactive Rhythm! Discovery Center offers rare and unique instruments to keep visitors enthralled! Visit

37. For $1, take a guided tour of the Garfield Park Conservatory.  Stroll the tropical gardens and quench your thirst for paradise at Indianapolis’ oldest park! Visit for more information.

Under $50:

38. Take a carriage ride around the Circle City! Yellow Rose Carriage offers relaxing rides seven days a week. Log on to for more details. Also, Blue Ribbon Carriage Company offers romantic horse-drawn carriage rides in the Downtown Indianapolis area. Visit for more information or call 634.3400

39. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performs 200 concerts each year to an audience of more than 500,000 people.  Since 1994 the group has been heard in more than 250 radio markets in 41 states and has performed in three European musical capitals. or call 639.4300.

40. ***Broadway in Indianapolis

Catch the excitement of Broadway, right here in Indianapolis! See a world-renowned musical theatre performance. Check out what is playing at or call 800.793.7469.

41. Howl at the Moon Indianapolis is the place to be for great drinks and the famous dueling pianos! Drink specials run all week and with no cover on Tuesdays and no cover with college ID on Thursdays, Howl is the place to be for a good time!

42. ***Take your better half to see Dance Kaleidoscope, the professional contemporary dance company that performs a unique blend of contemporary dance, live music and theatre. or call 940.6555.

43. Located in the heart of the Mass Ave Arts and Theater District, Theatre on the Square was created to explore contemporary, classic and lesser-known plays and musicals in an intimate environment. Students and seniors (55+) receive discounted tickets for $15. or call 685.8687.

44. The Phoenix Theatre, located in the historic Chatham Arch neighborhood, was a turn-of-the-century church– renovated to house an intimate 125-seat Mainstage venue, an 85 seat Underground Stage and theatre offices. Individuals under the age of 24 receive a discounted ticket price. or call 635.7529.

45. ***Dating a foodie? Use IDI’s Farm to Table guide to find the best local food events, businesses, markets and gardens Downtown. Spend the afternoon at Indianapolis City Market’s Tomlinson Tap, and then pick up some fresh and local produce before heading home to test your own cooking skills.

46.  Take a flight Downtown! With three microbreweries and two wineries located close by, head to the tasting rooms and sample all Indianapolis has to offer! For craft brews, visit Flat 12 Bierworks, SunKing Brewery, and RAM Restaurant & Brewery. For wine, go to Easley Winery and New Day Meadery.

47. The Indiana Repertory Theatre has grown into one of the leading regional theatres in the country, as well as one of the top-flight cultural institutions in the city and state. The IRT remains the only fully professional resident not-for-profit theatre in the state, attracting audiences from across central Indiana. . Call 635.5252.

48. ***Spend an evening relaxing high above the city at the Rooftop Garden in Fountain Square. Enjoy a casual dinner served from the shelBi street caFe, or just chill out with a cocktail and a spectacular view of the Downtown skyline. or call 687.4857.

49. Find a great game, concert or performance at Conseco Fieldhouse.  From fast-paced Pacers and Fever games to spectacular concerts, date night is sure to be a success with an exciting event here!

50. Take a peek into the past at White Rabbit Cabaret. This burlesque show is sure to please! An array of events take place during the week but you have to be 21 to enter! For more information, visit

Log on to for more information on where to eat, play, park and stay.