Ahhh, summer in Indy. Is there a more perfect time? Everything is green again and everyone wants to be outside. Parks are filled with families and outdoor dining at restaurants is practically an inalienable right. From the spark of the first lightning bug to the drop of the first maple leaf, it’s a season you don’t want to spend indoors. Check out these places and events going on around Indianapolis to make the most of these precious warm months.
The playground of all playgrounds. This park is a maze of slides, bridges and play areas for kids to run and jump on. The 95 acres boast dramatic “ruins” to take even more dramatic selfies on. You can pack a picnic and spread a blanket under the trees or walk along the miles of trails that run through the park and end up at the White River. There’s a nature center, too!
Monon Community Center
The Monon Community Center, in Carmel, Indiana is an aquatic dream. Sure, there’s a fitness center, gym, track and nature trails here, but what really is vital in the summer is the Waterpark. Both kids and adults will find something to do in the giant pool, waterslides, lazy river, climbing wall and surf pool. It’s perfect for those unbearably humid days in July and August.
Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres
The IMA may now be charging admission, but the 100 Acres park is still completely free. The places to play and explore around this park go on and on. You can climb on the Funky Bones, attempt to play basketball on the Free Basket and walk up to the grassy area in the Park of the Laments for some quiet reflection or a nice, sunny nap.
The Cultural Trail
The Cultural Trail is an 8-mile walking and biking path that connects 6 cultural districts around Indianapolis. You can ride your own bike or rent one for a few hours or the whole day from the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program. Since it’s a shorter trail, it’s best to take your time and stop in at all the local restaurants, shops and art installations located along the trail.
The NITE Ride (June 27)
Beginning at 11 p.m. on a Saturday, the Navigate Indy This Evening (NITE) Ride is a chance to ride through Butler, IUPUI and downtown Indianapolis at night with thousands of other riders. It’s a fun event on a warm summer night that brings together many in the cycling community in Indianapolis. There’s even a contest to see who can light up their bike (and person) in the most creative way.
Attend Local Events
Food Truck Festival (First Friday of every month)
Gathering together practically every food truck in the city for a mere $5 entry fee, the Food Truck Festival is a great stop before any First Friday event. You can find everything from hot pretzel sandwiches named after Star Wars characters to a truck devoted entirely to French fries. There’s beer from Sun King, cupcakes, pizza, donuts, pierogies and so much more, all stuffed into the parking lot of the Old National Centre.
Indy Film Fest (July 16 – July 25)
This 10-day festival promotes independent filmmakers around the world with screenings of each film in Indianapolis. These movies are shown in the IMA’s DeBoest and Toby theaters, where you can sit in a regular chair or choose the more fun option of sharing a giant 4-person beanbag with your friends.
Indy Fringe Festival (August 13 – August 23)
Indy isn’t afraid to get weird and you’ll find a lot of that weirdness celebrated at the Indy Fringe Fest. Theaters on Mass Ave. will host plays, magic shows, concerts, comics and performance art, each lasting 45-60 minutes. You never know what you’ll see at IndyFringe Fest, but it is guaranteed to be unique.
Shop Outdoor Markets
Broad Ripple Farmers Market
Ride over to the Broad Ripple Farmers Market to pick up fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables for your week’s meals. Get a juice from Mass Ave. shop, Natural Born Juicers, or croissants from City Market baker, Circle City Sweets. Saturday mornings at Broad Ripple High School.
Carmel Farmer’s Market
Located at the Carmel City Center and featuring mostly locally grown produce, the Carmel Farmer’s Market is a fun Saturday morning stop. You can find fruits and veggies, meats and cheeses and a variety of plants for sale.
Indy Arts & Vintage Marketplace
The Indy Arts & Vintage Marketplace takes place once a month at various locations around Indianapolis and Carmel. Spend a Saturday or Sunday at the market finding unique artisanal items, antiques and mid century modern décor.
To see even more summer fun, you can check out Jenna’s list from last year.