Everything You Must Do in Indianapolis This Summer

Updated On 06/29/2018 at 04:36PM EST Updated On 06/29/2018 at 04:36PM EST
Thursday - Sunday
Jun 14-Jul 15
Various locations
After four long years of waiting, the 2018 FIFA World Cup is finally here! The US may not be in the competition this year, but that doesn't mean that the games in Russia won't be a blast to watch. We've rounded up all the best bars in Indy to watch the fĂştbol magic play out.
Cost: A few beers
Flickr/Paul J Everett
Jul 4
Fountain Square
There are lots of places from which to view the massive IPL Downtown Freedom Blast fireworks show. Unfortunately, most of those include small children, epic crowds, and a paucity of sanitary facilities. But not at the Fountain Square Theatre Building, and its less-packed but just-as-festive Rooftop Garden Cocktail Lounge 4th of July Party. There’s a complete dinner menu (smoked brisket, anyone?), bar service, on-site duckpin bowling (look it up), and, of course, fireworks viewing.
Cost: $80 (includes tip and gratuity)
Jul 4
Victory Field
If you’d like some baseball to go with your fireworks, grab a ticket for the Indianapolis Indians’ 6:15pm contest against the Louisville Bats. The first 12,500 fans get a free rally towel, plus a post-game fireworks show. Even better, you can keep your seat and use it to watch the big downtown extravaganza. The view is excellent, and there’s beer, bratwurst, and bathrooms nearby.
Cost: $10-$40
Jul 7
Bring a picnic dinner, chairs or a blanket and watch the martial arts classic Enter the Dragon outdoors at Newfields. The movie, part of the Summer Nights Film Series, starts at dusk (around 9:30pm). King David hot dogs and beer from Sun King Brewery will be on hand to enhance your evening with Bruce “The Man Who Kicked Chuck Norris’s Ass” Lee.
Cost: $8-$12
Jul 14
Butler University
The nation’s top 7-on-7 professional flag football league visits Indianapolis for the dual finals of their first-annual "US Open of Football." But even if you were a gym class hero back in the day, don’t get delusions of grandeur about suiting up and taking home the hardware. Many of the players are former NFL pros, so the level of play is a few notches above what you faced in 11th grade. But it’s still lots of fun to watch.
Cost: $15
Jul 16
Tibbs Drive-In Theatre
It’s been a while (a long while) since drive-ins were a “thing,” but you wouldn’t now it from the crowds that turn out to sit in their cars and watch first-run flicks at Tibbs, which celebrates its 51st anniversary this very evening. Granted, there are bugs to swat, and the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. But will your local multiplex allow you to back your pickup up to the screen and watch the film while sitting in lawn chairs in the truck bed? Heck no. Get there early, because there’s usually a line. All films start at sundown, because of course they do.
Cost: $11 for adults, $6 for kids
Jul 19
Spend a night at the Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center with Kesha and Macklemore, who’ve hit the road together after collaborating on the single "Good Old Days." Be warned, however, that both acts produce the sort of infectious ear candy that will be playing in your brain for hours, like it or not. We warned you.
Cost: $22-$113
Thursday - Sunday
Jul 26-29
Heartland Films Inc. is launching a new festival for the short attention span crowd, showcasing dozens of short movies (under 40 minutes) at Newfields. There will be plenty to watch, because $25,000 in cash will be doled out across categories ranging from Best Animated Short Film to Best Documentary Short Film. They’ll even have popcorn -- though considering the miniscule run times, you better eat it quick.
Cost: $10-$40
Jul 28
Georgia Street will be awash in yummy smells for this burger battle royale topped with cheese and perhaps caramelized onions. Restaurants from around the city will offer slider-sized versions of their burgers, with visitors deciding the People’s Choice winner. Of course there will be plenty of music, along with beer and other libations to wash down all that beef. The event is organized by the childhood education advocacy group Building Tomorrow.
Cost: $10-$50
Jul 28
Military Park
The Brewers of Indiana Guild’s annual summer fundraiser takes over Military Park from 2pm to 6pm, offering three-ounce pours of dozens of specialty beers and cask ales. For obvious reasons, no kids allowed. Designated drivers can get special $10 admission tickets, while supplies last.
Cost: $10-$85
gen con indy
Gen Con
Thursday - Sunday
Aug 2-5
Indiana Convention Center
The promoters aren’t kidding when they call this sprawling event The Best Four Days in Gaming. What began in 1968 as an intimate gathering of a handful of board game enthusiasts has grown into a monster drawing tens of thousands of gamers and cosplayers, along with some 500 game companies. If you need to stretch your legs after a marathon D&D tournament, hit the August 1 Gen Con Block Party on Georgia Street, featuring live music, beer, food trucks, and no kids (it’s an over-21 affair). Get tickets sooner rather than later, because even though Gen Con takes up the entire Indiana Convention Center, there’s still a solid chance of a sellout.
Cost: $15-$650 depending on whether you spring for VIP or not.
Thursday - Sunday
Aug 9-12
Broad Ripple
A century ago, the Broad Ripple neighborhood was dominated by a full-blown, Coney Island–style amusement park. The four-day Broad Ripple Carnival celebrates those long-gone days with carnival rides and games, live entertainment, and (because it’s Broad Ripple) a beer garden and plenty of food. Heck, you can even bring your dog to this canine-friendly event. Just keep the pooch on a leash.
Cost: Free admission
Friday - Sunday
Aug 3-19
Indiana State Fairgrounds
The Indiana State Fair is pretty much the last word for fried foods, carnival rides, animal exhibits, and mobs of sweaty, sunburned people. But don’t forget about the music. Seriously. For the last few years the fair has booked increasingly idiosyncratic or legendary acts for the Chevrolet Free Stage, a venue at the back of the grounds where national bands perform (as the name implies) for free. This year’s sonic grab bag includes Hanson, Rick Springfield, Kool & the Gang, Grand Funk Railroad (ask your dad), and Here Come the Mummies. Some might be great, some not-so-great, but no matter which shows you attend, you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth.
Cost: $8-$30 (for fair admission)
Aug 11
Pack a picnic, grab some lawn chairs, and head to Newfields for an outdoor showing of The Blair Witch Project. How meta is it to watch a movie about a bunch of college kids who vanish in a dark forest while actually sitting in a dark forest? Gates open at 7pm, and the film starts at dusk. Enjoy the walk back to your car afterward.
Cost: $8-$12
Aug 11
White River State Park
If you’re a huge fan of very long guitar solos and freeform musical explorations, this is the group for you. Of course, the difference between Umphrey’s McGee and most other solo-prone bands is that they’re actually fun to listen to. And it doesn’t hurt that they hail from South Bend. Enjoy them outdoors at the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park.
Cost: $24-$35
Thursday - Sunday
Aug 16-26
Mass Ave
If it belongs on a stage, you’ll find it at the multiple downtown theaters offering everything from comedy to drama to dance to musicals to multimedia. Go ahead and take a chance on something new, because you’ve definitely got the time. All productions must run at least 45 minutes, but no more than 60. Plus, the participating theaters are no more than five minutes apart by foot.
Cost: $10-$15; passes for multiple shows also available
Aug 26
Fountain Square
Chreece stands for "Cheers and Peace," per this music festival's organizers. It's an all-ages, all-day hip hop fest featuring nine indoor and outdoor stages and more than 50 Hoosier rappers, producers, and deejays.
Cost: $15-$20
Wednesday - Monday
Aug 29-Sep 3
Lucas Oil Raceway
Not all Indianapolis races go in circles. To see the world’s best drag racers, including Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, check out the Chevrolet Performance US Nationals, which is basically the Indy 500 for dragsters. Expect lots of meet-and-greets with the stars, big crowds, and plenty of smoke and noise.
Cost: $12 and up
brickyard 400
Thursday - Sunday
Sep 6-9
Indianapolis Speedrome
Drivers come from across the US to participate in the World Figure 8 Championship, which is basically what all racing would look like in a future post-apocalyptic hellscape. As the name implies, drivers race around a track that features an intersection. So expect quite a few yellow flags for crashes, because the cars “intersect” pretty regularly. The winner takes home a $25,000 purse, and probably some bumps and bruises. Practice is on Thursday, qualifications on Friday, and the main event on Saturday. Sunday is a rain day backup.
Cost: $10-$50
Friday - Sunday
Sep 7-9
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Thanks to a sponsor change, this NASCAR race is now officially named the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line. But you can still just call it the Brickyard. After decades of running during the very doggiest dog days of summer, this year it seeks out cooler climes by moving to early September. Take in practice on Friday, qualifications and the Lilly Diabetes 250 support race on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.
Cost: Extremely varied, depending on the day and event.
Sep 15
Lucas Oil Stadium
You won’t have to put up with B-side material from this performer. Her current album, Reputation, has handily surpassed the one million sold mark -- as have her previous six. Get tickets early, because in spite of the massive venue, it will likely be a quick sellout.
Cost: $96-$380