Indianapolis: What Else To See & Do During March Madness

Monument Circle in the heart of downtown Indianapolis

This year, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship will be like no other. For the first time in history, all of the competition will be held in Indiana, with the vast majority of in Indianapolis. For visitors to Hoosier State capital during March Madness, most of the attention will be on the college basketball games. But for those who have time to further explore the Circle City, here are some other sports-related attractions to consider.

 

Historic City Market in downtown Indianapolis
City Market (credit: Visit Indy)

 

City Market

222 E. Market St.
Indianapolis, IN  46204
(317) 634-9266

City Market is a historic public market with a wealth of affordable gourmet food. Set in the heart of Indianapolis, City Market offers all sorts of food and drink options, such as BBQ, deli sandwiches and a lot more. Just steps away is the former site of Market Square Arena, where Indianapolis’ first Final Four was held in 1980. Market Square Arena was a former home of the Indiana Pacers, then with the defunct ABA (American Basketball Association).

 

Oscar Robertson basketball exhibit at Crispus Attucks Museum
Oscar Robertson “The Big O” Basketball Exhibit (credit: Visit Indy)

 

Crispus Attucks Museum

Crispus Attucks High School
1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
Indianapolis, IN  46202
(317) 226-2432
www.facebook.com/crispus.attucks.549

In the Upper Canal neighborhood, this museum features memorabilia from Indiana’s first all African American high school. Of particular interest is the exhibit of the high school’s 1955 basketball team led by NBA legend Oscar Robertson. That year, the Attucks became the first all-black team to win a state high school championship. Both the high school and museum are named after Crispus Attucks, the black man who was the first person killed by British soldiers at the Boston Massacre. That tragic event led to the start of the Revolutionary War.

 

NCAA Hall of Champions, with a view of the skyline, River State Park and the JW Marriott Hotel
NCAA Hall of Champions (credit: Visit Indy)

 

NCAA Hall Of Champions

 

700 Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN  46204
(317) 916-4255
www.ncaahallofchampions.org

Current Hours: Thursday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Closed Monday – Wednesday
Price: Adults $5, Youth 6-18 $3, Seniors 60+ $3, Children 5 and under – Free, Active Military Personnel – Free

Note: Advance reservations are not required but recommended on certain days in March.

Many sports fans might not know that Indianapolis is also the home of the NCAA national headquarters. Adjacent to the headquarters is the NCAA Hall of Champions, a two-level museum that showcases all 24 NCAA sports. Current exhibits include a NCAA Final Four gallery and another honoring the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The NCAA Hall of Champions is less than a mile walk from Lucas Oil Stadium, the enormous venue for this year’s Final Four competition.

 

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Pork tenderloin sandwich at Plump's Last Shot - owned by local basketball legend Bobby Plump
Tenderloin Sandwich at Plump’s Last Shot (credit: Visit Indy)

 

Plump’s Last Shot

6416 Cornell Ave.
Indianapolis, IN  46220
(317) 257-5867
www.facebook.com/PlumpsLastShot

At first glance, the name of this popular dive bar might not seem familiar. But for fans of the basketball movie Hoosiers, it’s worth checking this place out. Located in Broad Ripple, Plump’s is named after owner and local basketball hero Bobby Plump. His winning basket for Milan High School in the 1954 state championship was partly the inspiration for the 1986 film starring Gene Hackman. Try the famous tenderloin sandwich but also check out Plump’s impressive collection of memorabilia.

 

Exterior of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (credit: Visit Indy)

 

Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
3000 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN  46208
(317) 334-4000
www.childrensmuseum.org

Hours: Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Adults – starting at $26.50, Youth – starting at $21.75

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of America’s oldest children’s museums and the world’s largest. Admission includes the Sports Legends Experience, which just completely reopened with limited capacity. Here, children can enjoy 12 outdoor sports experiences, in addition to 3 indoor exhibits. Of particular interest are children’s interactive experiences like mini basketball hoops and a mini Indianapolis Colts football field. Visitors will also enjoy the statues on the Sports Legends Avenue of Champions.

 

Shining a Light light display at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis
Soldiers & Sailors Monument (credit: Visit Indy)

 

Shining A Light

Monument Circle
1 Monument Circle
Indianapolis, IN  46204
(317) 234-699
www.visitindy.com/indianapolis-shining-a-light

The city’s famed Monument Circle is the site for a dazzling nightly light presentation. Presented nightly, Shining a Light captivates visitors with a five-minute light show with music accompaniment from the city’s beloved Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In conjunction with the nightly show is a stirring tribute to Indiana’s legendary Hoosier basketball history. Also not to be missed in downtown Indianapolis are the Reggie Miller mural near University Park and the Peyton Manning statue at Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

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Bonus Attractions:

 

 

Hinkle Fieldhouse formerly known as Butler Fieldhouse and home to the Butler Bulldogs basketball team
Hinkle Fieldhouse (credit: Wikipedia)

 

Hinkle Fieldhouse

Butler University
510 W. 49th St.
Indianapolis, IN  46208
(317) 940-9375
www.butlersports.com

Built in 1928, Hinkle Fieldhouse was once the largest basketball arena in the U.S. Known as Indiana’s Basketball Cathedral, Hinkle will host some early round games of this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. Over its storied history, this legendary venue hosted several notable events, including Bobby Plump’s 1954 Indiana State High School Championship. Then known as Butler Fieldhouse, it also appeared in the film Hoosiers for that iconic high school championship game.

 

Military flyover prior to the start of a previous Indianapolis 500
The Brickyard (credit: Visit Indy)

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
4790 W. 16th St.
Indianapolis, IN  46222
(317) 492-6784
www.imsmuseum.org

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.
Admission: Adults $12, Seniors 62+ $11, Youth 6-15 $8, Children 5 and under – free

For sports fans, a trip to Indianapolis truly cannot be complete without visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. General admission is just $12 for adults but for $10 more, fans can take the popular Kiss the Bricks Tour. Part of this tour allows guests to walk onto the legendary racetrack and “kiss the bricks” at the finish line! Also on display in the museum is a large assortment of vintage to modern Indy car winners.

 

Indiana Farmers Coliseum was the original home of the Indiana Pacers
Farmers Coliseum (credit: Wikipedia)

 

Farmers Coliseum

Indiana State Fairgrounds
1202 E. 38th St.
Indianapolis, IN  46205
(317) 927-7500
www.indianastatefair.com

A few miles from the Children’s Museum is Farmers Coliseum. Opened in 1939, this historic venue was the original home of the ABA’s Indiana Pacers. Three members of the Pacers of that era have had their jerseys retired by the team – Roger Brown, Mel Daniels and George McGinnis. The Farmers Coliseum will host basketball games in the first and second rounds of this year’s NCAA tournament.

 

 

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About The Author:

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, CBS Los Angeles, CBS Chicago and CBS San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a digital audience reach of 489 million and more than 5.5 million monthly visitors. His other stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, Examiner.com, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University, U.S. Army veteran and lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, California.

 

 

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Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. He is also a member of the Freelance Council of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).