The day is almost here: The 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 starts bright and early on May 30 — but safety precautions are keeping the stadiums more than half empty this year. That makes tickets very hard to acquire — and a lot of folks may be looking for something to do with their day.
So what can you do in Speedway, Indiana, if you can’t actually make it to the big race? We’ve got some ideas. Main Street is packed with a vibrant, eclectic mix of family activities, specialty stores, the best breweries, restaurants and more — and it’s all within walking distance of the Speedway.
Here are some suggestions on where to spend your time if you can’t spend it at the track:
Daredevil Brewing Co.
Want to try the number one Indiana-made IPA? Well, head on over to Daredevil Brewing Company. The taproom is open every day except Monday, and it features their celebrated brew “Lift Off,” but you can also try ales and lagers with a European or German flair as well as ciders, wines and seltzers. Order a pizza while you’re there and have a slice or two while you chat with friends about the races.
Main Attraction Antique Mall
Located just south of the Indy 500, the Main Attraction Antique Mall is so close to the tracks you can probably hear the engines roar while you visit. Whether you love vintage furniture, jewelry, comics or something else, there’s always something new and interesting at the mall to find — and it’s a perfect spot to while away a few spare hours of your time.
Foyt Wine Vault
Founded by Indy legend A.J. Foyt himself, the Foyt Wine Vault has everything you’d expect to find in a place that bills itself as “part wine bar, part lounge, part Foyt museum,” and more! If you can’t attend the actual race, hanging out here could be the next best thing. Take in the memories while you order a few local craft brews or sip on some award-winning wines just blocks away from IMS.
Barbecue & Bourbon on Main
Does the mere thought of good barbecue make your mouth water? Well, head over to Barbecue & Bourbon to check out some of the best wood-smoked pork, chicken, catfish and beef around. The best part: You don’t have to pick just one. Their platter-style meals give you the option of choosing up to four different kinds of meat, along with a variety of sides like fried apples and onion rings. This is the perfect spot to vanquish your hunger and relax.
Are you looking for a place to get your exercise in and maybe explore the outdoors a little? Check out Leonard Park. Located just a few blocks west of the IMS, the park has 14 acres that are packed with amenities, including pavilions, tennis courts, a volleyball court, playgrounds and walking trails. This is a beautiful area to spend the day with your family, and there’s definitely something here anyone can enjoy.
Popup Art Shop
The Speedway Arts Council has brought an innovative experience to the area through its “Popup Art Shop.” Open until May 30, this improvised shop on Main Street is filled with Indy-themed decor, art and jewelry from local artists. This is your chance to take home a one-of-a-kind creation and support the local art industry at the same time.
Speedway Indoor Karting
Would you like a little taste of what it’s like to be behind the wheel of an actual race car? While it’s a scaled-down experience, the folks at Speedway Indoor Karting are happy to help fulfill your dreams — and you’re bound to have fun on their “arrive and drive” track. If there’s a wait, be sure to check out the ax-throwing room or mini-bowling for additional fun.
Indiana Medical History Museum
Just a little over a mile and a half from IMS, the Indiana Medical History Museum is one of those slightly creepy but oh-so-interesting places to visit that you just need to experience. Located on the grounds of what was once the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane, this historical building is now a monument to the early days of psychiatric medicine. It’s definitely a great place to go if you’re looking for an unusual way to spend the afternoon.
Fundae’s Ice Cream and Sweets
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Fundae’s is ready for you with its “super-premium” ice cream — and they’ve got everything from floats and shakes to homemade waffle cones. While they specialize in “full-fat, full-flavor” ice cream, they can also accommodate all kinds of dietary needs, including gluten-free and dairy-free. Their Zanzibar Chocolate is an award-winning favorite that’s taken more than one blue ribbon, but you might also want to check out “Malt Amore,” which was featured on Food Network as the “Ultimate Scoop.”
Seeds of Light
Finally, if you’re still in Speedway when the sun goes down, don’t forget to visit the “Seeds of Light” sculpture at the junction between Main Street and the main entrance of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself. This amazing sculpture, which resembles a giant dandelion made of steel and dichroic glass, is beautiful in the daylight but absolutely gorgeous at night when it’s lit up. The result of a group effort involving more than 45 artists and community members, this is a sight that you simply shouldn’t miss.
While there’s no question that the Indy 500 is the biggest event going on in Speedway right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t find plenty of other things to explore. There’s always something exciting around the corner when you’re home in Indiana.