Indianapolis is a budget friendly place with a cost of living 2% below the national average. Although it can be expensive to fly to Indianapolis because few airlines are based there, it’s cheap to walk or bike around once you’re here.
With a little strategy, it’s not hard to make your trip to Indy affordable and fun. Here are some top tips to get the most of your Indianapolis budget.
Check if it is cheaper to fly to a nearby airport
If you’re looking for flights, check out options that fly into airports in Cincinnati, Chicago, and Louisville. All three cities are less than three hours away and offer competitive flight options that can save you hundreds of dollars. Hotel and car rental packages can further reduce your expenses.
Drive to Indianapolis instead of flying
Those who enjoy getting behind the wheel will appreciate that Indianapolis is within a day’s drive for more than half of the US population. Not only is driving a more flexible option that allows you to come and go as you please, but it also provides you with a means of transportation once you arrive in the Indiana capital.
Book flights for July, August or September
Want to fly to Indy? Choose your vacation days carefully. According to Skyscanner, some of the cheapest flights to Indianapolis occur in the summer and early fall. March is one of the more expensive months to visit due to the March Madness college basketball tournament and the city sees an influx of sports fans and players.
Bike the Indianapolis Cultural Trail on a rental bike
If you don’t have a car, Indy’s citywide bike rental called Pacers Bikeshare is a cheap option for getting around town. Rent a bike from any of the 50 stations and safely visit all six of Indianapolis’ cultural districts at your own pace on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. These bikes have an annual fee of $125 for unlimited 60-minute rides, or cost $1 per ride and $0.15 per minute. If you want to get outside of the Pacers Bikeshare locations, you can rent a cruiser for a full day from Wheel Fun Rentals for $30.
Take advantage of the farmers markets
The costs can quickly add up when dining out, with an average dinner for two in Indianapolis costing $50. Instead, experience Indianapolis’ local fare at a lower price by building your own picnic lunch at one of the many farmers’ markets, open almost every day of the week. Add a little outdoors to your picnic at White River State Park, the large city park in downtown Indy.
Visit the city during Devour Indy
The Devour Indy initiative was developed to allow restaurant goers to support local businesses at a special fixed price. Devour Indy takes place twice a year for two weeks each, in winter and summer. Dates change every year, and you can try popular eateries like the Latin-influenced Livery and the Euro-style Gallery Pastry Bar. During this time, participating restaurants are offering discounted prices for their Devour menu. Lunch and dinner typically range from $15 to $30 per person, and some restaurants even offer takeout options.
Purchase an Indy Attraction Pass
The Indy Attraction Pass can be a good option if you want to visit the city’s museums and zoos. This pass costs $48 per adult and gives access to eight attractions including Newfields (one of the 10 largest general art museums in the country) and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (the largest children’s museum in the world). The pass is valid for 24 hours and must be used within 90 days of purchase.
Find accommodations with amenities
While Indianapolis doesn’t have a huge selection of hostels, the city offers plenty of private rooms available for rent on platforms like Airbnb. Some options include access to a kitchen or free use of bicycles. These amenities are a great way to save money on groceries and transportation.
Use public transport
While Indianapolis’ public transit system isn’t incredibly robust, it’s affordable and can be convenient, especially if you’re traveling through downtown or north Indianapolis. You can buy a day pass for $4 or use the MyKey payment system. The best thing about MyKey is the fare cap, which means you won’t be charged more than $4 per day or $15.75 per week for unlimited use of public transit.
Use the IndyGo trip planner to see if it makes sense to take the bus to your destination. You can also explore the bus routes and times on the website.
Check out the City Market and Food Halls
Indianapolis City Market has more than a dozen vendors under its 200-year-old roof, making it easy to walk around and shop for the cheapest groceries. You can grab a hearty sandwich at Cafe Olivia for under $10, or try Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles, where a meal with two sides costs about $16. Other food halls include The Garage Food Hall in the Bottleworks District and The AMP at 16 Tech.
Sign up for Indy Daily Deals
A free program from the Indianapolis Tourism Board, Indy Daily Deals offers discounts on restaurants, attractions and more around the city. Receive 5% to 20% off nights at hotels like the Charles Davis Mansion and up to 15% off your bill at restaurants like Conner’s Kitchen + Bar. Simply sign in to get access to the offers.
Search on Groupon
From dancing to cooking classes, Groupon has a lot to offer in Indianapolis. It is possible to save $5 to $10 on admission to various experiences.
Daily cost in Indianapolis
private room: $35
Simple room for two: $60-$100
Self-Catering Apartment (including Airbnb): $70-$120
Public transport ticket: $4 for a day pass
Coffee: $2.50 to $3
Dinner for two: $50-90