As an incoming college senior, I’m definitely still “balling on a budget.” But these days, it seems like most cool experiences cost a pretty penny—which is not convenient for someone who’s trying to save up! Luckily, when I moved to Indianapolis, people told me about several interesting adventures I could go on without breaking the bank. In fact, many of those places are FREE! That’s right, free. So, I decided to check out some of these budget-friendly opportunities for myself!
The Canal Walk
The first place I explored was the Canal Walk! I briefly stopped by the Canal when I first started my internship, but I didn’t have the time to fully experience the Canal Walk while I was there. So, this week, I finally decided to go back and experience it for myself! I went right after work, so I was still sporting a dress and platform sandals. But lucky for me, the Canal Walk is a short three-mile loop, so I was able to comfortably enjoy my walk despite my dressier attire and the 90-degree heat!
During my thirty-minute walk, people were walking, running, riding, and even paddling past me in boats! The sun was shining, and the Indy sky was a beautiful blue. I truly could not have picked a better day for a walk! The sun alone was enough to brighten my mood, but all of the positive messages along the trail lifted my spirits even higher! With marvelous murals of flowers, happy people, and gondolas along the Canal, my walk was a beautiful sightseeing experience.
And just when I thought I couldn’t be happier, I saw the swing set! (Yes, I know I’m too old for a playground swing, but come on—they are SO FUN!) After spending some time on the swings, I finally walked over the tangerine bridge to get a great view of Indianapolis reflected into the turquoise water of the canal. “I must come here after work more often,” I thought to myself…. And considering that it’s free, I definitely will be visiting again!
IMA Hundred Acres (Virginia B. Fairbanks)
Next on my list was the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres! This park is part of Newfields, a 152-acre campus with nature parks, historic homes, and the Indianapolis Art Museum. The museum may cost money, but the park is totally free! And I must say, it was perhaps one of the most scenic and unique parks I’d ever seen.
From the moment I pulled in, the basketball court at the center of the parking lot immediately stole my attention. There were red and blue arches overlapping the court and two hoops located in the middle! As I’ve said before, I am no athlete, but like any Hoosier, the sight of those hoops really made me want to grab a ball and play a game of knockout! (Unfortunately, I did not have a basketball on hand, so I headed for the park’s entrance.)
As I walked in, beautiful flower gardens surrounded the walkway that led to the enchanted park! Butterflies fluttered by, and it made me even more excited to see what the 100 Acres had in store. The first thing that caught my eye was a bright yellow bench that truly resembled sunshine! As I got closer to it, I saw the sign that read “Bench Along the Lake,” so I decided to sit on it for a little bit—until I saw the EPIC swing set in front of me! (Naturally, I had to swing a couple times before continuing on my walk.) Then, I made my way up the trail to find the iconic Funky Bones art exhibit, as seen in The Fault in Our Stars! While that movie is definitely sad, it’s still one of my favorites, so I had to take a few minutes to fangirl a bit!
After balancing on the bones like a tightrope walker, I stopped to take a look at the beautiful lake, located just past the trees. While admiring the lakeshore view, I saw two unusual floating rings—another art exhibit entitled “Type A.” I stopped to stare for a while and admired the beautiful scenery before finally heading back home. Visiting the 100 Acres of the Art & Nature Park was a great way to get some fresh air and see some incredible art, all while not spending a single penny!
I’m a huge fan of anything music-related! In fact, my friends often make fun of me for the variety of music genres I play when it’s my turn on the aux. So, I’m constantly on the lookout for any and all local concerts. (And then I buy the cheapest ticket possible to save some extra dollars!) With that in mind, I was truly ecstatic when I heard about a cool, free summer concert series in Indy called The KickBack! I obviously had to check it out! The KickBack is a concert series sponsored by GANGGANG, Grapevine, and 10 East Arts that highlights local Indy musicians and artists. When I first walked in the doors, I immediately felt a very laid-back and welcoming vibe. The walls featured some sweet painted artwork and even some digital art they made LIVE, right before my eyes!
Fifteen minutes after I arrived, the emcee for the evening cracked a couple of jokes and introduced the first performer of the evening: ManDog! ManDog is a producer from right here in Indy, and he played three songs for the crowd. Then, MadDog’s unique instrumentals were followed by rapper Norrie The Goat! The energy Norrie brought to his performance was truly contagious… I swear the entire place was bobbing their heads to his music!
Not only was the music spectacular, but the atmosphere was energizing! Fries were for sale outside, and free drinks were served to anyone who took the time to fill out a survey! And you could feel the excitement from all of the artists, enjoying the chance to showcase their talent! Now, this free concert series ends on July 21st, but The KickBack’s sponsors host various other events throughout the year—and would love for anyone to come join in on the fun!
SHINING A LIGHT SHOW
The final thing on my list of “freebies” was the “Shining A Light” show on Monument Circle! Every night of the year—rain or shine— a beautiful projection show lights up the historic Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the heart of downtown Indy. This nightly show pays homage to our veterans and those who have lost their lives fighting for our nation. The crowd of people who gathered to watch was much larger than I had anticipated, but it made for an unforgettable night, watching the colored lights shine across the circle. I can’t wait to come back when they put on one of their special shows, like the one for the Indianapolis 500!
Looking back on all of these cool experiences, I would definitely recommend them to anyone interested in seeing the sights without breaking the bank! These are only a few of the free things to do in the Indy region, and I can’t wait to discover more (free!) hidden gems in the city!
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