Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kristin

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Indiana’s capital of Indianapolis, affectionately nicknamed as “Indy” by locals, is a sprawling city full of museums, a world-renowned zoo, fabulous restaurants and excellent hotels. While attractions like the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum keep the city’s visitors entertained for days, Indianapolis is also a great launching pad for a getaway. Here are the best road trips from Indianapolis.

Fabulous Road Trips from Indianapolis

Cincinnati, Ohio

112 miles / 1 hr. 50 mins.

At just under two hours from Indianapolis, cosmopolitan Cincinnati makes for a quick but rewarding getaway. As Ohio’s third-largest city, Cincinnati is full of attractions, ranging from museums to scenic parks. Art lovers should browse the Cincinnati Art Museum’s extensive collection, and then stop by the nearby Krohn Conservatory botanical garden. For lunch, stop by the historic Findlay Market to find more than 50 stalls selling everything from specialty meats and cheeses to a variety of foods including Vietnamese, Cuban and a variety of cafes.

Indiana Dunes State Park

164 miles / 2 hr. 33 mins.

For a unique beach experience, head north to the 2,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. Visitors flock to this park to appreciate its stately sand dunes lining the beach. Its surrounding forests, prairies and wetlands are also great for hiking, fishing and birding. The area is also home to Indiana Dunes National Park, a 15,000-acre area including dunes, trails, biking trails and beaches. Visiting during the colder months? When there’s snow, the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland perfect for snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing.

Chicago, Illinois

183 miles / 2 hr. 57 mins.

At just under three hours northwest of Indianapolis, Chicago makes for the perfect weekend city break. This sprawling metropolis on Lake Michigan is home to diverse neighborhoods featuring some of the world’s best museums, culinary experiences and impressive skyscrapers. Browse the Art Institute of Chicago and Field Museum. Then break for lunch at Gino’s or Lou Malnati’s for the city’s signature deep-dish pizza. When the weather is nice, admire the architecture with a boat tour on the Chicago River and stop by Millennium Park to snap an ethereal selfie in the reflection of the infamous Cloud Gate “bean” sculpture. Finish the day with a sunset view from Willis Tower’s 103rd-floor Skydeck. >> Recommended hotels in Chicago

St. Louis, Missouri

242 miles / 3 hr. 43 mins.

Just under four hours from Indianapolis lies St. Louis, a bustling city on the Mississippi River known for its signature style of barbecue ribs, sports teams, museums and monuments. Start a trip here with a visit to the iconic Gateway Arch National Park, home to the silver 630-ft. Gateway Arch that represents the city’s role in the country’s westward expansion. Swing over to the National Blues Museum and enjoy the artsy architectural playground at the City Museum. Don’t forget a visit to Forest Park, an urban green area larger than New York City’s Central Park that houses the Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum and zoo. >> Recommended hotels in St. Louis

Nashville, Tennessee

288 miles / 4 hr. 20 mins.

Looking for a longer road trip? The road down I-65 to Nashville will be music to your ears. The country capital of the world is just a bit more than four hours from Indianapolis, and features an exciting pit stop in Louisville, Kentucky to boot. Nashville, better known as Music City, lives up to its nickname with a seemingly endless number of places to enjoy all types of live music. Spend the day touring the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and Johnny Cash Museum, and grab tickets to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. For late-night fun, pop into one of the many honky tonk bars lining neon-lit Lower Broadway or check out one of the city’s many “listening rooms” to hear new music in an intimate setting. Be sure to leave some time to stop in Louisville for lunch, and maybe even squeeze in time to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory or Churchill Downs. >> Recommended hotels in Nashville