The Ultimate Indianapolis Nightlife Guide

bird s eye view photography of lighted city
Photo by Josh Hild on

Whether you are working on crafting the perfect first date or celebrating a night out without the kids, Indianapolis has something for everyone. The vibrant city is not only home to the most famed auto race in the world, but also boasts a burgeoning cultural scene.

Ready for a great night out of your apartment or condo? Here are a few places where you and your guest or group of friends is guaranteed to have a great time.

Restored Entertainment

Indianapolis is home to a number of restored theatres from its earlier years which now thrive as some of the most popular evening destinations for great live music and film. The Irving Theatre first opened its doors in the early 1900’s as a movie theatre originally showing silent films. The theatre closed in the mid-90’s a recently re-opened as one of Indianapolis’ top music venues in 2006.

The Strand Theatre is one of the most famous performing arts theatres since 1916. This Shelbyville attraction plays host to a wide variety of Shelbyville events, including movies, Indianapolis music events, productions by the Shelby County Players, and book readings.

Go Team!

Don’t forget your Manning jersey as your run out of your Indianapolis apartment to cheer on the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, in the center of downtown Indianapolis. The recently renovated stadium which also doubles as a concert and convention destination has seating for over 60,000 and a retractable roof for events in the warmer months.

If racing is more your speed, be sure to check out O’Reilly Raceway Park, formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park. The 300 acre motorsport complex hosts a variety of racing events including NASCAR Busch, NHRA, SCCA and USAR events.

Where to drink in Indianapolis

To drink and get into bars you must be 21+. Bars close at 3AM; 12:30AM on Sundays. Alcohol cannot be bought in stores on Sundays. Age requirements vary and are listed below.

  • 501 Eagle 501 N College Ave, +1 317 623-2100 Hardcore gay leather bar. For serious enthusiasts of the leather. Leather events, charity events and theme nights are regular.
  • Alley Cat 6267 Carrollton Ave, +1 317 257-4036 This is the #1 dive bar in the city, according to every poll, award and every heavy drinker in town. Located in Broad Ripple, down an alley. No windows, smoke-ridden, and open at 7AM for breakfast till 3AM for dinner. A great jukebox, legendary bar staff, numerous pool tables, and the hardest drinks in town. Sometimes bands play too. A place you know will never change. Vegetarian friendly. 21+
  • Babes East 7259 Pendleton Pike, +1 317 545-5100 Indianapolis strip club featuring female exotic dancers, decent cocktails and plenty of drooling men to boot. Always popular on weekends and during car race season!
  • Blu 240 S Meridian St, +1 317 955-8585 Another night club to jump on the whole “Miami inspired ultra lounge” wave. Theme rooms and leather couches, oh and don’t forget beds for lounging on. DJs pump top 40, appetizers are served and you can call ahead to reserve space and “VIP” treatment. Martinis are the house speciality. 21+
  • Broad Ripple Brew Pub 840 E 65th St, +1 317 253-2739 Indy’s favorite “British” pub. Located snugly in Northern Broad Ripple, the neighborhoods namesake pub brews some of the best beer in the city. It was the first brewpub in town, and is the oldest microbrewery in the state. If E.S.B., India Pale Ale, Lager, Porter and Bitter falls into your vocabulary then this is the place for you. Good food – Scotch Eggs, bangers and mash – and one of the best vegetarian menus in the city. Smoke free finally, with a friendly and familiar bar staff. Indoor and outdoor dining makes this one of the busiest lunch and dinner spots in the area. They also have real darts (not plastic). A must visit!! All ages.
  • Brugge Brasserie 1011a E Westfield Blvd, Broad Ripple. +1 317 255-0978 The only Belgian restaurant in the city. Amazing food and beer. Sit at one of many indoor/outdoor tables – what are those holes for in the table you ask? Frites of course! The best Belgian Fries in the Midwest. Chose one of your many dips – garlic mayo is the gem. Order a crepe, sandwich or perhaps some mussels and pig out. Don’t forget one (or more) of their award winning microbrew Belgian ales. Watch European football on the television and enjoy great music (Nick Cave!). Reservations are recommended, this place gets packed fast. 21+
  • The Casba 6319 Guilford Ave, +1 317 251-3138. One of Indy’s only basement bars! Located underneath the restaurant Usual Suspects, this is as Broad Ripple institution. Nice drink specials, and a variety of DJ’s during the week. Wednesday’s features retro/electro DJ’s, Thursday a jam band, and on the weekends DJ’s and jukeboxes. They just renovated, expanding the basement to cater to larger crowds. 21+
  • Chatham Tap 719 Mass Ave, +1 317 917-8425. English style pub that features hi-def tv’s playing soccer (err…”football”) all day and night. A nice selection of high end beers and a mix of bar style food with more gourmet takes on classics. They serve some of the best fish and chips in town to a mix of hipsters, post-work yuppies, gays and jocks.
  • Claddagh Irish Pub (downtown) 234 S Meridian St, +1 317 822-6274. Regionally owned Irish pubs. The one downtown is a bar, so no kids allowed. The closest thing to Ireland – short stools and all. Grab a pint of beer and some amazing fish and chips and listen to live Irish music and watch some sports on the televisions. Can get crazy on the weekends, so check it out during the week and sit at the bar to watch them poor some black and tans. 21+
  • Coaches Tavern 28 S Pennsylvania St, +1 317 917-1191. Popular for lunch and after-work meet ups, Coaches celebrates just that – sports and coaches. A nice wooden pub located right downtown with high tables, video games and jukebox, and of course sports on the TV. Live music and DJs offer entertainment on the small stage and outdoor seating is nice during the warm months. Thursdays is $2 pint night, and the beer choices are good and plentiful. They also serve food – and lots of it. Great place for lunch and a brew in the afternoon. Vegetarian friendly. 21+
  • Club Level 120 E Market St, +1 317 964-0400. Night club housed in an old bank in downtown Indy. Music caters to mainly top 40 and hip hop crowds. 21+
  • Deano’s Vino Restaurant & Wine Bar 1112 Shelby St, +1 317 423-3154. Located in the heart of Fountain Square, Deano’s started out originally as a wine shop. Now it’s an award-winning restaurant and wine bar. A relaxing atmosphere decorated with local art (many of it from the local art galleries next door), seasonal menu items with sandwiches for lunch and regional themed dinners. The wine bar is filled with wine/beer memorabilia and a visitors Wall of Fame. Wednesday nights is wine tasting night, with awesome wines and affordable prices. Lots of beers too! All ages. Vegan friendly. All ages.
  • English Ivy’s 944 N Alabama St, +1 317 822-5070 An Old Northside (that’s the historic district downtown) institution. The downtown queer community regulars it, but everyone can find themselves at home here. Not much natural light, but plenty of Christmas lights decorate this bar and pub. Enjoy drinks and good food. Vegan friendly. 21+
  • Jillian’s 141 S Meridian St, +1 317 822-9300. The Chuck E. Cheese for adults, if you will. This chain features a restaurant serving a variety of American-based cuisine, a hibachi restaurant, and a dance club. Then, littered with bars, is the huge arcade room featuring retro and current game systems, a dance club, and a crazy bowling alley with dance lights and cocktails. Drink prices aren’t too cheap, and honestly, the best time to go is when you can have the place to yourself on a rainy afternoon. Drinking and Dance Dance Revolution, woo! 21+ Vegetarian friendly.
  • Kellerbar at the Rathskellar 401 E Michigan, +1 317 636-0396. Located inside the Rathskellar German restaurant the Kellerbar is the downtown place to drink beers from around the world and sop it all up with German food. During the warm months, this is one of the busiest bars in town. Get there early to enjoy a quieter beer (or two, or three, or four), the bar opens up in the afternoon and you can enjoy their in-house brew (the Dunkel is amazing) outside in the Biergarten or inside in the cozy oak bar that emulates a German castle. Later in the evening on the weekends cover bands rock out in the garden and drunk college students go wild.
  • Living Room Lounge 934 N Penn, +1 317 635-0361. A downtown semi-dive bar that offers the type of karaoke that you plug your ears, cover your eyes and ask yourself “Why, God, why?” then you get on the microphone yourself. Jaegerbombs’s are $2 on Thursdays. With cheap specials, you’ll become a regular yourself quickly.
  • Metro 707 Mass Ave, +1 317 639-6022 A laid back, casual environment with a pub downstairs and a modern pool hall upstairs. Their karaoke is legendary – featuring people who really can sing. Upstairs they also feature a sex/bdsm shop for kinky goods. Speaking of kink, food is served too! 21+
  • Mo’s Loading Dock 1045 N Senate, +1 317 637-2680  Located inside the Stutz Art Gallery the Loading Dock is just that – an old Loading Dock for the Stutz car factory. Resident artists and workers stop in for lunch, a smoke, or perhaps a drink throughout the day and evening. Cheap specials, Monday’s is .50 draft night, and good food. They have great chicken fingers which are rolled and fried in Cap N’ Crunch cereal. Live music too. 21+
  • Moe & Johnny’s 5380 N College Ave, +1 317 255-6376. A popular bar for Butler students and Broad Ripple residents. Big screens pump sports games from all over the world – we watched the World Cup here – and the huge bar offers plenty of room for eating and drinking. Pool tables, pinball and that crazy golf game are here too. Nice outdoor seating that offers some of the best street-watching in the city. The best buffalo chicken sandwich in the city. Great beer specials!
  • Nicky Blaine’s 20 N Meridian St, +1 317 638-5588. Martinis and cigars are the main attraction here. With a 1930-40s feel from the dark plush interior.. A lot of businessmen and businessmen-loving-women attend here, as do early-night partiers, and the night-cap types. Once a month they have a meeting called “Meet The Mistress” which features local Dominatrix’s having cocktails with interested folks. Fascinating mix and serious cocktails. 21+
  • Old Point Tavern 401 Mass Ave, +1 317 634-8943. Great location on Mass Ave for eating before a performance. Great for meeting friends, chatting till they close (around 1AM), bathing in the red neon light, listening to alternative music on the stereo. The nachos are legendary – a huge pile of nachos with every topping imaginable(vegetarian is the most popular choice) will feed 3-4. The freshest and healthiest bar food in town – hummus, parfaits, bean sprouts, sandwiches and fresh salad. Great desserts, drink specials – lots of beer! Friendly staff and perfect outdoor dining too. It’s hard to find a seat outside once 5PM rolls around during warm months. They have a great muzak channel that plays all new wave and 80s alternative – the only place you’ll hear Morrissey on the stereo.
  • Plump’s Last Shot 6416 Cornell Ave, +1 317 257-5867. This pub is owned by Bobby Plump, who threw the winning Hail Mary shot in the Milan 1954 game that is immortalized in the film “Hoosiers.” It’s been described as a “boho sports bar” which is a good, yet cheesy, name for it. The type of sports bar that hippies, artists, and jocks can come together without a problem. And only one tv. Yes, one TV. A huge outdoor deck in this small house, that has indoor dining too. A good jukebox that is pumped outdoors and the best hush puppies this side of the Mississippi. Friendly staff, friendly locals. We’ll hang out here for hours during the summer on the patio. Very dog friendly. 21+
  • Red Key 5170 N College Ave, +1 317 283-4601. An Indianapolis legend, this is where Ben Affleck filmed his first motion picture. You’ll walk in to this joint and think you’re back in WW II. It’s been owned by the same folks since then. Model planes hang from the ceiling, awesome vintage art, and pennies on the ceiling that get tossed up and pulled down for donation each year (and thousands of them, seriously). A beer is served with a small glass and unique cheap eats are on the bar menu. There are rules here – don’t put your feet on the chairs or booth seats, hang your coat up on one of the hooks, and don’t get too obnoxious or you’re out. They’ll ask you politely of course the first time. A must see for lovers of classic bars. By the time you leave you’ll be a regular.
  • Therapy 605 E Market St, +1 317 632-0325.  Modern design with local artists displaying their works on the walls of this simple and sleek joint. Two rooms – main room offers major techno/dance/house/trance DJs – this is the venue for the genre – the best DJs in the world tour through. The lounge features chill out on major event nights, and during the week offers up the best local DJ talent. Tuesdays is dark industrial called “electro Faktory” and Thursdays is “Keepin’ It Deep” featuring world-class house DJs Slater Hogan and John Larner spinning house, underground hip hop and soul, trip hop, brit pop and more. 21+
  • The Unicorn 122 W 13th St, +1 317 262-9195 Indy’s ONLY male strip club. Yes, men, stripping. It also has the biggest cast of male strippers in the Midwest, so never a dull moment. Ladies and gays flood the Unicorn 7 days a week. It is a private club, yearly memberships are available – but of course there is an option for guests. You’re welcome there any night, just donate, depending on the evening ($2-5). Mondays feature the famous drink and drown, where you play a flat cover and drink all you want. Check out the hot bods and drink yourself into a frenzy. Life is good. 21+
  • Union Jack Pub Two locations, see below. There are two locations of this English pub, the best being in Broad Ripple. This location offers family and bar dining. Both rooms are littered with well placed English and local antiques and artifacts. Busts of great English minds greet you in the bar and televisions show sports. They have the best “Chicago Style” pizza in the city. Thick, hot and amazing. Great beer selection and weekly specials. They also have a great selection of whiskey and scotch! Friendly bar staff. The Speedway location is drenched in racing memorabilia, a huge bar with good music and lots of televisions!
    • Broad Ripple – 924 Broad Ripple, +1 317 257-4343
    • Speedway – 6225 W 25th St, – +1 317 243-3300
  • The Varsity 1517 N Penn, +1 317 635-9998 A dark divey bar that attracts a fascinating mix of people. Lunch and dinner features good, greasy bar food and decent drinks. TVs, pool, darts, arcade and karaoke too. 21+
  • The Vogue 6259 N College Ave, +1 317 259-7029. Originally a movie theater built in the 1930s, in the 70s it opened up as a music venue and nightclub. Now, it’s the place for college kids to get wasted on the weekends and dance to top 40 and retro tunes. You’ll also find great live music and past acts include: Cheap Trick, Johnny Cash, David Byrne, The White Stripes, Common, Sean Paul, The Faint, VHS Or Beta, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams III, The Black Keys and more. Cover varies. 21+

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