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Weird Things to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana

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Believe it or not, there are plenty of weird things to do in Indianapolis. When people think of strange  and unusual things to do, they think of places like Austin, Texas or Portland, Oregon. However, Indianapolis has it’s own arguably large share of weird, dark, and unusual things. 

You may think – oh Indy is just a midwest city where nothing crazy has happened – but there’s plenty of dark history here.

Charles Manson, one of the most notorious murderers spent part of his troubled childhood in Indianapolis – right down the street from Central State Hospital – Indiana’s ‘insane asylum.’

Jim Jones, the mastermind behind the Peoples Temple, called Indianapolis home for a while and even started the first official church of the Peoples Temple right in Indy. 

So, as you can see, we could have an entire post on just the dark history of Indianapolis, but first, let’s start by letting you in on all the weird things to do in Indianapolis

weird things to do in indianapolis

Weird Things to Do in Indianapolis

Indiana Medical History Museum

Located on the grounds of what was formerly the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane, visitors can explore the autopsy room and anatomical museum of the old pathology building which houses preserved specimens.

See my full story on the Indiana Medical History Museum

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weird things to do in indianapolis
weird things to do in indianapolis

Rotary Jail Museum

This rotary jail opened in 1882 as the first rotary jail in the country and is only one still functioning today.
 
Why a rotary jail? It was a solution to the problem of housing prisoners safely and efficiently by limiting personal contact between inmate and jailer. 
weird things to do in indianapolis
Photo by Don O'Brien

Camp Chesterfield

Since the late 1800s, Camp Chesterfield as been a spiritual home and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This 44-acre campus is one of the largest Spiritualist communities in the country and the largest in Indiana. 

For those interested in phrenology, clairvoyance, spirit contact, trance speaking, and more, you can visit Camp Chesterfield for for spiritual renewal and attend a variety of classes among other activities. 

 

 

weird things to do in indianapolis

City Market Catacombs

The Tomlinson Hall was Indianapolis’ exposition hall until it burned down in 1958. The catacombs are all that remain from the original hall. 

The catacombs served a variety of purposes but was commonly used as a homeless shelter in the early 1900s. It is supposedly haunted. 

weird things to do in indianapolis

Museum of Miniatures

The Museum of Miniatures is exactly what it sounds like – tiny things. The museum includes fine art in miniature form. and is one of only a few of its kind in the country. 

You’ll find thousands of miniatures including miniature houses, individual items, and room boxes. 

weird things to do in indianapolis

Hannah House

The Hannah House has a haunted history – whether it is actually haunted or not. 

The story of the Hannah House started on one night when a group of slaves where in the cellar waiting for the right time to leave the house and head to Canada for their freedom. An oil lamp was tipped over and they were all either burned or died of smoke inhalation. The dead were buried in the cellar to cover up the trace of their involvement in the Underground Railroad. 

Ever since, the Hannah House has been known for its paranormal activity.

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While you can still go see the outside of the Hannah House, it looks like it has been closed until further notice. 

Duckpin Bowling

Apparently tiny things are all the rage in Indianapolis. 

Duckpin bowling is basically bowling but with smaller pins and smaller balls. This sport became popular in the early 1900s and today, this is the only place in the Midwest where you can play authentic duckpin bowling. 

Museum of Psychphonics

The Museum of Psychphonics is a museum of musical and spiritual curiosities, mysteries, and artifacts. The museum gathers the strangeness of the far and near corners of the world and web to create a 4-dimensional theme song for the soul of American underground culture.

Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum

More miniature things! You’re sure to be feeling like a giant by now. 
 
Head to the Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum where you’ll find 450 statue of liberty items including cigarette lighters, pencil sharpeners, stamps, Avon bottles, books, and more. 
weird things to do in indianapolis

See Jim Jones’s first ‘Peoples Temple’ 

If you’ve heard the saying “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” you’ve inadvertently heard of Jim Jones.

The Peoples Temple [the “church” started by Jim Jones] is best known for the events of November 18, 1978 in Guyana, when 918 people died in a mass murder at its remote settlement, named “Jonestown.”

The incident at Jonestown resulted in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

What does this have to do with Indianapolis? Well, Jim Jones was a long-time resident of Indianapolis [before relocating to California and then Guyana] and this is where the first official church of the Peoples Temple was started. 

While it is no longer the Peoples Temple, you can visit the site [now the Restoration Baptist Church] where Jim Jones started the movement that eventually led to this tragic event.

Located at 1502 N New Jersey St, Indianapolis, IN 46202

weird things to do in indianapolis

Gravity Hill

Head to this hill and watch the impossible become possible. What has been dubbed “Gravity Hill” is a spot where you put your car in neutral and watch it roll up the hill. 

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While it isn’t really a phenomenon, it’s rather an optical illusion. 

The legend is that a school bus stalled at the bottom of the hill and was struck by a train killing several children. It’s the spirit of the children on that bus that push things uphill and out of harm’s way.

Rose-Scented Alley

Part of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, this stretch on the 700 block of Massachusetts Avenue smells unusually pleasant for an alley – just like a bouquet of roses.

Conceived by Alaska-born artist Sean Derry. 

weird things to do in indianapolis

Crown Hill Cemetery

The third largest cemetery in the country, Crown Hill Cemetery is the home to more than 200,000 graves many of which are the final resting places of Civil War soldiers. 

weird things to do in indianapolis

H.H. Holmes House 

H.H. Holmes, the alias of one of the first documented serial killers in modern history, lived for a short time in Irvington.

While here, he killed Howard Pitezel, the son of his partner in crime Benjamin Pitezel. The home where he murdered Howard was burned and rebuilt. However, it is rumored that if you walk on the sidewalk across the road, the temperature notably gets colder.

Located at 5811 Julian Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana

weird things to do in indianapolis

Weird Things to Do in Indianapolis Overview

It turns out Indianapolis is full of weird things to do and as far as I can tell, Hoosiers really enjoy the weird, unusual and occasionally macabre things. 

In case you want to find like-minded people while you’re visiting, check out the DarkIndy Facebook Page. 

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weird things to do in indianapolis
weird things to do in indianapolis
weird things to do in indianapolis

weird things to do in indianapolis
weird things to do in indianapolis

Ashley Hubbard is a writer, photographer, and blogger based in Nashville, Tennessee. When she's not searching out the strange and unusual things in life, she's searching out vegan food and is passionate about sustainability, animal rights, and social justice.

4 Comments

  • Sarah

    I love how you find these places!! I have never spent any time in Indianapolis but I have driven through it a few times. I’d love to check out the catacombs… I waited in line for the catacombs in Paris but had to leave as I was going to miss my flight (the wait took HOURS). So ever since then I’ve just really wanted to visit catacombs, anywhere, lol! And Indianapolis is a lot more convenient than Paris haha

  • Juliann

    Ashley, you had me at Charles Manson. Then again at Jim Jones. Add in H.H. Holmes? Trifecta!!!! The other places you mention look interesting, especially the Rotary Jail, but I must admit that these three legendary killers are enough to draw me to Indianapolis. It’s only 100 miles from where I live, so I’ll definitely plan a trip there SOON!

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