If you thought Hawkins, Indiana lets their freak flag fly, we've got news for you: there are plenty of weird things going on in Indy, too. From backyard roller coasters and the world's largest preserved steer to underground catacombs and other strange structures—here are some of the weirdest things we've found to do in Indianapolis.
Museum of Psychphonics
With Parliament-Funkadelic's original Baby Mothership as its crown jewel, the Museum of Psychphonics is a temple, a secret mechanical garden, an extraterrestrial portal, and a museum for the post-internet age. Tucked away within Musical Family Tree in Fountain Square's Murphy Arts Center, the museum is a cabinet of curiosities providing an intimate space to explore an alternate history to Indy, music & the cosmos.
Rubber Horse Sculpture
Have you ever woke up and thought, "Man, I really need to see a horse made from recycled tires"? Well, now's your chance. Just go tot he corner of Prospect & New Jersey and see for yourself. Sources say you can even sit on it.
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 (mostly brains) organized by pathology.
Big John: One of The Largest Rocking Chairs
Apparently, the battle for the biggest chair is a widespread one. The one between Franklin & Edinburgh is quite a sight. Traveling down US-31, you can't help but stare at the looming chair. Long's Consignment Furniture is to the left with a giant chest of drawers to match.
Mr. Bendo The Muffler Man
Standing tall and proud at Ralph's Mufflers (1250 W 16th St.) this large, fiberglass gent is a commonly known westside oddity. Part of a nationwide trend from the sixties, the main purpose of this and other similar "muffler men" was simply to draw roadside attention.
Located on Keller Road near Mooresville, Gravity Hill is a popular destination for high school kids on country cruises. Sitting in the valley between the road's two steep hills, put your car in neutral and watch it roll up the hill!
Have you ever head west on 56th Street, past Eagle Creek and over the reservoir, and noticed a large metal structure shaped like a bear up in the hills? It was donated to the city of Indianapolis by Galyan's in 2004 when the sporting goods store was acquired by Dick's.
Backyard Roller Coasters
This 10-second ride was constructed in 2001 by John Ivers (a blue collar laborer w/ no engineering background) in his own backyard off of Highway 41. A smaller, tamer coaster was erected for less-daring thrill-seekers in 2006. The ride is open to the public by appointment. (Weekends only. June - September. Maximum Weight: 200lbs) Just call (812) 324-9030!
This small structure is a work of whimsical, lopsided outdoor art by American artist John McNaughton. His goal in creating the Twisted House was to show viewers that sculpture can be both interactive and touch heavily into the imagination. To find it yourself, walk out the back doors of the art museum and the house will be a few hundred feet ahead on the left.
City Market Catacombs
The vast brick catacombs with uneven, unfinished floors are all that remain of Tomlinson Hall. Built in 1886, it was Indy's premier exposition hall until it burned down in 1958. The catacombs served a variety of purposes, but it was most commonly used as a nightly homeless shelter in the early 1900s that led to their purported haunting. Tours are available through Indiana Landmarks.
Old Ben, The World's Largest Preserved Steer
Housed in the vistor's center in Highland Park, Kokomo; Old Ben weighed 2.5 tons and measured nearly 16 feet long when he died in 1910. If you're into more fiberglass bovines, head to Cohron's RVs off of Pendleton Pike in Lawrence to see a large mother cow and her calves under the Lawrence water tower.
H.H. Holmes House & "Cold Street"
H.H. Holmes, the alias of one of the first documented serial killers in modern history, performed most of his "work" in Chicago, but lived for a short stint in Irvington. It was during this time that he took the life of Howard Pitezel, the son of his partner-in-crime, Benjamin Piteszel. The cottage he rented and conducted the murder in has since been burned and rebuilt, but rumor has it if you walk a certain stretch of the sidewalk across the road, the temperature is notably colder.
Trees Growing Atop Courthouse
The only thing that's known for sure is that there are, in fact, trees growing out of the Greensburg courthouse...and that those trees are Mulberry. Everything else is a mystery.
A place of peace, serenity and spiritualism, this camp is a 44-acre community dedicated to a spirit-infused environment. Skeptics and believers can visit the Tree of Life bookstore, Trail of Religions, and even take classes on clairvoyance.
Does your hometown have one tree notably covered in shoes dangling from its branches? If you're from Albany, Milltown or Troy, the answer is yes!
Menudo (Carniceria Guanajuato) & Chicken Feet (Szechwan Garden)
They may sound scary - and they are different - but they're delicious. Menudo's flavor is out of this world, especially if you like spicy. The tripe (cow's stomach) is better than it sounds. Chicken feet are a popular snack in nearly every country besides ours. Despite the trouble of eating around the little bones, they taste like crunchy chicken skin and the sauce that Szechwan Garden dips theirs in is incredible. Give 'em a try if you're brave!
Located in the upper balcony of City Market, this small gallery offers peculiar creations by Indiana artists and artisans.
Museum of Miniature Houses
Much more than a collection of doll houses, this museum will delight anyone with a fascination for miniature things. Go try turning the lights off to see the full detail of tiny homes illuminated by their own working lights and lamps!
Built in 1858, the Hannah House was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad. When a leaky oil lamp ignited the straw-covered floor of the basement, the night's guests were either burned to death or died of smoke inhalation. Fearing retribution for his involvement int he Underground Railroad, Alexander Hannah, owner of the house, buried the bodes (and his secret) in the basement. It is believed that the unidentified spirits still haunt the property today, and - if you're brave enough - you can even participate in an overnight investigation.
(Really into haunts? Check out our Haunted Indiana page. You won't be disappointed.)
The Canal Dyed Green For St. Patrick's Day
For the past 20 years, the Hoosier Lottery has upheld their tradition of dying the canal green. It's a pretty standard affair, but if you've never seen it, we definitely suggest you change that.
This relic opened in 1882 as the first rotary jail in the US, and is the only one still in function today. It was conceived as a solution to the problem of housing prisoners safely/efficiently; the builders believed their patented design would help maintain strict Victorian social order by limiting personal contact between inmate and jailer. By rotating a hand crank on which the two-tiered turntable pivoted, a jailer could bring one of sixteen pie-shaped cells into the opening, allowing one prisoner in or out.
New Harmony, IN
This is a town full of weird, interesting places to see and things to do. Whether it's the labyrinth, the roofless church, or Harmonist cabins, there are many intriguing stops in this little town once created as an attempt at utopia. It feels like they nearly succeeded.
Exotic Feline Rescue Center
Spend some time seeing and learning about the 200+ rescued tigers, lions, cougars and more. Get more up close and personal with these giant beasts than you can almost anywhere else in the world, and see all the amazing things that are being done to keep them safe and comfortable. If you're more of a dog person, check out Wolf Park in Lafayette. You can't go wrong either way.
Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum
Because who doesn't want to see tiny Statues of Liberty? Located in the up-and-coming Near Eastside district across from Pogue's Run Grocer, the Teeny Statue of Liberty Museum is itself teeny as well. Don't let claustrophobia get the best of you!
Taylor's Old Farm Museum
Why retire to a beach when you can craft metal figures out of your home? That's what this Boone County man has done - and they're hobby only (meaning not for sale!)
Abandoned Pool House
Just outside of the Marian University campus sits a spooky little hut that was the site of a former pool house. Grab a frisbee or camera and go enjoy the grounds!
Do you have an overwhelming urge to put your weirdness on display? Check out our favorite Weird Museums in Indy!
Did we miss something? We'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and submissions!
Just shoot us an email us at [email protected]!