43 Indianapolis

PopulationMetro: 2,028,614
Rich in experiences and events, Indy’s housing affordability is the real reason to fall for this Midwest gem.

It’s difficult to overestimate the powerful influence a strong sports brand can have on the perception and profile of a city.

Indianapolis might owe its fame to the century-old auto race known as the Indianapolis 500—its 103rd running takes place Memorial Day weekend—but this Midwest metropolis has plenty to offer, even if you don’t have a need for speed. Come for the sparkling airport, world class cultural institutions and bustling nightlife, stay for affordable neighborhoods and family-friendly entertainment.

The street grid of this planned city was laid out with care in the 1820s, and its gracious scale is still apparent, especially in and around the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza Historic District. Outside downtown, leafy streets are lined with affordable single-family homes that boast tons of character.

Place 34
Product 15
Programming 9
People 43
Prosperity 32
Promotion 8

True to its reputation as the capital of speed, Indianapolis workers, who fuel a diverse economy anchored by three Fortune 500s, have some of the shortest commutes of any metro area. And it’s not only land-based transportation where Indy shines—Indianapolis International Airport has won numerous accolades since the $1.1 billion Colonel Harvey Weir Cook Terminal opened in 2008, and now there’s even a direct flight to Paris.

It also has plenty of attractions to call its own. Destinations like the picturesque Canal Walk promenade, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (the largest institution of its kind in the world) helped earn Indy an impressive #16 rank in the Attractions category. While the city could stand to improve its #36 Nightlife ranking, the bars and music venues in funky Fountain Square are doing their part; the Inferno Room, a modern take on the Tiki bar, is especially hot right now.