In early April, some 70,000 fans will descend on the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball games, making this the seventh and last men’s Final Four to be held in Indy until 2021, when it will return to the city.
But don’t just make the three-hour-drive from Chicago to Indy for the ultimate Division I college basketball championships. Tag on a slew of other worthy events and stops.
Here’s what to do:
- First things first: Get tickets to the Final Four games on April 4 and April 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
- A host of great, events—many of which are free—are part of the Final Four games. Best bets include: the four-day Final Four Fan Fest, where you can meet coaches and former college stars, sign up for youth clinics, and see a pep rally featuring the bands and cheerleaders from all four NCAA basketball teams (adults $8, children $4; April 3 to 6 at the Indiana Convention Center); the free Reese’s College All-Star Game to watch the country’s top senior college basketball talent play (4:30 p.m. on April 3); and the free, three-day NCAA March Madness Music Festival (April 3 to 5). The official lineup for the music fest won’t be announced until about two weeks before Final Four, but past A-listers have included Bruce Springsteen, fun., and The Black Keys.
- See the city! Rent a Pacers Bikeshare for $8 a day and cruise along the Cultural Trail.
- Stop for brunch at the new, diner-style Milktooth, opened in October in Indy’s hip Fletcher Place by Jonathan Brooks, former sous chef at Recess.
- No luck scoring Final Four tickets? A few blocks from the stadium, pack into the Slippery Noodle Inn to watch the games on TV while hearing live jazz and blues. This is Indiana’s oldest bar and begs a look around: find bullet holes from John Dillinger in the wall, a former brothel upstairs, and, in the basement, a door used for the Underground Railroad.
- Stay at the Springhill Suites Indianapolis Carmel (from $211 a night) in Carmel, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Indy but worth it for the big suites and complimentary parking, breakfast, and Wifi. More options and packages are available on the NCAA Final Four site. Note that most hotels require a four-night stay and that availability will fluctuate as the final teams are narrowed down.
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