Indianapolis has been stacking up the reasons to visit lately: Along with the city’s eight-mile Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a major bike and pedestrian pathway, and the art-focused Alexander hotel, two new major exhibitions just opened. Here’s a packed itinerary for Indianapolis, one of the stops in Chicago magazine’s just-published summer travel story featuring three mega road trips:

Indianapolis, Indiana

Distance and drive time: 183 miles, 3 hours

Start at locavore-focused Café Patachou (225 W. Washington St., 317-632-0765) and try the toasted “Full Bellied Pig” sandwich, a spicy concoction of peanut butter, bacon, strawberry jelly, and fresh jalapeños (the restaurant’s profits go to feeding Indy’s at-risk kids). From here, take a scenic 10-minute walk through White River State Park, crossing the White River bridge flanked with art installations. On the other side, you’ll arrive at the Indianapolis Zoo (1200 W. Washington St., 317-630-2001; adults from $14.95, ages 2 to 12 from $11.45, and rides from $3). Boom, you just avoided zoo parking.

Make a beeline to the new $21.5-million International Orangutan Center, which opened last weekend as the new home for eight orangutans, one of the largest groups of these endangered apes found at any zoo in the country. Step inside the habitat to play a game with the apes (they play to win for treats) or soar above them in a 40-foot-high aerial Skyride modelled on Borneo’s tree-top Hutan Trail.

The next day, wind through neighborhoods and parks on the Cultural Trail; rent a bike for the trip using the new 25-station Bike Share program, also launched recently. Then head to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (3000 N. Meridian St., 317-334-4000,; $19.50 adults, $14.50 ages 2 to 17), the biggest museum for kids in the world. Through November 2, you can see China’s life-size Terra Cotta Warriors; Indianapolis is the only stop in the U.S. this year for the traveling exhibition. The exhibition showcases eight original painted warriors from the thousands-deep clay army plus some 100 artifacts, all of which date back more than 2,000 years to China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang (read more on the exhibit at the Washington Post).

Back downtown at Monument Circle, challenge yourself to climb the 330 stairs to the observation deck—or fly up the easy way on an elevator—where you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views over the city.

For destinations that will keep you driving all summer, check out Chicago’s June travel feature.

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