Weekend in Indianapolis

Plan a weekend visit to Indianapolis three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.

BUDGET

Getting there: Frequent one-way, midweek sale rates (10-day advance) start from $59 to $142; nonstop AirTran or Delta.

Stay: The downtown SpringHill Suites, located on a seven-acre site overlooking White River State Park, features new spacious suites with sitting areas. Guests enjoy complimentary breakfast buffet, Wi-Fi and underground parking garage ($23 daily). On-site is an indoor pool and fitness center. Weekend rates from $129.95; from $139.95 starting in March; 601 W. Washington St., 317-972-7293, www.iyi.org/springhill.

Eat: Take a complimentary guided 20-minute tour of the magnificent Scottish Rite Cathedral (10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays and third Saturday of each month). Built between 1927 and 1929, the cathedral is the largest Masonic building and one of the finest example of neo-Gothic architecture in the States. Stop into the Double Eagle Cafe (11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays-Fridays) for a pleasing lunch. Lunch specials are $6-$7; $5 for a half sandwich and salad; 650 N. Meridian St., 317-917-1463, www.aasr-indy.org.

Experience: The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is one of only two museums east of the Mississippi to showcase Native American Indian and Western art, culture and history; $8 adults, $5 students/children 5-17; 500 W. Washington St., 317-636-9378, www.eiteljorg.org. Northwest of downtown and near to the Crown Hill Cemetery (worth a visit; $5 car tour) is the Indianapolis Museum of Art with a collection of more than 54,000 works, including African, American, Asian, and European pieces. Admission to the museum, Lilly House and 100 Acres Sculpture, Art & Nature Park is free; 4000 N. Michigan Road, 317-920-2660, www.imamuseum.org.

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MODERATE

Getting there: Rates start from $183 each way; 21-day advance purchase; nonstop AirTran or Delta (Delta requires a Saturday night minimum stay; 30-day maximum).

Stay: The new towering JW Marriott (33 floors with more than 1,000 guest rooms) is steps from the Indianapolis Zoo, many museums, shops and restaurants. Winter rates range from $159-$174; $194 with breakfast and from $259 for executive lounge access; 10 S. West St., 317-860-5800, www.jwindy.com.

Eat: Come as you are to Mesh -- a neighborhood hot spot fusing classic dishes with a bit of soul. Starters range from $7-14 and mains (duck, short ribs, Amish chicken) from $14-$29. A $2 bar menu attracts patrons from 3-6 p.m. and at late night; 725 Massachusetts Ave., 317-955-9600, www.meshonmass.com.

Experience: The Indianapolis Zoo is also home to an aquarium and White River Gardens. Located in the White River State Park, the zoo plays a large role in worldwide animal conservation and research. Adult admission $9.50; $7.50 seniors/youths. Winter hours are noon-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays; closed Mondays, Tuesdays through Dec. 23; open Monday-Friday Dec. 26-30 (closed Dec. 31; Jan. 1); 1200 W. Washington St., 317-630-2001, www.indyzoo.com.

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SPLURGE

Getting there: One-way, walk-up coach class rates from $222; nonstop AirTran or Delta (Delta requires a Saturday night minimum stay; 30-day maximum).

Stay: The sophisticated Conrad Indianapolis features a new wellness center with a spa and salon, a fitness center, pool and two top restaurants. Nightly winter rates from $199-$259; from $249-$309 with full breakfast. An indoor sky-bridge connects the hotel to a mall and the Artsgarden, a seven-story-tall glass enclosed structure offering more than 300 free performances and exhibits each year (www.indyarts.org); 50 W. Washington St., 317-713-5000, www.conradindianapolis.com.

Eat: The Capital Grille is classically clubby with stuffed game heads, deco chandeliers and high-end cocktails. But come for the dry aged steaks (Porcini Rubbed Delmonico with 12-Year Aged Balsamic, $43), seafood and for a choice of more than 5,000 bottles of wine. Starters $12-$18; mains $32-$49; 40 W. Washington St., inside the Conrad Hilton, 317-423-8790, www.thecapitalgrille.com.

Experience: The ultimate in Indy is the Racing Experience Driving Program at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drive or ride the historic 2.5-mile course for three laps ($499 with instruction) or drive three laps followed by riding two laps ($599). The IZOD IndyCar Series program operates May-October with the 2012 schedule to be released in January; 1-888-357-5002, www.indyracingexperience.com.

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Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.