I have lived in Indiana my entire life and much like the rest of the world I have always considered it to be a boring place with nothing to do and most of all extremely conservative. I am personally a vegetarian who tries to eat vegan when possible and have considered Indiana my personal hell when it comes to eating. I spent a week in Seattle and wondered why Indiana couldn’t be more like that. With almost 60% of Indiana used for agriculture I was sure there would be nothing to do when I got my internship in Indy.
But have good news to all you travelers, after spending a three month internship in Indianapolis I have found it to be fun and full of good food choices, bike friendly and a wide variety of museums.
Above is a picture of downtown Indy with an urban garden taking advantage of the fertile soil in Indiana. We are obsessed with growing food!
Also, fun fact that I learned from one of my coworkers. Indy has a law that allows you to walk around the city with an open container. However I would not recommend this if you are completely hammered and in danger of getting a public intoxication (PI) but if you are walking on the Monon Trail with a beer in your hand for a casual stroll that is completely legal.
Where to eat
Broad Ripple is great area to go and try new restaurants and walk by specialty stores. One of my favorite restaurants is the Broad Ripple Brewing Company. Mainly because they have awesome items on the menu like Vegan Fish and Chips but they also have Schnitzel, a German cuisine on the menu, which one of my family members found to be amazing.
The restaurants in Indy are also very pet friendly and some of the restaurants allow you to bring your dog if you are sitting outside. Traveladvisor.com is a great place to check out if the restaurant is dog-friendly.
If you are looking for something quicker and local I would highly suggest eating at Yats. It is Cajun style food and has everything from authentic gumbo to gluten free and vegan options. I made it a point to eat there at least once a week. You know to help out a local business 😉 They also serve beer and wine at Yats if you are going there for lunch and want a quick beer. I have never had to wait longer than 5 minutes for my food to be done, and this is a great place to go if you have small children and need to get in and out of a restaurant fast.
It sounds a little shocking at first but Indiana has a high Mexican population which comes with many benefits, such as great Mexican restaurants. I have honestly tried Mexican food in other states and the only other state that has compared was Texas. I would look for Mom and Pop shops that look a little sketchy on the outside but I promise they will be great. I have been to several in the area and have nothing to complain about. I would just spend some time on google maps and type in Mexican or Tamale and see what you can find near you. Near where I worked we really enjoyed was Tamaleria Lupitas Tamale Shop.
Next I would recommend trying out some of the breweries that Indy has to offer. My favorite is New Day Meadery. A meadery is a mixture between wine and beer and it is wonderful. My favorite is the Blueberry mead but they also have hard ciders. You can go there and try the cider and meads for a $1 a taste. I will warn that the meads are a lot higher in alcohol than one might expect and I can usually get a buzz off one. So if you are the driver I would not suggest driving right after drinking two. The meadery also has some cheeses and small appetizers that you can try and is located in a good area call Fountain Square which has some nice restaurants. I would recommend renting a bike and riding around the area to Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave is what everyone calls it) to get a bite to eat.
If you are into breweries and local beer check out this website to see if you are coming a weekend when there is a brewery festival. There is one in the spring and in the summer. I have had coworkers go to it every year and they really enjoy the events.
Sunking Brewery is my boyfriend’s favorite brewing company and we usually go through a growler or two of that on the weekends. It is extremely cheap for the quality of beer that you are getting and the inner hippy in me loves the reusable container. I will however warn that on Friday this place is PACKED. I would either go early (when I went at 3:30pm on a Friday it was fine) or try to not go right at 5 o’clock when everyone else is trying to get their beer for the weekend. They have a deal on Fridays that growlers are $2 off. They do have six packs available for purchase if you are in the area and don’t want to buy a growler. Our favorite is the Wee Mac, but we are still trying out all the beers to find our favorite.
Things to do
Because Indiana is a very flat geographically the sunsets here are amazing. I have traveled and been to many other places and nothing compares to an Indiana sunset. When I lived in Georgia one of the things I missed the most was a good sunset.
If you are coming to Indiana for the first time and are coming with children you have to go to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. It is one of the best in nation and is day full of fun for children. I used to go there at least once a month when I was younger and I can still have very vivid memories of the museum because it was so amazing. One fun fact about my life is I have been to probably 100 museums and I am only 21. That is just the type of family of I grew up in and the Indianapolis Children’s Museums has my stamp of approval. If you have a dinosaurs loving child this there is an exhibit that simulates a storm with semi-life size dinos all around and interactive displays and cubbies to crawl in. Writing this I am thinking of what parent I can convince to let me go to the museum with them.
For me personally a good outdoor life is what I need to consider a city great quality and shockingly enough Indy has some of that to offer. There is a bike trail that was recently installed called the Cultural Trail. The trail runs through many of the restaurants that I described and you can actually get from New Day Meadery to Mass Ave using the Cultural Trail. If you don’t have bike you don’t have to worry because there are bike available for you rent. On the trail there are also pieces of artwork that add to the attractiveness of the trail. Indy has turned into a bike friendly place with more and more bike trails popping up all over the city. Parking is something a pain and traffic like any big city isn’t worth the frustration. Is another variation of bikes that you can rent near the Indiana Museum.
Connected to the Cultural Trail is the White River Trail which can be used for bikes, strollers or walking/running. There are two sides to the trail that run on either side of the river. If you are looking at the river and the Indiana Museum is behind you I would recommend going on the left hand side of the river. Below is a picture of the trail and my boyfriend and I found it to be quite beautiful. We ate at the Chilly Water Brewery and biked for there to the White River Trail via the Cultural Trail and it was a pleasant 7 mile bike ride round trip.
There is also a trail that runs through Broad Ripple called the Monon Trail that is stroller, walking, running or bike friendly. While you are walking on the trail you will pass local restaurants, ice cream parlors and shops of various types.
If you are coming to Indy during the summer it is worth the time to check out this website to see if there are any concerts going on at the canal. The canal during the summer has free concerts that are put on by local artists and are a great place to set up camp and listen and enjoy the company of whomever you came with. If this link happens to be broken type in Canal Concerts Indianapolis into google and that should get your there. I am not positive if they change the link every summer.
The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center is relatively new and has actors that make the history come alive at several of the exhibits. You walk into a room and an actor begins to pretend as if they are from that time period and explain the history. It was a very creative way to add character to the museum.
Also near the canal are the Eiteljorg Museum with many Native American displays and the Indiana History Museum. I went to both of these on field trips as kid. They are worth your time to stop. The NCAA Hall of Champions is also within walking distance. If you need to do some shopping or would like to eat at a Food Court the Circle Centre Mall is only 0.5 miles away.
Another good museum is the Kurt Vonnegut Museum. This is honestly still on my to-do list but I have heard from others who are book lovers that this is an awesome museum. I will update this blog after I go at the end of August, I have a friend who is the biggest fan I know of Vonnegut so it only seems right to wait for him to get back to go.
Where to stay
Shocking to me Indy has a hostel and actually comparably priced to the hostels that I stayed in when I was in Europe. It is located near Broad Ripple which is a great area to stay in and located near many of the bars. If I didn’t have family near Broad Ripple and a $10 Uber ride away I would probably actually stay here.
With that being said if you are from out of town or the country and have questions about Indy or would like to meet up for dinner feel free to leave a comment or message me for more information. I hope this guide helped to understand that there is more than corn in Indiana.