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Thread: Things to do in Indianapolis?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Things to do in Indianapolis?

    Well, it seems like everyone else is making a "things to do in..." thread, and since I'm going to Indinapolis this weekend, I could use some assistance from the Throbbing Brain as well.

    This will be the first time this Illinoisan will set foot in the great state of Indiana, so I'm absolutely clueless. I know Indianapolis is famous for auto racing, basketball, and has several historical sites. It's also the state capital. But other than that, I haven't really a clue what there is to do there and what else I need to do to get the Indianapolis experience.

    I will only be there for about 36 hours and I have the feeling that much of the weekend's itinerary will be dictated by the person I'm traveling with and the people I'm visiting and whose house I'm staying at. However, I feel there is the chance that I could be asked "well what do you want to do?" or times where I'll have some freedom to go explore the city.

    So, let 'em rip...what are your suggestions on things to do, museums to visit, parks to visit, neighborhoods to visit, places to eat at, etc? Also, what should I know about the city?...Bad Areas? Nice areas? Places that are good during the day but seedy at night? High-traffic areas to detour around? Downtown parking situation? Things that are very cheap/affordable?
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    Well, it seems like everyone else is making a "things to do in..." thread, and since I'm going to Indinapolis this weekend, I could use some assistance from the Throbbing Brain as well.

    This will be the first time this Illinoisan will set foot in the great state of Indiana, so I'm absolutely clueless. I know Indianapolis is famous for auto racing, basketball, and has several historical sites. It's also the state capital. But other than that, I haven't really a clue what there is to do there and what else I need to do to get the Indianapolis experience.

    I will only be there for about 36 hours and I have the feeling that much of the weekend's itinerary will be dictated by the person I'm traveling with and the people I'm visiting and whose house I'm staying at. However, I feel there is the chance that I could be asked "well what do you want to do?" or times where I'll have some freedom to go explore the city.

    So, let 'em rip...what are your suggestions on things to do, museums to visit, parks to visit, neighborhoods to visit, places to eat at, etc? Also, what should I know about the city?...Bad Areas? Nice areas? Places that are good during the day but seedy at night? High-traffic areas to detour around? Downtown parking situation? Things that are very cheap/affordable?
    Never been to Indianapolis and can't begin to offer any suggestions, but I'm somewhat surprised you've never been to Indiana. I don't even have a car and I've managed to make it there a few times since moving here a year and a half ago.

  3. #3
    Monument Circle is the center of the city: to the west is a great visual terminus with the state house. Circle Center Mall can be accessed via Circle Center. If you've seen one mall, then you've seen this one, but it is built using a number of now interconnected historic building in the heart of the City. Before the Civil War Soldier's and Sailor's monument was built, the site was to be the Governor's mansion, but the Governor's wife is reported to have nixed the idea: she didn't want to be hanging her laundry out to dry in the middle of the city (and state, for that matter). The state house has been beautifully restored -- worth a visit if it is open.

    North of Monument Circle is the city's central park, several blocks of lawn in the midst of downtown, including the World War Memorial. The park terminates in the Paul Cret designed Indianapolis Public Library.

    The White River Canal is located a little northwest of Monument Circle. This Sasaki, Inc., designed park is rather nice and is home to the USS Indianapolis (CV35) memorial. The park connects, I believe, to the Eitljorg Museum of Western Art -- a national leader in its collection.

    A little east and north of downtown is a fantastic little neighborhood of shotguns and cottages that are incredible. I can't remember the name of the neighborhood, but it is really cool and walkable. (Herron/Morton, maybe?)

    Meridian Street (Oh, Meridian Street, your are a callin' me, hey, hey, you, you), runs north from Monument Circle and contains a cool collection of late 19th/early 20th century residential architecture. A little farther north is one of Indy's coolest hoods called Broad Ripple. Lots of night life there.

    You'll have to be blind to miss the Lucas Oil Stadium. I'd have loved to have the brick supply contract for that sucker.

    I'll let others chime in/chastise me.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Ask folks about Rocky Ripple and Broad Ripple. Then ask about an acoustic group that plays on the street in the evenings.

    When you find them, talk to the percussion player (bald, glasses, short, round, happy fellow). He's a stitch! Been a buddy of mine fro more than twenty years...and his name really is Bill Bailey.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    First time ever in Indiana? You'll love the Borman Expressway (I-80/94) on your way to I-65 - Krazy Kaplan's fireworks stands are at every interchange (pretty much everything that burns and is fun and not physically addictive is illegal in Illinois whereas all of the 'good stuff' is perfectly OK in Indiana). The Borman is also one of the busiest truck routes in the World - four and five lanes in each direction and at least one out of every three vehicles on it is a big-rig truck. A real eye-opener is a drive on IN 912 (Cline Ave) through the steel mills and oil refineries, it runs between the Indiana Toll Road (I-90) just across the state line from Chicago and the Borman on the Gary-Hammond line. The Gary/Hammond/East Chicago/Whiting area is a fascinating place from a planning standpoint!

    In the Indianapolis area, in addition to the downtown stuff, I would also likely want to spend a few hours checking out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the west suburbs, I understand that they have a good museum.

    Mike

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Ah! I lived in Indianapolis my entire life! My parents still live there so I'm home during breaks and I definitely have to give it a lot more credit than I did growing up.

    I second EVERYTHING gedunker said. Broad Ripple is an awesome neighborhood and I go there every time I am home. If you do make it up there, be sure to grab a steamed bagel sandwich at "Ripple Bagel and Deli".

    Also, definitely check out the motor speedway. Even if you're not into racing (I definitely am not), it is a landmark you can't miss in Indianapolis. Just head west on 16th street from Meridian and you'll run right into it.

    The downtown area has come A LONG LONG LONG way from where it was just a couple years ago. Much more user friendly and people are actually out on the sidewalks.

    And a nice drive up and down Meridian Street will allow you to see some of the most beautiful historic homes in the city.

    And lastly, for one of the greatest views of the skyline, drive in from the west on Washington Street. You'll pass the zoo and the view is right after that. I'm sure it won't be the same as it was without the iconic RCA Dome (RIP), but definitely a great view if you want it.

    You'll have fun. Just remember it's not a Chicago or anything like that... if we want to experience Chicago we just drive there, we don't need one for ourselves :-P

    OH! And if you have time (I realize you are only there for 36 hours but hey...) there is the world's BEST German restaurant. It's called the Heidelberg Haus on Pendleton Pike just east of I-465. So if you have time, definitely worth a visit

    If you fancy roundabouts (traffic circles), drive north into Carmel (my actual hometown). There are plenty of roundabouts to spare. In fact, we are in the middle of sinking a road to replace stop light intersections with raised roundabout highway intersections. And downtown Carmel is absolutely delightful and a great example of an actual suburban downtown (not one just built so we have a downtown... but an actual downtown!).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cindyg86 View post
    You'll have fun. Just remember it's not a Chicago or anything like that).
    You are sooo right in sooo many ways. Nor is it comparable to Cincy. As former hoosier whose family whose family is from NW Indiana, the two are not comparable.

    I would second the Eiteljorge, which is a pretty cool museum. Circle center is ok. Broad Ripple is good. It's Indy's stab at cool. There are a couple of decent restaurants and take a drive on Meridian.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Downtown is fairly enjoyable. If you have the energy you can take the steps to the observation deck at the top of Monument Circle (or pay the $1 to ride the elevator), the observation deck gives a nice view of downtown. The Central Canal (just N.W. of downtown) is kinda nice, they should have the paddle boats out now. If you are planning on heading towards downtown on Saturday, I may recommend waiting until afternoon, since the Race for the Cure will be on the N.W. side of downtown. Parking is free at meters during the weekend downtown.

    If you like art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (38th and Michigan) has a decent collection of art, plus it's free. The gardens should be in bloom now as well, it is supposed to be 70 here tomorrow.

    I will give another vote for Broad Ripple, it is Indy's attempt at having independent businesses. If you like cajun food, you should check out Yat's (52nd and College), has been voted best cheap eat in the city for several years now.

    If you like motor racing, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located in Speedway, just west of downtown at 16th and Georgetown.

    The city is set up in a modified grid pattern. The named roads (Meridian, College, Michigan, etc.) are north/south roads, while the numbered streets (16th, 38th, etc.) are east/west routes.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I guess it sounds like downtown and Broad Ripple are definitely the places most worth checking out, along with the museums and the restaurants mentioned. Like I said, I don't know how much I'll be able to do, but I will jot these suggestions down and keep them in mind, in case I get some free time. Thanks again!
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    A little east and north of downtown is a fantastic little neighborhood of shotguns and cottages that are incredible. I can't remember the name of the neighborhood, but it is really cool and walkable. (Herron/Morton, maybe?)
    As a noted Hoosier once said: "What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is." Of course, it's the Lockerbie Square neighborhood, not Herron/Morton, which is a little north of downtown.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    the best thing to do in Indy is leave Indy.
    "Inside Joke"

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by Jakers View post
    the best thing to do in Indy is leave Indy.
    Off-topic:
    You've obviously never been to Gary. Sorry, Garyites.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    So I wound up having a really great time in Indianapolis over the weekend. Really only had Saturday to explore the city, but I was able to cram a lot in. It was a beautiful day...sunny and temps in the low-mid 70s. Went to Massachussets Avenue and visited an assortment of gift shops there. Went downtown, saw the obelisk and fountain. Went to the Indiana War Memorial and Musuem which was very interesting...they had awesome exhibits from every war from the Revoluntionary War all the way up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then went to the Circle area which was pretty awesome...love the brick-paved streets. Saw the Soliders & Sailors Monument, briefly went through Circle Centre Mall. Stopped at a corner Starbucks. The whole downtown area was very urban and pedestrian friendly. Very nice-looking. Lots of activity. Downtown Indy definitely exceeded my expectations. Wasn't able to stop at the State Capitol or the Eiteljorge Museum, but hey, there's always next time. Lucas Oil Stadium looked pretty snazzy...heard gripes from my friends though about them having to pay for it through taxes.

    Drove up Meridian Street and saw the historic homes, took a driving tour of Butler University, and then briefly visited Broad Ripple, which was a pretty cool area. More raw than I expected, but it was all good. Stopped in a record store, but unfortunately a band was playing inside and all the people who gathered to watch were blocking the vinyl albums I wanted to look through. Oh well...

    Drove past the Art Musuem but we didn't have enough time to stop in. Also didn't have enough time to check out the Speedway. Headed to a suburban area on the southside (I think it was in Greenwood) to eat at this restaurant for dinner. Then we just chilled at my friends' home the rest of the evening. We headed to this megachurch the next morning, which isn't really my cup of tea, but an interesting experience nonetheless. We drove home in the afternoon.

    One thing I was surprised is how friendly everybody seems down there and the other thing is how suburban/rural much of the city seems. Even though a lot of places are in Indianapolis city limits or Marion County or whatever, a lot of it is suburban and exurban development. But it was pretty cool.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    I'm glad you had a great time! The downtown area is definitely much better than it was when I was going up.

    And yes, a lot of the city does seem suburban. The main reason for that is because the city is the entire county. Indianapolis = Marion County. But anyways.

    Again, glad you had a great time. It was a great place for me to grow up and I'm always excited when people go visit. It definitely gets a bad rap, I think... as being boring and whatnot. But it has come a long way in the past decade or so. And it doesn't hurt to have Super Bowl champs and the host for 2012 game. The plans for what they are going to do to downtown during that time is amazing.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Glad you enjoyed your time in Indy, IP. The weather was amazing on Saturday. I like the Indy area, but it certainly does get a bad rap. My biggest complaint is the lack of independent businesses. Even in the one year I have been here, the City has tried to make some great strides in improving some of the neighborhoods. Hopefully the 2012 Super Bowl will inspire more improvements.

    I will agree with you, people in Indy are pretty nice! Glad you enjoyed your trip, hope you will visit Indianapolis again.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Midwestern friendliness

    or perhaps it's Larger Urban Area (where one's personal defenses are up).

    On one of my first days here I had on a T-shirt commemorating the fact that my mama attended LSU (medical school, class of '49). Folks assumed that I was from out of town (I was, but not from NOLA). Over and over I heard, "welcome to GR."

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