The Best Indianapolis Tips From Our Readers
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Bars and Restaurants
See, this kind of bar, described by MyOpinion317 , wouldn't be out of place in Brooklyn:
The White Rabbit is fun for Real Talk (clear out tables, bring in great DJs, dance like a weirdo), the Talent Show (professional comedians, dancers, animal handlers do skits while pretending that it's an amateur talent show), and the Drunk Spelling Bee, and the bar in general has just a really positive vibe.
Get dinner and a magic show, says coldgold830 :
There is an awesome Mexican restaurant called El Arado Mexican Grill in the 1000 block of Virginia Avenue with a man inside who will come to your table and do magic tricks for you if you would like.
Billy knows a fun burger joint:
Kumas Corner is by far the best burgers you will find in Indianapolis. They are located in Fountain Square and originated out of Chicago. They also have one of the best beer selections you can find. All of the burgers are unique and named after heavy metal bands. Their worst burger is still better than the best burger anywhere else.
Willy Pilgrim suggests you stake out a brunch table at the city's best-known restaurant:
At least 15 people in this thread will mention Milktooth, by far Indianapolis's most nationally recognized restaurant (Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and many others have praised chef Jonathan Brooks' incredibly interesting-yet-accessible brunch stylings) and the leader of the city's current food renaissance.
The place is incredibly busy on the weekends, but here's a hack for you: Although it doesn't start serving proper brunch until 9 a.m., pastries and coffee are available starting at 7 a.m. Avoid the long weekend wait by showing up between 7 and 8 a.m. and grabbing a seat, having some coffee, and reading the news (or whatever pastime floats your boat) until servie starts at 9.
Reader ecf lists 21 breweries (which can even bypass the blue laws and sell on Sunday), including New Day Meadery, Blind Owl, and Broad Ripple Brewpub.
LesterTheSmith lists restaurants on Mass Ave:
ThaiTanium (love that name) on Mass Ave has great offerings with nice sized portions. Their 5 0r 6 spice grades let you specify the heat level. I go there too much, per my wallet and waist.
The Chatterbox on Mass Ave has excellent jazz pretty much every night and the staff is charismatic.
I also dig the soul food at The Eagle, although they call it "Southern Comfort Food". That mac and cheese has soul, for real, and they serve the chicken with this honey-hot sauce combo that made one woman at our table start singing, it was so good.
Also on Mass Ave, there is a sort of speak easy (no password or secret knock required) at a pizza place called Goodfellas. They have some interesting drinks and the pizza is crazy good.
If you like great Mexican, Carniceria Guanajuato has excellent food and a Mariachi band.
IThinkHamNoblockedme has more restaurant recs:
Indy was voted one of the most underrated food
citiesin the US recently. A few favorites of mine of the high end variety...Tinker Street, Union 50, Blue Beard and The Meridian. Pizza? Jockamo's, Puccinis, Napolese or Bazbeaux. Tacos? Revolucion or Bakersfied (note: Bakersfield is a Cincy joint) Burgers? Bru Burger or Bub's if you find yourself up north. Brunch? Good Morning Mamas, Milktooth and Patachou. Quick Eats? Yats or 20 Tap. You really can't go wrong with food if you keep it local.
SORJ knows good coffee:
Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company in North Square/Fountain Square; My favorite coffee in the country, I routinely bring back pounds of their house blend to enjoy at home.
Most of Indianapolis's best sites, several readers say, are within one walkable area. Papa Van Twee lists a few:
I've seen the downtown grow a lot, and whether it is due to the Colts or the embracing of all sports (snagging the NCAA HQ from KC for example) downtown has a lot going on. Go to the west, you hit the Indiana State Museum, Eiteljorg Museum, and The NCAA Hall of Champions, with a White River Trail bridge over to the Indy Zoo and Botanical Garden, and Victory Field for the Triple A Indians.
Kevin Greenlee suggests all-you-can-eat arcade games:
Out on the east side, at a zombie mall, you will find Boss Battle Games. It's an old fashioned arcade where you can play all the games you want, $5.00 for an hour or $10.00 for all day. It is a fun place to spend an hour or two and the people I've taken there have enjoyed it more than they expected.
He also suggests the symphony:
One of the few things about Indianapolis that are on par with other cities is our orchestra. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is incredible and well worth a visit.
LochelB gives you an itinerary:
A very solid afternoon evening for a couple with children, or just a couple for that matter, would be a trip to Indianapolis Zoo followed with a walk downtown for a quick dinner. After finishing your visit to the Zoo, you can leave your car parked in the zoo parking lot, and take a nice walk across the White River and into White River State Park and the end of the canal. Very pretty area with lots of art installations and gardens. Continue on and you will very quickly be walking past the Indiana State House and Circle Center Mall Downtown. Pick a place for dinner, and possibly a coffee or hot chocolote from the circle to finish the night. In the summer you can add in an Indianapolis, Indians baseball game at Victory Field right off of White River State park also!
Kevin Fields suggests you get out of town in a good way:
Possibly one of the best secrets - and rapidly vanishing one - is the farming community in Marion County. From downtown Indianapolis drive southwest down Hanna Ave. during the summer and within minutes you'll be driving past fields of vegetables, melons and other crops melding into urban and suburban subdivisions. Many farms are still operating and have roadside stands selling fresh produce.
Kevin also suggests a park in town:
While Eagle Creek Park is definitely stunning, I love Garfield Park even more. The conservatory and sunken gardens are a significant piece of Indianapolis' historical heritage. A car or bike ride up Pleasant Run is also a nice experience.
And 19thCenturyRadical says drive out to Franklin:
Not in Indianapolis proper, but just south in Franklin, is the Artcraft Theater, which does revivals every week, has a live show and drawings before the movie, and always has a cartoon first. Free refills on popcorn. Franklin itself is worth a trip: great courthouse, cool downtown, a really excellent tattoo shop, Franklin College (the first college in Indiana to admit women), and a couple of superb B&Bs. 15 miles south of 465 on I-65.
Try the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, which anniezard says is the largest children's museum in the world:
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the world's largest children's museum. It's got a dinosaur exhibit, the world's largest water clock, a giant column that's a Chihuly sculpture, a planetarium, a 100-year-old carousel, and tons of exhibits. It's got an annual haunted house and lots of year-round events. The whole museum is built on interactive exhibits- there's not a lot that kids can't touch or explore themselves. It's also got ramps instead of staircases for the most part (along with elevators, of course) so it's incredibly accessible for everyone.
Jenn lists some other cool-sounding museums:
Indiana Medical History Museum has the largest surviving pathology laboratory. Never been in jail? You can take a drive to Crawfordsville, IN and lock yourself in the only operational rotary jail in the world at the Rotary Jail Museum. We even have a Museum of Psychphonics on the second floor of the G.C. Murphy Building in Fountain Square.
This might not be for everyone, but LiFox has a quirky hobby:
Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the library are usually pretty well filled with good information. The library even had actors for the people just before the founding of Indiana. They are also racist (but roleplay as such). Also fun for roleplayers. Please go roleplay with them. My friend went one time and started asking some really difficult questions and their eyes just lit up. They really seem to enjoy it.
SORJ talks up the state fair:
Indiana State Fair which takes place Late July through Early August; this is the most fun you can have in Indy, incredible set up, bigger than any fair you've been to, giant buildings showing off animals, produce, and the kitschiest part being the Blue Ribbon Pavilion where they give out awards for everything from best oatmeal cookie to best handmade wool dress. Over 150 Acres of fun, best ice cream coming from fresh milk taken from the cows on site, fried delicacies like Elephant Ears, and the best corn you'll ever have. A must go.
If you're into racing, Chris Collingsworth Says suggests attractions beyond the main speedway:
There are plenty of racing attractions around Indy that aren't IMS. Indianapolis Raceway Park, in nearby Clermont, hosts NHRA drag racing and USAC racing of various types. The mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds is a historic racing venue, and there is Indiana Sprint Week and Indiana Midget Week during the year that hit a variety of tracks around Indy.
Robotech_Master lists Indiana's "really weird blue laws," including these:
No alcohol sales on Sunday. Only liquor stores are allowed to sell chilled beer. Grocery stores and gas stations have to carry it at room temperature.
On the other hand, says okaysothisiswhereIputmyuserna :
Best hidden fact: No open container law for walking around in public. Enjoy a beer or a cocktail while walking around the cultural trail.
There are a number of buildings in downtown Indianapolis that are connected by skywalk, so if you find yourself going to a conference or to a game in downtown Indianapolis and would like to explore the entire skywalk, it connects to the circle center mall, the convention center, and a number of parking garage is and hotels.
A downtown parking tip from tuxed0bird :
park at mall parking. Super cheap compared to other cities and the mall will connect you to much of downtown so that you'll only have to walk a few blocks outside to get to where you are going. Does not apply if there is a huge convention or game happening. In which case, avoid downtown and check out the other awesome parts of Indy until the event is over. If you don't have a car, I find uber cheaper than paying for one of the cool car rentals you see around the city.
says you should skip the May crush if you're not a big
Memorial Day weekend - unless you are in town 1. specifically for the Indy 500, and/or 2. can't get out of town, don't come here at that time. In fact, unless you have a reason and like racing, avoid the city in May. Granted, I love the 500 and miss it terribly, but if this isn't your thing, then don't sit in traffic for hours, don't attempt to get a hotel room at less than exorbitant rates, and don't bitch at the residents if you do.
- "ANY visitor to Indy really should experience the wonderful chaos of Saraga International Grocery."- SirCletus
- "I would say duckpin bowling in Fountain Square."- TroWumph
- "Tour all the civil war monuments; little appreciated fact that (on the Union side) more soldiers died from Indiana than any other state."- The Swartz
- "Get some Long's Donuts, and some St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail."- BeeDeeB
- "The Rathskeller is an amazing restaurant. Tons of German beer, and the hottest/best mustard I've ever had."- OminousCorn
This was just a sampling of the 140+ comments on the original post . If you have any intention of going to Indianapolis, or even if you've lived there for years, you'll find more great stuff to do in that thread. And come back next week when we move to the west coast.
Quotes have been edited for clarity.
Each Monday on Hack Your City, we ask readers for your best tips on a city: driving tips, restaurant recs, things to do, and any other advice for visitors and locals. Then on Thursday, we present the best comments. We're working our way around the U.S. and around the globe.