So, What's There to Do in Indianapolis

I’m going to be at the Indianapolis convention center in late June for a few days. I won’t have much time outside of the event I’m attending, but I would like to see some of the city.

But I have no earthly clue what there is to see or do in Indianapolis! So help me out, please.

I like exploring unfamiliar cities more than I like traditional “sightseeing,” but I’m happy to sightsee. Or ideally, combine the two. I like to try to get a sense of what a city is like or gain a better understanding of its history.

As background–I’ve never really been to the Midwest, except for Chicago. I did drive from Pittsburgh to Chicago, so I’ve been through Indiana, but since I stayed on the interstate it doesn’t really count. I’m pretty much a total ignoramus about things midwestern.

I’m flying in and won’t have a car. I’m staying at a hotel connected to the convention center and the adjoining mall.

Thanks in advance for your help. I’m very much looking forward to visiting.

I was in Berlin a few years ago, and saw an amazing clock in the atrium of a shopping mall. There was a long pendulum, and for each swing a little water would be released into a glass tube. And for all the various bends, siphons and bulbs in the piping, you could tell what time it was.

I did a web search on the artist (for lack of a better term) and found that he made a similar clock for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

If that’s something you would find interesting, that may be the only place you’ll ever see it.

The Children’s Museum is one of the best in the world… I like it but then again I’ve got kids. Let us know your likes and interests and we can narrow it down a bit.

The mall you are connected to is a nice mall in the heart of downtown, but it is still a mall. The weather should be great in June and the downtown area is very safe to walk around. There is the canal walk which is nice, and I would also recommend the White River Park area. There is a nice zoo, enclosed gardens, the Eidlejorg (sp?) museum of western art (think Remingtons and native American art), the Indiana State Museum, and the NCAA hall of fame and museum all in the general area.

There are Dopers here who are more local to the downtown area than I am and I’m sure they will be along shortly. There is also a very nice Minor League Baseball stadium very close to where you will be.

A couple of other quick traditional Indy experiences. For dinner you should go to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. Order the Shrimp Cocktail… not an option, just do it (easy on the cocktail sauce for your first bite). This is best if on an expense account… it has been around since 1902 and is were any celeb who comes to town gets taken to. If there is a big convention in town though make reservations early.

Afterward, head over to the Slippery Noodle for Blues. About 50 years older than St. Elmo’s.

Both are an easy walk from the convention center.

Awesome suggestions! Thanks. Just the kind of thing I was looking for.

As far as “likes and interests,” well, I like lots of different stuff. The main thing that I’m looking for is “stuff that’s unique to Indianapolis” or “just plain fun.” Everything suggested here so far sounds great.

If you’re into racing, the Indy 500 museum at the Speedway is worth a look, though since you don’t have a car it might be kind of tough to get out there.
Downtown, the State Capitol is a beautiful building and is definitely worth at least a walk through. Monument Circle is nice and if you have time go up into the monument. There’s a little observation deck there. It may be free, but I can’t remember for sure. If they do charge, it’ll just be a small fee.

I visited a friend in Indianapolis a couple years ago and we did a tour of the capitol building which was pretty interesting.

All very good suggestions here. I think it’d be worth it to get a cab and go to the Indy 500 museum - it’s definitely unique to Indy.

Someone mentioned the water clock at the Children’s Museum, but didn’t mention that there’s a giant Dave Chihuly glass sculpture there as well. Fireworks. There’s a bus line from downtown up to the museum. $1.75/one-way.

For food and drinks, the aforementioned St. Elmo’s and the Slippery Noodle (oldest bar in Indiana!) are the correct recommendations. There are plenty of other food options in the area, but those are the traditional “musts”. For breakfast, both Cafe Patachou (right downtown a block away from the convention center) and City Cafe ( a few blocks northeast at Vermont & Pennsylvania) are great (call for hours).

Here’s the Indianapolis Indians’ June schedule. Looks like there’s two weekend homestands. Great stadium, well worth it if you have 3 hours to burn.

I was also going to mention something I always see mentioned in newspapers and magazines in the area as a good attraction - the Indiana Medical History Museum. All the articles always mention how creepy it is (brains in formaldahyde, former insane asylum), but the website seems kind of tame.

Since you’re strapped for time, I would limit your explorations to downtown. There’s some neat neighborhoods and things to see outside of the core, but unfortunately, Indianapolis has a pretty dismal public transportation system. Still, there is plenty to see and do downtown.

IMHO, Indianapolis has one of the best downtowns in the country. It’s pretty small and almost everything is in walking distance. By then the weather should be quite nice, so I would recommend a walk on the Central Canal. There’s plenty of attractions on the Canal: the NCAA Hall of Champions, Indiana State Museum, White River State Park, just to name a few. Plus, it is close by to Victory Field, the Indianapolis Zoo, and the Capitol building.

Definitely check out Monument Circle, which is the focal point of the city. To me, it’s one of the most European public spaces in the country (a traffic circle with an ornate monument and beautiful surrounding buildings). The Monument has an observation deck, which was recently renovated. I have not been up there since they reopened it.

Just north of the Circle is War Memorial Plaza, which is the closest thing that we have to a Central Park. It consists of a variety of plazas and green space, including the Indiana War Memorial (a free museum which is quite nice) and the Central Library.

As for restaurants and shopping, the touristy stores and restaurants are going to be located around Circle Centre Mall and the Convention Center. However, St. Elmo’s is located in this area, and I would seconded that suggestion. If you want something more local and artsy, check out Massachusetts Avenue, which is a few blocks from the War Memorial area. If you want some good, cheap food, I’d suggest Yats. You can get a plate of Cajun food (and it’s plenty) for around five bucks.

Want me to call up my uncles and see if they want to show you around and maybe have a beer? My grandpa needs some excercise now and then anyway and he loves steak! :smiley:

Come into my Target!
No…it’s a ways away and you don’t have a car.

I’ll add one more really touristy thing, but I’ve lived within an hour for 46 of my 48 years and had fun doing it… there are carriage rides and the drivers are a lot of fun from my experience. I learned some things I didn’t know about the downtown area and it is nice to “clop” around the landmarks (horse drawn carriages). The downtown area looks really nice at night.

The speedway is definitely the definition of the town, but it isn’t very close to where you are (great museum though if you like racing). Monument Circle is where I’ve been told that if you had to meet someone in Indiana and weren’t given a location is where most people would show up.

Munch I’ve never heard of that medical museum… another thing on my to do list.

Oh, and if you and your group are looking for something to do in the evening, I highly recommend Duckpin Bowling.

Fountain Square is another great little area. It’ll be a cab ride about 2 miles southeast of the city, but worth it. There are a few little casual bars, some excellent restaurants (Santorini’s is great greek food, Smokehouse is decent BBQ (for Indiana), Deano’s Vino is a nice little bar, and Siam Square is one of the better thai restaurants in town. But duckpin bowling is unique - it’s bowling, but the pins are really tiny (they look sorta duck-shaped), the balls are slightly bigger than a softball and have no finger holes, and you get 3 throws. It’s very difficult, but a lot of fun.

I love the Children’s Museum but they have had problems with dinosaur infestations in the past.

I’m not sure if they got that taken care of or not.

I work downtown, and I can’t think of anything else beyond what has been suggested. However, if you’d like to do lunch one day, I’d be happy to entertain you.

Make that Indiana and you have to try a Tenderloin Sandwich. I’ll let someone else point you to the best place in the downtown area to get one (this could spark a small war but we’ll find you someplace)

Not sure if it will be open in June, but the Biergarten at the Rathskeller is another fun place. Especially if Polka Boy is playing. May need a cab to get here but not too far. If you like German food, historic buildings, and beer this is the place to go.

Sorry, I’ll stop responding to my own posts but here is the Polka Boy site with a quick video (most shot at the Biergarten). I saw these guys the very first time they played (informally at a friends house on the white river). I was invited to join them since I used to play trumpet and that was good enough for them. Missed opportunities…

Broad Ripple is a great little hippy shopping area, but a bit out of your way.

Downtown I would recommend a walk through all levels of the Circle Centre Mall…it may be a mall, but there are some neat things about it. And the top floor has video games!

I would also recommend the Canal Walk.

I’d love to. Maybe Wednesday the 23rd or Thursday the 24th.

Which of you folks actually live in or close to Indianapolis? Are there enough of us to have a mini-Dopefest?

More from me later…