Last time we were in Indianapolis, we explored the Indianapolis Museum of Art and went to a concert in the Fountain Square neighborhood. We really liked both the museum and the neighborhood. On our way back to Chicago, we visited some friends who are planning to move to Indianapolis in a few months. We took a day and explored the city.
We started at Black Market, a great restaurant at the end of Mass Ave. The food was great and the waiter set the tone for the day. He gave us a crash course in Indianapolis history, geography, and culture. Thank you, Mr. Waiter. Your information was much appreciated and wildly helpful. Turns out that Mass Ave is one of the older, more established city neighborhoods. Fountain Square, we learned, was more artsy and young, and home to their sister restaurant, Siam Square, the only Thai place in the city limits.
Mass Ave Neighborhood
Indianapolis has a square layout with four diagonal streets radiating from the center. The Mass Ave neighborhood is located along the north-east diagonal. We stopped by the Art Bank, a cupcake bakery, and the oldest shoe store in America, Stout’s. The area is great, and it’s filled with great public art — a dancing LED woman, a mural of Kurt Vonnegut, a Care/Don’t Care crosswalk sign. The architecture is beautiful, especially the glazed white terracotta-clad old Coca-Cola building. It’s a great area for a stroll.
To the north, there are picturesque houses and cute, narrow streets. It reminded us of Old Town in Chicago.
Fountain Square is the neighborhood located along the south-east diagonal. There’s a serious art scene here with the Murphy Art Center and the Wheeler Art Community acting as its anchors. And Fountain Square is the home of White Rabbit Cabaret, Red Lion Grog House, and Radio Radio. Kinda a great neighborhood.
Indy Bike Path
A bike path runs through Indianapolis and connects the neighborhoods. It even runs downtown. In most spots, it’s separate from both the street and from the sidewalk. It’s amazing. I wish we had brought our bikes. I wish we owned bikes.
So, there’s a canal here too. And there are apartments along it. You can even rent a paddle boat. Venice of the Midwest, I say. Near the canal is the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. It’s even less of a library than the Henry Miller Library (no bathroom even), but it’s worth a stop. There’s a lot of Kurt V. art on display (including this one: *) and even one of his old typewriters.
I’m a big fan of downtown Indy. It’s home to Monument Circle, the geographic center of the city. Buildings along the circle are built curved to match the arc. It’s very cool. We grabbed a drink at Champps, but there has to be a better, more local-flavor option for those in the know. A few blocks from the Circle is a great tapas place, BARcelona. We ate dinner here before heading out of town. But we didn’t leave before stopping at Crown Liquors, one of the best liquor stores we’ve ever been to.
Honestly, Indianapolis is pretty great. I have an old co-worker who ditched Chicago and moved here. We have an old college buddy that fled New York to live here. Nobody that’s been here has anything bad to say about the place. It was the birth-place of Kurt Vonnegut. It has more monuments than any city in the US minus Washington DC. It’s a very pleasant city instead of being a painful city. It’s a solid place to be and has something for everyone. We’re looking forward to exploring it more.