Travel Tuesday: Visiting Indianapolis, Indiana

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis for a family gathering. Although the circumstances of our visit were somber, it gave me the opportunity to spend time in a city that I’d only previously seen blanketed in snow and sub-freezing temperatures. And I do NOT do well with cold weather!

I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with all that Indianapolis (a/k/a “Naptown”) has to offer, especially in their downtown area. I’ve always been attracted to the “downtown” areas of cities; even as a kid in Cleveland, if my parents told me that we needed to take a trip Downtown, I would get extremely excited. And as a fully-grown adult, I felt giddy inside when I was informed that we would be spending the day in downtown Indianapolis. Some things never change.

And let me tell you: their downtown did NOT disappoint. One of the most important factors to me when I’m assessing a new city is the “walkability” of their metropolitan area. (I know that “walkability” isn’t really a word, bear with me here!). Some cities, such as New York City,  are known for being pedestrian-friendly while others are much more spread out – Miami comes to mind. Indianapolis has everything you need for a lovely downtown experience right within reach, which is a major plus for city dwellers and visitors alike.

Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis

During our visit, we easily found parking at the garage at Circle City Center Mall, although there was street parking available as well. Parking garage rates were cheap to moderate: $1.50 for 3 hours or less, $15 for the entire day. Not too bad at all. I noticed later that much of the street parking was free on Saturday and Sundays; NICE! From that garage we would have been able to walk to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch the Colts play, the basketball arena, indoor ice-skating rink, shops, restaurants – wherever we wanted to go, we could get there on foot.

There is an abundance of shopping in the city, but we were focused on FOOD. We saw a few interesting-looking restaurants: Weber Grill (based on the Weber brand of barbeque grills), Palomino Restaurant and Bar and Tastings Wine Bar. We chose Rock Bottom Brewery, which is a chain restaurant that has no locations in the southern US (where we live). The menu was so enticing that it took me quite awhile to decide on my meal, but settled upon the Bourbon-Glazed Salmon:

SO. GOOD.

This food disappeared off of my plate. It was delicious. They also offered a sampler of their six specialty beers, all for $6. I’m not much a beer drinker so I didn’t order that, but I think that’s a pretty awesome deal.

The next day, we returned downtown to visit the Canal Walk, which I can’t say enough about. The portion of the Canal we visited is a 3 mile loop segment that starts downtown and heads South. We only walked about 1/2 mile before turning around, but had we kept going, we would’ve encountered the NCAA Hall of Champions (which we definitely need to visit, next time) and the Indiana State Museum. You can even access the Indianapolis Zoo, once the Canal connects with the White River. We saw people jogging, biking, walking their dogs and simply strolling on this beautiful September afternoon. We also saw people in paddleboats and gondolas – which could be a nice, romantic way to spend the day.

The portion we toured was the residential segment of the Canal, and I was very impressed with the real estate down there. There’s something about trendy, downtown living that speaks to me! We saw condos, apartments and single-family homes with some pretty cool Canal views; some with balconies overlooking the Canal. And the cost of living isn’t bad at ALL!

In all, this was a REALLY nice weekend in a VERY nice city. Many times when people are planning their next getaway, they look to the extravagance of the Mexican Riviera or the warm breezes of the Caribbean. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with planning that big vacation, they take time to plan. In the meantime, there are usually hidden treasures located just a short drive away from where you live, and I feel that Indianapolis would fall into that category. Sports nuts, art lovers and history buffs would all have something to gain from a visit to this Midwestern City.  Just go while it’s warm! (lol)

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