It will surprise you with how much it has to offer and how eager its residents are to help you discover the best of their town. In short, a city with urban sophistication and Midwest charm.
I was there for a convention that I often wished would go away so I could savor more of the city.
Where to stayJW Marriott, world's largest, which is across the street from the Indiana Convention Center, Victory Field Baseball Park, White River State Park. Indiana State Museum and IMAX Theater, Eiteljorg Museum and the Visitors Center. It's a huge, well-appointed and located hotel with an attentive manager, but - Tip - you will walk a lot between your room and an exit. Nearby and also across from the Convention Center are the Marriott and Westin.
Another block away or so are Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Suites, Staybridge Suites and Crowne Plaza, all across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. home of the Colts.
Other downtown hotels include Hyatt Regency, Omni Severin, Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn, Canterbury, Embassy Suites, Contrad, Hilton Garden Inn, Sheraton, Hilton, Residence Inn by Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott.
Surprised to find so many? So was I.
What to see
|Walk, job, cycle or gondola at White River State Park.|
|Just one of the Indianapolis Zoo's many attractions.|
Tip: This will fill half a day so don't plan anything strenuous afterwards.
|NCAA fans come here.|
|Indiana State Museum|
|The Eiteljorg is a must see.|
Tip: There are steps here but it's well worth the effort to get in and around.
Indiana Roof Ballroom, since 1927 the downtown place to be for music and social events, is above the Indiana Repertory Theater. It's a remarkable space with a great dance floor.
|Who could resist a building that looks like this?|
|IMA has the first Love.|
Tip: Elevators are conveniently located.
Good SportsVictory Field, treat yourself to it. Small, well-equipped (good beer) with great sight-lines, it's a fun place.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway , is a must-see even if you aren't a race fan. It's huge. Not just the track, which is darned impressive, but the complex, from the museum to the golf course (!). Yes, golf course. Take a facilities tour because otherwise you won't believe that the track alone is so big that Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Coliseum and Vatican City all can fit inside the oval.i
Hard to imagine what it must be like on race days, but you can get the racing experience, riding along with a professional driver on the actual track. I did a pace car ride along with Indy driver Martin Plowman. Fast and fun, fun, fun, although hell on hairdos.
A few race day facts:
• 15,000 gallons of beer are consumed and 5 tons of hamburger
• 4,900 tires are used
• enough gas for the 3-MPG race cars.
• The Indy 500 is the world's largest single-day sporting event.
Tip: It's big but it's flat with elevators to the higher spots.
Where to eatAttending a convention where business is done at meals doesn't leave many opportunities for dinging out but I did manage to try two very different spots in the restaurant-filled Broad Ripple district.
|Chef Valerie of Zest.|
Zest is one you might have heard of thanks to Guy Fieri's popular Food Network "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" show. Fun, quirky and casual, with a dog-friendly patio, it's the labor of love of Executive Chef/Partner Valerie Vanderpool. Think uptown versions of down-home favorite foods. If her halibut is on the menu, I can attest it's excellent. Warning: Portions are huge.
|Whatever is served at Recess will be creative and fresh.|
|Slippery Noodle Inn has live blues seven nights a week.|
The Slippery Noodle Inn downtown is not only the oldest bar in Indiana (1850), according to Rolling Stone magazine and a host of pals, it's one of the nation's top blues bars.