Indy is Indie

Indy is Indie

Living in Chicago, Indiana is literally just a short drive away. Like really, a 15-20 minute drive, and Indianapolis– only two hours.

Despite this, I had never been.

I honestly never gave that much thought to Indianapolis, I mean, why would I when Chicago is our country’s third largest city? I thought we had everything I could want here.

But when Visit Indy invited us to experience Indianapolis through means of art, culture and food… how could I say no to that??

As we told all our friends we’d be away for the weekend in Indy, we continually were met with a resounding why?

Why visit Indy? Well, we might not have known at the time, but there are so many good reasons to visit the Circle City! We came back totally in shock of how cool our nearby neighbor truly is, raving about it to all of our friends.

Now I’ve never been to Portland (yet) but Indy reminds me of exactly how I envision Portland to be.

You see, Indy is indie.

From their food

I was surprised by how innovative Indy’s food scene was. I’m pretty sure I could visit for weeks and do nothing but eat. As we went about our itinerary we became more and more excited with every new restaurant we stopped at– that’s how good the food was.

From hipster brunch locations to posh fine dining and trendy local markets, we sampled our way around some of the city’s best eats.

Indianapolis - Oct 2014  Indianapolis - Oct 2014

Indianapolis - Oct 2014

From their art scene

I’ll be one of the first to admit that I didn’t exactly think of Indianapolis as an art city– but boy, I was wrong.

We loved running into street art all across the city (my favorites were along the Cultural Trail on the canal and along Mass Ave.), which is something we kind of lack in most parts of Chicago. Restaurants and bars all took pride in their designs, and the city also boasts an “art hotel” called The Alexander.

Plus, let’s not forget about their awesome art museum.

Indianapolis - Oct 2014

Indianapolis - Oct 2014

 

Indianapolis - Oct 2014  Indianapolis - Oct 2014

From their ride share programs

Now Chicago has their famous Divvy bike share program, but let’s face it, most US cities simple do not have this. The program is still considered fairly new in Chicago, so I was really surprised to see that Indy has already adopted their own bike share program.

Unfortunately our time in Indy was really rainy, but I’d love to go back to explore the Cultural Trail via bike.

Indianapolis - Oct 2014  Indianapolis - Oct 2014

To their books

Home to Kurt Vonnegut, it wasn’t all that surprising that Indy had a cool literary scene. But what’s really cool, is that they take it to another level with the independent Indy Reads Books shop on Mass Ave.

While this may look like your ordinary bookstore– I can assure you it’s not.

Selling both new and used books, their revenue goes toward advancing adult literacy in central Indiana through their foundation Indy Reads. This book store relies heavily on the community coming together to donate books, as well as to work the shop on a  volunteer basis. How cool is that?

Indianapolis - Oct 2014  Indianapolis - Oct 2014

And to their handmade shops

If there was one store I fell in love with, it was Homespun: Modern Handmade. Located, again, on Mass Ave. (do you see a trend here?), this shop is filled with awesome handmade and locally-produced goods. Browsing through it, I felt like Etsy had come to life in the form of a brick and mortar.

The people behind Homespun actually care about the quality of the materials and design, as well as fostering their relationships with the product makers. It seemed whenever I asked a question about a piece they were selling, they could tell me a whole story about the object and the person who crafted it.

This is honestly the perfect place to grab all your souvenirs, and it made me feel good supporting such a business.

Indianapolis - Oct 2014  Indianapolis - Oct 2014

Indianapolis - Oct 2014

Indianapolis - Oct 2014

Indianapolis - Oct 2014

Indianapolis - Oct 2014  Indianapolis - Oct 2014

Indianapolis - Oct 2014

I think that last photo sums it up pretty nicely– Keep Indy Indie.

Now knowing how cool Indianapolis really is, I know there’ll be many more visits in our future!

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Have you been to Indianapolis before? What are your thoughts on the city?

A huge, huge thank you to the lovelies over at Visit Indy for arranging our trip and opening our eyes to our hipster neighbor! Sorry it took us 25 years to finally visit. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.
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97 Comments

  1. March 18, 2015 / 7:53 pm

    I have never been. I have made it on my list of have to visits this summer.

  2. March 18, 2015 / 1:26 am

    oh wow indy looks like an awesome place to visit, when i come to the states for business i hope to visit as well one day. Love the handmade shops and the art is surprisingly good to look at.

    • Beth Williams
      March 18, 2015 / 10:16 am

      I hope you get the chance to visit all different cities while you’re in the US– not just our most visited NYC and LA ;)

  3. March 17, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    Thanks for the write-up about Indy! I am the owner of Homespun and I really appreciate the kind words and the coverage. So, so glad you enjoyed your trip to our city and our shop. Hopefully you will be able to make it back soon and explore further. If you need more recommendations of places to visit, we are always happy to make suggestions!

    • Beth Williams
      March 18, 2015 / 10:10 am

      Thank you so much for your comment Amanda! The quality behind Homespun and the knowledge of your staff just blew me away. I can’t wait to return to Indy, and I’ll def take you up on suggestions when I do! :)

  4. March 15, 2015 / 9:54 pm

    Food and art look amazing! Are those hanging lanterns chandeliers? I would want to see more of the crafts in the handmade shop. This is the perfect place to buy souvenirs for loved ones back at home. The items will also be great as displays as they look captivating!

    • Beth Williams
      March 17, 2015 / 8:25 am

      There was just so much to take in! Such an artsy city!

  5. March 15, 2015 / 8:47 am

    If we ever head over this way I need to add this location to our list for the literary scene alone.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:33 pm

      You should! It was great.

  6. March 14, 2015 / 11:52 pm

    I went to Indianapolis several times when I was in college. I feel like I still didn’t see enough of the city. Your post is making me want to make a trip the next time I’m in the midwest.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:33 pm

      You should! I bet the city has changed a ton since you were last there.

  7. March 14, 2015 / 9:55 am

    I have never been to Indiana, looks like a place to visit. The bookstore does look like a nice place to visit.

    • Beth Williams
      March 17, 2015 / 8:25 am

      The bookstore was a lot of fun! Would love to spend more time there.

  8. March 14, 2015 / 8:27 am

    Wow! I would totally love to visit this place! What an amazing place to shop! :) It’s so fun finding places like this that you can completely escape to – even for just a few minutes. Great post!

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:33 pm

      Indeed! It was the perfect weekend getaway :)

  9. Natalie
    March 13, 2015 / 8:16 pm

    Can’t forget their football! haha I’ve never been there, but have always wanted to. I LOVE the record bird art, that’s awesome. I’m an arty person, I love looking at art like that, art museum are awesome! I also happen to be a huge fan of checking out small handmade shops when I’m visiting places. I love finding awesome little nic-nacks!

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:32 pm

      Are they big on football? Probably! I’m not a big sports fan, so I really have no idea. :)

  10. March 13, 2015 / 7:30 pm

    When I lived in the Midwest (Michigan), we explored the area and took road trips to Chicago, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis, which I found quite culturally diverse. One of the things that I wished we had done while in Indy was go to the zoo and see the aquarium that is supposed to be one of the best. I love all of the photos that you’ve shared here.

    • Beth Williams
      March 27, 2015 / 11:19 am

      It interesting how different each of the cities around here are! I’m from Chicago, which is where my mom is from, but my dad’s side is all from Milwaukee, so we’ve spent loads of time there too. Completely different cities– but both awesome! Now I’m glad to have experienced Indy as well… still haven’t made it to Michigan yet though!

      We also really wanted to visit the zoo, but unfortunately it was raining all weekend. Next time for sure!

  11. March 13, 2015 / 2:07 pm

    I love supporting small businesses like this, huge indie supporter in the nail community. You actually end up finding better values and deals than going to malls or stores.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:31 pm

      I agree! And such better quality too.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:31 pm

      I was so surprised! We’ll definitely be back :)

  12. March 13, 2015 / 4:09 am

    I’ve never been there, looks so fun to travel there and looks like have a lot of delicious food.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:30 pm

      Yes!! The food was to die for!

  13. Jeremy Lagatule
    March 13, 2015 / 4:06 am

    There’s nothing quite like home made! I think you’ ve got to give it to hand crafted goods.. there just aint nothing like a good old home made item to make you feel at home :)

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:30 pm

      Very true Jeremy!

  14. March 12, 2015 / 10:26 pm

    Hey there, neighbor! I can’t believe that I too live so close to Indy but haven’t been for a loooong time (does an ice skating competition when I was 10 count?). Your pictures make it look like such a cooler place than I have ever imagined. We are always looking for places to take road trips to….a break from the Dells or Michigan would be welcome. So glad I came across this! Tweeting!

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:30 pm

      Pretty sure that doesn’t count ;)
      And yes! It was such a nice change from the usual Dells trip!

  15. March 12, 2015 / 9:15 pm

    I had an Uncle who lived in Indiana and for the life of me I do not know why I did not take the opportunity to pay him a visit. Perhaps I didn’t have enough vacation days and only had time to see the sights in Chicago. Well I definitely have to plan to see Indy sometime in my lifetime. Thanks for sharing. The photos are awesome!

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:29 pm

      You should! It was a lot of fun. Glad you at least made it to Chicago!

  16. March 12, 2015 / 4:29 pm

    I want to visit! I love the look of the stores, and the bikes to ride, really looks like a great town.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:28 pm

      It really was! We were so impressed.

  17. March 12, 2015 / 4:15 pm

    I would go just to check out those handmade shops!! CUTE!

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:28 pm

      It was super cute!

  18. Catherine S
    March 12, 2015 / 3:45 pm

    I went about 5 years ago and just loved it. I did a tour of the speedway and the museum. I would love to go back.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:28 pm

      That awesome! I didn’t even see the speedway!

  19. March 12, 2015 / 1:53 pm

    Wow! Indianapolis looks like a fun place.. I’ve never been, but my cousin’s wife is originally from there and always tells me all of the cool places she grew up, went to and loved. Definitely looks like a fun place to be and see! Thanks for sharing :) Hopefully you’ll go more often now that you discovered all these great sights!

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:27 pm

      Thanks Caroline! You’ll have to visit someday!

  20. March 12, 2015 / 10:05 am

    I’m in Texas and have never visited Indy but now think it has to be added up there on our travel bucket list. The handmade shops are a huge draw for me and I love how there seems to be fun things to do, for all ages.

    • Beth Williams
      March 15, 2015 / 4:27 pm

      The handmade shops were one of my favorite parts!

  21. Jake Doll
    March 12, 2015 / 9:53 am

    The cultural trail is 100% my favorite part of Indy.
    I take it from my apartment near Mass ave to my job downtown almost everyday.

    Sorry that it was a rainy day! Hopefully next time you visit you’ll get to enjoy the sun.
    Two suggestions: Did you climb up the circle monument or stop by Silver in The City? Both have to be on your next stop!

    What was your favorite restaurant?

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 11:54 pm

      Thanks for commenting Jake!

      We didn’t get to climb up the monument because it was closed all three days of our trip… and didn’t stop by Silver in the City– will have to Google that! Thanks for the recommendations, we’ll certainly be back in summer when it’s hopefully warm and sunny.

      Favorite restaurant, ugh, so hard to pick just one! I personally really liked Milktooth and Cerulean! Although Petite Chou (by Cafe Patachou) was also great. What other restaurants do you recommend for next time?

  22. March 12, 2015 / 8:34 am

    Indy really does look Indie! Isn’t it funny how we hardly ever explore the places within walking distance from our own backyard! So glad you enjoyed Indiana – I’ll be sure to add it to our list if we’re in the area :)

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 11:51 pm

      Once you guys make it back to the states you have to!

  23. March 12, 2015 / 8:30 am

    I’ve been in Indianapolis but I never visited this place-I’m so bad.This looks fun.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 11:50 pm

      It was a lot of fun!

  24. March 12, 2015 / 8:29 am

    Well thats exciting! I’m headed that way in the fall so its nice to know a little more about the area :)

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 11:50 pm

      I’m excited for you!! What brings you out that way?

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 11:50 pm

      Ugh, it was! I just wanted to be all shut up and take my money!

  25. March 12, 2015 / 6:24 am

    Never would have though to visit here but it looks like a great little weekend getaway!!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 11:49 pm

      It was! I can’t wait to go back!

  26. March 12, 2015 / 6:21 am

    I think we all have a tendency to take for granted those attractions are are really close to us. I have traveled most of the world but still have never been to some really cool places within an hour’s drive. But I do enjoy Indy!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:36 am

      I totally agree! I’ve barely explored any of my own state even outside of Chicago and the northern burbs. Glad to hear you enjoy Indy!

  27. Elizabeth O.
    March 12, 2015 / 2:47 am

    I can’t believe I haven’t visited Indianapolis! I’ve heard that the food there is amazing…

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:35 am

      It is! Oh it is ;D

  28. March 12, 2015 / 1:46 am

    I’ve heard these places are awesome before, and I really want to check them out! Thanks for sharing such fun pictures!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:35 am

      Thanks Lauren! I hope you get the chance to visit :)

  29. March 11, 2015 / 11:47 pm

    I really love the wall art, these look really beautiful; what a place to visit!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:34 am

      I know! I was surprised to see they had so much street art!

  30. Ann Bacciaglia
    March 11, 2015 / 11:07 pm

    I have never been to Indianapolis before. It looks like there are a lot of great things to do there. I would love to see all the art.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:33 am

      There is SO much to do! We simply didn’t have enough time.

  31. Robin {Masshole Mommy}
    March 11, 2015 / 8:56 pm

    I had no idea that Chicago was our third largest city. I would love to go to Indianapolis to see the book stores though.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:32 am

      It is!! I feel like somehow we’re totally overlooked as a city despite being one of the largest– #ProudChicagoan

      Indianapolis is pretty cool too though :)

  32. March 11, 2015 / 8:52 pm

    Well, I never thought of Indianapolis as an experience in art, culture and food – you do make it look so enticing and that bike trail is something I would go back for also – thanks so much for enlightening me! ;)

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:31 am

      You should definitely go back! The city has completely changed over the past 2-3 years. It’s super trendy and artsy now :)

  33. March 11, 2015 / 8:51 pm

    I’ve only driven through Indy with my grandparents but I’ve always wanted to actually see the city. Mostly just to say I’ve been there.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:30 am

      Someday you guys should actually stop– even just for a couple of hours to eat delicious foods!

  34. March 11, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    Indianapolis is such a neat city. I really miss visiting it. I used to live much closer.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:29 am

      That’s awesome that you used to live near there! I’m sure a lot has changed since you were last there :)

  35. March 11, 2015 / 8:30 pm

    I have a similar story. People find it so weird that I’ve never been to San Francisco even though I live in California.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:29 am

      That’s crazy! San Francisco is so amazing, you should really go! But then again, Cali is such a large state, so it’s totally understandable. I’m excited to finally be visiting the southern (ish) areas this summer like LA and Temecula!

  36. March 11, 2015 / 7:45 pm

    Wow this sounds great! I’ve never been to Indianapolis before but I’ve heard lots of great things! Living in Canada I don’t travel to the USA much but love hearing about all the places (in case!)

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:28 am

      Funny how we’re neighbors and never really visit each other … I feel like Canadians are always seeking further places :P

      I have yet to go to Canada (other than in the airport), but I’ll be changing that this summer!

  37. March 11, 2015 / 6:19 pm

    Wow, I would have never thought of Indianapolis like this! I would have thought sport and race town. Perhaps, I need to add it into my travel plans some day.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:27 am

      Yeah! I just assume it was all about racing– which is something I’m not interested in.

  38. March 11, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    It does look pretty cool. I have only been to the Indiana Dunes in Indiana – very beautiful and great place to swim. Wouldn’t mind checking out Indianapolis next time I am in the area

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:26 am

      I hadn’t been to the dunes yet, but that sounds like a lot of fun!

  39. March 11, 2015 / 5:28 pm

    The art museum is just beaming with creativity, my daughter would absolutely love it there. Now, the handmade shop is where I belong.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:25 am

      Yes, she would! Indianapolis also has the largest Children’s Museum, which I’ll be talking about soon. I’d bet she’d love it even more there! ;)

      • March 12, 2015 / 1:01 pm

        She loves those kinds of stuff. I remember when we took them to the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio, they had a blast!

  40. March 11, 2015 / 4:20 pm

    Good mission for Indy Reads Books. One thing that I try not to miss whenever I travel is a visit to a local bookstore. I must see this great wall of books when I get a chance to visit Indiana. Their objective to develop adult literacy is admirable too. Im wondering if they accept a tourist offering a one volunteer work at the bookstore?

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:25 am

      Oh, you’d love Indy then! I’m sure if you sent them a message they’d be happy to have another volunteer. :)

    • March 12, 2015 / 8:51 am

      Indy Reads Books is wonderful. I host a monthly free play reading series there, Indy Actors Playground, where professional actors pick plays they’ve always wanted to do. Third Monday of every month. It’s a unique series that has attracted a loyal, engaged audience…even though we never announce what the play is going to be (since it’s an opportunity for actors to find their bliss without worrying about whether the piece will draw a crowd). Lots of other great, lesser-known things happening in Indy as well. Happy to answer any questions, since I write regularly about A&E down here and love to help visitors.

  41. Bri Radke
    March 11, 2015 / 2:18 pm

    I love Indianapolis. It’s full of so many great things to see and do. It’s really fun!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:24 am

      It was! I’m so glad we went!

  42. March 11, 2015 / 1:37 pm

    How cool! I had no idea that Indianapolis had anything other than the Indy 500. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:24 am

      They have so much!

  43. March 11, 2015 / 1:27 pm

    I need to go to that bookstore ASAP!! And that glass/art was gorgeous!!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:23 am

      The bookstore was really cool! And I loved the overall design of it with the chalk drawings. It was really fun!

  44. March 11, 2015 / 12:56 pm

    Oh my gosh, it looks like a totally fun place to visit and I really like trying out different cuisines. I love that you can rent bikes.

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:22 am

      Yeah, I was totally surprised! Super cool place.

  45. March 11, 2015 / 10:06 am

    Very cool looking culture.. They are true Hippie Indies at heart!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2015 / 8:21 am

      Yeah, they are! Who knew??