After my trip to Milwaukee I was feeling pretty keen on the Midwest, so when Visit Indy invited me to come out and visit Indianapolis, I got pretty psyched. Why? I don’t know. The only thing I really knew about the city was that it’s home to the Indy 500, something I could not possibly be less interested in.
Actually that’s not true. I also knew that one of my all time favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, is from Indianapolis, and that alone was enough to make me curious. I also had been wanting to take a solo trip before the wedding, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore a new city on my own.
What I discovered is that Indianapolis is actually a pretty cool place. So here are 5 reasons to visit Indianapolis that have nothing to do with race cars:
It’s an Art City
Everywhere you go in Indianapolis there is art on display, from the gorgeous Alexander art hotel to the abstract sculptures dotting the canal. Indy hosted the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, and in commemoration the city commissions 40 public murals that are spread throughout the city. My favorite? Kurt Vonnegut of course.
Then there’s the Indiana Museum of Art, a gorgeous and surprisingly thorough museum with the adjacent 100-acre Woods sculpture garden which features giant climbable skeletons, sinking ships and an artist in residence.
Farm to Fork is the Norm
Food! Food is a driving force everywhere I go, and Indianapolis was no different. As Morgan from Visit Indy told me “we were doing farm to fork food BEFORE it was trendy.” It makes sense that with so much fertile farmland nearby that the chefs in town would take advantage of fresh produce.
While in Indy I visited some amazing restaurants that really presented local food in an innovative way (spicy beet carpaccio anyone?). I’ll be writing more on this later, but check out my list on Answers.com for inspiration.
Kurt Vonnegut isn’t the only famous other to call Indianapolis Home. James Whitcomb Riley and Boot Tarkington are from Indianapolis (so are Larry Bird, Dan Quayle and Brendan Frasier, not that that has to do with anything).
The writer John Green is also an Indy local, and often incorporates places around the city into his books. The Fault in Our Stars, one of my favorite books from last year, took place in Indianapolis and I even visited the Crazy Bones sculpture featured in one of the scenes.
Indianapolis is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United States, and as such the city is highly invested in urban renewal and increasing the live-ability of the city. The most visible example is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail which winds all around the downtown area. It takes you past many important Indianapolis landmarks and through all the major cultural districts. Many of the hotels will lend you a bike so you can see for yourself.
Maybe I’m a jaded East Coaster, but the friendliness in the MidWest just kills me! Walking down the street people smile, wave and say hello. I went out to dinner on my own several times and each time I ended up chatting with the table next to me.
I’m starting to get the feeling that the Midwest is an entirely underrated travel destination…
Have you been to Indianapolis?
I visited Indianapolis as a guest of Visit Indy, all midwest-a-phile opinions are my own.