48 Hours in Indianapolis
48 Hours in Indianapolis
...with Accent Indy, a DMC Network Company
Most people know one thing about Indianapolis, Indiana: The Indianapolis 500. Often referred to as “Indy”, there is a lot more to this 15th largest city in the U.S. than one may realize. It is currently ranked as the #1 convention city in the U.S. and has been recently recognized for its up and coming food scene and vast amount of locally produced craft beers.
And speaking of locals! Known as “Hoosiers”, you’ll find some of the friendliest locals living and working in downtown Indy. Many also don’t know that Indianapolis ranks second to only Washington DC with the number of war memorials and monuments honoring the nation’s fallen heroes, making it a destination with great culture. There truly are plenty of things to see and do throughout the city during your visit, no matter what your interest is.
While there has been a time slot dedicated to touring the downtown monuments and memorials, take note of the asterisks (*) that appear throughout the itinerary. These represent a time and place when you can spot a monument during another activity.
12pm: Welcome to Indy!
Anyone who flies into Indianapolis, Indiana lands at the Indianapolis International Airport. The Indy airport has been honored with the Airport Service Quality Award for five consecutive years by the Airports Council International and has also been named the Best Airport in North America. After you step off the plane you will have just a short 15 minute ride to your downtown hotel.
1pm: Checking In
While there are 7,100 hotel rooms in downtown, you are staying at the 1,005-room property, the JW Marriott. This hotel has been named one of the best hotels in the Midwest by readers of Meetings & Conventions Magazine six years in a row. The largest AAA Four-Diamond hotel in Indiana and the largest JW Marriott in the Midwest, this hotel takes the breath away from all who stay here. The modern lobby is stunning and always filled with staff who are ready to offer a helping hand. Head up to your room, take in the view of the city, and freshen up from your flight before going out to explore.
2pm: Explore the Park
Right out the backdoor of your hotel, we’ll take a short walk around White River State Park. Often shortened to WRSP, this 250-acre downtown park is filled with trails, trees, waterways and green spaces that blend together a wide variety of cultural, educational, and recreational attractions.
The Indianapolis Zoo, recently named the second best zoo in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler, was the first attraction to call WRSP home in 1988 and the next year, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art opened. Today, the park is home to the NCAA Hall of Champions Museum and World Headquarters, the Indiana State Museum and the state’s largest IMAX® Theater, the Indianapolis Indians Minor League Baseball team at Victory Field Ballpark, and the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park, a premier concert venue.
Take your time and tour the park on foot, or zip around the trails and attractions when you rent a bike, paddleboat, kayak, or Segway. A local favorite is riding Surreys – large 2-4 seater carts – up and down the Central Canal path. Grab lunch at one of the restaurants along the Canal Walkway before stopping in at one of the many museums or follow the White River Promenade trail and bridge to the Indianapolis Zoo, the only one in America that is certified as an aquarium, zoo and zoological garden.
6pm: Hey Batter Batter
After spending the afternoon exploring the White River State Park, take a quick walk over to Victory Field Ballpark and grab a seat for an Indianapolis Indians game! Thursday nights are Craft Beer Nights which are sponsored by Sun King Brewing and features a rotating tap of Indy favorites such as Chilly Water Brewing Company and Indiana City Brewing Co.
Grab a pint and a hotdog, and sit back and root, root, root for the home team in one of the top rated minor league stadiums in the country!
9pm: Oktoberfest All Year Around
After the game, take a stroll through the #1 ranked walkable city in the U.S. and close down the night at Indianapolis’ oldest restaurant, The Rathskeller. Old is not synonymous with boring though – a night at The Rathskeller always promises live music, great beer, and an upbeat vibe. Voted the best German restaurant in Indy every year, the Rathskeller, which opened in 1894 and is located in the historic, 19th century Athenaeum building downtown, boasts an incredible biergarten with bands booked 7 nights a week, all summer long. The Rathskeller serves traditional German fare and offers brews and microbrews from around the world. Enjoy a night on the town before heading back to the hotel after an exciting first day.
8am: Rise and Ride
Wake up, get ready and go rent a bike from the Indiana Pacers BikeShare program.
Enjoy a ten-minute cruise along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail toward the historic Fletcher Place neighborhood and grab breakfast at the world-renowned café, Milktooth. Named by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the best restaurants in the world in 2016, this breakfast, brunch and lunch spot is housed in an old auto garage and features loud music, thrift-shop style décor, unconventionally creative fare, and an amazing cup of Joe. But, be prepared for a line at this neighborhood favorite!
10am: Right Up Your Alley
After breakfast, pedal over to the Fountain Square Theatre Building for a thrilling bowling experience. Try your hand at Atomic Duckpin Bowling in the basement level, furnished with authentic 1950’s and 60’s bowling equipment or head upstairs to the fourth floor for Action Duckpin Bowling in a restored 1930’s era alley with 8 lanes and a vintage billiard table. Unlike last night, the more strikes your team makes the better.
11am: Grab a Bite
After you’re finished tearing up the bowling lanes, take a quick ride to Wildwood Market for lunch. Enjoy a sandwich, soup, or salad with a side of the locally loved and handcrafted, Broad Ripple Chip Co. potato chips. After you’ve finished eating, follow the Cultural Trail up the street to the not-for-profit coffee shop, Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company, and grab a sweet pastry and a cup of tea or coffee to go. Or perhaps a mix of both – the locals recommend the dirty chai latte. While you wait for your drink, look around at local art and handmade goods displayed throughout the sitting room.
1pm: Shop Like a Local
It’s a 15-minute ride to Massachusetts Avenue (lovingly referred to as Mass Ave by locals) for an afternoon of shopping as you soak in the city. More frequented by locals than anywhere else downtown, Mass Ave is THE city’s hotspot and offers an authentic Indy vibe. On your way, be sure to ride up College Ave. and take a quick peek at Metazoa Brewing Company. This pet-friendly, craft brewery gives 5% of all their profits to animal rescues and sanctuaries and is often frequented by animals of all kinds (we’re talking dogs, cats, even the occasional rabbit can be seen hopping around here).
Once you arrive on Mass Ave, stop in at Silver in the City, Indy's best silver jeweler, home décor and gifts shop. A couple doors down, a fair trade store called Global Gifts offers a wide variety of jewelry, accessories, homeware and more. For dog-loving visitors, Three Dog Bakery houses an incredible array of homemade dog treats, toys and apparel. Across the street, The Flying Cupcake and Sub Zero Ice Cream both offer a place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Boutique shops and restaurants are abundant as you travel further up Mass Ave and if ice cream and cupcakes aren’t your style, head over to The Best Chocolate in Town for some other sweet treats.
3pm: Monumental Moments
When you’re ready to get moving again, take yourself on a self-guided tour of Indy’s downtown monuments and memorials. The best part of a self-guided tour is that you can skip anything you’ve already seen or spend extra time at the monuments that interest you the most. Start at Monument Circle to check out the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and Memorial.
Many people don’t know that Lady Liberty, standing at the top of the monument, is facing south to welcome civil war soldiers home, and underneath the monument is the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum. Next, visit the Indiana World War Memorial and Museum and University Park. From there you can also visit the American Legion Mall, Veteran’s Memorial Plaza, and the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials.
After seeing the monuments, head over to the Slippery Noodle Inn. Established in 1850, The Noodle is Indiana's oldest bar and was ranked as one of the nation’s top blues bars by Rolling Stone magazine. Take a walkthrough tour and learn about the rich history of the oldest commercial building left standing in Indy. There are many secret, underground tunnels that link The Noodle to Union Station and were used as part of the Underground Railroad. The Brady and Dillinger Gang used to hang around the tavern and used the back wall inside for target practice. Guests can still see the bullets embedded in the brick and many believe the Inn to be haunted. At one point, a portion of the Inn was turned into a brothel. After your tour, head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at an Indianapolis landmark restaurant.
7pm: Sizzlin’ Steak House
The St. Elmo Steak House is known for three things: their signature spicy shrimp cocktail, steak cooked to perfection; and exceptional service. Tonight is the night to treat yourself, so sit back and experience a Hoosier favorite. Wrap up dinner with the St. Elmo Crème Brulee for dessert before heading upstairs for after-dinner cocktails.
On the second floor of St. Elmo’s, the 1933 Lounge is filled with a speakeasy atmosphere and features an extensive list of cocktails. A must-have is The Signature “Elmo Cola” made of Coke mixed with an exclusive infusion of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Italian Luxardo Maraschino Cherries and Madagascar Vanilla Beans all served with their famous Drunken Cherries. The Lounge is the only place in the country where visitors can find this cherry infused Maker’s Mark. Enjoy a couple of drinks before heading back to the hotel for a night of well-earned rest.
9am: Start Your Engines
Take advantage of your final morning in Indianapolis and head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! Your first stop, the Hall of Fame Museum, features an extensive collection of cars, legendary photos and the Borg-Warner Trophy. Watch a short film about the history of the racing sport in the museum’s theater before taking a “behind-the-scenes” tour underneath the museum that showcases the additional collection pieces that are not displayed to the public. Next, hop on a mini bus and experience a “kiss-the-bricks” tour which consists of a narrated track lap and a photo op as you kiss the bricks at the start/stop line on the track. Grab some gear at the gift shop before heading to lunch.
11am: Midday Cheers
Just up Main Street, get lunch at Big Woods Speedway, a beloved Indiana restaurant. The largest Big Woods to-date, this location features a bar area, a beer garden, and family-friendly seating in the main dining room. Big Woods offers a large menu of American fare with a twist and an extensive craft beer list. Spend an hour eating, drinking and reminiscing about your weekend in Indy before it’s time to go home.
12pm: See You Soon!
Sadly, it’s time to head to IND and fly back home. You’ve had a busy 48 hours but there’s so much more Indianapolis left to experience so don’t wait too long to schedule your next trip to this Friendly City!
One thing you would never have guessed about Indianapolis, Indiana:
Indianapolis, Indiana is within an 8-hour or less drive from 50% of the U.S. population!
ABOUT THIS CONTENT:
View the latest travel articles, interviews, industry news and Partner announcements from the DMC Network: