In Indianapolis for Boot Camp? A meeting of members, of judges, of like-minded pals in our hometown? We’ll bet every member of the CEDIA® staff has their own list of “Best Bets” for your stay in what we call the “Circle City,” but here are a few faves loved by thousands of us here in flyover country.
One of Indy’s best craft brewers is close — Deviate Brewing
was named by Beer Advocate as one of the “33 Best Breweries opening in 2015.” They’re at 96th St. and Michigan Rd. (just over 10 minutes from CEDIA HQ), but be warned: their beer is POTENT. Might want to hire a car for this one.
Other notable Indiana breweries
(and there are MANY) include Sun King, Upland, Fountain Square, Flat 12, Big Woods, and Bier — all of which you can find in bottles and cans. Other destination micro- and nano-brewers include Black Acre, Round Town, and Indiana City. Visiting from Britain? Try the ESB (or anything, really) at Indy’s oldest craft brewer, Broad Ripple Brewpub
. It’s like an ale house from Yorkshire was dropped on the city’s Northside. Twenty Tap
on College Avenue has, well, WAY more than 20 taps — and solid food, too. Those venturing further can find distilleries near Downtown: Hotel Tango
(founded by wounded U.S. war vets) is a standout.
Like mead? Don’t know if you do? Try New Day Craft
Meadery in Fountain Square. Trust us. Watering Holes
Indy’s bar scene has several distinct areas: Broad Ripple (whose popularity has waned somewhat — it gets occasionally frat-boy rowdy), Mass Ave. (our theater district — more upscale drinks), and Fletcher Place/Fountain Square (can you say “hipster?”).
Some pubs we love:
- The Chatham Tap, a soccer fan’s nirvana, has multiple locations; the original on Mass Ave is our fave.
- The aforementioned Brewpub. In the warmer weather one should sit outside and watch the folks traversing the Monon Trail, Indy’s rail-to-trail bike/pedestrian highway.
- Tappers, a Fletcher Place joint offering FREE 1970s and ‘80s vintage arcade video games.
- The iconic Red Key. Made famous by Indy novelist Dan Wakefield in his book-turned-movie “Going All the Way,” the Red Key is a dive with great burgers and rules laid down by the original owner, Russ Settle. (“Hang up your jacket. No cursing!”)
- We also dig the Sinking Ship at 49th and College Ave: It offers hockey, metal, and even vegan options from the kitchen.
Craving live music, comedy, or something more off-the-wall? Check out places like The Vogue
and Radio Radio
for tunes, Morty’s
for stand-up (the latter is an Indy institution), and the White Rabbit Cabaret
for all of the above. Chow Time
There are eats aplenty, and many are a short trip away — especially for utility chow like pizza. Bazbeaux
both offer “Indiana-style” pie — not deep dish, but thicker than a NYC slice (and often cut in rectangles). They deliver, as does the just-a-bit-better-than-giant-national-chain Hotbox. Artisan pie your jam? Try Napolese
For a quick Cajun stew, Yats
is a local legend. They have locations everywhere, they’re cheap, and most locales offer beer and wine. (Oddly, the original one at 54th and College Ave. doesn’t — and that particular locale is the only Yats that’s cash-only.)
For more ethnic fare, El Mezcal
is a solid Mexican place on Wesleyan off Michigan Road, a short drive from CEDIA HQ. Ocean World
are fine sushi joints, and India Garden
has a great buffet. Fans of Sawasdee
(Thai) are legion, and Canal Bistro
has great falafel.
Cajun joint (it's a local chain) nearest CEDIA also lives among a ton of decent chain food outlets in the Traders Point plaza at 86th St. just west of Zionsville Road. Other chains VERY close to CEDIA for fast-food that are a slight step above the usual include Culver’s (burgers) and Jersey Mike’s (subs).
Both 317 Burger
and Bru Burger
offer great takes on — what, you thought we were going to say “hot dogs?” (Actually, for Chicago dogs, try Fat Dan's
.) The Rathskeller
on Mass Ave. offers solid German fare and a “biergarten” that’s legit.
Upscale eats your hankering? THE most famous Indy restaurant is St. Elmo’s Steakhouse
. Beyond the great cuts of beef, this joint’s incredibly iconic shrimp cocktail puts the kick in its horseradish — it’s spicy beyond words.
Indy has also become something of a foodie’s paradise: places like Milktooth, Bluebeard, Cerulean, the Loft at Trader’s Point, and Tinker Street get raves. (You really can’t go wrong with anything on this list from Indy Monthly
And if you're looking for that classic Hoosier sandwich called a "tenderloin" -- a pork cutlet that's deep fried and bigger than a hubcap -- ask 100 locals and you'll get 100 answers on who's got the best. The Sights
There’s a pretty big racetrack at 16th and Georgetown — you may have heard of the Indy 500? Here’s where it happens.
A tour is cool, a visit to the museum is a must for car geeks. The town of Speedway has been blossoming of late: Big Woods Beer and Pizza
and Daredevil Brewing
are nearby, as is a terrific go-kart facility
run by that great former female IndyCar driver not named Danica, Sarah Fisher.
The Eiteljorg Museum
downtown features amazing art from both natives and settlers of the American West — the panoramic painting of the Grand Canyon at the entrance is worth the admission fee. The Indiana State Museum
features an incredible IMAX theater, and The Indianapolis Museum of Art
offers beautiful grounds and a big-city collection. More literary-minded folk should scope out the Vonnegut Library
(yep, Kurt was a native). Local pub NUVO
always has good info on arts events, too.
If the family’s tagging along, the kids will dig the Indy Children’s Museum
, consistently rated one of -- if not THE — best of its kind in America. Monument Circle downtown offers lovely vistas, and the downtown Cultural Trail
— which connects to the Monon — is great for biking on a rented ride from one of our many bike-share stations. The Canal through White River State Park (and by NCAA HQ) makes for great walks. You can kayak or pedal-boat on the canal or quad-bike the walkways — they’re all available for rent.
Need a nature break? Eagle Creek Park
, just a short drive from CEDIA, is one of the nation’s largest city-owned parks. Hike a trail or rent a kayak — it’s a great way to spend some time outside.
Beyond the Pacers and the Colts — our major-league teams that play in state-of-the-art facilities — Indy has some super-affordable sporting options, no matter the season. The Indianapolis Indians
(AAA farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates) play at Victory Field, a stunning park that offers inexpensive seating (especially in the picnic areas beyond the outfield fence). The Indy Eleven
(our minor-league soccer squad) has the rowdiest fans, and the Indy Fuel
play AA hockey (feeding the Chicago Blackhawks system) in the brilliantly remodeled Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds. Hoops fans should also take a drive by historic Hinkle Fieldhouse
, home of Butler Basketball and the closing scenes in the movie “Hoosiers.”