Your Summer Road Trip Field Guide
Bourbon tours, whitewater and race cars. Let’s review.
Summer is three months long.
It is our professional opinion that in order to maintain sanity, you must skip town for at least one long weekend per month.
We even wrote you a scrip’.
Save travel, gents. We’ll see you out there.
DRIVE TIME: 3 HOURS
WHY: “India-no-place?” Nah. The city’s bevy of new developments have brought with them new gems, while institutions like the the Kurt Vonnegut museum underpin what’s always been good in the state capital. Plus, this year marks the 100th running of the Indy 500: good reason to go if you like the smell of steel and rubber in the morning. Regardless, there’s plenty to make the three-hour drive worth your while.
STAY: The Alexander
A hip, art-conscious boutique located smack dab in the middle of Downtown Indy? You’ll take it. You’ll also take a Sazerac at the buzzy Plat 99, the hotel’s cocktail lounge, where you’ll imbibe among colorful glass sculptures and floor-to-ceiling skyline views. Should you be traveling with a crew, you’ll wanna pony up for a well-appointed residential-style suite with their full kitchens and living rooms. Hell, book it, anyway. Splay out. You deserve it.
Indianapolis’s food scene is on the up-and-up, and James Beard-nominated chef and hometown hero Jonathan Brooks deserves much credit, especially for Milktooth, the daytime-only brunch joint that’s garnered accolades from all over the country. Peep the menu and you’ll see why. Looking for dinner? Just look down the street to Bluebeard.
PLAY: Bike the Indianapolis Cultural Trail
The trail: a $63 million, eight-mile, bike-friendly path that connects five neighborhoods and cultural districts, all flanked by public art. Grab a bike through the city’s bike share program and get to exploring.
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN
DRIVE TIME: 4 HOURS
WHY: The best thing about college towns? Visiting them in the summer, when nary a college student is afoot. Ann Arbor is delightful place to wander during the warmer months thanks to the town’s cool academic temperament and love for the out of doors. Oh, and Zingerman’s. All hail Zingerman’s Reuben.
STAY: The Graduate Ann Arbor
With 204 rooms, Ann Arbor’s newest hotel is also its largest. And its most stylish. Collegiate-inspired is the name of the game at Graduate Hotels, a well-curated hotel collection targeted at college towns across the country and headed by Chicago’s AJ Capital, the same crew behind the Chicago Athletic Association and the Soho House.
Local flavors abound at Spencer, a quaint neighborhood joint from the highly pedigreed husband-and-wife duo Abby Olitzky and Steve Hall. Locals know the couple well from the their roving pop-up restaurant and catering service Central Provisions. But now they’ve struck out with this new small plates concept, and what the space may lacks in frills, it gains in a high-minded food program. Whatever you do, do not miss the charcuterie plate.
PLAY: Kayak the Argo Cascades and Huron River
Step one: rent a kayak at the Argo Canoe Livery. Step two: conquer the the award-winning Argo Cascades, a man-made whitewater run featuring nine kid-friendly drops. It’s just one section on the Huron River — we suggest a morning out of it with a full river trip.
DRIVE TIME: 5 HOURS
WHY: Bourbon trail? You bet. Have at it. Mint Julep Tours will take ya around in one go. It’s a handsome city. Midwestern candor meets Southern hospitality. Small and manageable. And did we mention bourbon? It’s about time you make the trip.
STAY: 21C Museum Hotel
If you’ve never stayed in an art-centric 21C Hotel property, here’s your chance. With locations in other mid-size cities like Lexington, KY, Durham, NC, and Cincinnati, OH (which we visited last year), Louisville is home to the original: a 91-room stunner of a stay centrally located in in the city’s historic downtown. Big bonus: you’ve got Proof On Main as your home eatery and bar.
A discussion about Louisville’s food scene is not complete without mention of chef Ed Lee … 610 Magnolia is a classic, and you’ll also wanna hit up Milkwood, located in the basement of city’s beloved Actors Theatre. Dude’s fearless. Has a thing for unexpected twists on Southern tradition with Asian flavors.
PLAY: Day Trip to Mammoth Cave
The National Park Service turns 100 this year. And Mammoth Cave, a little bit more of an hour’s drive south of the city, is the best way to celebrate. It’s unlike any park in the country because it’s actually underground. And it’s the world’s largest known cave system, with over 400 miles explored.
This is but only one installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September
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