Why Your Next Weekend Getaway Should Be to Indianapolis
Indy is known for its sporty vibes, but the city has a sophisticated food and drink scene, too
THRILL: Indy Car Racing Experience
Race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a professional racecar driver from May through October at speeds of 180 mph. Two laps go by in a blur in these retro-fitted two-seater race cars — it’s hard to even turn your head with all that G-force. This is a bucket-list experience for NASCAR fans, and if you’re feeling especially daring, you can follow a lead car and drive yourself. Good luck being brave enough to hit top speeds.
Also check out: If race cars are a little too extreme, climbing at North Mass Boulder is a great way to make new local friends and get a great workout. North Mass is the largest bouldering gym in the country, with a full gym, yoga studio, and cafe, too. Color-coded routes are available for all levels; once a month they even have DJs spinning from boulder tops.
This casual brasserie inside an arthouse cinema is chef Abbi Merriss’ latest venture, a medley of European and American classics all served with a playful twist. Homemade casarecce pasta with walnut mascarpone pesto and roasted wild mushrooms are a must-order, along with buttery escargot served with grilled bread from sister restaurant Amelia’s next door. For dessert, Merriss’ signature bread pudding — adapted from her mother’s recipe — is simple but sublime.
Also check out: Don’t get hangry – start your day with a hearty breakfast. There’s Sidedoor Bagel for a grab-and-go bagel and schmear and Leviathan Bakehouse for decadent croissant sandwiches, fresh-baked bread, and pastries. Gallery Pastry has three locations serving the best benedicts and omelettes in town, plus a life-changing croissant cereal — this is the real breakfast of champions.
DRINK: Bar One Fourteen
This 16-seat high-fidelity listening bar is the most exclusive place to get a cocktail in Indy. Make a music request when booking your reservation — there are 1,200 records and custom Klipsch speakers to enhance your listening experience. Sip a welcome cocktail from a dainty teacup as you peruse the menu, heavily influenced by Japanese ingredients and spirits. Bar manager Daimien Weems is a magician, and his presentations are unexpected and elegant. Highballs always pair well with oysters and the fancy AF burger with shaved black truffle will gild your stomach for a second round. As the night goes on, lights get dimmer and the music gets louder.
PLAY: Vintage Duckpin Bowling
If you’re never heard of duckpin bowling, it’s basically a miniature version of regular 10-pin bowling with smaller, lighter pins and balls. Bowlers get three rolls per frame, but it’s much harder to get a strike. There are only a few vintage alleys left in the country, and Action Duckpin Bowl at the Fountain Square Theatre Building is a cornerstone in what’s arguably Indy’s weirdest neighborhood. The two alleyways here are themed on the 1950s and 1930s, stocked with vintage bowling memorabilia from the owner’s private collection. Loser buys drinks at The Commodore, a new speakeasy downstairs.
Also check out: For more bowling shenanigans, try Fowling, a football and bowling combo where you throw a football to knock down bowling pins. You can bring your own food at Fowling Warehouse and try your luck at the Mystery Beer Machine or pick your favorite local brew on tap. Watch out for stray throws from neighboring alleys.
SHOP: Howl + Hide
Just next door from Fountain Square Theatre is this chic boutique specializing in leather goods, ranging from duffels, backpacks, and briefcases to belts, wallets, whiskey flasks, and other accessories. Colors change with each collection, including canary yellow and preppy pink, but their signature antique tan is what they’re known for. Everything is made in the store and you’ll see people cutting, sewing, and constructing pieces while you shop. There’s even a barbershop upstairs.
STAY: Hotel Indy
The brutalist concrete exterior of Indy’s newest boutique hotel belies a warm and welcoming interior design, with soft mid-century modern furniture and distinct Mad Men vibes. Originally built as an office building for State Life Insurance in 1969, Hotel Indy is now part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio and elite Marriott members often get upgraded to a handful of suites that aren’t available to book online. Plus, Cannon Ball Lounge is one of the few rooftop bars in the city with panoramic downtown views.
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