It took me eight years, but I have finally started to explore Chicago’s neighboring cities. First I went to Milwaukee, then Madison, and I spent last weekend in Indianapolis. Indianapolis is just 3 1/3 hours from Chicago, and it’s just the place to go if you want to spend a weekend exploring somewhere new.
Indianapolis’s beer, cocktail, and food scenes are reasons enough to spend some time in the city. While I was in town for a blogging workshop, I spent most of my free time trying to check out as many restaurants and bars as possible.
Where to Eat
One of the most well-known restaurants in Indy is Bluebeard. I jumped at the chance to go and was impressed by the farm to table menu that featured both classics and creative takes on current culinary trends. I was a little surprised to see items like bruschetta with foie gras, tomato, grilled peaches, and prosciutto jam on the menu. They even have frog legs on the menu – Bluebeard is definitely Indianapolis’s destination for the sophisticated eater.
I loved the pappardelle with bolognese which was made with fresh handmade pasta cut into incredibly long ribbons. The bolognese sauce has a slight kick of spice to it, which really made it stand apart from the many, many bolognese sauces I have had before.
The Broad Ripple neighborhood has a trail running through it that links together gardens, bars, and restaurants. On a Sunday afternoon a steady stream of locals walked, ran, and cycled by. A group of us grabbed lunch at Public Greens which is right along the path and across from some gardens. The menu has lots of salads and is vegan-friendly.
I devoured the Kung Pow Chicken and some Fried Chicken. And the shortbread and butterscotch cookie was incredible (and gluten-free!).
For pizza, I loved Napolese. We tried a wide variety of salads and pizzas, and the BLT pizza with bacon and leeks was my personal favorite.
Where to Drink
If cocktails are your thing, Hotel Tango is a distillery and cocktail lounge. I loved the casual rustic atmosphere.
Canoes and twinkle lights hang from the ceiling, and a large stone fireplace divides the space. It reminded me of Maine.
Revolucion is a taco bar attached to a lively outdoors tiki bar. I love the atmosphere and the fact that it is far less crowded than the tiki bars we have in Chicago.
One night a few of us ventured out to Massachusetts Avenue, a lively street with several bars and restaurants. We started at The Eagle, a large gastropub serving Southern food located on a corner with a large patio. We grabbed a round of local beers and some snacks – I can report that the mac and cheese was excellent. Next we headed across the street to The Ball & Biscuit a cocktail bar with dim lighting that is a popular place for dates. (Sorry it was really dark so I didn’t take photos).
We didn’t have time in our schedule to take a tour with Indy Brew Bus – but it is number one on my list if I find myself in Indianapolis again. The $35 tour includes transportation on a bright green mini bus, tours of 4 breweries, and beer samples. One of their four tours is of the Broad Ripple neighborhood.
What to Do
If you are traveling with children, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum is the largest in the world.
The museum’s sprawling collection has everything from mummified dinosaurs to replicas of the International Space Station to the massive Transformer set pieces. (Yes I am dressed up in a child’s astronaut costume, and when they saw me put it on I was told they have adult sizes but I wore the child’s size anyway. I think this site as established my love of playing dress up).
Indianapolis is known for its monuments, and we spent an hour walking around downtown stopping to see a few.
Highlights included Monument Circle, which is a giant monument in the center of the city and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument which houses a massive American flag.
The top of the monument has great views of the city too.
The primary reason I went to Indianapolis was to attend a workshop, and I know that I only scratched the surface. If you have any recommendations I would love to hear them in the comments.