I was recently in Indianapolis for at a travel blogging workshop, BlogHouse. It was a few intense days learning advanced blogging skills from experts in the field, but we balanced that with some fun exploring Indy, eating and drinking around the city, and meeting new friends from all over the country.
I hope this guide will help you plan your ideal trip to this vibrant and diverse city.
How to Get to Indy
For a lot of the Midwest, Indianapolis is within driving distance. It’s less than 3 hours from Chicago, making it a perfect candidate for a weekend getaway.
Make the most out of your road trip by checking out visitindiana.com for tons of fun ideas, regardless of which direction you’re coming in from.
Not within driving distance to Indy? You’re in luck because the Indianapolis airport (IND) was voted best airport in North America for the last five years in a row! While I can’t personally validate this, my fellow bloggers raved about it…and airports aren’t something you generally hear people getting excited about.
Where to Stay
I am a huge fan of the JW Marriott Indianapolis – I’ve stayed there a couple times and been extremely satisfied with my experiences.
The JW is a beautiful hotel that is centrally located and plays a prominent role in the skyline of Indianapolis. Your room will either overlook the city or the gorgeous White River State Park, so either way is a win.
If you are a Marriott/SPG Gold member you have automatic access to their lounge, which has a phenomenal breakfast, a great cocktail hour (no free alcoholic drinks, but the prices are reasonable), and late night desserts.
If you don’t have status or splurge for lounge access, no worries because there is a Starbucks on-site to keep you caffeinated, Osteria Pronto located next to the lobby has a wide variety of delicious Italian food, and you can grab a nightcap at the hotel bar, High Velocity.
Planning the Itinerary
Before you hammer out the details of your trip, I highly recommend checking out Visit Indy’s website because it is packed with practical tips and upcoming events.
Hoosiers LOVE their festivals – they have over 750 festivals every year, more than any other State! There is bound to be something fun going on regardless of when you plan to go.
Some fun upcoming events that may pique your interest are:
- August 4-19, 2017 – Indiana State Fair: What screams summer in the Midwest more than a State Fair? Stuff your face with deep-fried everything, see some livestock, and play a silly carnival game. ‘Merica.
- Saturday, September 9, 2017 – CANvitational: 4th Annual canned beer festival sponsored by local Sun King Brewery that has over 65 breweries participating from all over the US. A lot of participating breweries are from the Midwest, but there are a few ones making a longer journey to join the festivities like, Cigar City Brewing from Tampa, FL.
- September 10-17, 2017 – Indy Tenderloin Week: Indy is known for their Tenderloin sandwiches and take them VERY seriously…serious enough to have an entire week dedicated to the local delicacy. Bonus – the event is a fundraiser for Second Helpings, a community kitchen helping to feed the hungry and train individuals in the culinary industry.
- September 15-16, 2017 – Indianapolis Wine Festival: Sample wines from 200+ wineries around the world, nosh on food from some of the top local restaurants, jam out to live music, and even squeeze in a little learning through wine seminars. Soon you’ll be talking terrior like a somm…or maybe just be drunk!
- October 7, 2017 – IndyStar Food & Wine Experience: This would be a wonderful way to explore Indy’s culinary scene. There will be cooking demonstrations as well as mingling with chefs, including Graham Elliot.
Here are some staples to choose from to pop into your ideal weekend in Indianapolis depending on who you are traveling with:
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – If you are traveling with kids, this is a must. But honestly, even without kids it was a blast! Indy has the largest children’s museum in the world and it’s currently expanding, so it’s safe to say it will hold that title for a long time. I particularly enjoyed the “American POP,” “DANCE!”, “Take Me There: China” exhibits.
- Indianapolis Zoo – If you stay at the JW Marriott, it’s a serene walk through White River State Park to get to the zoo. If you’re there on a Friday in the summer, be sure to check out Zooapalooza, which is included in regular admission and features live music, food and drinks that will make the whole family happy.
- Napolese Pizzeria – You guessed it by the name, this place serves up Neapolitan-style pizzas that truly transported me back to Naples, Italy. We sampled delicious appetizers and salads as well, making this a solid option for any group. Napolese is part of Patachou Inc, a female-led company that is very focused on sourcing ingredients from local farms.
- Indianapolis City Market – I’m a sucker for a good market in any new place I go. It’s a perfect option to make everyone happy and sample a variety of local grub. I snagged an acai bowl from Twenty Two Juice and enjoyed it outside on their patio for a quick lunch.
- Mesh on Mass – Massachusetts Ave is full of great options for dining including this spot, which meshes (see what I did there) flavors from all over the world into unique dishes. Their sister spot down the road, Bru Burger, was also recommended by our pals at Visit Indy.
- Milktooth – Get your brunch on at this James Beard award-winning spot. They don’t take reservations, so get there early. Unfortunately, I did not make it here, but it is a must for my next trip back after hearing the praises about it.
- Metazoa Brewery – This was my favorite discovery of my latest trip. This brewery just opened back in March and donates 5% of profits to animal and wildlife organizations. The brewmaster, John J Hall, was previously the head brewer at Goose Island and most recently 5 Rabbit Cerveceria in Chicago. I was extremely impressed by their breadth of unique and flavorful beers, especially considering they are just getting started.
- Sun King – Indiana’s second-largest brewery produces consistently great beers. Their downtown tap room is a massive space where you can sip next to the tanks or enjoy a cold one on their patio, which is perfect on a hot, summer day.
- St. Joseph Brewery – This taproom is located inside a historic church. Their chorizo hash paired with the Farmhouse Preacher made for lovely Sunday brunch. I could make so many church-related jokes, but I’ll spare you.
Looking for more Indy inspiration? Check out these links from my awesome fellow bloggers from BlogHouse:
- From Adventures with Andi: An Inspirational Trip to Idyllic Indianapolis
- From Global Gaz: Indianapolis War Memorials
- From The Kittchen: What to do in Indianapolis
- From A Southern Gypsy: A Vegan Guide to Indianapolis, Indiana and Cats & Coffee in Indianapolis, Indiana and The Indianapolis City Market is a Vegan Paradise
- From Walking on Travels: Steller Indianapolis Restaurants You Don’t Want to Miss and 5 Reasons YOU need to go to Indianapolis with kids
- From 10 Miles Behind Me: The 10 Types of Travelers Who Should Visit Indianapolis and A Small Town Girl in Hendricks County
- From LL World Tour: Three Reasons to Visit Indianapolis
- From Coleman Concierge: 10 Things You Can’t Miss in Indy and High Adventure in Hamilton County
- From It’s Five O’Clock Here: How to Fall in Love with Indianapolis in 10 Easy Steps
- From Archives of Adventure: Indulging in Indy: A Self-Guided Indianapolis Sweets Tour
- From Speck on the Globe: Eco Indy: Indiana’s Sustainable City
- From A Dangerous Business: 5 Reasons You Didn’t Know You Need to Go to Indianapolis
- From The Traveling Spud: 9 Fun Things to Do in Indianapolis as a 20-Something
Have you been to Indianapolis? What else would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!