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Do the Districts

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Wholesale District

The Wholesale District is the heart of downtown Indy, where historic buildings mix with contemporary skyscrapers. At the city’s center is Monument Circle (pictured), the site of the famous Soldiers & Sailors Monument and festivals throughout the year. The surrounding government and business hubs, such as the Indiana Convention Center, join some of Indy’s best restaurants and nightlife destinations, including Slippery Noodle Inn, Ike & Jonesy’s and the Indianapolis Artsgarden.

 

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.; indydt.com

Wholesale District

The Wholesale District houses Indy’s professional sports venues: Conseco Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium (pictured). Basketball fans can catch an Indiana Pacers or Indiana Fever game at Conseco Fieldhouse, as well as Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The Indianapolis Colts moved into Lucas Oil Stadium in 2008, offering fans fabulous views of the Indy skyline and a retractable roof for in- or outdoor games. Both venues host concerts and other special events throughout the year.

 

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association; visitIndy.com

Mass Ave

Known as Indy’s arts and theater district, Mass Ave’s diagonal layout lives up to its nickname, “45 degrees from ordinary.” The district is home to five performance theaters, a variety of eclectic boutiques and some of the city’s best independently owned restaurants such as R bistro, Bazbeaux Pizza, and Yats. The history of the street dates back to 1821, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

 

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association; visitIndy.com

Mass Ave

Soak up some history at The Rathskeller restaurant, housed in Mass Ave’s Athenaeum building since 1894. (Fun fact: Bernard Vonnegut, grandfather of author Kurt Vonnegut, helped design the building). From spring through fall, the restaurant’s Biergarten (pictured) is a hot spot for live entertainment, classic German cuisine and refreshing brews. National and local bands play anything from rock and reggae, to polka, jazz and classical music Wednesday through Saturday, and some Sundays. 401 East Michigan Street, 317-636-0396.

 

Photo courtesy of The Rathskeller

Broad Ripple Village

Though outside downtown Indianapolis, Broad Ripple Village has a vitality and energy of its own. The district is packed with bars, quaint eateries and vintage shops near the Central Canal. Along the White River, Broad Ripple Park features a public swimming pool, playground and a dog park. The ever-popular Monon Trail (pictured) cuts through the district, offering pedestrians and bikers a 10.5-mile path from downtown Indy to Carmel, Indiana.

 

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.; indydt.com

Broad Ripple Village

Broad Ripple’s close proximity to Butler University makes the district a hip and cool place for young adults. The Vogue Theatre and Crackers Comedy Club help make the area a prime nightlife destination. Broad Ripple Brewpub (pictured) is a neighborhood staple. As the oldest microbrewery in Indiana, the restaurant fills up every night with patrons eager to get their hands on the handcrafted beer and English pub grub. Family-friendly, vegetarian-friendly—this place is not to miss. 842 E. 65th St., 317-253-2739.

 

Photo courtesy of Broad Ripple Brewpub

The Canal & White River State Park

The green space of The Canal & White River State Park district is perfect for recreational activities. The Canal Walk (pictured) along the waterfront offers a three-mile loop for walking, jogging and rollerblading, while the canal is the place to take a relaxing gondola ride or rent a pedal boat. Indiana’s only urban state park has 250 acres to explore by bike or foot. Toss a Frisbee or walk your dog in Military Park, and catch a summer concert on The Lawn, a waterfront stage with seating for 6,000. Stop at the NCAA Hall of Champions (background), which celebrates collegiate athletes with exhibits and interactive displays.

 

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association; visitIndy.com

The Canal & White River State Park

White River State Park is home to several of Indy’s marquee attractions: Indianapolis Indians baseball at Victory Field, Indianapolis Zoo, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indiana State Museum and an IMAX Theater. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (pictured) can also be found here. The museum is one of a kind in the Midwest and offers exhibitions that tell the stories of the indigenous peoples of North America and those that built the West. Editor’s tip: Purchase a Park Pass for one-time, discounted admission into all of the state park’s attractions.

 

Photo courtesy of Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Fountain Square

Less than five minutes from Downtown Indianapolis is the city’s funkiest district. Fountain Square is the oldest commercial historic district in Indiana and once housed more operating theaters than any other area of Indianapolis. Many artists live and work in the area, making Fountain Square a creative center in the city. Popular arts, retail and entertainment venues include the Murphy Art Center (pictured), the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis Downtown Antique Mall and Radio Radio.

 

Photo by Paul Baumgarten

Fountain Square

This district blends the old with the new. Among the neighborhood’s newest fixtures is the Lady Spray fountain (pictured), a reproduction of a statue that stood here in the early 20th century. The Fountain Square Theatre Building (background) is a historic staple. First opened in 1928, it continues to be a central entertainment venue in the district, offering duckpin bowling, swing dance lessons and more. Devour a meal at one of the building’s two restaurants, shelBi street caFe & Bistro and Smokehouse on Shelby, or trot to the roof for seasonal rooftop dining. You can even stay the night at the Fountainview Inn, an eight-room boutique hotel within the building. 1105 Prospect Street, 317-686-6010.

 

Photo by Paul Baumgarten

Indiana Avenue

Indiana Avenue embodies the city’s African American history and heritage. It was the hub of African American worship, economic and social life from the 1920s to the 1950s, and became a hot spot for jazz. Cultural landmarks include the Crispus Attucks School and Museum and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (pictured)—both are open to the public. The area is also home to the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

 

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.; indydt.com

Indiana Avenue

The Madame Walker Theatre Center is a National Historic Landmark in the heart of Indiana Avenue. The center is named after America’s first self-made female millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker. Today, the center celebrates the arts and culture from an African-American perspective with live performances, art exhibitions and educational programming. 617 Indiana Avenue, call 317-236-2099 for tour information.

 

Photo courtesy of Madame Walker Theatre Center

If you want to experience what gives Indianapolis its vibrancy, explore the city’s six cultural districts: Broad Ripple Village, The Canal & White River State Park, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave and the Wholesale District. Each district is full of art galleries, museums, restaurants, shops, sporting venues and theaters. Four of the districts are located directly downtown, while Fountain Square is one mile southeast and Broad Ripple is nine miles northeast. Comfortable shoes are all you need to discover the distinct cultural opportunities Indianapolis has to offer.—Amanda Hoffstrom

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