If you’re aching for a vacation but not quite ready to board a plane, we’ve got the perfect weekend escape for you: Indianapolis!
This Midwestern gem began honoring their milestone bicentennial anniversary this summer, and the celebration continues through next May. There are dozens of different itineraries one could follow to enjoy a weekend in this vibrant city. For this weekend getaway, we focus specifically on the booming food and art scene that can be found less than two hours away.
“Indianapolis is a thriving food city,” says Nate Swick, Communications Manager for Visit Indy. “We have a lot of options. No matter what your palette is, you can find something to excite.”
With dozens of amazing food choices throughout the city, it was hard to narrow down our selections for where to dine. Here we highlight two picks for each meal during your stay.
Milktooth is the place to go for brunch in Indy. This fine diner was chosen as one of 10 best new restaurants in the United States by Bon Appétit. Menu options change daily and range from sweet to savory. Some standouts are the cornbread waffle with poached peaches, berry Dutch baby pancake and the caramelized onion strata with local chanterelle mushrooms, melted leeks and fried kale. For the adventurous eater, they offer a crispy tongue and beet hash or a fish plate with oysters and sardines. MilkToothIndy.com
Gallery Pastry Bar offers decadent desserts, pastries, crepes and more to satisfy your sweet tooth. Their buttery croissants with 81 delicate layers are made fresh daily in the open-view kitchen. Display cases feature delectable desserts offered throughout the day. They even host cooking classes where guests can learn from industry-leading pastry chefs. GalleryPastryShop.com
Café Patachou is often described as “a student union for adults.” Each of their five café locations around Indianapolis features dishes prepared from scratch with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients. Their casual fare includes omelets, salads, soups, sandwiches and gluten-free desserts. Founder Martha Hoover is a trailblazing female restaurateur and operates nine additional bars and restaurants around town. CafePatachou.com
Shapiro’s Delicatessen has been an Indianapolis staple since 1905 and now offers three locations. The deli is best known for huge portions of Kosher-style classics like their slow cooked corned beef, pastrami and brisket. Homemade matzo ball soup, New York-style bagels and creamy cheesecakes are just some of what can be enjoyed at Shapiro’s. Shapiros.com
Our favorite dining experience of the weekend was Livery, near the city’s Mass Ave art and cultural district. Their Latin-America influenced dishes and drinks are exquisitely presented. Known for tequila and margaritas, they also serve creative specialty drinks. Each menu item offers a unique pairing of ingredients that work together deliciously, such as a cauliflower appetizer served with avocado salsa. Some of our recommendations include the empanadas, lamb tamale and paella served with a spicy chorizo fried rice. We finished our meal with churros drizzled with caramel and left wishing we had room for more. Livery-Restaurant.com
If you’re a foodie who’s ready to put your faith fully in the hands of the chef, Beholder is a splurge worth exploring. Chef Jonathan Brooks, who also founded Milktooth, and Sommelier Josh Mazanowski are partners in this high-end establishment that Wine Enthusiast named one of the top 100 wine restaurants in both 2018 and 2019. The menu changes daily and offers both three and six artfully presented tasting courses with optional wine pairing. BeholderIndy.com
A casual spot to grab a post-dinner beverage is 1718 The Bates-Hendricks House Bar. Cocktails are their specialty and they’ve become known for their selection of bourbon. 1718HB.com
If beer is your beverage of choice, Sun King Brewery offers a wide range of choices from Pachanga, a Mexican-style lager, to Orange Vanilla Sunlight Cream Ale. SunKingBrewing.com
Art and Culture
Between meals, there are abundant art and cultural opportunities to enjoy, many outdoors and free of charge.
“The Cultural Trail is an 8-mile art walk that connects all of Indy’s cultural districts and several historic neighborhoods,” explains Nate. “It breathed new life into the neighborhoods and has already changed downtown for the better.”
One of the most popular stops along the trail is White River State Park. This 250-acre urban park has outdoor sculptures, open green space and the Indiana Central Canal, which can be enjoyed via pedal boat or on a three-mile pedestrian walking path. Various concerts and festivals are held in the park, including the Vintage Indiana Wine Fest, coming on October 17.
Seven museums and attractions are in the park, including the NCAA Headquarters & Hall of Champions, Indianapolis Zoo and The Indiana State Museum. The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art houses exhibits that inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of these indigenous people. A noteworthy exhibit features the work of Michael Naranjo, a blind artist who creates stunning bronze sculptures. Disposable gloves are provided to encourage visitors to experience the “Please Touch!” exhibit with their hands.
On the north side of the city is Newfields, a campus with multiple nature and art opportunities including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the garden and Fairbanks Park.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art is best known as the home of the original Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Four floors showcase everything from ancient works to art from Africa, Asia, Europe and America. A new fourth floor modern art exhibit will open in 2021. Check their website for current exhibitions and events. DiscoverNewfields.org
Just outside the museum are 52 acres of peaceful gardens to explore. Tour the historic Lilly House and conservatory, then enjoy a local brew in the beer garden.
Across the river is the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. Birdwatching and relaxation are encouraged with 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands and meadows to explore. Modern sculptures are interspersed, including Funky Bones, the whimsical group of 20 fiberglass “bone” benches upon which visitors can walk or jump.
If you’re concerned about the safety of traveling during a pandemic, rest assured that Indianapolis is taking precautions.
“We’ve been preparing for reopening for months now and we’ve rolled out the most effective and safe measures possible,” says Nate.
If you’re ready to hit the road this fall for a food and art filled weekend, check out Indianapolis.
“We’re ready to welcome visitors back safely and we have a lot to offer,” shares Nate.