Indianapolis: It’s the Happening Place This Summer

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Eight (More) Reasons to Visit Indy

By Margie Goldsmith

Work-out Wednesday in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Work-out Wednesday in Indianapolis, Indiana. Margie Goldsmith photo.

Thanks to the blockbuster movie, The Fault in Our Stars (based on Indianapolis author John Green’s novel) Indy is hotter than ever. Once it was known as “Naptown” and people said, “Hoosier hospitality” was because Eli Lilly’s headquarters are here so all the locals were on Prozac.

By the ’70s, Indy created America’s first sports commission and morphed into major sports and motor car city with the Indy 500, Pacers, Colts, NCAA headquarters, and Pan American Olympic Games.

These days, Indy has more to offer than sports. It’s a hip, funky, happening city. I came to Indy to attend the Harmonica Collective
where local Indiana native and legendary blues harp player Jason Ricci, was teaching workshops along with harmonica superstars Magic Dick, Richard Sleigh, James Conway, Winslow Yerxa, and Buzz Krantz.

Ghost Nuns in the Crown Plaza hotel lobby in Indy. Margie Goldsmith photo.
Ghost Nuns in the Crown Plaza hotel lobby in Indy. Margie Goldsmith photo.

I found my groove blowing the blues but I also found Indy’s groove. Here are eight reasons why you should go, too:

Blue Indy rental electric cars. Blue Indy photo.
Blue Indy rental electric cars. Blue Indy photo.

Little Orphan Annie and Raggedy Ann and Andy James Whitcomb Riley, known as “the Hoosier poet,” wrote more than 1,000 poems including Little Orphan Annie and The Raggedy Man (from which we have Raggedy Ann and Andy).

Victorian Charm

Riley lived in a Victorian home in Lockerbie Square (Indy’s most beautiful and well-preserved square with Italianate, Federal, and Queen Anne houses side by side). His home has been turned into a museum one of the finest Victorian preservations in the country. Drink in the Art Stop by the edgy Alexander where the quirky art is everywhere.

One wall features birds in flight –all made from old records with labels of Indy recording artists including Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five.

Another wall has a portrait of Madame C.J. Walker entirely made from black plastic combs. Walker, who created hair specialized products for African-American women, was the first American woman to become a millionaire through her own business.

Check out the Ghost People

Riley Home.
Riley Home in Indy.

The former union railroad station (where Thomas Edison worked as a telegraph operator but was fired for devoting time to “useless” experiments”) is now the Crown Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station with thirteen 1920’s Pullman cars available as hotel suites.

In and around the lobby are 28 “ghost people,” life-sized statues dressed in authentic period clothing, waiting to catch the train including a shoeshine boy and two nuns walking towards the platform.

Rent an Electric Car Indy, has just rolled out BlueIndy, not surprising as Indy is considered the crossroads of America. This is the largest all-electric car sharing program and the Bolloré Group’s first launch in the U.S. Based out of France, Bolloré created the Autolib in Paris, a highly successful electric car sharing program. What’s great about it?

You don’t need to buy insurance, there are no parking fees, it’s available 24/7, GPS is included, and it’s much cheaper than a rental car.

Workout Wednesdays

Octopus from Bluebeard
Octopus from Bluebeard

Get your sweat on during “Workout Wednesdays” in the heart of downtown Indy for free plus, they supply mats and towels. Anyone can join, the instructors rock, and the schedule rotates weekly — Zumba, Yoga, Cardio Kick and more.

Chow Down Healthy A former prosecutor, couldn’t find healthy food for her children, so she opened her own breakfast/lunch hotspot, Café Patachou. Now there are six in Indy, including at the airport. Also try Bluebeard, named after native Kurt Vonnegut’s eponymous novel, with local produce and meats, a bakery, and the best octopus in Indy.

Don’t Miss the Shrine The Shrine Room, the spiritual heart of the Indiana World War Memorial Museum, honors those who fought and died in World War I and all subsequent wars. The U.S. Army American Flag hanging from the center of the rotunda is a 20 by 40- foot Garrison flag.

HandleBar.Indy is a rolling party complete with music.
HandleBar.Indy is a rolling party complete with music.

Peddle Handlebar Indy Socialize in the great outdoors with HandleBar Indy. Grab your friends, hop on a barstool of a “bar bike” which holds a maximum of 16 people, and a driver will peddle the bar bike downtown.

Bring your own beer, wine, and cooler. There’s a stereo on board with a headphone jack that you can hook up your ipod/iphone so you can play DJ as well.

Dig In Festival. Visit Indy photo.
Dig In Festival. Visit Indy photo.

Typically, the route is from Mass Ave to The Circle to Downtown, but if you have your own preferred route, the “Bar Handler” will arrange it. There are ten “peddle seats,” but if you don’t want to peddle, you can choose the non-peddling bench.

Dig In
 Indy’s biggest celebration of farm to table food with the city’s best restaurants, chefs and brewers will take place this August 17.

Dig In will include gourmet trucks and cooking demos and more than 35 Indiana chefs, brewers, vintners and food artisans will showcase prepared dishes and beverages. Sample food and enjoy live performances by Indiana-based musical groups. Chefs will demonstrate cooking skills and techniques at a new demonstration kitchen stage.

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