Indianapolis is a surprising melting-pot city full of different neighborhoods, each with a unique personality and culture all its own, and all brimming with the state’s trademark Hoosier hospitality. Here’s a quick rundown of some of Indy’s most notable nooks and crannies to explore, and a few ideas on what to do and see once you get there.
One of four main diagonal thoroughfares radiating out from the city’s urban core, the Massachusetts Avenue cultural district—or Mass Ave for short—proposes trendy terrain for sophisticated condo living and plenty of options for dining, shopping, and bar hopping. Old National Centre at the statuesque Murat Temple hosts live music performances and touring Broadway productions. Make a stop at Rathskeller, in the historic Athenaeum building across the street, before or after a show for authentic German beer and cuisine.
The busy Monon Trail and a lovely canal run through this scenic north-central village, offering easy access by bike or on foot to eclectic boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and the adorable residential bungalows that define the community. The Broad Ripple Brewpub holds rank as the first establishment of its kind in Indiana and the oldest brewery in the state. Meanwhile, a collection of dance clubs anchored by the Vogue, a 1938 theater-turned-live-music venue, makes Broad Ripple popular among younger crowds that love the nightlife.
Historic Irvington took shape around the Old National Road on Indy’s east side in the 1870s, and its friendly neighborhood vibe makes it a popular spot for young families. Spend some time visiting the local eateries, groovy stores, and enjoying the handsome collection of Italianate, Victorian, Queen Anne, and Arts & Crafts-style homes. If you’re lucky enough to visit around Halloween, Irvington seriously does it up right with a beloved annual festival that includes a parade, ghost tours, and other spooky activities. Jockamo Upper Crust honors local Indianapolis son and famed author Kurt Vonnegut with a five-meat “Slaughterhouse Five” pizza.
Fountain Square and Fletcher Place
These funky side-by-side communities bleed into each other just to the southeast of downtown along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, housing a diverse selection of eateries serving global cuisine, cozy local cafes, craft breweries and edgy intimate music venues. The Fountain Square Theatre is the centerpiece of the district, housing two duckpin bowling alleys, restaurants, and event space. Take a pit stop to check out Idle Park, a tiny urban park overlooking the highway where I-70 splits from I-65.
This developing downtown area rises up from the former site of Market Square Arena like a phoenix, now boasting sleek condos and serving as the city’s mass transit epicenter anchored by the Julia M. Carson Transit Center and the Indy Bike Hub (the only bicycle parking garage of its kind in the country). Since 1886, the Indianapolis City Market has been a beloved community gathering space; these days, housing 25 food vendors under one roof and a network of underground catacombs in addition to hosting a seasonal outdoor farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons through the summer months.
Rows of lovingly maintained Victorian homes (most of which date back to the 1890s), fountains, and esplanades populate this graceful several-block stretch just east of downtown in what was considered Indy’s first planned residential “suburb.” The neighborhood remains mainly residential, but Beholder, a high-end restaurant, and nearby hole-in-the-wall taverns, grocery stores, and shops draw visitors, as does a busy summer flea market held each year on the first weekend in June.
With charming streets lined with a winning mix of historic homes and new construction, the Old Northside is one of Indy’s oldest and most storied neighborhoods. History buffs can tour the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site and the historic Morris-Butler House Museum for a dose of culture. Those who can’t get enough can book a room at one of several local inns and stroll over to the Harrison Center for an open-house tour of resident arts studios and galleries on the First Friday of every month.
On April 4, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy announced the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to a campaign crowd that was gathered to hear him speak in downtown Indianapolis. His calming words that fateful night are credited with preventing the riots and violence that broke out in other cities across America as news of the assassination spread. Today, a memorial stands on the site of that momentous event, along with a public park space, nearby loft-style apartments, and a growing commercial presence.
Fall Creek Place
Everything old is new again in Fall Creek Place. This up-and-coming urban district is busy reinventing old residential structures as modern new homes that appeal to everyone from young professionals and empty nesters. Close to the Monon Trail and boasting several parks and green spaces, the neighborhood is also home to commercial development that includes the Goose the Market deli, and the Koelschip craft beer bar.
Its own independent municipality within the larger Indianapolis community, Speedway is home to the world-renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a roster of businesses that live and breathe Indy’s auto racing culture. The IMS is worth touring any time of year even if there’s not a big race going on, and Main Street proposes additional attractions like Speedway Indoor Karting, microbreweries, restaurants, wineries, and distilleries