Indianapolis has many media accolades under its belt. Conde Nast Traveler named it one of 6 U.S. Cities to Watch in 2017; Travel+Leisure listed it among its 50 Best Places to Travel in 2017; and, much to the CVB’s delight, it was named the Best Convention City by USA Today in 2014, an award voted on by readers. Not to mention, it’s home to the famed Indianapolis 500.
But I wasn’t ready to drink the Kool-Aid until I experienced the city for myself. What I discovered last weekend was altogether surprising, enlightening and fascinating—and left me ready to plan my next trip back. (It’s nice living a three-hour drive away in Chicago.)
Myth 1: It’s not pretty.
Blame it on growing up out West and then living in the South, but I’d always pictured Indianapolis as an industrial city. I was proved wrong upon discovering the Downtown Canal Walk on two wheels via Segway Tours of Indiana. My first Segway experience in Greenville, South Carolina, completely changed my attitude about the personal transporters, and I’m now convinced a Segway might be the best way to experience the beauty of Indy—including the spectacular 250-acre White River State Park—in only two hours. You can also experience the downtown waterfront via pedal boats, bikes, surreys and gondolas, though Segways appear to be the least sweaty option.
Myth 2: There are only a few good spots to eat.
I recall first reading about Indy’s now-famous Milktooth and thinking it was a random place for a high-end brunch spot. How wrong I was. Dining at Bluebeard, a shared-plates and craft cocktail spot housed in a renovated 1920s warehouse, I discovered it is possible to find your true love in vegetables. The beet salad with shaved fennel, apple, feta, pistachio and truffle vinaigrette lives up to the hype, and that homemade, unbelievably spicy ginger beer takes my go-to Moscow mule to an entirely different level. And for charcuterie board lovers like me, Union 50’s giant Grand Board—a daily selection of meats, cheeses and extras like goat cheese-stuffed peppadews—is the stuff dreams are made of.