Downtown Indianapolis: Bustling Heart of the Circle City
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Downtown Indianapolis is where the magic happens. Whether you live here or are just visiting, downtown Indianapolis has a huge selection of venues and things to do. The second most populous state capital in the United States, Indianapolis boasts a rich history as the Crossroads of America, and at the heart of it all is the downtown sector. With its hip urban scenes, cultural settings, and historical landmarks, this is no sleepy little Midwestern town.
Indianapolis became Indiana‘s state capital after the capital was moved from Corydon, Indiana in 1825. Indianapolis, also known as the Circle City, was originally designed as a city of one square mile with the Governor’s Mansion sitting in the middle of what was once known as Governor’s Circle. Today, that circle is Monument Circle, aptly named for the state’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument completed in 1902. Erected where the Governor’s Mansion once stood, the monument honors Hoosier veterans prior to World War I and is an iconic symbol of downtown Indianapolis.
Also of historic relevance is the seven-block radius of the Indiana War Memorial Plaza historic district. Along with the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, the Indiana War Memorial, Veteran’s Memorial Plaza, and the USS Indianapolis Memorial, are all located in the Plaza, and each pays its own homage to those Hoosiers who lost their lives serving during the World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
The State Capitol Building, located on West Washington Street, was completed in 1888 and is one of the few historic state capitol buildings in the country where all three government branches operate today. Similarly, the Central Library, founded in 1825, is a building of historic importance as it serves as a depository for state and federal documents.
Downtown Indianapolis Arts and Culture
Cultural and art venues are abundant and proof that Indianapolis performing arts are alive and well in this active community. The Stutz Business Center at Senate Avenue and 10th Street houses more than 150 artists and small Indianapolis businesses in one city block. With a range of entertainment options, from Indianapolis music and dance to theatre and museums, downtown Indianapolis is as rich in culture as history.
|Video of a performance by the Indiana Ballet Company in downtown Indianapolis|
Take in a Broadway performance by Broadway Across America, or enjoy the music of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra at the Indiana History Center and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at Hilbert Circle Theatre. The nationally recognized Indianapolis Opera also resides downtown, as does The Phoenix Theatre, The Mystery Cafe, The Theatre on the Square and the Indiana Ballet Company.
Downtown Indianapolis Sports & Entertainment Venues
With across-the-board sporting action, Indianapolis is no stranger to spectator sports. From field to court, ice to track, Indianapolis houses many major sporting venues, and while the Indianapolis Motor Speedway may be the most famous, downtown Indianapolis maintains its share of the action.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse hosts both the Indiana Pacers and the WBNA’s Indiana Fever, and the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts kick off at Lucas Oil Stadium, the former RCA Dome. Victory Field is home to minor league baseball’s Indianapolis Indians, and the Indianapolis Tennis Championships take place each summer at the Indianapolis Tennis Center.
|A WANE Channel 15 video tour of Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis|
For those who enjoy participation as much as observation, Indianapolis has recreational opportunities and facilities that rival some of the best in the country. The Indiana University Natatorium, Indianapolis Tennis Center, and Indiana/World Skating Academy are but a few places Indianapolis residents can go to compete in their favorite sports. Indianapolis parks and the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis also offer a wide variety of sports and recreational programs.
Downtown Indianapolis Nightlife
There is no shortage of happenings for the night owl in Indianapolis. Diversity is the key to downtown Indy‘s successful night scene with dance clubs, cigar bars, live music, and more, bringing Indianapolis nightlife alive. Residents of the Circle City can dance the night away, enjoy a cozy drink at an downtown Indianapolis bar, or indulge in one of the many fine dining options in downtown Indianapolis.
Hot spots in Indianapolis nightlife include the Slippery Noodle Inn, Indiana’s oldest bar, which features live blues every night. It is one of the most famous Indianapolis music venues; You should also check out Howl at the Moon, a genuine dueling piano bar. Get your drinks at a number of downtown bars, including 8 Seconds Saloon, featuring a country music atmosphere, or the Alcatraz Brewing Company, where on-site brewing is a specialty. Cigar and fine wine aficionados will appreciate Nicky Blaine’s or Olive’s Martini and Cigar Bar at the famous Omni Severin Hotel.
No matter what cuisine your pallet craves, downtown Indianapolis restaurants serve it up in style. With a cornucopia of comestibles to whet your appetite, the selection of Indianapolis eateries will fill you up, but might leave you hungry for more. Grab a pizza at Bazbeaux Pizza Restaurant or a burger at Harry & Izzy’s. St. Elmo Steak House delivers a great steak. Mikado serves the perfect sushi and Japanese style fare, and those who appreciate the simplicity of a salad will truly appreciate When Eddie Met Salad’s downtown location.
Family Fun, Attractions, and Shopping in Downtown Indianapolis
Looking for something fun for the whole family in downtown Indianapolis? Look no further than the Circle City for entertainment and Indianapolis attractions that are pleasing to all ages. In the spotlight, of course, are the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Indianapolis Zoo, both of which are worthy of their popularity with Indianapolis kids, but there’s much more to the city than these well-known family attractions.
Climb Time Indy, Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium, and White River State Park are just a few family-friendly destinations located downtown. Children will even love wandering around all the shops and displays in downtown Indianapolis. Additionally, the Indiana State Fairgrounds play host to a myriad of events and expositions year round, including the annual Indiana State Fair.
If shopping at an Indianapolis shopping mall is on your agenda, Circle Centre Mall, anchored in part by Carson Pirie Scott, has over a hundred destinations to choose between and includes specialty stores, dining options, and games. Many other smaller, independent shops downtown, including those in the historic Fountain Square District, offer unique and uncommon shopping experiences. Parking in downtown Indianapolis is easy and affordable too.
Downtown Indianapolis Hotels
Downtown Indianapolis hotels are some of the finest in the world. Savvy Indianapolis tourists do their research and often find excellent deals on Indianapolis travel, Indianapolis tourism and hotels in Indianapolis. You’re likely to have an unforgettable experience at one of these upscale establishments.
Check out the formidable and noble Crowne Plaza Hotel, built in and around the still-functioning Union Train Station. Or the magnificent Embassy Suites Downtown Hotel, connected via skywalk to the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome. Grab one of the carriage rides in downtown Indianapolis rather than hassle with downtown Indianapolis parking, and ease your way into the good life.
|Promotional video for the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Indianapolis|
With so much to see and do, downtown Indianapolis is possibly the most vibrant sector of the energetic, growing metropolis that is Indy. Check out the next page for a concise index of downtown Indianapolis attractions, cultural districts, bars, and more!
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Downtown Indianapolis Cultural Districts
|Broad Ripple Village – Sitting close to Butler University, Broad Ripple Village’s many Indianapolis art galleries, studios, specialty shops, and pubs enjoy lots of activity and a free shuttle service. Put this area on your short list of things to do in Indianapolis.|
|Canal and White River State Park – These sectors sprouted around the Central Canal of Indianapolis and are now newly inspiring as Venetian Canal look-alikes. White River State Park hosts many famous museums and events, with downtown Indianapolis as a striking backdrop.|
|Fountain Square – Mostly noted as an emerging ethnic and artistic Mecca, Fountain Square began with humble roots as a large apple orchard. This neighborhood of vintage, retro and antique shops attracts a good share of live art and Indianapolis fairs and festivals.|
|Indiana Avenue – A historic Indianapolis cultural district, Indiana Avenue was the birthplace of Indianapolis jazz. Today, it is being rejuvenated as a lively business and arts district, soon to return to its former glory.|
|Mass Ave – Though it has long historical roots originating in the early 1800′s, this Indianapolis cultural district describes itself as “An experience 45 degrees left of ordinary.” Theater and the arts meet the free spirit on Mass Ave.|
|The Wholesale District – The Wholesale District of Indianapolis is the seat of transformation for Indiana, having enjoyed an infusion of over $686 million since 1995 to make it the entertainment neighborhood of choice, hosting the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, upscale dining establishments, world-class hotels and Indianapolis shopping, and more.|
Downtown Indianapolis Sports Arenas
|Lucas Oil Stadium – The home of the Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, in the center of downtown Indianapolis, is an enormous conglomeration of world-class stadium, viewing suites, and concert and convention space.|
|Bankers Life Fieldhouse – Lighting up Pennsylvania Street in downtown Indianapolis with Hoosier basketball fervor, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is the home of the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever, two professional Indianapolis sports teams that bring the thunder.|
|IU Natatorium – Built in 1982, the IU Natatorium has hosted the USA Olympic trials, the 2003 Mega Zone Championships, and the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships; it is known as one of the fastest pools in the United States.|
|Victory Field – The home of the Indianapolis Indians, this ballpark has been recognized as the “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” by such sporting publications as Sports Illustrated and Baseball America.|
Downtown Indianapolis Attractions
|The Athenaeum Building – The Athenaeum has a long, respected history since its beginning in 1892, when it was built as a home for some central Indianapolis German societies and the Athenaeum Turners.|
|Indianapolis Canal Walk – Meandering along the edge of downtown Indy, the Canal Walk connects the beautiful expanses of the White River State Park to the core of busy downtown Indianapolis. Fortunate residents can take a moment to relax in its beauty or revel in its recreational possibilities.|
|Indianapolis Cultural Trail – The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a bike friendly, pedestrian friendly, Segway friendly, stroller friendly, almost anything friendly path that will eventually connect many of the Indianapolis cultural districts and provide a destination for visitors and residents alike for decades to come.|
|Monument Circle – Monument Circle is the centerpiece of downtown Indianapolis. This landmark contains dozens of must-see Indianapolis attractions, such as the Indiana War Memorial Plaza, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the world-renowned Indianapolis Zoo and the moving Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.|
|Indianapolis Artsgarden – Soaring almost 100 feet into the air of busy downtown Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Artsgarden is considered by many to be the quintessential performance and Indianapolis event venue, with its high glass walls, bright and airy atmosphere, and easy access to the hub of Indianapolis.|
|Indiana State Capitol Building – This historic seat of Indiana politics is an architectural masterpiece. Tours are free to experience this gorgeously restored facility, dating back to the 1880’s.|
Downtown Indianapolis Bars
|Chatterbox Jazz Club – The bar is a smoking establishment, making it one of the most popular of the many Indianapolis bars. The club features live jazz five nights a week, and three of the nights are without a cover charge.|
|Slippery Noodle Inn – At Indiana’s oldest bar, there’s no fancy tiling on the floor, no delicate sconces in sight on the walls, and no 1000-thread tablecloths, meaning there’s nothing to distract you while you enjoy the music, food, booze, and good company.|
|Howl at the Moon Bar – Howl at the Moon is known for its unbeatable parties and its wide variety of cocktails. Some of the drinks that you just have to try include the “X-Boyfriend”, the “Double Agent Martini”, and the “Adios Mo’ Fo’ Bucket.”|
|The Ugly Monkey – One of the top Indianapolis bars, the Ugly Monkey has three different areas to relax, have fun, and party with your friends in addition to a great food menu and lots of live music and events.|
|Blu Lounge – Blu Lounge is the perfect martini bar to unwind, listen to music, or spoil yourself and some friends in a private VIP lounge with elegant bottle service to your table.|
Downtown Indianapolis Hotels
|Columbia Club – The Columbia Club Hotel in downtown Indianapolis is a distinctive club residence requiring membership for access, though they honor many reciprocal memberships. The structure contains nearly 100 rooms, plus four restaurants and lounges.|
|Canterbury Hotel – The Canterbury Hotel in downtown Indianapolis is an elegant facility that celebrates the décor and exquisite features of the past while providing the best in lodging today; the second you step into the entrance of the Canterbury Hotel, you’ll notice a European-style hotel with all of the current features and amenities you need to enjoy your stay.|
|Conrad Hotel – The Conrad Hilton, connected to the Indianapolis Artsgarden, the Indiana Convention Center, and Circle Centre Mall, makes for a convenient location for special Indianapolis business events, personal celebrations, as well as pampered, weekend downtown Indianapolis getaways.|
|Hilton Garden Inn – The Hilton Garden Inn, in lush downtown Indianapolis, with its luxurious and spacious guest rooms and suites, occupies the historic 16-story Fletcher Savings and Trust Building; it was constructed in 1914 of steel, granite and limestone.|
|Omni Severin Hotel – Yet another landmark in this busy and historic neighborhood, the Omni Severin is comprised of 424 rooms, and it features the popular Hot Tuna Restaurant and near-instant access to all the wonderful downtown Indianapolis attractions.|
|The Westin Hotel – At the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, modern and luscious comfort will greet you in your room. There is a world-class view of the incredible skyline and downtown area of Indianapolis via the big picture windows that nearly cover the wall.|
Downtown Indianapolis Parks
|Indiana War Memorial Plaza Parks – On the Indiana War Memorial grounds, which occupy a full six city blocks, there are three parks and some 24 acres of awe-inspiring statues, monuments, fountains and sculptures. Inside are two large Indianapolis museums and the American Legion’s state and national headquarters.|
|Military Park – Originally named “Military Ground,” Military Park was founded in 1820. Used for military training during the Black Hawk War, it was the site of the Indiana State Fair for many years, up until 1863.|
|University Park – University Park became a public park in 1876; today, walkways are lined with trees, flowerbeds and statuary. A famous fountain, the Depew Fountain, can be found in the center of University Park, depicting children playing in the water among frogs and fish, and a toga-wrapped woman on the top tier, watching over them.|
|Canal and White River State Park – Canal and White River State Park is the nation’s only urban state park and provides a wide variety of fun due to its many attractions and entertainment options. The 250 acre park covers both sides of the White River just west of downtown Indianapolis, between Washington and New York Streets.|
More Indianapolis parks.
Downtown Indianapolis Restaurants
|Augustino’s Italian Restaurant – At Augustino’s Italian Restaurant, only the finest and freshest ingredients will do. They make everything the way their family always cooked in the Old Country, with lots of care in the kitchen, respect for the food and carino in the recipes.|
|Bourbon Street Distillery – With a recently installed new kitchen and a elaborate lunch and dinner menu featuring Cajun/Creole food with an American twist, this casual dining, moderately priced downtown Indianapolis restaurant is fast becoming a favorite.|
|Champps Americana – It’s common knowledge in Indianapolis that when there’s a Colts or Pacers game, heading to Champps Americana in downtown Indianapolis ensures first-rate food and plenty of fun until the doors close, well after midnight.|
|The Eagle’s Nest – To get to the Eagle’s Nest, you go up to the 23rd floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, then enter a plush circular dining room lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. The view of downtown Indianapolis is breathtaking and takes in almost the entire metropolis, trimmed with a beautiful skyline.|
|Fogo de Chao – The Fogo de Chão Churrascaria is a delightfully different Brazilian steakhouse smack in the middle of downtown Indianapolis; the secret, they say, is in the Gaucho chefs’ particular style of fire-roasting the prime cuts of meat they use.|
|The Palomino Restaurant – The Palomino Restaurant is an energetic downtown restaurant and bar in Indianapolis that is famous for its classically modern and sumptuous ambiance. One of the most luxurious downtown Indianapolis restaurant, the Palomino is a great place to bring your date for a romantic evening out on the town.|