Culture + Style

How to Follow 8 Miles of Awesome Through 6 Indy ‘Hoods

Hit the scenic Indianapolis cultural trail, starting at Wholesale District and winding through Indianapolis neighborhoods, to see Indy’s top attractions.(Photo: Getty Images)

Indianapolis wants you to have fun. Seriously, the city even built you a trail to good times — eight paths take you through six cultural districts for all the shopping, culture and delicious food your little heart desires. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which opened in May 2013, connects the city’s premier downtown cultural districts and neighborhoods, which makes it a snap to see it all. Check out fabulous local artwork as you stroll the well-lit paths, or maybe even take a rental bike out for a spin. Enjoy eight miles of walking and biking trails as you take in the beautiful views of downtown Indianapolis. A beautiful path that takes you everywhere you need to see and be? What could be better?

Wholesale District

The Wholesale District in downtown Indy is the center of it all. Like music? Check out the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at the beautifully restored Hilbert Circle Theatre. For sports fans, Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse await. Plus, museums, parks and 24 acres of monuments, statues and fountains beckon for culture vultures. And history buffs shouldn’t miss the towering Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which commemorates pre-WWI Hoosier veterans and stands almost as tall (only 15 feet shorter!) as the Statue of Liberty.

Hidden Gem: Mmmmm … burgers. Get your fry fix at Punch Burger, home to yummy custom burger creations and crispy waffle fries. Build your own burger or choose a Punch Burger specialty; you can’t go wrong with the Good Morning Burger, topped with bacon, a fried egg and a dab of cream cheese.

Indiana Avenue

The home of Indy’s jazz scene in the early part of the 20th century, Indiana Avenue was known as “Funky Broadway” and “The Yellow Brick Road.” Dedicated to celebrating African Americans’ essential role in the growth of Indianapolis, Indiana Avenue hosts some of the city’s most dazzling galleries, restaurants, museums, parks and performance venues.

Hidden Gem: The Madame Walker Theatre, in the Madame C. J. Walker Building, was the hub of entertainment and business in the city’s African-American community from the 1920s to the 1950s. Catch a show to relive the Jazz Age while visiting this National Historic Landmark. And immerse yourself in the history of African American culture at living-history museum Freetown Village, which teaches history through performance.

White River State Park

Feel like learning something new? Meander over to the Indiana State Museum or the Indianapolis Zoo. Or, if flora is your thing, don’t miss the White River Gardens, home to more than 1,000 different species of plants. Wanna get romantic? Ride a gondola down the canal for a unique and intimate tour of Indianapolis, all inside White River State Park.

Hidden Gem: Stroll through the picturesque 14-acre Military Park, the oldest park in Indiana. Enjoy community events and festivals … or just spend the day lounging on the lawn — a former Civil War encampment.

Broad Ripple Village

Ready for some food and drink (and some shopping, too)? For a thriving night life, restaurant and bar culture, make your way to Broad Ripple Village, where you can discover delicious international cuisine as well as cozy pubs and breweries, like the Broad Ripple Brewpub.

Hidden Gem: Vinyl nuts rejoice! Shop for vintage sounds at Indy CD and Vinyl, Indianapolis’s audiophile mecca. You won’t find more new and used vinyl anywhere in central Indiana. Don’t have a record player (or have a busted one?)? You’re in luck — you can get yourself one, or get a new needle for your old one, here. And you’ll be supporting an independent business, to boot.

Mass Ave.

Known as the Arts and Theater District, Mass Avenue is abuzz with five blocks of theaters, restaurants, eclectic art galleries and boutiques. Get some new kicks from Stout’s Shoes, the nation’s oldest shoe store, or gather with friends at the trendy Mesh Restaurant for farm-to-table cuisine.

Hidden Gem: Feeling sweet from your stroll down Mass Avenue? You’re in luck because The Best Chocolate in Town is serving up, well … you get it. Don’t forget to try the chocolate-covered popcorn (it’s what the locals love) featuring innovative flavors like white raspberries and cream, milk chocolate caramel, dark chocolate caramel and caramel cashew.

Fountain Square

Just a mile and a half away from downtown, Fountain Square is a charming, retro, artist-filled enclave with a European village–style town center. Here you’ll discover the charming Fountain Square Theatre, Action Duckpin Bowling and excellent restaurants and bars, like Imbibe Lobby Bar & Game Room, as well as some of the area’s best Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.

Hidden Gem: On top of the Fountain Square Theatre Building lies an oasis in the middle of downtown Indianapolis: the Rooftop Garden. Open seasonally during the warmer months, check out spectacular views of downtown that you won’t find at any other Indianapolis attraction while dining at the End of the Line Public House.