Travel to Indianapolis, Indiana – Episode 498

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What to do, see and eat in Indianapolis. Travel to Indianapolis, Indiana - Amateur Traveler Episode 498

Hear about travel to Indianapolis, Indiana as the Amateur Traveler talked to Nancy Parode the Senior Travel Expert at about travel to this mid-western capital.


Nancy says “I think that Indianapolis is one of the hidden gems of the United States. So many people fly over it or drive through it or they only go to perhaps the speedway and they miss out on a great mid-sized city with a really cool vibe, lots of things to do, good places to eat, excellent museums. It’s just a place I think everyone should go.”

Nancy starts us off at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which even non-race enthusiasts can enjoy. You can get out on the track (in a bus, not an Indy car), watch a race or visit the museum there.

Of the city, she says “it’s a walkable city, it’s very friendly. Even before the Super Bowl of 2012, the city was going through a massive renovation and cleanup project. Some of the areas where warehouses had been sitting empty have been turned into restaurant space [the Wholesale District]. They built a bunch of neat museums.”

“There is a state park in downtown Indianapolis that has an enormous amount of green space. That is also home to the Indianapolis Zoo and quite a few of the top museums in Indy. In the Summer and early fall, you can rent bicycles and pedal buggies.”

Sports fans can take in a Colts game or a college basketball game in a state known for its college sports or visit the NCAA Hall of Champions. Art lovers will enjoy the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, while history buffs can take a tour of the state capital, visit the Indian State Museum or the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

If you are traveling with kids then Nancy says the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a must-see. A giant dinosaur model must agree as it sits in the front go the museum peeking in. If you are traveling with big kids or adults who just think they are big kids the largest gaming convention in North America, Gen Con, is held each summer in the city.

For side trips, Nancy recommends a fall visit to Brown County State Park for fall foliage and the artist colony at Nashville, Indiana. Other side trips she recommends are to the town of Fishers with the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (living history museum) or to Columbus Indiana which is a company town designed by well-known architects.

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Show Notes

Official Indianapolis Site
Nancy on
Travel to Baltimore, Maryland – Episode 438
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard
Indianapolis Zoo
Bike Rentals in Indianapolis
Brown County State Park (for fall foliage)
Shapiros Delicatessen
Harry & Izzy’s Steakhouse
Indian State Museum
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Indianapolis Zoo White River Gardens
NCAA Hall of Champions
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Indiana Historical Society
Fort Harrison State Park (riding stables)
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Indianapolis Colts Grille
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home
Indianapolis Cultural Trail
Nancy on 60 and Me



What to do, see and eat in Indianapolis. Travel to Indianapolis, Indiana - Amateur Traveler Episode 498


Chris: Amateur Traveler episode 498. Today, the Amateur Traveler talks about race cars, giant dinosaurs, all kinds of sports and board games as we go to Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to the Amateur Traveler.

Chris: This episode of Amateur Traveler is sponsored by DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. These colorful guidebooks are filled with great information and are one of my favorite guidebooks. I have 25 of them right here on my bookshelf. Learn more at I’m your host Chris Christensen. We’ll be talking a little more about our sponsor later on, but first, let’s talk about Indianapolis. I’d like to welcome back to the show Nancy Parode, who is a travel writer, she is also the senior and baby boomer travel expert for I know that she hates the term expert, but I will call her that because that is her title. Nancy, welcome back to the show.

Nancy: Thanks for having me.

Chris: You have come to talk to us about another U.S. destination today. Where are we talking about?

Nancy: We’re talking about the beautiful city of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Chris: And I say another, I should say that Nancy was our guest talking about Baltimore, not all that long ago, a year or so ago. Why should we go to Indianapolis?

Nancy: Well, I think Indianapolis is one of the hidden gems of the United States. So many people fly over it or drive through it or they only go to perhaps the speedway and they miss out on a great mid-size city with a really cool vibe, lots of things to do, good places to eat, excellent museums. It’s just a place I think everyone should go.

Chris: And you say the speedway, that would probably be the one thing that we do know about it. I think they do a race there.

Nancy: Yeah, a really famous one, the Indy 500. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most famous speedways in the United States. So famous that the car class that races there is called the Indy car and they also do a NASCAR race, the Brickyard 400. They have a museum there. If you’re a race enthusiast, you can go and see a whole bunch of Indy cars and trophies and learn about the trivia of the race and you can even take a bus lap around the track yourself.

Chris: How fast do they get the bus going?

Nancy: Not very, but it’s still a cool thing to do. I did it.

Chris: It’s not like in Speed or something like that?

Nancy: No, no. That’s good because the bus driver has control of the bus while on the track. I did it, and I was surprised at how fun it was. I’m not really a race enthusiast, but we went and I got on the bus and we went around and we like, “Wow, this is what the drivers see!” It’s kind of a unique perspective on racing.

Chris: And are you a big racing fan?

Nancy: No.

Chris: Okay. But we…let’s be honest here.

Nancy: No, I’m not. But it was still cool to do. Everybody’s heard of the Indy 500. And they were also setting up for a race. They were getting ready for the Brickyard 400. So they had brought in a whole bunch of trailers and they were setting up a concert stage and all kinds of things. That was neat to see as well.

Chris: Have you been there for either of the races?

Nancy: No.

Chris: Okay.

Nancy: Because I’m not a racing enthusiast.

Chris: Well, there, we already established that, yes. I have a good friend who is a racing enthusiast, and enough so that he buys the kind of tires for his car that you go through really quickly when you’re racing autocross and things like that. He describes racing as a way of turning money into noise. So…

Nancy: Yes, that’s a good description actually.

Chris: Actually, I think it would be interesting in seeing the Indy 500 sometime or the Brickyard…

Nancy: Four hundred.

Chris: Four hundred. Okay, go ahead. I added on a hundred there. Excellent. Well, why else should we go to Indianapolis? Let’s go through your points in a little more detail.

Nancy: First of all, there’s a lot to see and do. It’s a very friendly city. It’s quite walkable. Even before the Super Bowl in 2012, the city was going through a massive renovation and clean-up project and some of the areas where previously warehouses and so on had been left sitting empty, a lot of those have been turned into restaurant space and other spaces. They’ve built a whole bunch of neat museums.

There is a state park in downtown Indianapolis that has an enormous amount of green space and that’s also home to the Indianapolis Zoo and quite a few of the top museums in Indy and you can stroll along the grass. You can, in the summer and early fall, you can rent bicycles and pedal buggies and explore. That way, you don’t have to stay in the state park area, you can take them all over downtown Indy if you want to. You can also rent pedal boats, there’s a little canal in that area and just relax and pedal around.

They have some little bridges you go under and fountains in the canal. It’s quite fun. So, there’s that. There are a lot of interesting, historic spots because it’s a state capital. The state capitol building is quite attractive and they do a really nice tour of it if you’re interested in state history. James Whitcomb Riley’s home, famous poet, is in Indianapolis. And the Benjamin Harrison’s home, President Benjamin Harrison, he live in Indianapolis and so you can tour his home as well.

So there’s something for everyone. Even outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy doing things in downtown Indianapolis and also there’s a park, Eagle Creek, where you can rent canoes and kayaks and go out on the lake, and it’s not very far from the speedway, actually. It’s an easy drive from downtown Indy to get there and it’s a short drive as well.

Chris: Okay, let’s take a breath and go back and add a little bit more detail. So, you talked about the area where they converted warehouses into public spaces and restaurants and etc. What is the name of that neighborhood?

Nancy: Well, part of it is the Wholesale District, that’s the area kind of south of…the center of Indianapolis is a big traffic circle with a monument in the middle of it, The Sailors and Soldiers Monument, and so that’s called Monument Circle and that is right near the state capital. That is the center point of Indianapolis, so it’s South of there. There’s a nice mall down there now and some nice restaurants. And just a little bit south of there is the famous Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. I don’t know if you know this about Indiana, but sports are a lot like religion there.

Chris: Well, basketball is certainly the one that we’ve talked about, yes.

Nancy: Yes, definitely basketball. But on Colts game day, the whole city turns blue and it’s quite the sight to be there on a Colts game day.

Chris: They turn blue because the color of the Colts, we would guess, is blue.

Nancy: Yes, it’s…

Chris: Not just that they do it on cold days?

Nancy: No, although sometimes it’s quite cold there, but it doesn’t matter because Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Colts, is a covered stadium. I’ve been in there for summer events. I went to a drum and bugle corps championship there a couple of summers ago. And when they cover that stadium, they can air-condition it and make it comfortable enough so that I needed a sweater.

Chris: Interesting. And you talked about weather. So, Indianapolis cool in the winter time, cold in the winter time…

Nancy: Yes, it snows.

Chris: Warm in the summer time. When is the best time to go to Indianapolis?

Nancy: I would suggest going anytime between late spring and late fall, is a good time to go. It’s kind of cool there still in the early spring, summers are pretty warm, mid-80s is a typical day time temperature. I live in Maryland so it’s less humid than a Maryland summer, but it’s still a little tiny bit humid compared to, for example, the LA area and Southern California where I grew up. But it’s certainly…you can get out and do stuff and it’s not ridiculously uncomfortable. It’s a little cooler obviously in the late spring and fall is quite pleasant. And then you also have the benefit if you want to do a side trip to see fall foliage, then…

Chris: You talked about side trip in Indianapolis, I don’t think of Indianapolis as a fall foliage place and largely because I’m ignorant. So, where would I do that?

Nancy: Well, you would have to get a car and you would drive about an hour and a half south to a beautiful and surprisingly hilly part of the state of Indiana, Brown County. There’s an artist colony there. It’s the town of Nashville. And all around there is this beautiful state park, Brown County State Park.

It’s actually such a popular fall foliage destination that if you want to stay in Brown County, you need to book well, well ahead. So you can drive through the state park and the leaves are just gorgeous and then Nashville is a wonderfully funky little town, full of artists and interesting little shops and cafes and so on. It’s a very, very popular destination throughout the visiting season but particularly during the fall.

Chris: Okay. We were talking neighborhoods. We were going all over the place here.

Nancy: Yeah, we are.

Chris: And we talked about all the warehouses being converted. Do you have a particular spot down there that you want to recommend, restaurants, nightlife or whatever?

Nancy: I’m not sure I’m the person to recommend nightlife. I think I’ve aged out of the nightlife crowd. There are quite a few good restaurants all over Indianapolis. If you’re looking for a lunch spot on the south side, you could go to Shapiro’s Delicatessen, which is exactly what it sounds like, a good deli and pick up a sandwich there. So that would be probably my top spot for visiting. One of the things that I like about Indy is that there are all kinds of restaurants there, a wide variety of price points so if you want to casually pick up a sandwich thing, you can do that. If you want a pub, there’s a Scottish pub, there’s an Irish pub, all kinds of food from all over the world and then there’s some very upscale places as well. If you want a good steak dinner, you can do that.

Chris: Do you have a recommendation for upscale places?

Nancy: I do. Harry and Izzy’s is a local restaurant. There are three Harry and Izzy’s restaurants, one on the north side, one in downtown and, unbelievably, one at the airport. But that’s locally-owned and they have really, really nice dinners. They specialize in steak, but they have other offerings too, pasta and so on. And they have excellent, excellent service. If you want a really nice meal and you want to be treated like a king or queen, that would definitely be a place you should consider.

Chris: And you say “unbelievably at the airport,” what I’m finding is more and more cities are getting smart and realizing that…or airports are getting smart that inviting in some of the local restaurants that are well known in the area so that you get a taste for the food. You can get that sourdough bread bowl with a clam chowder in San Francisco. You can get good barbecue with live music, even, in Austin. And so, it’s getting less surprising for me than it used to be. I think airports are getting much more interesting than just having some bad cafeteria food.

Nancy: That’s true. Indianapolis’s airport is not very far from the downtown area. It’s kind of small. That’s why I said surprisingly not because I don’t think of airports as a place to get decent food, but it’s because of the size of the airport. It’s interesting that Harry and Izzy’s would open a spot out there. But, hopefully, they’ll do well because they are a good restaurant.

Chris: Let’s take a break here and hear from our sponsor who is DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I’ve been talking to you about how I enjoy these guidebooks. I just picked up the one that I have on New York City. One of the things that I like about the guidebooks is this one, for instance, has five guided walks in New York City and basically the guidebook is providing you walks. In this case, one in Lower Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, one in Lower East Side, one in Greenwich Village and one in the Upper East Side, where they give you step-by-step things to see and, of course, pictures since we’ve talked about how the DK Eyewitness Guides are full of pictures, illustrations, maps and other things that make them both useful and very attractive guidebooks. I don’t know that they have a guidebook on Indianapolis, but you can pick up one about your next destination, either at your local bookstore or go to for more information about the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. And thanks to DK for continuing sponsorship of The Amateur Traveler.

And you mentioned museums?

Nancy: There are quite a few museums in Indianapolis. One of my favorites is the Indiana State Museum, which is all about state history. It starts with prehistoric times and work its way to the present days. If you want to get a feel for what Indiana particularly was like but also the entire state of Indiana at a certain point in time, then that’s a good place to go. All of these museums that I’m mentioning are all in the White River State Park area. So the Indiana State Museum is there.

There’s an excellent, excellent Native American and Western Art Museum, the Eiteljorg. They have a fantastic collection of both Native American art and Western art of the American West. They also have a contemporary collection that they add to with a Native American artist. I guess you would call it a competition. And they have changing exhibits as well and it’s all kinds of art, not just painting but photography, blankets, beadwork, all kind of things related to Native American culture and the American west.

Chris: And you say that’s in the White River State Park area? So, that’s the area you were talking about earlier, with the canal that we could go out on and that’s where the zoo is as well?

Nancy: Yes. And the zoo is also attached to a botanical garden, so there’s plenty of outdoor opportunity there. Another museum in that area is the NCAA Hall of Champions. This is a museum that if you are a sports enthusiast and you love college sports, you might want to go to because it covers all kinds of NCAA sports, not just basketball, although of course, in Indiana, basketball is king.

Chris: So, you say basketball is king. Typically, college basketball and high school basketball is king in Indianapolis is what I know historically.

Nancy: Yes, yes, definitely.

Chris: If I want to participate in that, where should I go?

Nancy: The biggest college campus in Indy is the combined campus of Indiana University and Purdue downtown, IUPUI. But also Butler, which has a very well-known basketball program is in Indy. There are several colleges and universities in the Indianapolis area. If you really want to go whole hog, you could drive about an hour and a half south to Bloomington and go to an IU game down there or you could go up to Purdue and Lafayette and that’s about two hours away by car. But you could certainly try to get to a Butler game or an IUPUI game and enjoy seeing basketball with a whole bunch of locals.

Chris: And are there things we should know, colors, for instance, we should not wear if we go to one of those basketball games?

Nancy: People in Indiana are really, really nice and friendly. I don’t think you’ll get beat up for wearing the wrong colors to a college basketball game. I would say that if you’re in town on a Colts game day and you are wearing a jersey from another team, you might get a friendly comment of the “Ha-ha, why are you supporting that team”? variety. But it would be in good fun. Indiana natives are very friendly folks. My best friend lives in the Indianapolis area, and she keeps talking to me about the wonderful Hoosier Heartland, and she’s right. People are just down home friendly.

Chris: Okay. And then you talked about history and you mentioned the state capital and you also mentioned the house of…

Nancy: Benjamin Harrison.

Chris: Benjamin Harrison, right. Anything else we can do from a historical point of view?

Nancy: Well, you could climb the monument, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Monument Circle or take a photo of that if you want to see how the soldiers and sailors are commemorated in Indianapolis. And also, along the canal in White River State Park, there’s a monument to the USS Indianapolis, which is a Navy ship that was unfortunately sunk and so the names of all of the sailors who lost their life in service to our country are listed on there.

Chris: And I don’t know the Indianapolis but, because of the name, it would be a cruiser. Cruisers in U.S. were named after major cities and battleships were named after the states.

Nancy: Yes, and now submarines are named after states.

Chris: Ah, very good. Okay.

Nancy: Yes, because the last battleships were decommissioned after the Gulf War.

Chris: Right, right. Good point.

Nancy: Another thing that you could do, especially this year is go to the Historical Society downtown. This is Indianapolis’s…well, the whole state’s bicentennial year. Indiana became a state, 200 years ago, so this year, they’re doing all kinds of historically-related things and the Indiana Historical Society has a special exhibit on the history of Indiana. So that is definitely a place you might want to go to.

Chris: Interesting. And you were talking about the art of the West and of course, Indiana used to be the West.

Nancy: Yes, absolutely. It was where battles took place against the Native Americans and so on. There are not any battlefield sites that I can think of right in downtown Indianapolis but, certainly around the state, if you wanted to do that, you could.

Chris: Excellent. What do people recommend or what is the Tourism Board or the guide books recommend that you don’t actually think are worth going to?

Nancy: Well, unless you’re a total sports enthusiast, maybe the NCAA Hall of Champions isn’t your thing because it’s all sports all the time. So if that really isn’t interesting to you, you might want to skip that. Another thing that I would suggest avoiding unless you’re a gaming enthusiast is the week of Gen Con.

Chris: Oh, Gen Con, that’s right.

Nancy: Yes, Gen Con is the world’s largest gaming convention and every hotel in the local area sells out when they open up the hotel blocks for this convention, which they do several months before, in two hours. So the whole city is full of gamers.

Chris: Interesting. I am a gamer, you actually just got me more interested in Indianapolis.

Nancy: It’s enormous. Indianapolis has a great convention center. It’s very well laid out. It’s large, and it’s comfortable. I’ve been to it for several events, and I’ve even been in it during Gen Con. But Gen Con is too big for the convention center, so it spills out into hotel exhibit space around the city as well.

So if you do not like crowds or you’re not a gaming enthusiast, maybe that timeframe is not the time you want to be in Indy. But if you are a gamer, highly recommended. They have all kinds…it’s not just video games, it’s board games, it’s role playing games, it’s live action role playing games. It’s every gamer’s dream come true. It’s just fabulous.

Chris: Excellent. I forgot Gen Con was in Indianapolis, very good. What’s the biggest surprise I’m going to have when I go to Indianapolis?

Nancy: Well, most people are surprised by how friendly all the people are, friendly and helpful, “Hi, where are you going? What brings you to Indy?” that type of thing. I think another thing that was a surprise to me the first time I really started exploring Indy was how much green space there is. The White River State Park is there, and I mentioned also Eagle Creek Park, which isn’t terribly far away from that.

The idea that you could be in a city in the Midwest and, one minute be in a museum and then get in a car and go and rent a canoe and spend the afternoon canoeing was really kind of a surprise to me, partly because I’m from Southern California and you have to drive a longer way to go any place where you can rent a canoe and go canoeing. And then, if you want to go horseback riding, you can drive about 15 minutes in the other direction and go to Fort Harrison, which used to be an army post and they still have the horseback riding stables there, and there are public stables so you can go on a ride, and it’s not through flat country. It’s through woody, hilly country.

So, that was a different kind of surprise because I’m not much of a horsewoman, but it was fun. I really enjoyed it. But I just think the idea that you can be in a city and then have the opportunity to do outdoor things any time you want was my biggest surprise when I first got acquainted with Indianapolis as a destination.

Chris: How did you get acquainted with Indianapolis as a destination? You live outside Baltimore, you grew up in Los Angeles. What is the connection to Indianapolis?

Nancy: Well, my husband is in the military and our first duty station was in Southern Italy, and we met a wonderful couple there and we’ve been dear, dear friends ever since. And they live in Greenwood, which is just South of Indy. So we started visiting for holidays and vacations and stuff. I’ve been to Indianapolis more times than I can count now. And then, my son liked it so well that he went to college there. He went to IUPUI. He said he wanted to go to school there. That was the only school he applied to. Fortunately, he got in. So then we made even more trips to take him there, pick him up, bring him things, fix his car. I’ve spent the last 25 years or so making at least one trip a year to Indianapolis.

Chris: Interesting. Any other side trips outside of Indianapolis you want to recommend, besides the ones we talked about earlier?

Nancy: Oh, sure yes. I’ve mentioned Brown County. Another thing that I would recommend is to go just north of the city of Indianapolis to a town called Fishers, where there’s a wonderful, wonderful living history museum called Conner Prairie. It’s basically a trip back in time to the pioneer days of Indiana, and they have a couple of different areas that you can visit. They have costume historical interpreters and they have lots of hands-on activities. If you’re traveling with children or grandchildren, they will absolutely love it. When we took our kids there the first time we went, you could dip candles, you could milk a fake cow, you could visit the barn…

Chris: They couldn’t find any real cows in Indianapolis?

Nancy: No, they have a fake cow. I think they didn’t want to take the risk of having somebody get kicked if they did it wrong, so they have a plastic cow you can milk. You can pretend that you’re in school in the school house, all kinds of things like that. You can participate in various other activities. It’s a lot of fun no matter what age you happen to be.

Another great day trip and this is, again, about an hour and a half south of Indianapolis is the city of Columbus and this is an architectural gem that no one should miss. There’s about 45,000 people in Columbus now. It’s a company town. Cummins Engines has its headquarters there and the owner of Cummins Engines, Mr. Miller, decided that his company buildings and, indeed, many other public buildings in Columbus ought to be designed by great architects.

So he had his company sponsor a project that paid for these great architects to design everything from the public library to churches. And I’m talking really well-known architects, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, almost every well-known architect that you can think of who has been alive since the early 1900s with the exception of Frank Lloyd Wright. There is no Frank Lloyd Wright design structure in Columbus but almost everyone else you can think of has designed a building there, and it’s just amazing to visit.

Chris: Interesting. And I hadn’t heard of those. Thank you very much for that.

Nancy: Yes, you should go. You can tour Mr. Miller’s home too and that’s worth a trip all on its own. Eero Saarinen designed the home, and Alexander Girard did the interior design, and Dan Kiley did the landscape architecture design for the home, and it’s really interesting.

Chris: Excellent. Anything else we should talk about before we get to my last four questions?

Nancy: Well, I guess I should talk a little bit about special events in Indy and the surrounding area.

Chris: Oh, sure.

Nancy: Because it’s a capital city, they do have concerts and festivals. They have an Irish festival. They have various summer events that you can go to making the summer even better of a time to go.

Chris: Which has…

Nancy: Well, Gen Con is the biggest one. And I would say the Irish festival is probably one of the other more popular ones. Because they have college campuses downtown also, you have the opportunity to go to concerts there of various types, everything, from classical music on to the most contemporary music you can imagine. So there’s a lot of culture in Indianapolis that’s readily available and open to tourists as well.

Chris: Excellent. Last questions. You’re standing in the prettiest spot in Indianapolis. Where are you standing and what are you looking at?

Nancy: I think I have two. One is I’m on top of The Soldiers and The Sailors Monument in the center of town, and I’ve got a bird’s eye view of the layout of downtown Indy. If I’m picking my day, I’m doing that at Christmas time because all of the buildings around Monument Circle have little twinkly Christmas lights and the monument itself has lights that make it look like a giant Christmas tree so that’s definitely one thing that I would recommend. If you happen to be there in the holiday season, you should go and have a look at that.

I think the other place I would like to be would be floating on the little canal in White River State Park, right near a fountain because it will be splashing and be all relaxing. I love this sound of falling water, so that’s nice and just watching people go by and looking at all of the families that are out there and enjoying themselves on a nice weekend day or summer morning or afternoon. Because I think that’s one of the nice things about Indianapolis is that it appeals to all kinds of people. You can take your young kids there…oh, I forgot to mention a museum. Please get me back to that when we’re done, this is a very important one. Romantic couples, seniors, it’s just such a friendly and walkable city that I just like to hang out and people watch.

Chris: And you forgot a museum.

Nancy: I do.

Chris: I guess we’re talking about kid’s museum.

Nancy: We are, we are talking about probably the best or second best, depending on the rankings. Every year, somebody ranks children’s museums. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is fantastic. It is not in the downtown area around White River State Park. It’s more on the North side. You can take a bus. They have some circulator bus routes if you don’t want to take a taxi or get an Uber ride, and you don’t have your own car. You can certainly take the public transportation system, IndyGo, as well. It is a don’t miss place. They have a Chihuly glass sculpture. They have a giant dinosaur peeking in the top windows from the outside. They have all kinds of exhibits and hands-on activities for children of all ages. It is definitely something you cannot miss if you are in Indianapolis with children.

Chris: It sounds like something good enough you should borrow some children.

Nancy: Yeah, you could go without children and nobody would laugh at you because it’s so good.

Chris: Excellent. One thing that makes you laugh and say, “Only in Indianapolis.”

Nancy: Colts fans, Colts fans, absolutely. I live in a football city, okay? I’m a Baltimore Ravens fan. Things are very purple around here on game days and on purple Fridays, but Colts fans love the Colts so much that on Colts game days, really, everybody you look at is wearing something blue. It’s just crazy. There’s even a restaurant, I think it’s called the Indianapolis Colts Grill and it’s a Colts-themed restaurant. I have never eaten there, so I can’t tell you if it’s good or not but the level of enthusiasm for the Indianapolis Colts is just incredible.

Chris: Okay. Finish the sentence, you really know you’re in Indianapolis when…

Nancy: When everybody you ask for assistance gives you more help than you ever thought you needed, gives you the right answers, does it with a smile and doesn’t treat you bizarrely because you’re a tourist.

Chris: It’s funny, I normally have a question that’s one warning you would give, and I honestly wasn’t sure there would be any answer you would give me for Indianapolis, so I skipped the question.

Nancy: Yes, well, I would say this. Indianapolis is a big city. There are some big city problems there and so, I would just act like you would in any other big city. Pay attention to your surroundings. Maybe wandering the streets alone at 2:00 a.m. isn’t the best idea but, really, if you’re out at regular times during the day and the dinner hour and what have you, you aren’t going to have any problems, and it’s just a great place to visit. It astounds me when I talk about Indianapolis and people look at me funny because I go there so often. I’m like, “But there’s so much to do.” I haven’t seen everything in Indianapolis, and I’ve been there more times than I can count.

Chris: What have you not yet done that you want to do in Indy?

Nancy: I just found out about the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

Chris: Interesting.

Nancy: He is an Indiana native and so, they have this little…I think it’s got four rooms, little museum dedicated to him and they have his typewriter and various memorabilia. So that would be something I would like to do. But I think I would like to branch out a little bit and get farther south in Indiana, a little past the two-hour driving radius and see some of the sites down there on day trips.

Another thing that I would like to do is finally indulge my friend and go to James Whitcomb Riley’s home because the first time that we heard about it, she’s like, “We could go there.” I looked it up in a guidebook and it said that they had all kinds of things from James Whitcomb Riley, including his pen. And I thought that was sort of comical that his pen was the highlight of the tour. So I would go, but I think I need to go now.

Chris: Funny. Last question. If you had to summarize Indianapolis in just three words, what three words would you use?

Nancy: I think I would describe Indianapolis as a vibrant, friendly, and walkable because we tend to just park our car…parking is easy. There’s a lot of parking in the downtown area and there is good parking at White River State Park if you want to focus on that area. And you can just park your car and wander around the spots that you want to see and it’s very easy to get around. It’s a nice grid system for the streets with some streets going off at angles like in Washington DC but not at that level of confusion.

So like Massachusetts Avenue, Mass. Ave, as the locals call it, that’s one of those angled streets, and it’s known for its restaurants. So if you wanted to do some food tasting and that type of thing, you can do that. Also, there’s a new Indianapolis cultural trail that you can do if you want to wander through the city. You can rent bikes at different places along the trail or you can walk or whatever. I haven’t heard whether hoverboards are allowed, but those would be my three words, vibrant, friendly and walkable.

Chris: Excellent. Our guest, again, has been Nancy Parode. Nancy, where can people read more about your travels?

Nancy: I mostly spend my time writing for and so if you look up senior and baby boomer travel and or my name, you’ll find that. I also write about travel for women over 60 at a website called SixtyandMe, which is a great community for women who want to spend their years after age 60 doing fun things and making their lives wonderful and vibrant.

Chris: Excellent. Well, thanks for coming on the show and sharing with us your love of Indianapolis.

Nancy: You’re welcome.

Chris: In the news of the community, I would love you to fill out that audience survey at to let us know a little bit about you. That will help me with the ad sales, which helps support this show. And then also, we did get a couple extra openings. Somebody wasn’t able to make it to the trip to Cambodia so a couple slots are still available if you’re interested in coming to Cambodia.

If you have questions about that, just go ahead and ping me or go ahead and look at the details online at under the book travel tab. With that, I think I will end this show because I am running out of voice today. I’m fighting a cold. If you have any questions, send an e-mail to host at or better yet, leave a comment on this episode at You can follow me on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram as Chris2X. And, as always, thanks so much for listening.

Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

2 Responses to “Travel to Indianapolis, Indiana – Episode 498”

Jeff Perkins


Hi Chris,

II was interested to hear this recent episode on Indianapolis as have lived for for 15 years now (originally from Sydney, Australia.)

I would agree with most of what Nancy had to say (our grandson loves the Children’s Museum – note this is not a cheap venue) although the zoo is somewhat small. The Children’s Zoo in my wife’s hometown of Ft Wayne, 100 miles to the North, is bigger and better.

Downtown Indianapolis and much of the immediate surrounds has been undergoing a development/redevelopment boom bringing in a lot of additional residents, especially young, professional, bearded, condo-dwellers.

In their wake there has been growth, especially in food provision – and in addition to the rental bikes mentioned in the episodes there are also a large number of Blue Indy electric car rental stands in downtown and nearby dining/entertainment areas.

Mass Ave (NE) is a long established dining/entertainment hub, the old Coca Cola plant at the end of the street (currently school bus depot) is up for development which could add to the this areas appeal if handled well. If no it could also make trying to park somewhere nearby even more of a challenge.

Near many of the downtown hotels and stadiums, Georgia Avenue has developed as a food truck location, especially on game days.

Virginia Ave is a corridor down which the Cultural Trail travels from downtown to nearby Fountain Square and along it and nearby are some more interesting dining options, including the modern locavore Cerulean and Bluebeard restaurants as well as the Turkish Bosphorus, some long established Italian restaurants and three recently added breweries. The Vietnamese fusion Rook should be reopening any day now in its bigger location under some new condos (and just over the road from us.)

Fountain Square itself, well established with its own restaurants, bars and clubs is also starting to have its own building boom and could offer some exciting options only a mile from downtown.

Throughout downtown and the surrounds there are also quite a few microbreweries.

The Benjamin Harrison house on the old northside (an area with a number of large old houses converted to B&Bs) also hosts events (we will be visiting in April when different rooms will each host a separate short one-act play.)

Oh and the USS Indianapolis delivered parts of the Hiroshima bomb to the airbase a Tinian then was sunk by Japanese submarines in 1945 – this was noted for the far greater loss of life to sharks than to the original attack/sinking.

Keep up the good work, thanks!



Jeff, now that you mention the sharks I do remember that story. Pretty terrible. Thanks for the great update!

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