In the center of the Hoosier state lies the capital: Indianapolis. A city with many nicknames, most notoriously “Naptown,” a nickname that suggests a sleepy midwestern city. A city that’s often overshadowed by the esteemed Chicago just a few hours north. But for those raised in the small-town feel of Indianapolis suburbs, or for anyone who chose to make their life in the midwestern charm of Indy, it’s a great city with just as much to be proud of as anywhere else, if not more.
I was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., and moved to the southside of Indy when I was four. I’ve lived on the southside since. Growing up I always heard my peers complain that there’s nothing to do in Indy, all that’s here are corn fields. Now, working in the real estate world, I’ve realized how important it is to know your community and promote all of the perks and fun to people looking to move and settle down here.
Many may think Indianapolis is boring and has limited entertainment, so who would want to live their life here? Well I’m here to tell you why.
At 10:30 on a sunny and breezy Wednesday morning, I rounded the corner of Capitol and Washington to the smells of sizzling bacon and strong coffee. The reflection of the State Capitol building glimmered in the glass windows of an office building, there was chatter and clanking of silverware on plates.
The host at Cafe Patachou, a breakfast and lunch place deemed best in Indianapolis by several publications such as Foursquare and Yelp, greeted me and my boyfriend, Brett, by the simple question of whether we’d like a table inside or out. We chose outside. The joys of people watching reach new highs when you’re downtown, and the weather was perfect for brunch outside.
“Welcome to Patachou. My name’s Aaron,” our waiter greeted us as he poured glasses of water. “Help yourself to the coffee bar inside and I’ll be back in a few to take your order.”
So we did help ourselves to the coffee bar. I poured myself the house blend, Brett went for a darker roast.
We then perused our menus, chatting about the range of meals that all looked delicious and about our approaching moves to respective apartments. Aaron came back and we announced our decisions; the croissant french toast with a fried egg, over hard, for myself and the waffle with fresh banana and a side of bacon for Brett.
Cafe Patachou calls itself the “student union for adults.” An array of people of all ages were sat happily chatting and chowing while enjoying the beautiful day. From fathers with their daughters to businesspeople in suits to old friends catching up, everyone was in a state of contentment.
Our meals arrived warm and worthy of drool with warmed syrup and fresh fruit accompanying.
It’s safe to say that it was the best croissant french toast I’ve ever had, and I actually have tried quite a few. It was crispy in all the right places and gooey inside, flakey and buttery all over. The candied pecans on top added to the flavor and crunch splendidly, and who doesn’t love powdered sugar and warm syrup?
From there we walked along the floral-lined sidewalks of Washington Street and around the monument circle to Market Street where the weekly farmer’s market sprawled through the street in front of the City Market.
Moms with their children and people on their lunch breaks meandered through the street, many stopping to buy the sweet corn that Indiana grows best, others buying fresh flower bouquets, plump tomatoes or even dog treats and beef jerky.
It smelled like an Indiana summer: green and sweet
The City Market first opened 131 years ago in 1886. The market “ushered in a new tradition,” its website says. It continues to be a flourishing community gathering place to this day.
The open-air “original” farmer’s market is open on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., rain or shine. With 44 vendors setting up shop, there’s something for everyone.
I have a particular love for sunflowers, and one caught my eye at the Fitness Farm stand. For just $1 the sunflower was mine.
The stand also had an array of produce including cucumbers, potatoes and peppers, all fresh and organically grown.
From there we wandered over to the market’s patio and were treated to a performance of about 15 men and women, probably in their 60s and 70s, playing blues music. With several trumpets, a keyboard, guitar and even a washboard, the band played their music for the farmer’s market crowd and those relaxing in the summer sun on the patio.
We sat on a bench, the breeze keeping us comfortable, listening to the band play their music and cheer after each song. I could have sat there and listened all day, maybe even gotten up and swayed to a few songs.
But I had more experiencing to do.
Our next stop was the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the circle. On the way I humored Brett to a short detour in Downtown Comics, a small comic shop filled with Batman and Co. adventures that Brett can’t resist. This stop truly made his whole day.
After he was done geeking out, we scurried up the steps to the base of the monument, little did Brett know that we were going to go up into the monument and climb all the way to the top.
Many people who’ve even lived in Indianapolis their entire lives never knew that you can climb to the top of the monument. There’s also a museum underneath all about the wars the monument is dedicated to.
For the low price of $2 for adults and $1 for kids, you can take an elevator and then march up 50 or so steps to the observation area.
But for free, you can get to the top by climbing 330 steps.
For the experience (and to save me $4), we took the stairs. I was really ambitious and started way too fast. It doesn’t look too high, but that’s a lot of stairs, trust me.
After several short breaks (because Brett wouldn’t let me rest) and a scarily speedy heartbeat, we successfully made it all the way up.
Here I am at the top, very out of breath, very out of shape.
All those stairs and my slight worry that I might have a stroke were totally worth it, though. The view was incredible, the whole city in your sight.
The way down was a lot easier
We got shirts proclaiming that we survived the 330 steps to the top and then watched the hustle and bustle from the steps outside the monument for a bit. There was a man doing yoga and a British family visiting the U.S. chit chatting just feet from us.
Onward and upward, we went to Mass. Ave. after our short break.
Massachusetts Avenue is a super trendy spot in Indy with tons of great food and locally-owned shops. If you’re looking for a great burger, try Bru Burger. Truly incredible.
We didn’t stop for food on that trip as we were still carrying food babies from breakfast, but we did venture into some of the shops. My favorites and the ones we stopped in include Silver in the City, Global Gifts and Stout’s Shoes.
Our first stop was Stout’s Shoes, the “oldest shoe store in the U.S. since 1886.” The shop breathes history and timelessness, and that alone is reason to check it out. Plus, there’s a live parrot outside the shop! I tried to get him to talk to me, but he was not having it.
From there we stopped in Silver in the City, a fun little shop with all kinds of trinkets with sassy sayings on them. They also have lovely unique jewelry (hence the name). On my trip there, I bought two stickers for my laptop and a new pair of sunglasses.
Our last stop of the day was Global Gifts. This store is especially cool to me because everything in the store is handmade and from a different country. Here I bought an alpaca keychain, a wooden flute and a ring all from Peru. The nicest, cutest lady I’ve ever met informed me of the shops other location in Bloomington and gave me a “Country Club” card which will get me a discount once I buy items from five different countries.
Along the way throughout our adventure in Indy, we hit all the touristy spots to take pictures.
It was like a little scavenger hunt to get pictures with the famous art landmarks in Indy. A whole day could be dedicated to this and I’d have a swell time.
As we made our way back to the southside I realized I had a new appreciation for Indianapolis. I went into this hoping to prove that with enough creativity and a little planning, there’s plenty to do in Indy. But what I came away with was an appreciation for the beauty, for how far the city has come in recent years, for how much fun is possible when you’re just walking around the city finding stuff to do.
Sure, it’s not Chicago, New York or L.A., but it’s still a great city with tons to offer. And the best part is everyone knows everyone, and if they don’t know you, they’ll make an effort to. It has that small-town midwestern feel that you just can’t get anywhere else.
So if you’re looking to move somewhere with that charm and community feel, but still maintain a sense of excitement and adventure, look no further than Indianapolis. With a bit of something for everyone, you can’t go wrong with setting up your life here.