Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Off the Beaten Path: Indianapolis

I have loved hearing about your hometown treasures in our Off the Beaten Path Series.  Who better to be our tour guide than YOU!

Today, Nicole from Arrows Sent Forth, tells us all about her hometown, Indianapolis.

With the Super Bowl coming to Indianapolis in February 2012, there’s lots of interest swirling around Indiana’s capital city. I lived in downtown Indy for 7 years, and now I’m a frequent visitor. I am happy to report that there’s so much to see and do, even when the Big Game isn’t in town!
The city is home to the world’s largest children’s museuma fantastic zoo, and many other fun and popular attractions. I highly recommend visiting those spots. But here are a few of my favorite places in Indianapolis when visiting with kids that are “off the beaten path.” You can read about many more of my family’s Indiana Adventures at my blog, Arrows Sent Forth.
Garfield Park Conservatory: Indianapolis has a great network of city parks. Garfield Park is one of the larger parks, and its conservatory is a natural oasis in the heart of the city.  It is essentially a giant glass house, and its best feature is probably that it is indoors, meaning it’s a fun spot to visit and connect with nature regardless of the weather. At the holidays, the conservatory is a favorite spot for Christmas photos, as it is filled to the brim with poinsettias. But there are amazing plants to be seen year-round, and it’s a great spot to take a walk regardless of season. If the weather is nice, be sure to also visit the Sunken Gardens and aquatic center.
        Dining: Just a few minutes from Garfield Park is Smokehouse on Shelby. A renovated diner-turned-barbecue joint, the food is great and the restaurant is spacious. If you want to burn off that pulled pork and mac ‘n cheese, you’ll find a really cool retro duckpin bowling alley in the same building as the restaurant, the Fountain Square Theatre.
Eiteljorg Museum: I’ve written about the Eiteljorg Museum on my own blog and as a guest post at Midwest Guest. It’s a museum dedicated to Native American and Western art and culture. While it might not sound appealing to kids at first glance, they have a great exhibit in the basement called The Western Family Experience. Here, your kids can design and raise their own totem pole, ride in a stagecoach, and experience life on the Western frontier from a variety of perspectives. Everything is hands-on, with plenty of opportunities for imaginative play.
The Eiteljorg is located right on the Indianapolis Canal Walk. If you’re familiar with San Antonio’s River Walk, this is a similar concept. But you’ll find far fewer bars and restaurants, and much more public art, fountains, museums, memorials, and other cultural attractions. Instead of riverboats, you can ride in a gondola or rent paddle boats.

Rhythm Discovery Center: When the Percussive Arts Society decided to move their headquarters to the city, they also brought a great musically-inspired museum with them. There are exhibits about the history of rhythm, types of vibrations, and more. A highlight for kids will be the Interactive Area, where everyone can get their hands on some drums and give them a whirl. It’s like a musical playground.
There are several fun options for family-friendly dining downtown. Please note, though, that due to Indianapolis’ smoking laws, many bars do not allow diners younger than 21, so you may want to call ahead if you plan to visit a pub or bar to eat.
Scotty’s Brewhouse: This restaurant has a huge menu, with lots of variety. Their outdoor patio also offers plenty of space for little ones to get the wiggles out while they wait for their food. If you plan to dine at Scotty’s, I recommend following @brewhouse on Twitter, where the owner himself is always tweeting special deals.        
Bazbeaux Pizza: I love this place because most kids love pizza, but here you’ll also find some really amazing exotic flavor combinations sure to please the adults, too. Plus, you’ll be just steps away from Indy’s best toy store, Mass Ave Toys, so you could always bribe the kids with a visit in return for good behavior.
Traders Point Creamery: Just minutes outside the city limits in Zionsville, Indiana, this all-organic dairy farm is a great introduction to sustainable agriculture for kids and adults alike. They offer avariety of tour options, but it’s also just a beautiful location to wander the farm. The Creamery puts on great, seasonal events throughout the year, as well as a farmers market during the summer.

        Dining: You can eat on the farm at The Loft restaurant. For more casual fare, especially with young kids, I recommend pulling up a stool at the Creamery’s Dairy Bar and ordering their award-winning yogurts and ice cream. You can also buy their dairy products, which includes milk and cheese, at the farm’s store. I reviewed the food at Traders Point Creamery on my blog here.
{Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the Eiteljorg Museum and Traders Point Creamery as part of two press tours. I was under no obligation to write about my time at either location, and all opinions expressed are my own.}

Nicole Wiltrout is a stay-at-home mom (who rarely stays home) and lives in Columbus, Indiana. Nicole writes about adventures at home and away with her husband and 2-year-old son at
You can also find Nicole on Twitter at @arrowssentforth or Facebook

1 comment:

Connie said...

I had no idea!! What a fun place! I want to go.