Two nights in Indianapolis, IN

airstream camping at indiana fairgrounds

And we’re off! We packed our face masks and hand sanitizer and hit the road for the Covid-killing sunshine and fresh air of the Rockies. First stop after a long driving day from VA was Indianapolis, home to good beer, interesting touristy stuff, and one of my oldest (as in time, not age) friends. It was a fun stopover.

Traveling in the age of Covid presents unique challenges. Many of the restaurants, breweries, and tourist spots we’d normally check out are closed or unappealing to us in that they don’t offer outdoor seating or high ceilings and active airflow. We did our best to experience Indy despite stupid Covid!

Campground

indiana state fair covered bridge

We will only consider visiting a big city with the Airstream if there’s a place to stay that’s convenient to downtown or wherever the fun areas are. Usually campgrounds near a larger city are waaay out in the suburbs, meaning you’re driving 20 or 25 minutes to where you want to hang out, and that gets to be a real downer if you’re planning a couple trips into town and/or have otherwise been on the road too long.

Indianapolis, like Nashville, has a big fairground complex in town with full-hookup RV sites. And when I say big, I mean ENORMOUS. It’s like its own little city in there, with buildings and parks and a racetrack where Bugsy and I watched some harness racers practice. (Has anybody else read the Black Stallion’s Bloody Bay Colt?) And, because of Covid and because we were late in the season, the little fairgrounds city was a ghost town. It was pretty wild having all that space mostly to ourselves. We would definitely stay there again.

Beer

We packed in as many brewery stops as we could in our brief visit! J had researched Indianapolis breweries, and we hit a couple of his top-rated places (Metazoa and Sun King) and a couple recommended by beertenders (Fountain Square and Upland).

Metazoa Brewing Company

bugsy at metazoa brewing, indianapolis

Metazoa is the ultimate dog-friendly brewery, with a dog park and a “drink beer help animals” slogan. Bugsy doesn’t like dog parks, but she likes sitting with us at a table–inside, with high ceilings and good airflow, so we felt safe. Our beer flight was ok.

bugsy on the sun king brewing patio

Next up for us was Sun King Brewing, our favorite brewery in Indianapolis. The dog-friendly patio was hot but the three of us enjoyed our time there. I got a particular kick out of the orange vanilla cream ale which tasted just like a creamsicle!

fountain square brewing, indy

Fountain Square Brew Co is another super-dog friendly brewery with a great patio–no inside space due to Covid. The raspberry berliner weisse was good for a hot day, and the IPA, while not super hazy, had good fruit flavors.

upland brewing flight, indy

Upland Brewing Co has good sours, and I’m increasingly a sour person! They do have a little patio, but we sat inside with lots of airflow. The pawpaw sour tasted like popcorn jelly bellys, but in a good way… if that makes any sense at all.

Food

Obviously, the first food I googled in Indy was fish tacos, and got a hit with Slapfish, in the Mass Ave neighborhood full of restaurants, art, nightlife, and shops which seem to have pivoted well to Covid-world with blocked-off streets and outdoor seating. The fish tacos were decent: big and cabbagey with an interesting smoky sauce, but they don’t come close to making my list of favorite fish tacos. The Mass Ave area seems really cool, like somewhere we’d frequent if we lived in Indianapolis.

ricks boatyard cafe, indianapolis

The other dinner we ate in Indy was with friends at Rick’s Cafe Boatyard, a long-time, highly-rated restaurant overlooking Eagle Creek Reservoir. It’s a nice spot, crowded but with great outdoor seating and good steak and seafood. It’s not somewhere we would have known about if our friends hadn’t recommended it, and it was fun to get off the beaten path!

Running

monon trail, indianapolis

The best thing about staying in Indianapolis might be the running options! The Monon Trail passes directly by the Fairgrounds and, being a rails-to-trails, is FLAT, shady, and popular with runners, walkers, strollers, and dogs (ie, safe). We loved it and on a future visit would ride bikes (there are Pacers Bikeshare locations aplenty) to Broad Ripple (about 3 miles) or to the southern trail terminus near the Downtown attractions (about 3.5 miles).

In the city, the Monon connects with the soft-surface Central Canal Towpath in Broad Ripple, the Fall Creek Trail close to the Fairgrounds, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail near Downtown, giving you all sorts of route options for your run. Way to go, Indy!

Around Town

It was really, really hot when we were in Indy. We did our best to walk around some neighborhoods, but it was rough. After grabbing lattes from Monon Coffee Co we tried to explore Broad Ripple, a neat neighborhood with a mix of commercial and residential along the river. There wasn’t much shade and we were dying so we left and headed south to a neighborhood with shade.

lockerbie square, indianapolis

We chanced upon Lockerbie Square our first evening in town after taking a wrong turn leaving Metazoa. It’s quaint and historic, with a mix of cute cottages and fancy big houses. The architecture is fascinating and the narrow streets are shady and we survived this architecture walking tour without melting.

monument circle, indy

Later, we drove downtown to look at the historic monuments–Indianapolis has more historic monuments and memorials than any city in the US other than DC–from the car on the way to Fountain Square, where we had a brewery to visit. Fountain Square seemed like a super funky mix of housing and commercial that we would have liked to explore more.

For next visit

Key for the next visit: don’t go when the temperatures are in the 90s.

  • If we ever get beater bikes again, we could bike on the Monon Trail from the fairgrounds to downtown or Broad Ripple to explore/eat/drink
  • We enjoyed running on the Monon Trail, so should try out the Fall Creek Trail or Canal Towpath
  • I wanted to see the sculpture garden at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and hang out at their beer garden, but they’re closed for stupid Covid

2 comments

  1. You children got to quit worrying about this Covid thing with the high ceilings and moving air… Just put the mask on (it’s the nice thing to do) order lots of beer and drink drink drink ’til you can’t remember why you are wherever you are… Pretty soon you’ll be in lots of high ceilings and moving air called the Rockies.. And finally, if you run out of places without people (I understand lots of folks are out and about today) head south to Organ Pipe—-Won’t find any peeps out there.. In the meantime have lots of fun but stay the hell out of Oregon and Washington—–unless you packed well.

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