14 Oct

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Indianapolis? I’m guessing you picture packs of cars racing around a track on Memorial Day; The Indianapolis 500 right? I’m here to tell you there is much more to this Midwest city than meets the eye. We have been visiting Indy over the last 15 years and have witnessed its growth as a tourism destination. The downtown is compact;many attractions are within walking distance of one another, in bad weather you can traverse the city through a series of climate-controlled skywalks. From the  Canal Walk, Symphony and Museums to boutique shopping, monuments, and AAA Baseball, you won’t run out of things to do.

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Our first morning in town we headed directly to the Indiana State Museum located in the White River State Park downtown. They have underground parking and the museum validates, so it’s the perfect place to park for a museum visit and a day of local sightseeing. Constructed completely from Indiana materials the expansive museum is 3 floors of art, science, history and culture, telling the Indiana story. I always enjoy these types of museums because they really give a feel for the place and the people who live there; it’s fascinating to see the contributions they have made to the world. The museum is very 21st Century; the floor plan easily guides you from one large open gallery to another, beginning with the ice age and ending in the present day. One of the most impressive exhibits is the mining of limestone; Indiana is famous for it! It is the highest quality quarried limestone in the US, therefore a popular choice for important buildings. Here are just a few of the buildings made from it: The Empire State Building, The Pentagon, Biltmore Estate, and many buildings on the north side of Michigan State University campus. 35 of the 50 state capitol buildings are also constructed from Indiana limestone, quite impressive. When we were finished looking around we decided to have lunch right there at the museum, they have 2 restaurants on site. The temperature was in the mid 80’s and the sun was blazing in the cloudless blue sky, we ate our lunch on the restaurant patio with a beautiful view of Indianapolis.

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After our break we took a long stroll on the Canal Walk; this 3-mile loop is an urban playground. The beautifully landscaped walkway on the west side of downtown is home to the Indianapolis Zoo, White River Gardens, Victory Field, and major museums. Visitors amble past a number of fountains and bridges as the more ambitious rent pedal boats, bicycles and surreys. For total relaxation take a gondola ride, the central canal is always alive with activity. Artists were working on murals lining the walls under the bridges, children and adults were trying to eat their Blue Bunny ice cream bars before they melted and large pots of flowers were still in bloom; the water features are always a popular photo stop. Though it felt like Summer the leaves had already changed colors; vibrant red, yellow and orange trees glowed in the sunlight, what a sight!

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After a stop back at the bed and Breakfast we drove over to Mass Ave for dinner. Warm temperatures always encourage people to have a night on the town, so everything was busy.  A place called fortyfive degrees opened since our last visit, so we thought we’d give it a try; the sign simply said Restaurant/Nightlife, works for me. This place is super-cool inside, everything is blue or white, quite modern and a bit clubby, but cool all the same. Blue laser lights project patterns on the ceiling and walls, the DJ has his own loft overlooking the main floor as DVD’s play on large flat screen televisions; it’s hard to decide where to look. The menu was good, a little bit of everything from Sushi to pasta dishes, and the prices weren’t bad either. We ordered a few sushi rolls and an Ahi tuna appetizer, all very good. It was fun just being there and people watching.

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Stashed away in the Fountain Square Theatre Building are two vintage bowling alleys. Action Duckpin Bowl is hidden away on the 4th floor; this authentic 1930’s duckpin bowling alley features 8 lanes and a billiard table, it’s all original! You have to take the elevator up, once you step inside it’s like going back in time. We were looking to bowl a line or two, open bowling was on the lower level. The Atomic Bowl Duckpin is straight out of the 50’s, with 7 duckpin lanes, a juke box and a pool table it’s  neat-o. Also left just as it was, there is an extensive array of all things bowling in the 50’s; from trophy’s and team bowling shirts, to the light fixtures and vending machines, as if you have passed through a time warp. We lucked out, there was an open lane; we picked up our score sheet and those ultra attractive bowling shoes from the counter and we were ready. If you have never bowled duckpin, be aware,it’s a bit more of a challenge then regular bowling. Both the pins and the ball are smaller; in fact the ball is so small it does not have finger holes. You just sort of rest it in your hand and throw. Because of the difficulty you get three balls per frame, and believe me, you need every single one. It’s a lot of fun, especially if you don’t mind throwing gutter balls! If you like going back in time and experiencing something completely different, you’ll love this place.

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One more quick stop before turning in for the night. Back on Mass Ave there’s this great little Jazz Club, Chatterbox, I highly recommend visiting if you’re in town. They have live Jazz 7 nights a week; classified as mellow Jazz Monday thru Thursday and Hot Jazz Friday and Saturday. The night air was still mild so we took a table street side and enjoyed a cocktail while music resonated through the open door; a perfect ending to the day.

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