Known as the Crossroads of America because of the high number of highways and rail routes that meet here, Indianapolis is a well-visited city with a diverse culture. The capital and biggest city in Indiana, Indianapolis consistently ranks among the cleanest and safest cities in the US, with a vibrant downtown, and buzzing arts, culture and sports scene.
The people of Indianapolis, often referring to themselves as 'Hoosiers', know how to have fun. A typical sports-crazed city, Indianapolis has a brimming sports calendar of just about every code, including the biggest event of the year (and the largest single-day sporting event in the world), the extremely popular Indy 500.
It’s not all about blood, sweat and high octane though, and culture vultures and foodies will also be able to get their fix in the Circle City. Indy is dotted with a variety of museums, galleries, theatres, unique bars and breweries, exciting eateries and artisanal shops. Those who like to get outdoors won’t be disappointed either as the city is blessed with plenty of tree-lined parks and fields.
Sports in Indianapolis
Home of the Colts (NFL) and Indiana Pacers (NBA), plus a highly celebrated college sports programme, not to mention the annual Indianapolis 500 motor race, sports fans are certainly never bored in Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis 500 (or Indy 500 for short) is the world’s oldest currently operational automobile race, the biggest single-day sporting event in the world, and the pride of Indiana. It’s held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, lovingly referred to as the 'Brickyard', in an enclave suburb of Indianapolis, aptly called Speedway. An open-wheel, open-cockpit formula colloquially known as 'Indy Car Racing', the Indy 500 is one of the most famous and watched races in the world, only second to the Monaco Grand Prix and perhaps the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It attracts upwards of 250,000 people on race day, and is an irresistible spectacle of speed, daring and danger.
Those expats or new arrivals from other states with a keen interest in sports not competed on a racetrack will be thrilled to know that Indianapolis is home to six professional sports franchises: the Indianapolis Colts (American football), Indiana Pacers (men’s basketball), Indiana Fever (women’s basketball), Indianapolis Indians (baseball), Indy Eleven (football – or soccer), and the Indy Fuel (ice hockey). It’s also the headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Basically, if you’re into sports, Indy’s the place to be.
Arts and culture in Indianapolis
Contrary to belief, Indianapolis is not just for petrol heads and sport fanatics. The city is rich in history, art and culture, from tiny bespoke galleries in districts such as Broad Ripple to museums of just about every persuasion. From street performers and buskers in Fountain Square, to historic theatres on Mass Avenue graced by symphony orchestras and Broadway shows.
Besides the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an 8-mile urban-planned pedestrian and bike pathway connecting neighbourhoods and cultural districts, Indy also has one of the most walkable downtowns of any major city. New arrivals hungry for a bit of culture will love taking in a play or a live show, shopping for hand-made collectibles, sipping on local brews, sitting down to world-class meals, or simply marvelling at the city’s charming architecture and soaking up the sights.
Downtown is further characterised by sidewalk cafes; street art and graffiti murals; quaint boutiques; a buzzing night-life scene with pumping clubs and cosy pubs; and stunning greenways and parks.
The Canal and White River State Park is a particular highlight. One could go for a run, bike-ride or relaxing stroll, enjoy an afternoon at the ballpark, browse the Indiana History Center or Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, or even enjoy an outdoor concert.
Eating out in Indianapolis
Much of the Midwest seems to be dominated by chain restaurants, but happily Indianapolis has, in the last few years, undergone something of a food renaissance and has managed to climb to the top of several 'best food cities' lists in the US, including being named the most 'Underrated Food City in America' by Condé Nast Traveler.
Downtown is chock-full of world-class eateries catering to all tastes, from superb steak houses, farm-to-fork establishments and vegan offerings, to Cajun, Creole and Italian eateries, excellent local burger joints, and delis that serve up life-changing sandwiches. Most local restaurants in the city are eco-conscious and aimed at sustainability, highlighting seasonal ingredients and fresh produce. A lot of pubs also serve up surprisingly delicious and innovative grub alongside vintage cocktails and exceptional brews.
A local and traditional Hoosier speciality that keen foodies will want to try is the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. Rarely seen outside of Indiana borders, this delicious creation consists of a cutlet of pork tenderloin that has been pounded to different degrees, breaded or battered, fried and served on a bun topped with onions and mayo, and whatever else the specific establishment chooses to add.
►For sightseeing ideas, check out See and Do in Indianapolis
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