It’s been called the “Crossroads of America” by many and “The Circle City” by others. But why is Indianapolis on the tip of everybody’s tongue lately? Is it because of their thriving arts and cultural attractions, history-making same-sex marriage rulings, or a bustling LGBT business community? Probably a combination of all three.
This past June, Indy Pride drew close to 100,000 people to its downtown, which feels more like New York or Chicago then a mid-sized city. The streets are teeming with people at all hours of the day and night. Architectural wonders are around every corner, but the highlight of course is Monument Circle, where a 284-ft neoclassical monument stands enclosed by a circular, brick-paved street that intersects Meridian Street and Market Street.
Not too far from downtown is Massachusetts Avenue, the city’s cultural hub. Endless shops, restaurants and art galleries line the street, which stretches several blocks. Mass Ave. is a hotbed for the LGBT community due to its gay-friendly establishments. A few worth noting are Metro, tini, Mass Ave Pub and FortyFive°, a sushi bar/restaurant which transforms itself into the hottest spot on the Avenue when the sun goes down.
Visitors looking for an off-the-beaten path hotel should check out the new Hotel Broad Ripple, a boutique property located in the trendy Broad Ripple neighborhood just a few miles north of the city. The 9-room hotel is located adjacent to the Monon Trail and within a 5-minute walk to dozens of yummy and affordable restaurants.
My favorite in the neighborhood is called Flatwater. With river views and live music on the patio, Flatwater is a great place to unwind after a long day touring the city. After dinner, check out the unique Broad Ripple shops or head back to your suite to get ready for the evening. My room at Hotel Broad Ripple featured a seating area, large bedroom and a bathroom with a shower so large, it could probably fit 6 adults comfortably…no, I didn’t try, it’s just an estimate.
Well-fed and well rested, put on your favorite outfit and head to Talbott Street, Indy’s only LGBT nightclub. The multi-level establishment offers quality drink specials, great DJs from around the country and is the perfect place to check out the city’s young and fabulous set. If clubbing isn’t your scene, head to one of almost a dozen LGBT bars. Greg’s is a friendly neighborhood bar, while Varsity reigns as Indy’s oldest gay bar. English Ivy’s is also worth a visit, offering a full late-night menu until 2AM to satisfy your after-club munchies.
Indianapolis has no shortage of attractions. Start your day at the Indianapolis Zoo and visit their new orangutan exhibition or catch an incredible dolphin show. A short drive away are both the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art as well as the Indiana State Museum. Both buildings are truly works of art themselves and deserve the entire afternoon to explore.
Begin the next day with a visit of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, currently exhibiting For America: Prints of the American Art-Union. The American Art-Union promoted American art between 1939 and 1851 by distributing engravings of the best American paintings of the day to its nationwide membership. These engravings reproduced major paintings by several artists including Asher B. Durand, William Sydney Mount and Thomas Cole. This exhibit runs until September 28th.
When you arrive in Indy, check to see if you can catch a performance of The Cabaret. It will be an experience you won’t soon forget. Shannon Forsel and her team bring in world-class talent to entertain guests who dine on exquisite cuisine and fabulous cocktails. The Cabaret performs at the exclusive Columbia Club, a breathtaking, historic building overlooking Monument Circle. Upcoming performances include Jeremy Jordan, star of Broadway, film, and television, singing music from Broadway’s Newsies, SMASH, and his upcoming film, The Last 5 Years.
Those looking to stay downtown should think about checking into a room at the four-diamond Omni Severin Hotel. Within walking distance from The Cabaret, the property features a host of amenities including luxury linens, an indoor pool and 24-hour fitness center. Located directly across from Union Station, the hotel is the perfect choice for individuals seeking to feel the energy of downtown Indianapolis.
Within a 3-hour flight of most major cities in the U.S., Indy is worth visiting this fall. And don’t forget to catch a Colts game while in town. For more information, visit www.visitindy.com
By Joey Amato
Photos Courtesy of Carl Van Rooy Photography