gondolier takes passengers on a cruise of the
three-mile downtown canal loop.
— It was quite the scene. Thor aka Chris Hemsworth
dropped the green flag. Kelly Clarkson sang the National
Anthem. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
cheered on his girlfriend Danica Patrick. "Dancing
With the Stars" alum Helio Castroneves hoped for his
fourth victory — a feat which would ensure him
yes, and it was the hottest temperature on record for the
event — topping out at nearly 100 degrees.
was my first time attending the Indianapolis 500, and I
couldn’t help but wonder how someone more used to a
two-minute horse race was going to fare during a
three-hour car race.
well, it turned out. It didn’t hurt that I was
comfortably ensconced in a gloriously air-conditioned
luxury suite, where Indianapolis Convention & Visitors
Bureau staff were entertaining guests at the 102nd running
of the race.
of our group braved the heat to venture down to the Pit
and catch the drivers in the automotive version of the
pre-game warm-up (never was warm-up quite so fittingly
descriptive), although I’m not sure there were any
takers for the Snake Pit, the electronic dance event where
stagehands kept the 30,000-plus crowd cooled down by
spraying them with large hoses.
in case you’re interested, the race was won by Will
Power (no, I didn’t make up that name) of Team Penske
who led for 59 of the 500 laps at an average speed of
nearly 170 miles per hour.
couple of other interesting factoids: the winner, instead
of swilling champagne, takes a victory swig of … milk.
Even more fascinating, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which
between the grandstands and infield can seat 400,000, is
the highest capacity sports venue in the world. It is so
large that Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl
and Vatican City can fit inside.
I know that four fast wheels will never replace four fast
legs in my heart, I thoroughly enjoyed my first Indy 500
HIP, HAPPENING CITY
don’t have to wait for the Indy 500 to take advantage of
all that Indianapolis offers. A mecca for museums, it also
boasts a robust food and drink scene, and has a canal
winding through downtown that gives it the feel of a
have long been aware of the reputation of the Children’s
Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest — and some
think the world’s best — children’s museum. It didn’t
disappoint. There are dinosaurs, spaceships, Egyptian
tombs and underwater treasures galore, but there are also
serious exhibits such as Power of Children. Here, the
lives of three extraordinary children — Anne Frank, Ruby
Bridges and Ryan White — are used to teach us all a
lesson in changing the world through personal courage.
the museum, visitors have a chance to explore environments
ranging from caves to ponds. They can try their hand at
being a meteorologist, naturalist or hydrologist, or they
can test their hoops skills, fitness level or golf swing
at the recently opened Sports Legends Experience.
is one institution that justly deserves its recognition.
Indianapolis Museum of Art, one of the 10 largest in the
country, is another. Using the iconic Robert Indiana LOVE
sculpture as your base, head off to galleries showcasing
European, American, Native American, African, Asian and
contemporary art, as well as decorative arts, glass art,
textile and fashion art and design art.
museum is set in a 100-acre woodland with gardens,
terraces, water features and sculptures. Be sure to save
time for the Lilly House, a 26-acre historic estate and
house museum, curated to reflect gracious living in the
early to mid-20th century.
seek out a table under a shaded arbor at the Beer Garden,
and listen to the birds, crickets and other summer sounds.
Speaking of summer, the month of June kicked off Summer
Wonderland: Spectacular Creatures. Don’t be surprised to
see five-foot birds, multi-colored baby elephants, orange
and green penguins and purple and blue snails strutting
partnership with Cracking Art (which supplies 21c Museum
Hotels with their penguins), the museum has brought
hundreds of plastic animals in to fuse art with nature.
something different, a one-hour cocktail cruise aboard a
gondola or boat along the three-mile loop of the Downtown
Canal is a perfect way to relax and unwind before dinner
at one of the city’s excellent restaurants.
(named for a novel by Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut)
has, appropriately, a library-like theme and design —
presenting the bill in an old library book is a clever
touch. It’s known for its shared plates (the roasted
cauliflower with anchovy, caper, mint, parmesan and
sunflower seed is delicious).
Society is another place specializing in small plates —
this time emphasizing South American dishes (you’ll get
a chance to try purple potatoes, a staple in Argentina and
Brazil), and the wine list is epic.
you do, don’t miss dinner at St. Elmo Steakhouse, an
Indianapolis institution. If you combined New York’s
Sardi’s, New Orleans’ Galatoire’s and Miami’s Joe’s
Stone Crab, you would get St. Elmo’s, attracting diners
since it opened in 1902. Steaks rule here, but don’t
pass up the famous shrimp cocktail, dubbed the world’s
for after-dinner cocktails range from hot spots such as
Hotel Tango to cool places such as Bar One Fourteen. The
former, owned by a Marine veteran (hence its military
jargon name), is the first artisan distillery in Indiana
latter is the kind of hip, edgy place you expect in London
or New York, but not the staid Midwest. With only 16
seats, it is the embodiment of an intimate microbar where
patrons casually sip their drinks in the dark. Wait a few
minutes and your eyes will adjust enough to at least get
some idea of what you’re drinking.
from the roar of the engines, Indianapolis has much to
offer travelers — from world-class museums to a City
Market built atop underground catacombs.
IT FROM THE LOCALS — HOW TO SPEND A PERFECT DAY IN INDY:
Harms, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: Sports venues
are a must when visiting Indy. The iconic Indianapolis
Motor Speedway cannot be missed along with the Indy Racing
Experience two-seater ride (if you think you drive fast,
think again!) Check out an Indiana Pacers/Fever game, a
tour of the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium or a Pete Dye golf
course. Even the minor leagues take team spirit to the
next level. Take in an Indians baseball game at Victory
Field or Indy Fuel hockey at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. And
of course, the new Legends Experience at the Children’s
Museum combines ALL sports.
Parrotte, server at Bluebeard Restaurant: Stop in at
Midland Arts & Antiques on Michigan Street. This
magical place is perfect for browsing or finding a special
treasure to take home. It’s patio season, and while I
may be biased, Bluebeard has the best patio in the city.
Order the chopped salad and formaggio sandwich, then hop
around the corner to grab a handmade frozen delight from
Nicey Treat. Last but not least, Garfield Park
Conservatory’s sunken gardens is the most enchanted
place in the city and only costs $2.
Swick, Visit Indy: A summer day here should start with an
early morning round of golf at Brickyard Crossing (four
holes are inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway).
Afterwards, bike along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and
stop for lunch at Thunderbird. Post-lunch, a nostalgic
game of duckpin bowling in the Fountain Square Theater
Building is a must. Other must-dos include dinner on the
roof at Livery, a concert on the lawn at White River State
Park, and a nightcap, along with jazz and history, at the
Slippery Noodle Inn, the oldest bar in Indiana.