Indianapolis Here We Come!

September 4, 2018, Feature, by Paula Jacoby-Garrett

2018 September Conference Indianapolis 410

NRPA travels to the Circle City

This year, we are excited to take the NRPA Annual Conference to Indianapolis, September 25–27, 2018. Known as “the crossroads of America,” Indianapolis was ranked the best convention city in America in 2014 by USA Today and currently holds the Conde Nast #1 spot for the best airport. One of the many benefits of Indianapolis is that many hotels in the area link by skywalk to the convention center. There are more skywalks connecting buildings throughout downtown than in any other city in the United States. A skywalk also connects a shopping mall to the convention center, and there are more than 200 restaurants in the area.

Planning Your Trip

Indianapolis has a plethora of places to visit and things to do. Booking your room in the downtown area will not only give you access to the convention center, but also to a host of museums and restaurants, plus activities. As you are making your hotel choices, remember that some hotels are linked to the convention center with a skywalk.

Things to Do

In a recent Forbes article, writer Larry Olmsted referred to Indianapolis as “America’s most underrated city.” It is chock-full of things to do, from a wide variety of museums to the city sights and wideopen public spaces.

Canal Walk
Created in the early 1800s, the canal was intended to connect regional waterways for use in transportation. Although never fully completed, the Canal Walk in downtown Indianapolis has been refurbished and provides a place for petal boats with an adjacent promenade and a greenbelt for walking, riding bikes and overall sightseeing.
Address: 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: open
Admission: free

Conner Prairie
Located in the heart of 1,000 wooded acres, Conner Prairie strives to engage families through unique experiences. While the focus is on the natural and cultural heritage of Indiana, the activities are hands-on and fun! From climbing through a four-story tree house and strolling through an 1800s vintage prairie town, to the live animal encounters, Conner Prairie has something for all ages.
Address: 13400 Allisonville Rd.,Fishers, IN 46038
Hours: Tuesdays – Sundays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $18, $13 children (2–12) under 2 are free, $17 seniors 65+ (additional cost for Balloon Voyage rides)

Holcomb Observatory & Planetarium
Located on the north side of Indianapolis, Butler University has a long history in observing outer space. The university got its first telescope in the late 1800s and has been upgrading its facilities on a regular basis since then. This year, the planetarium was upgraded to include a new digital projector that provides an immersive 3D experience and virtual flights.
Address: 4600 Sunset Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46208. The observatory is located on the north side of Butler University.
Hours: See website for current programming. Typically, open 7:45 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights
Admission: $5 for adults; $3 for children under 18

Indianapolis City Market
Located on the National Register of Historic Places, the Indianapolis City Market has a rich history of commerce for the city. Today, the market provides a variety of goods from a farmers market, artisan booths and places to eat. The farmers market is one of the largest and longest running in central Indiana and is held out front every Wednesday, from May to October.
Address: 222 E. Market St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.; farmers market on Wednesday
Admission: Free

Indy Wine Trail
A perfect way to get a taste of award-winning local wines, all within the Indianapolis area. This tour includes a Trail Passport and a free wine glass for visiting all four locations. You can drive yourself or book group transportation through Advanced Limousines for an additional charge.

  • Buck Creek Winery
    11747 Indian Creek Rd. S., Indianapolis, IN 46259
    Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Cedar Creek Winery
    3820 Leonard Rd., Martinsville, IN 46151
    Sunday – Thursday, noon – 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon – 8 p.m.
  • Chateau Thomas Winery
    6291 Cambridge Way, Plainfield, IN 46168
    Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon – 6 p.m.
  • Easley Winery
    205 N. College Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46202
    Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 4 p.m.
    Admission: $5 Monday – Thursday, $15 Friday – Sunday


One of the benefits of having a convention in Indianapolis is the proximity to so many fabulous museums! Whatever your interest, this city has a museum for you.

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis first opened in 1925 and was modeled after the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Today, the museum boasts more than a million people in annual attendance, almost a half-million square feet of indoor exhibits and a host of outdoor experiences. Current exhibits range from transportation and dinosaurs, to China, local community and, notably, the Fireworks of Glass exhibit created by Dale Chihuly.
Address: 3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
Hours: The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; the Sports Experience hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Admission: Prices vary by day and range from $22 to $25.50 for Adults; $18 – $21.50 for youth. See for specific dates and cost.

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Founded to create an appreciation of Native American art and culture, the Eiteljorg Museum is one of the world leaders in Native art collections. The museum has hosted a variety of other special exhibits, focusing on African-Americans and on Jewish Life in the West, as well as on works from iconic artists, such as Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams.
Address: 500 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $15, seniors $12, youth (5–17) $8 and children 4 and under are free

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites
This museum is the place to learn more about Indiana’s expansive history, from the prehistoric dire wolves that once roamed the Indiana area, to the role Indiana played in World War I and the Native Americans who call this area home. The museum boasts a variety of permanent and temporary exhibits, and the IMAX theatre shows documentaries, as well as current Hollywood films.
Address: 650 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $14.95, seniors $13.95, children (3-17) $9.95, children under 3 are free

Indiana State Police Museum
Preserving and highlighting the history of the Indiana State Police, this museum tells the tale of the department from 1933 to the present day. Collections include police vehicles, uniforms and historic photographs.
Address: 8660 E. 21st St., Indianapolis, IN 46219
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 3rd Saturday of each month, noon – 4 p.m.
Admission: Free, donations are accepted

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
Start your engines! For those auto racing enthusiasts, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is the place for you. Recognized as one of the leading museums in auto racing in the world, its exhibits range from race vehicles from NASCAR, Formula One and IndyCar, among others.
Address: 4790 W. 16th St., Speedway, IN, 46224
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. March – October
Website: www.indianapolismotor
Admission: Adults $10, youth (6-15) $5, children 5 and under are free

Indiana War Memorials
This memorial focuses on honoring Indiana’s veterans through its museum, 3 parks and 24 acres of monuments. Outside of Washington, D.C., it has the highest number of monuments dedicated to veterans.
Address: 55 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: Free

Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library
If you are a Kurt Vonnegut fan, then this museum is for you! From photos of Vonnegut to his drawings and doodles and his rejection letters, this museum gives you a glimpse into the man and author.
Address: 340 N. Senate Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon – 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $8, children (6-17) $4, seniors 65+ $6, active and veteran military $6

NCAA Hall of Champions
Highlighting the entire range of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports, the exhibits focus on what it takes to be an NCAA athlete, current team rankings and team memorabilia.
Address: 700 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.
Admission: Adults $5, children (6-18) $3, children under 5 are free, seniors 60+ $3

Newfields: A Place for Nature and the Arts
The Indianapolis Museum of Art now focuses its efforts on combining art and nature. The site includes traditional art galleries, as well as large public art pieces, gardens and outdoor activities.
Address: 4000 N. Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46208
Hours: The Indianapolis Museum of Art is closed Mondays; Open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday (see website for hours for other amenities onsite)
Admission: $18 for adults, $10 for youth (6–17), free for children 5 and under

Places to Eat

Downtown Indianapolis has a diverse and robust selection of restaurants and cuisine, from Midwestern favorites to food from around the world. Use the Downtown Restaurant Map for locations. A few of our favorites are listed below:

Ball & Biscuit
This cocktail bar has your classic favorites, as well as inventive craft cocktails.
331 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204

Bru Burger Bar
Looking for a tasty hamburger? Look no further. The Bru Burger Bar has variety and quality that will satisfy all burger lovers.
410 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

Harry & Izzy’s
Created by lifetime friends, Harry Roth and Izzy Rosen, this restaurant is a local favorite with a variety of entrees, from New York strip steak to thin-crust pizza. Harry & Izzy’s is the sister restaurant to St. Elmo Steak House, so favorites like their world-famous shrimp cocktail can be found at both restaurants.
153 S. Illinois St., Indianapolis, IN 46225

Hedgerow American Bistro
Delicious wood-fired entrees that highlight food sources from local farmers.
350 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204

Mimi Blue
Known for its meatballs, Mimi Blue offers a variety, from the classic to buffalo turkey to vegan options, as well as a wide variety of other food choices.
870 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204

The Rathskeller
For a bit of a Bavarian flair, the Rathskeller offers a host of dinner items, and its Kellerbar has more than 60 different beer selections.
401 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

Salt on Mass
This restaurant focuses on fresh cuisine with a view. Located downtown, the floor to ceiling windows offer spectacular views of the city. Salt on Mass is locally owned and focuses on wild and sustainable seafood.
505 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204

St. Elmo Steak House
This restaurant is known for its shrimp cocktail and has been a downtown favorite since 1902.
127 S. Illinois St., Indianapolis, IN 46225

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House
This brewery and restaurant is located in a Catholic church that was built in the 1800s and is known for its unique selection of beers.
540 N. College Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46202

If you are looking for Cajun Creole dishes, there are several locations:
5363 N. College Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220
885 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46204
910 W.10th St., Indianapolis, IN 46202
5650 W. 86th St., Suite 132, Indianapolis, IN 46278
1420 W. 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46260

Indianapolis: Notable Parks & Open Spaces

September is a beautiful time of year in Indianapolis. Average temperatures are in the high 70s with lows in the mid-50s. It’s a perfect time of year to enjoy some of the city’s open and natural spaces.

Crown Hill Cemetery
Known as one of the best walking tours in Indianapolis, this sprawling 500-acre site is known for its beauty, mature trees and sculptures. This cemetery is the third largest cemetery in the nation. If you are planning to arrive in Indianapolis early, you can take part in the Beyond the Badge 5K run/walk taking place on September 23.
Address: 700 W. 38th St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., April – September
Admission: None, fees for private or public tours vary

Eagle Creek Park
One of the largest in the nation, Eagle Creek Park has almost 4,000 acres of forest and 1,400 acres of water. This park hosts a wide variety of activities, from the Go Ape Treetop Adventure (see the Doing Something Different section), to a golf course, trails, fishing, watersports and playgrounds.
Address: 7840 W. 56th St., Indianapolis, IN 46254
Hours: 7 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Admission: $6 for out-of-county motor vehicles

Garfield Park Conservatory & Gardens
If you love plants, this is the place for you. This 10,000-square-foot conservatory was constructed in 1916 and is home to hundreds of different tropical species. The Sunken Garden is a traditional European formal garden with manicured hedges, flowers and fountain.
Address: 2505 Conservatory Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Hours: The conservatory is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 pm. The Sunken Garden is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Website: www.garfieldgardens
Admission: $2 per person, 2 years and older

Monument Circle
Recognized as the symbol of Indianapolis, Monument Circle is in the heart of Indianapolis. The site consists of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at its center and the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum on the lower level. A beautiful circular open area surrounds it.
Address: 1 Monument Cir., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Dawn to dusk, in monument Friday – Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Admission: Free

Ruins at Holliday Park
In the 1950s, the St. Paul building was demolished in New York City. Karl Bitter, a well-known architectural sculptor, had designed the building’s façade. Many of the building’s architectural elements were saved from demolition and brought to Indianapolis to be put on display in a park setting. In 2016, the revitalization of the ruins was completed, creating a one-of-a-kind vision of the past.
Address: 6363 Spring Mill Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46260
Hours: Dawn until dusk
Admission: None

Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park
This 100-acre park has open meadows, dense forest and views out to a 35-acre lake. It also hosts a wide variety of permanent and temporary public art pieces. The park is part of Newfields: A Place for Nature and the Arts (see above for more info on the museum).
Address: 4000 N. Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46208
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Admission: Free

White River State Park
Located in downtown Indianapolis, White River State Park is the only urban state park in Indiana. Its lush 250 acres are home to trails, green spaces and waterways, as well as the Indianapolis Zoo, Eiteljorg Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions and the Indiana State Museum.
Address: 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Open 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Admission: Free to enter the park; individual venues have admission costs

Do Something Completely Different

For some, a memorable visit to a new city includes engaging in new experiences. For those looking for a few activities that are a bit unusual, here’s a list of things to do, from the odd to the romantic:

Brew Bus
Interested in Indianapolis’ local breweries? Take a bus tour! The bus will pick you up at your downtown location and take you to four local breweries over a three-hour period. You will receive two–three samples at each brewery, bottles of water and a “brewery passport.”
Address: Will pick up at any downtown location
Hours: Vary by day; see website for details
Admission: Tickets start at $30 per person and include transportation — must be 21 years old

Go Ape!
For those that are looking for an active experience, the Go Ape! Adventure will take you up into the trees for high ropes, obstacles, swings and zip lines.
Address: 5855 Delong Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46254
Hours: See website for hours & availability
Admission: Adults aged 16+ $58, youth (10–15) $38; minimum ages is 10 years old, minimum height of 4’7”, maximum weight of 285 lbs.

Tour the Catacombs
Located beneath Indianapolis City Market, this unique tour takes you deep below the city to the remains of Tomlinson Hall, which was built in the late 1800s. Little remains from the 1958 fire except for the brick arches from the basement of the hall.
Address: 222 E. Market St., Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hours: Tours offered on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. See website for hours.
Admission: Ages 12 and up $12, children (6–11) $6, 5 and under are free (no strollers). Must wear close-toed shoes, no walkers, canes or wheelchairs.

Old-World Gondoliers
Looking for a peaceful tour of downtown Indianapolis? A private gondola ride is a perfect way to see the sites while sitting back and relaxing, complete with a singing gondolier. Both ½-hour and hour-long rides are available.
Address: 340 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202
Hours: Daily, 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Admission: Each boat can hold 2–8 passengers; ½-hour rides are $150 and 1-hour rides are $300

Paula Jacoby-Garrett is a Freelance Writer located in Las Vegas, Nevada