An Inspirational Trip to Idyllic Indianapolis

Indy Welcomes BlogHouse

Everyone in Indianapolis is nice, warm and welcoming.

We’re supposed to discourage stereotypes but darn it, sometimes they are so accurate you can’t help but repeat them. When they say people from the Midwest are nice, they aren’t kidding! My first experience was when I had the honor to visit Detroit as a Buick ambassador in early 2015. I fell in love with the innovation and resilience of the people of this city. Despite the fact that I was visiting under freezing conditions they had hearts so generous that their smiles warmed us through.

Then I experienced Indianapolis.  

I visited Indianapolis for the first time also as a Buick ambassador when I was invited for the NCAA basketball tournament finals in 2015. And while I was there for a sporting event, and a crowded one at that, every place we went to was as warm and as welcoming as can be. We ate our way through the Indianapolis City Market, had amazing bespoke cocktails at a restaurant downtown, and checked out hometown cooking at Shoefly Public House.

That was above and beyond the basketball games, both the semi-finals and finals along with a behind-the-scenes tour of Lucas Oil Stadium. Our schedule was frenetic but in the middle of the storm of activities, I felt at ease. Like I was at home.

Indianapolis…you are SO awesome!

So, when LL Media announced that this year’s BlogHouse was taking place in Indianapolis, I ran to my computer to apply. Again.  I had applied for previous BlogHouses, but was not selected. And I had actually completely forgotten about this

I had actually completely forgotten about this year’s until this past April when the BlogHouse lead, Lisa Lubin, reached out to inform me I had been selected and was going to Indy!

Woohoo!

Okay, so what is BlogHouse?  According to Google, it’s the “Opportunity for travel bloggers to immerse, work and learn in a group environment with experienced mentors & peers.”

I just define it as amazing.

Even nine years into this whole blogging thing I never stop learning. Not only did I learn from the mentors, but also other attendees. With only 15 bloggers in attendance, there is nothing quite like it. There is group time, mentor time, one-on-one time, plenty of opportunity to learn, share, and garner insights. The mentors are talented and generous and the attendees are open and encouraging.

You could say that you can hold a BlogHouse at any hotel in any city like a lot of conferences out there, but you would be wrong.  An important component of BlogHouse is the integration of the host city into the mix. This year, were hosted by the exuberant Visit Indy team who showed us the best of their city with the most gracious hearts and contagious enthusiasm, it’s no wonder I left Indianapolis already planning my next trip.

Visit Indy Team

The utterly charming Visit Indy team.

And if I thought the Visit Indy team was dynamic, I was equally impressed with the conference’s other sponsor Visit Indiana. We met with the marketing team and enjoyed a presentation on just some of the highlights the rest of Indiana has to offer. I took 6 pages of notes! I’m telling you, Honest to Goodness Indiana is only the half of it.

So why is Indianapolis so cool?

When you are the amateur sports capitol of the world with great teams and great venues, you might be a little competitive, but the city’s sporting nature is all upside for visitors!

For instance, it was pouring down rain on Friday morning. As I sat in the meeting room in the JW Marriott the second morning of BlogHouse looking out the window at the fabulous Indians baseball park (I’m coming back for a game!), I wondered just how we were going to get to Napolese Pizzeria for lunch without getting soaked.

No need to worry, in fact I should have been more worried about resisting the amazing pizzas with locally sourced ingredients while on a low carb diet. We walked more than a mile indoors from the hotel to just about 20 feet from the restaurant’s front door.

Connected City Downtown Indianapolis

One of the walkways where you can cross indoors above traffic.

Our path took us through hallways, connectors and walkways. Indianapolis competes with Minneapolis on a yearly basis to be the most connected city in the United States. When it snowy, raining or a little too humid you can still comfortably walk for miles inside.

I love that!

And we loved the meal we had at Napolese. Bruscettas, hummus, killer pizzas and salads – we sampled them all and cleaned every dish. With all ingredients coming from 100 miles or less, you can taste the freshness!

Indianapolis Napolese Lunch

One of the many pizzas that tortured me.

After a killer afternoon of BlogHouse sessions, we headed to the Indianapolis Zoo. The morning’s rain had vanished leaving a spectacular sky and balmy evening perfect for getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the dolphin family that makes their home at this the zoo.  This zoo is keenly focused on animal conservation. They literally put their money where their mouth is each year when they seek out and award half a million dollars to an individual or organization that is advancing conservation causes.

We partook in the summertime Zoolapalooza concert series, enjoying the good food, wine, beer and music.  As we meandered back along the Canal Walk inside White River State Park, our third conference sponsor, W Marriott, was a beautiful beacon lighting the way and reflecting the clouds.  I could say that I was sad to end the evening since it was one of those wonderful summer nights that you want to last forever, but the beds were so comfortable at the JW Marriott I couldn’t wait to sink into it!

Indianapolis skyline

The JW Marirott beautifully reflecting the gorgeous summer clouds.

For lunch on Saturday we headed to the Mass Ave.  A hip trendy area with lots of history, restaurants, bars and boutique shopping. We had a delicious meal at Mesh on Mass.  It was the second time I had been there in as many trips so you can tell it’s well liked by the locals. They’ve got a great menu and a hearty brunch on the weekends.

Instead of driving back to the hotel to start the afternoon session, we did a photo walk led by the Visit Indy team.  It gave us an opportunity to practice some photography tips that us bloggers had received the day before and to learn a little more about the history of Indianapolis.

For starters, there’s this guy.

Indianapolis Mass Ave Kurt Vonnegut Wall

Kurt Vonnegut.

Mr. Kurt Vonnegut a celebrated author and son of Kurt Vonnegut Sr. Vonnegut senior was a renowned architect who heavily influenced Indianapolis inside and out, most notably with his Art Deco style. The people of Indianapolis celebrate the legacy of both these men. There are novels displayed in hotels, restaurants and shops and even the names of many places are taken from titles of novels or characters.

Mass Avenue is an eclectic area of the town and is the perfect example of just how accessible Indianapolis is.

Indianapolis Mass Ave Cat in Store Window

Spotted on Mass Ave…All you need it LOVE…and a good cat.

You can walk everywhere, bike everywhere, including a fantastic cultural trail that covers tons of history and notable events throughout the city.  They took out a whole lane of traffic to create a bike and walking path and I really enjoyed strolling the route and taking in the sights.

Indianapolis Cultural Trail

Part of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail on Mass Ave.

Only in Washington DC can you find more monuments than Indianapolis. We walked by quite a few of them as we made our way to Monument Circle on the way back to the hotel.  I had visited this spot on my first trip and it is a great photo spot.

Monument Circle Indianapolis

Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

A new addition to Monument Circle since the last time I was there is a really cool public library sharing station in the form of kiosks.  It is a pubic literacy and art project to raise awareness about illiteracy in a fun and quirky architectural expression.  There are 8 stations Indianapolis and we ran into two during our time there. Of course, we couldn’t resist staging a scene that included a book on travel, we are bloggers after all!

Indianapolis Open Library

Thanks Erin for playing model!

On Saturday evening after a productive afternoon at BlogHouse, we made our way to the Children’s Museum. Continuing the tradition of greatness and competitivity, this museum is the largest children in the world.  Not just the United States, but the world! And if it hadn’t been for BlogHouse and Visit Indy, I probably would have never seen it. And that would have been a huge mistake. Because this place is awesome (I know. I know. I’m using that word a lot!)

Bumblebee at the Indianapolis Childrens Museum

We spent 2 hours in the museum and barely scratched the surface, in fact I don’t even know where to start in terms of explaining it. I keep wishing I videotaped my way through and then created a time-lapsed it because we covered a lot of ground.  This is just a tiny sampling of what I saw: Bumblebee (from Transformers, I’m a total fan girl!); a Chihuly glass installation; a NASA space station; an Anne Frank exhibit; a Chinese hutong; pop culture paraphernalia and real dinosaur bones.

Whew! Are you still with me?

And the museum is just getting started.  Opening in March of 2018 is a 7.5 acre expansion focused on sports. (Just making Indianapolis that much more awesome for sports fans!) The intent of the building is to get families moving.  There is a concern with obesity and this sports legend experience will be a national model for health and fitness, particularly in the winter months when people don’t move around as much.  I absolutely cannot wait to check it out.

The highlight of the trip (besides all the blogging tips!) was what I did after the museum visit. A drink at one of the hottest bars in the city followed by dinner at the hottest table in town.

Bluebeard (another Vonnegut novel) doesn’t take reservations and is very popular so to fill up our hour+ wait time, we drank at Hotel Tango Distillery across the street.  The distillery is unique. A celebrity cat lives there and its owners are the first service-disabled, combat veteran-owned distillery in America. And while everyone else had some of their fancy and original cocktails from their very creative menu, I went with straight up whiskey distilled on site, also known as the Dwayne Johnson because it is served with a big rock!

Indianapolis Hotel Tango Bourbon

The Dwayne Johnson at Hotel Tango.

Rock or no rock, it was darn good!

After drinks we walked back over to enjoy the best meal I’ve had in a very long time. Even while being on a low carb diet, I ate heartily.  There were seven of us so we ordered a sampling of starters, entrees and desserts and scarfed down everything. Each dish was very distinct, simple yet complex with layers of flavors that had us going in for seconds and thirds.

I’m not sure if it was our enthusiasm made known by the approving sounds emanating from our table or whether Visit Indy tipped off the restaurant, but the manager invited us for a tour of the kitchen and associated bakery.  The bread is so good (and remember I’m a francophile who definitely knows her bread) that people began walking off the street just to buy it, so the owners decided to open a bakery adjoining the restaurant!

I can tell you, the biggest regret I have about the entire trip was not eating that bread.  I’m going back to Indy post-diet just to eat a slice or five!

Foodies and those interested in culinary travel will be immensely satisfied in Indianapolis. The restaurant, bar, brewery and distillery scene is growing like crazy attracting very talented chefs and new explorations of cuisines and ingredients that are right at any Midwesterners fingertips.

And of course the rest of Indiana will not be beat.  I told you they were competitive.  There are 19 Food trails. Yes, 19.

Personally, I think the best way to celebrate reaching my weight loss goal (besides bread from Bluebeard!) will be hitting the pie trail! I’ll start with the sugar cream, Indiana’s state pie and follow that up with a huge slice of apple! But hey, you can get started without me. Like maybe the Tenderloin Trail or the BBQ Trail, I’ll let you decide, just hold the pie until I get there!

Indiana Sugar Cream Pie

Indiana Sugar Cream Pie, photo credit: Annie

Extremely nice people, really good food (and drinks), great sports and activities, accessible, and approachable. All these things and more make Indianapolis an idyllic city for your first exploration in the Midwest or to inspire you to return for a second helping. It’s an easy drive or flight from practically anywhere and I definitely recommend that you Visit Indy!

And of course, BlogHouse was brilliant.  My creative well was running a bit dry and this experience invigorated me on the blog front. I was thrilled to connect with others who are trying to take their blog to the next level and beyond.

Mentors at Indy Loves Bloghouse

3 of the BlogHouse Mentors at Indy Loves Bloghouse drawing along the Canal Walk.

Thanks to the BlogHouse mentors Lisa Lubin, Amanda Williams, Keryn Means, Ryan Erwin and Anne Lowrey for bringing their A game and sharing it so generously! And thanks for selecting Indianapolis!

How about you? Have you been to Indianapolis (or perhaps a BlogHouse)? What was your favorite part, favorite meal, favorite drink? Do share?  Has my post inspired you to consider visiting Indianapolis? Do tell!

Check out what other BlogHouse bloggers had to say about the trip:

From Global Gaz: Indianapolis War Memorials

From The Kittchen: What to do in Indianapolis

From A Southern Gypsy: A Vegan Guide to Indianapolis, Indiana and Cats & Coffee in Indianapolis, Indiana and The Indianapolis City Market is a Vegan Paradise

From Walking on Travels: Steller Indianapolis Restaurants You Don’t Want to Miss and 5 Reasons YOU need to go to Indianapolis with kids

From 10 Miles Behind Me: The 10 Types of Travelers Who Should Visit Indianapolis and A Small Town Girl in Hendricks County and The Best of the Indiana Foodways in Lafayette-West Lafayette

From LL World Tour: Three Reasons to Visit Indianapolis

From Coleman Concierge: 10 Things You Can’t Miss in Indy and High Adventure in Hamilton County

From It’s Five O’Clock Here: How to Fall in Love with Indianapolis in 10 Easy Steps

From Archives of Adventure: Indulging in Indy: A Self-Guided Indianapolis Sweets Tour

From Speck on the Globe: Eco Indy: Indiana’s Sustainable City and An Indianapolis Can’t Miss Weekend

From A Dangerous Business: 5 Reasons You Didn’t Know You Need to Go to Indianapolis

From The Traveling Spud: 9 Fun Things to Do in Indianapolis as a 20-Something

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, the 3 sponsors I mention above are conference sponsors, I paid for my travel and accommodations.

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About Andi Fisher

I’m a lifestyle blogger focused on travel and food. I love to travel via my stomach eating and seeking out local artisans to feature here. I’m a big supporter of the blogging community and love highlighting travel and food bloggers for you to meet.

Comments

  1. Fun! I’m from the midwest and if I didn’t dislike the idea of being so far from the oceans, we’d definitely move back after Justin retires from the military. You’re spot-on about the niceness of the people. Even if you don’t know anyone, it still feels like a community. Indianapolis looks like a lovely city! And I’m glad you pointed out the food scene — seems like many midwestern cities get overlooked as restaurant chain hubs when in reality you can usually find a surprising amount of creative chefs doing wonderful things while living somewhere they can actually afford!

    • @Katie, the midwest food scene is exploding, it’s amazing how fast its growing and how great the food is! I will keep exploring and will be heading back to Indiana as soon as possible.

  2. Julie stine says:

    Thanks for the summary of Indy. I want to go. So glad it helped your Mojo!

  3. I haven’t yet been to Indianapolis but having read this post, you have convinced me that I need to visit to experience all this fabulous city has to offer. Great attractions, food (19 food trails is unbelievable!) and friendly people all make for an absolute winning combination. Lovely write up and photos.

  4. I am born and raised Midwestern, and I like to think we are pretty nice in general. Indianapolis is a great city to visit with its zoo and multiple museums.

  5. It looks like Indianapolis has a little something for everyone. I’m so excited for you that you had the opportunity to travel there and to have this experience.

  6. Linda Manns Linneman says:

    I have never been there. It sounds like a fun place to visit. I am from the midwest and the people up there are awesome and friendly. I am so happy you really enjoyed this

  7. I agree that people from the midwest are so nice. I visited a friend when I was in college and her friends were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I grew up in NY and they were fascinated by my accent…lol.

  8. We live in the midwest. Be prepared to to wave if your out in the country driving around. People are friendly and interested in where you are from and why your visiting. So many things to see and do.

  9. Catvills says:

    I have not been to Indianapolis in my whole life. I guess I am missing a lot. I love to “food hop” whenever I visit a new place, so I think Indianapolis can give me this gastronomic experience. I will talk with my husband and check if we can squeeze in a trip there. Looks like an awesome place to visit.

  10. Our Family World says:

    I was there a few years back but I did not get to tour much of the place. I did not know there were so many things to do and see in Indianapolis. I will be checking them out next time we’re there.

  11. I had no idea there were so many cool things in Indianapolis! I would never have thought of it as a vacation location, but now I’d love to go!

  12. Amy Desrosiers says:

    I am impressed with all they have to offer! Wow, looks amazing and so vibrant!

  13. I have never been to Indianapolis before, but it sure looks like you had a great time! I need to get out an adventure more often.

  14. I’ve never been there but this place looks awesome and fun. I’m adding this to my travel list. Thanks fro sharing these beautiful photos.

  15. I’ve never been to Indianapolis, but you’ve made it seem wonderful! I’m happy you had such an inspirational and moving trip, those are always the best!

  16. Mary Edwards says:

    You have convinced me that I need a trip to Indy. I have not been but it’s been on my list. And it looks like a great place to take my kids too!

  17. I’ve never been to Indianapolis, but it sounds like a blast. I didn’t know that they had so many monuments there. Sounds like a fun city full of rich culture and lots of things to do. I’m a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan though and think I’d enjoy dining in at Bluebeard. 🙂

  18. I have never been to Indianapolis before but it looks like a fun places to visit! I’ll have to go!

  19. Wow! I’d love to visit a place because of how warm and accommodating people are. I’d definitely visit Indianapolis

  20. Melanie says:

    Adding Indianapolis to my must-see travel bucket list. I love walkable cities, especially ones with yummy things to eat and drink. My husband would love all the sports offerings too.

  21. margarette says:

    Thanks for sharing things about Indianapolis. It’s fun knowing and reading your post. Cool pics.

  22. wicklessusa says:

    Congratulations on being selected to attend the Bloghouse meeting in Indianapolis. Only 15 bloggers were selected so you must be the cream of the crop. That pizza place looked really nice.

  23. I love checking out the culture and attractions in new towns. Indianapolis sounds like a fabulous destination. That sugar cream pie is totally calling my name.

  24. LOL on the bread. I can relate. This looks like a great trip.

  25. I have a Colts jersey, so I ‘d totally fit in there. I know a few people from Indianapolis. What a fun day, anything with food makes me happy!

  26. one state over I truly need to go check this all out
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

  27. I’ve never been to Indianapolis but it looks like a cool place to visit. So much to see and do and the food looks good (i’m eyeing that sugar cream pie)!

  28. It looks like it was a super fun trip — I now want to take my family there! I love the colors you captured on the JW Marriott. Gorgeous!

  29. I’ve never been to Indianapolis before. BlogHouse sounds like a fun time!

  30. Nice choice of photos. Thank you for sharing them too. Great to see Indianapolis even in picture only.

  31. Great overview and wrap up of Indy! A fun town.

  32. You got some really great pictures! And the food looks delicious! Xx-Doran @HauteBeautyGuide

  33. I don’t know much about Indianapolis. The only thing I know related to the place is the Indy 500. I never realized that the place is that beautiful and a lot of landmarks can be enjoyed by local and international tourists.

  34. Loved your passion for Indy! I can feel it leaping off of the page. And all that food…so good.
    Was so great connecting at Bloghouse – I look forward to seeing where your misadventures take you next!

  35. Kim Tanti says:

    How wonderful to be able to travel. I would love to experiance the foods all over.

  36. Linda Szymoniak says:

    I’m a lifelong Hoosier and have been to Indy quite a few times (in fact, was just at an author event with one of my daughters there on Saturday). I really need to take a weekend and just enjoy our state capital. I have friends who live in our just outside of Indy, so it would be great to spend time with them, too!

    • @Linda, your state is AMAZING! You should spend a weekend in Indy. For a long time I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and never visited the city. Then I moved away and really missed it. When I returned I made a point of getting into the city and exploring more and it was really rewarding!

  37. I felt similarly about Sioux Falls—so friendly! so fun! so underrated! I’d love to get to Indy eventually for this very reason. I’ve also never been even though it’s just a six-hour drive from me.

  38. kathy downey says:

    I have never been to Indianapolis but i sure hope to someday,thanks for sharing your photos they certainly are amazing !

  39. cALVIN f. says:

    Cool place with lots to see , nice name too

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