Indianapolis is renowned for being the racing capital of the country -- in fact, when most people hear the city’s monniker “Indy”, the words “Speed Way” follow. If you’re a racing fan this might bring sparkles to your eyes but there’s also a whole lot more going on in this Midwestern city than you might know. Indy is the second largest city in the Midwest and the 14th largest in the country, and has gained the nickname “Crossroads of America” because of the number of interstates that route through the city. It is still a major distribution hub, a role that started when the National Road (now US Route 40) was completed in the early 1800’s -- and these days there are three Fortune 500 and four Fortune 1000 companies based in the city, making this the “Silicon Valley of the Midwest”. At least that’s what locals are saying. Industry aside, you can sample all the best parts of Midwestern life: the massive Indiana State Fair every August brings together an eclectic collection of Hoosiers. Sports in Indy have a cult following (go Colts!), and so does the craft beer that accompanies the jerseys and tailgating. Speaking of, don’t miss the annual Carb Day Concert on the day before the big race, where revelers storm the racetrack with coolers full of beer for the most epic tailgating party you’ve ever seen. And the historic City Market is your one-stop shop for produce, baked goods, meats, wine and cheese vendors, and of course -- people watching.
The climate in Indianapolis brings the full range of all four seasons, with warm-to-hot summers that sometimes see highs in the 90’s, and snowy winters with an average January temperature of 28℉. Most rain comes through thunderstorm activity, so prepare yourself for some stunning lightning storms across the city skyline. Spring and fall can be wildly unpredictable with big temperature ranges, but being prepared for any kind of weather kind of comes with the territory.
Arts and Culture
Founded in 1883, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is the ninth oldest and eighth largest art museum in the U.S. It’s home to Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE sculpture, which you’ll recognize from just about any coffee table art book you’ve ever seen. The Rathskeller’s beer garden and The Lawn are must-attend venues in the summers, while Radio Radio, Old National Center, The Vogue, Birdy’s, Hoosier Dome, and The Irving Theater will keep your eyes and ears happy when the weather outside gets frightful. Originally opened in 1850, the Slippery Noodle Inn is the place to catch some wailing blues and jazz. Or if you’re feeling like some cultural noshing, “Devour Downtown” gives Indy residents an excuse to get out to the downtown restaurants at a discount for two weeks during those cold winter months.
Unpakt’s Most Recommended
Take a ride in the Chicken Limo
Believe it or not, there’s a stretch limo with a giant chicken on top that actually clucks while it drives you around. There must be an occasion perfect for this mode of transportation, if you can think of one.
St. Elmo’s Steakhouse (27 S Illinois St)
They say a St. Elmo’s steak is just about the best thing you’ll eat in this city. The wait list reflects it, so locals recommend that you make a reservation well in advance.
Walker Theater (617 Indiana Ave)
Opened in 1927 by the country’s first female millionaire, Madam CJ Walker, this venue hosts more than 150 events every year in a gorgeous historical venue that will appeal to performance lovers and historians alike.
Shipshewana Flea Market (345 S. Van Buren St)
Though technically not in Indianapolis, this nearby flea market and auction house has over 900 vendors selling everything you didn’t know you needed. It’s a sight not to be missed.
Bankers Life Stadium (125 S Pennsylvania St)
You haven’t fully relocated to Indianapolis until you’ve seen a Pacers game. Even if you know nothing about basketball, it’s the community and the culture that will draw you in.
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