Thursday, September 24, 2009

A stranger in a familiar land

I was recently talking to a coworker who moved to our fair city of Indianapolis a few months ago in order to take this job. She's originally from Zimbabwe, so she's much more worldly and cultured than most of us around here. Because of that and the fact that she checked out stats on Indianapolis before moving here, she has high expectations for what a city should offer.

While talking to her, she mentioned that she was disappointed with the things that the city had to offer in the way of green spaces, walking trails, cultural events and restaurants. This is where I decided to help her out a bit.

I've lived here in Indianapolis for nearly exactly 12 years (gasp!). I moved here out of college with less than 2 weeks to find a place to live, knowing nothing about the city and knowing no one else who lived here. For the first 4 years I lived here, I swear I went south of 82nd street (the VERY north side of town) no more than 4 times. Since then I've lived in 3 different places around the city and now I work right in the heart of downtown. Due to purposeful action or accidentally getting lost on a couple of occassions, I've learned a lot about what our fine metropolis has to offer. So, as a way of showing her the value of our midwestern city, I present a few of my favorite things in/about Indianapolis:

Parks/green spaces: My #1 favorite place in the city to just "be" is a tiny little speck of grass situated between NIFS (National Institute for Fitness and Sport), the NCAA headquarters and the Indianapolis Zoo. To the casual observer, it doesn't look like much. It's sort of shaped like a mini ampitheater and during the summer lots of people gather there to sunbathe, read, play frisbee or hacky-sack and I've even seen one guy training his dog there. LOTS of distractions for that. It's a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some quiet right in the heart of the city. The view of the sunset from that vantage point can also be spectacular!

Adjacent to the little speck of grass ampitheater are another two of my favorite areas: 1) The downtown canal walk and 2) the bridge over the white river to the Indianapolis Zoo.

The canal walk area has something for just about everyone:

Into history? Then you need to check out the USS Indianapolis Memorial or the Medal of Honor Memorial. These are amazing monuments erected to honor our brave military men and women. Sit for a while and think if you're so inclined. These are memorials, after all. Perhaps if you're lucky, you might even get to chat with a survivor during your visit.

Is art more your thing? Then you can't miss the 92 counties of Indiana presented by artists. On the outside of the Indiana History Museum, there are pieces of art made to represent each county in Indiana. For instance, art piece for Allen county, where Johnny Appleseed and I are from, is a beautiful iron gate made to look like an apple tree. Beautiful!

Perhaps you're more of an active person who likes to get out and enjoy the fresh air. The canal walk is the perfect place to walk/run or ride a bike! You can even rent paddleboats, 4-person bicycles and perhaps take a Segway tour of downtown!

When you're done exploring the canal make sure to take the short walk over to the bridge that takes you to the Indianapolis Zoo. This is always a great places to see some magnificent sculptures. The pieces are always being changed, so no two visits are every the same.

I must admit I don't get to experience cultural events nearly as much as I should, but among my favorites are concerts at the Murat Theater, plays and musicals at the MANY small theaters around the city (checkout NUVO for show dates and times) and during the warmer months of the year there is usually a music festival of some sort going on at Military Park or on the grounds of the Easley Winery.

I'm sure after exploring the city, you'll be famished, so why not check out a few of my favorite dining haunts? Clearly among my favorites has to be a sushi place. My pick, by far, is Ocean World. It's on the north side of town and a bit of a drive from downtown, but SOOO worth it. For pub food and atmosphere, you can't beat The Chatham Tap (English style pub) or the Old Point Tavern (MUST try the chicken nachos!). Finally, there's a sort-of upscale family owned business right down the street from me called the Legend. At least once a month my friend Patrick and I end up there for dinner and are never disappointed by our favorites. This place started small and has wisely grown slowly over the last 6 or 7 years.
So, off the top of my head those are some of my favorite spots in the city where I reside. What about you? What about your city makes you happy to live there?


Breadwinner Wife said...

So neat that you've found great things about your city. I have lived outside of New Orleans almost my whole life, and there are many great things about it, so many new things left to discover. One of my fave things is the Celebration in the Oaks Christmas festivities every year in City Park and Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee.

Heather said...

Oh, I completely agree about Cafe du Monde. I was there a LOOONG time ago (about 20 years, I think!). It was great!


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