Food & Beverage Places Things to Do

A Day in Indy: Exploring the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and More

Whether you live here, live nearby in one of the suburbs or are just planning a visit, Indy has a rich history and thriving culture. From the “foodie” experiences to sport, from the art scene to the national parks, there are always things to do and explore.

Now that the weather’s getting warmer and the days are getting longer, you have plenty of opportunities to see Indianapolis in a whole new light – and, oh boy, do we ever have some suggestions on where to start:

1. Have a Fabulous Breakfast or Brunch

Indy’s reputation as a culinary hot spot is rising every year, so make taste-testing the local eateries part of your “taste of Indianapolis” experience.

There are plenty of local eateries to try near the Cultural Trail, but some of our favorites for breakfast or brunch include:

  • Yolk: With two locations (one in City Way and one in Monument Circle) this is the perfect place to greet the morning, along with delightful breakfast dishes like red velvet French toast, and chicken and waffles.
  • Milktooth: Do you want steak and eggs? They’ve got them! Do you want something a little wild, like a sourdough pistachio waffle with green tea honey syrup? They’ve got that, too!
  • First Watch: With fresh, made-to-order meals, great coffee and amazing service, this has been dubbed one of the best breakfast spots in the city by locals.
  • Café Patachou: If you like fair-trade coffees, tasty food, vegan options, fantastic omelets and a bright atmosphere, you won’t regret your stop here.

2. Explore the Indianapolis Cultural Trail

The Cultural Trail is eight miles that connect six of Indy’s most vibrant and interesting neighborhoods, so it’s an ideal way to explore the city – whether you’re brand new to town or have lived here all your life. 

You can walk the trail or rent a bike to cover more distance, but you want to make sure that you see the most famous spots along the way. These include:

  • Fountain Square: There are thrift shops, music venues, breweries and boutiques all around this part of Indy. If you’re looking for “Indiana’s Berkeley,” this is exactly where you want to go. During good weather, there are street fairs, small vendors, unique art displays and all kinds of entertainment for adults and kids alike.
  • The Indianapolis City Market: This historic food hall was built in 1886, and it could be the perfect place to stop for a little refreshment on your trip through the city before heading to Monument Circle. If you’re looking for authentic ethnic dishes or artisan products that have been crafted with care, this is the place to start.
  • Mass Ave Arts District: Famous as one of Indy’s diagonal streets, Mass Ave is growing into a cultural touchstone for the entire area. Billed as “definitely different,” Mass Ave lives up to its hype: It’s positively packed with theaters, art galleries, independent gift shops and unique finds.
  • The American Legion Mall: A must-see for military history buffs, this includes the Indiana War Memorial that honors our Hoosier veterans and other historical spots that you can tour. Indy’s second only to Washington D.C. when it comes to monuments and memorials, and that’s saying a lot!
  • Canal District: Because of its proximity to the local universities, this is a lively, hip area that’s always full of young people and life. The Indiana Central Canal was begun in the early 1800s to improve interstate commerce. Today, however, this is a popular local destination for folks who want to walk, run, bike or rent a paddleboat to explore the city.
  • White River State Park: This is the spot for museum lovers and sports fans alike since this part of the trail leads you past Victory Field, the NCAA Hall of Champions, the Indiana State Museum, The Eiteljorg Museum and more. 

Keep in mind that this is just a partial list of the things you can find along the Cultural Trail. It’s genuinely an urban explorer’s delight and something you just have to visit to really understand.

3. Settle Down for a Fabulous Dinner and Drinks

When you’ve had a long day of exploring, nothing feels better than letting yourself relax and process the experience over a glass of beer or wine and some great food. Once again, you have plenty of choices along the way, so there’s bound to be a worthy restaurant nearby, wherever you decide to stop.

Some of our favorites along the Cultural Trial include:

  • Bluebeard: If you’re an adventurous foodie, you’ll love the dishes here. The menu changes daily, but the place specializes in farm-to-table and local ingredients, and their culinary masterpieces have been described as both “splendid” and “intriguing.”
  • Spoke & Steel: Located just inside the gorgeous LeMeridien Indianapolis, this restaurant oozes hospitality and warmth. The food menu changes with the seasons, to take advantage of fresh ingredients from local farms, but the food is second only to its curated cocktail list.
  • St. Elmo Steak House: Forbes Magazine named St. Elmo one of the “10 great classic restaurants well-worth visiting” in the entire nation. Need we say more?
  • The Rathskeller: You haven’t truly experienced Indianapolis until you’ve been to The Rathskeller Restaurant. In good weather, this traditional German restaurant has an open Biergarten where the spirits are always flowing, and there’s always entertainment and great good.

If your whole crowd is over 21, you may want to finish the evening with a nightcap at the Hotel Tango Distillery: This veteran-owned distillery has some of the finest whisky, bourbon and vodka drinks in the nation, with low-key tasting rooms that will let you sit back and relax.

Frankly, there’s so much to do and see along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail that you probably shouldn’t (and likely can’t) take the whole thing in during a single day and do it (or yourself) any justice. You may want to take a map and mark off where you’ve been and pick up where you left off at the next opportunity.