HOP ON A BIKE
- Explore art on an eight-mile loop around the city
- Pedal from one piece of public art to the next
- Stop and smell the roses at an innovative scent vault
Several European cities are taking inspiration from Indy’s Cultural Trail, a pedestrian path that forms an eight-mile loop through downtown, connecting every major landmark and neighborhood. The well-marked trail runs right past the Conrad’s front door, so why not hop on a complimentary cruiser bike and get the lay of the land? Snag a map from the concierge before you go and head east to see notable large-scale pieces of public art including Swarm Street on Virginia Avenue, by New York provocateur Vito Acconci that simulates blinking fireflies; Prairie Modules on North Street, large white gates with solar panels that power colored lights in the evening; and the Glick Peace Walk on Walnut Street, a series of etched-glass panels honoring American pioneers. Unlike most urban trails, which lead away from a city center, Indy’s model seamlessly integrates the natural trail with its urban surroundings. Don’t miss the alley at the corner of Park and Massachusetts Avenue and smell the English rose scent being mysteriously pumped into the atmosphere.
Whether you use a hotel bike or rent a Pacers Bikeshare, head east on the trail along Washington Street and follow the trail north at Alabama Street.
BAG A PIECE OF INDY HISTORY
- Pick up accessories made from a recycled sports stadium dome
- Watch local artists sew only-in-Indy “goods for good”
- Support an enterprising urban-renewal initiative
As is true in any city from New York to Tokyo, sniff out where the artists have migrated and you’ll find the next “it” enclave. In Indy, that means heading two miles from the Conrad to the Fountain Square neighborhood. Here, brick warehouses and once-grand theaters now house galleries, artist’s studios, and cafes. People for Urban Progress (PUP), a collective of community-focused designers, set up shop in the lovably scruffy Murphy Arts Center in the early days. The group came together in 2008 when the city demolished the RCA Dome (former home of the Indianapolis Colts) to salvage the stadium’s iconic canvas roof. That very canvas is what they use to create their nearly indestructible totes, wallets, and messenger bags. Boutiques around town carry the line, but we suggest going to the source. In the second floor studio, you’ll find designers sitting behind sewing machines constructing PUP’s “goods for good.” Insider tip: if in town the first Friday of the month, plan a late afternoon visit to PUP, then roam nearby galleries showing new work, staging performances, or screening films for First Friday.
Take a 10-minute taxi ride two miles from the Conrad to the Murphy Arts Center in the Fountain Square neighborhood. Use the entrance on Virginia Avenue near the corner of Woodlawn Street and take the stairs to the PUP studio on the second floor.
TWEET FROM A LEGENDARY TYPEWRITER
- Visit the mini-but-mighty memorial to a hometown author
- See priceless literary artifacts on display
- Shop for oddball Indy souvenirs (St. Kurt candle, anyone?)
Literary aspirations? Channel the satirical wit of Indianapolis-born author Kurt Vonnegut when you take a seat behind a replica of his typewriter and peck out a Tweet connected to the @KurtsTypewriter feed. The Slaughterhouse-Five author would have been amused by this technological mash-up at the mini-but-mighty Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, a paperback’s throw from the Conrad. View curiosities on loan from his family including his actual Smith Corona typewriter, doodles of Kilgore Trout, and a pack of cigarettes he lost in the 1970s. Vonnegut may have left his hometown to establish his literary career, but he never shed his roots. Locals love to toss around this humble quote, “What people like about me is Indianapolis.” Suffering writer’s block for your Tweet? There’s always the old Vonnegut standby: “So it goes.”
The museum is four blocks from the hotel at the corner of Senate Avenue and Vermont Streets. Take the scenic route by strolling west along Washington Street past the Indiana Repertory Theatre and the Indiana State House.
SCORE THE GAME-WINNING BASKET
- Channel your inner baller with two levels of hands-on exhibits
- Relive game-clinching plays on an indoor court
Hoosiers, as Indiana natives are called, are serious about basketball. Very serious, as you’ll see at the NCAA Hall of Champions Museum, a four-block stroll from the Conrad Indianapolis. Basketball fanatics can play out their hoop dreams on the museum’s indoor court marked with the moves of famous game-clinching shots in college basketball history. Recreate Christian Laettner’s miracle shot that lifted Duke over Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament or dribble to make Keith Smart’s fade-away buzzer-beater to win Indiana University’s 1987 championship game. Balls are provided, but bring your own jump shot.
Head west on Washington Street for three blocks. Cross West Street to enter White River State Park, follow the sidewalk as it passes by the Indiana State Museum. Cross a pedestrian bridge to the building with the flags on the roofline.
ORDER OFF OF THE MENU
- Visit the bar that’s topping critics’ lists across the country
- Ask for by-request-only cocktails
- Snack on hearty bar bites
The Libertine Liquor Bar may be showing up on the “hottest bar lists,” but not many outside the city limits have the intel on the Captain’s List, a set of off-the-menu cocktails. Well, until now, that is. This subterranean watering hole, a 20-minute walk from the Conrad on Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave), isn’t so hard to find. However, the concoctions in the under-lock-and-key diary created by in-house mixologists are by request only. Like any juicy read, many drinks tell a tale, say, of a broken heart or a lost weekend. The best strategy for sussing out a cocktail and its origin story is to take a seat at the bar and chat up one of the vest-clad bartenders. Ease into things by ordering the beet-pickled deviled eggs or herb-seared beef carpaccio from the gastro pub-style menu. Once you’ve established yourself as a kindred spirit, drop word of the Captain’s List and make your play for a super-secret tipple. Welcome to the club.
The Libertine shares an entrance with Pizzology on Massachusetts Avenue, just north of North Street. It’s a 20-minute walk or a short taxi ride from the hotel (ask your cab driver to take Delaware to North Street and avoid traffic on Mass Ave).