Epicenter: 64th Street and College Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana
Broad Ripple, a northern Indianapolis neighborhood, is bordered on three sides by the meandering White River, a waterway easily accessible for kayaks and canoes. Though Broad Ripple lies several miles away from Butler University, the alternating hard-partying and bohemian undergraduates living nearby still lend the neighborhood an invigorating and culturally progressive climate. Local parks—including a well-loved dog run—host fitness buffs, dogs and plenty of Frisbee-tossing co-eds. Moe and Johnny's, referred to locally as "The Bulldog" after its original name, was once dubbed one of the ten best taverns in America and smiles on whistle-wetters of all ages. With a beer in hand at the Bulldog and the White River gurgling a few blocks away, a visitor can truly enjoy the laid-back vibe of Broad Ripple.
Epicenter: W. Washington Street and S. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
Situated in the center of downtown Indianapolis, the Wholesale District was long ago a hub for city-dwellers to buy their goods, from groceries to tapestries, direct from sellers at excellent prices. Though inflation and the rejuvenation of downtown Indianapolis have made early 20th century prices seem a distant dream, the Wholesale District remains a destination for longtime residents and tourists alike. The war memorials of Monument Circle vie for attention with the modern gladiatorial arenas of the RCA Dome and Conseco Field House, home to football's Indianapolis Colts and basketball's Indianapolis Pacers respectively. High class restaurants and malls surround Circle Centre, an enormous downtown mall with more than 100 dining, shopping and entertainment options. Sports commentators nationwide who have visited Indianapolis for one of its many tournaments or games would tell you to visit St. Elmo's Steakhouse, but the real dining jewel of downtown is McCormick and Schmick's Seafood on N. Illinois Street—don't miss it.
Epicenter: W. Maryland Street and S. West Street, Indianapolis, Indiana
West of the Wholesale District winds the Canal, a slim, man-made channel designed to resemble Venice's Grand Canal. Contrasting the Wholesale District, the Canal neighborhood recedes from the dense intensity of downtown Indianapolis to the wide-open green spaces of Military Park, White River State Park and the grounds of one of Indiana University's eight campuses. Indianapolis visitors can traipse through the parks, tour the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Hall of Champions or catch a major music act on The Lawn, a huge outdoor concert venue on the east side of the river in the state park. Not pulling any punches in its attempt to complete the Venetian atmosphere, the Canal also features gondola rides along its entire stretch for those who prefer to take in their sites drifting lazily along the water.
Epicenter: E. Michigan Street and E. Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana
Massachusetts Avenue, an Indianapolis neighborhood stretching diagonally away from downtown to the northeast, is considered by some arts critics to be Indy's version of New York City's Soho. Yet the neighborhood does give it the old Hoosier try, and there are enough theaters and galleries lining the Massachusetts Avenue cultural corridor to earn it the distinction of being the city's arts district. While the Murat Theatre, closer to downtown, hosts the likes of Britney Spears, Elvis Costello and the annual city Rib Fest, the Phoenix Theatre, housed in what could pass as an East Coast Protestant church, plays to a crowd of higher brows demanding more complicated dramatic productions. Between the two lie numerous art galleries and a community of dedicated thespians, painters and other creative minds dedicated to this Indianapolis neighborhood's renewal.
Epicenter: Lockerbie Street and N. Park Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana
Lockerbie Square, Indianapolis' oldest surviving neighborhood, was founded by the Scottish Lockerbie family in the mid 1800s and seems frozen in that peculiarly American turn-of-the-century architectural epoch when it seemed all were obsessed with ornate Queen Anne, Italianate and Federal designs. Settled and occupied mostly by immigrants, Lockerbie Square's quiet and shady reclusion from the city became popular with higher class Indianapolites like the locally famous poet James Whitcomb Riley. Now, the neighborhood is protected on the National Register of Historic Places, and Riley's home is a museum to him and his work. Indianapolis citizens, and especially the toiling guardians of the Lockerbie Square People's Club, can point with pride to the safeguarding and restoration of one of Indianapolis' jewels.
-- Evan Hill