As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve come around to the use of an activity tracker, particularly when it gets me outside and seeing new things. In honor of that, I figured I should show off my city in a way that helps other fanatics get in their steps for the day. Yes, all 10,000 of them.
May I present 10,000 steps Indianapolis, an easy way to get in all of your steps for the day as well as get a feel for what downtown Indianapolis has to offer!* Are you ready?
*FYI, 10,000 steps is around 5 miles! With stops and everything included, this would take up pretty much a whole afternoon/evening.
1 | the Central Library and Indiana War Memorial
The 10000 steps Indianapolis tour starts at the Indianapolis Central Library rather arbitrarily (well, actually, it’s close to my house) so get yourselves a few blocks north of downtown to start.
At the front of the library is the original 1917 Indiana limestone library building which overlooks the American Legion Mall. The original building retains its old-world charm with a large study area in its wooden-paneled halls. As beautiful as the 1917 building is, it became clear an addition was needed as Indy grew and the new addition quickly became a welcome modern compliment to the older building.
Pro tip: head to the sixth floor to get a perfect sunset shot of downtown Indianapolis. There are many tables facing that window so be sure to grab a book or bring your laptop while you wait for the sun to set.
As you head south down Meridian Street, be sure to stop for a photo op at the Scottish Rites Cathedral, a Freemason enclave open for tours Thursday through Saturday.
At the far end of the American Legion Mall is the Indiana War Memorial. Head inside to the see the museum dedicated to Hoosier soldiers throughout history and take time to reflect in the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Shrine Room. Afterwards, climb to the top of the steps for a photo op of downtown Indianapolis’ historic buildings.
2 | the Canal Walk and Indiana State Museum
To continue the 10,000 step Indianapolis trek, head west on West New York Street to hit the Canal Walk.* Part of Indy’s central canal excavated in the 1800s, the formerly utilitarian commerce path has been repurposed into a bucolic pedestrian area. You can simply walk the canal, rent a bike from the bikeshare program, or even rent a paddle boat or gondola!
*If you’re looking for an extra dose of culture, head one block north and follow West Vermont Street to visit the Vonnegut Memorial Library just next to the canal walk.
As you head further south on the canal, follow the curve and you’ll soon see some of Indy’s most culturally significant museums: the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana State Museum, and the Eiteljorg Museum. While the museums may be a bit pricey, all are worth a visit depending on what your interests are.
3 | the Indiana Statehouse
Make your way back downtown and follow the gently faded green dome to the entrance of the Indiana Statehouse (FYI: the public entrance is up the steps on the Capitol Street side). The 1888 structure is relatively young as far as political institutions go but manages to retain an old-world charm.
The interior of the statehouse is absolutely stunning although the low light makes it a bit tricky, photography-wise. Best of all, the public is totally free to wander around at will and kind staffers will even offer to open up locked rooms for you if you look interested enough. (At least in my experience.) Tours are available Monday through Saturday but if you prefer to fly solo, I’d suggest heading to the second floor to mingle with staffers watching the proceedings on a small TV and then to the third floor to capture some photos of the statehouse from above.
4 | the Circle
Of course the must-see of Indianapolis’ central circle is the massive Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Created in the late 19th century to honor the common sailor, the monument has become an indelible part of Indianapolis’ downtown. Towering at 285 feet high, inside the base of the monument is the small Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum and a gift shop. If you’re very brave, you can take an elevator up to the cramped observation deck for just $2. Alternatively, you can also get your exercise for the week by trudging up all 331 stairs and be rewarded with a view of the surrounding area.
If you’re looking for other great nearby ideas, you could try:
- South Bend Chocolate Co: satisfy your sweet tooth (and get some sugar in you for the long hike ahead!) with some of this Indiana-based chocolate!
- Christ Church Cathedral: built in 1857, the church is the oldest structure on the Circle. Head inside for some quiet contemplation on the beautiful interior
- Hilbert Circle Theater: home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the National Historic Register building can hold up to 1,700 audience members
5 | the City-County Building Observation Deck
Is there anything better than feeling like you have a little secret between you and your city? That’s the way the almost-secret City-County Building Observation Deck feels. The observation deck is not very well advertised despite being in a major government building and the home to a collection of Indy-specific memorabilia.
Be sure to ask the receptionist at the lobby to point you in the right direction of the totally free way to see Indianapolis from above!
6 | the City Market
Since 1886, the iconic brick Indianapolis City Market building has operated as an open space for food sales. Originally an open-air market, today the building offers excellent cuisine and a community gathering
place. Today the market offers two floors: the first floor is made up of 32 different stalls while the second floor is an overlooking balcony with some vendors and plenty of table space for chowing down.
Be sure to try:
- The Tamale Place: creating their tamales using the traditional Mexican recipe, The Tamale Place offers a sizable range of (huge!) tamales that come in under $4 each
- Circle City Sweets: each of their sweet creations is not only delicious, but beautiful. They also have recently started offering a range of sweet and savory breakfast options
- Mile Square Coffee Roastery: a full espresso and pour-over bar from this small-batch roastery is available on the top floor of the market
7 | Mass Ave
The final stop of the 10,000 steps Indianapolis tour is Mass Ave, one of Indianapolis’ most hopping locations. For eating, shopping, and walking like a hip young thang, there’s no place better than Massachusetts Avenue – just be sure your budget can handle the diagonally-facing street!
For shopping, try Silver in the City (jewelry and offbeat gifts), Global Gifts (international fair trade goods), Homespun: Modern Handmade (contemporary homemade goods), and Indy Reads Books (used books in an amazing space).
If you’re feeling peckish, Bakersfield Tacos, Tequila & Whiskey Bar, Mesh on Mass, Yats (cheap!) or head to the far north end of Mass Ave for Black Market. Drinks must include Ball and Biscuit (pre-Prohibition cocktail list!), Saint Joseph Brewery, or Old Point Tavern.
For a full list of everything happening on Mass Ave, check out the Discover Mass Ave website!
Now the question becomes: would you undertake the 10,000 steps Indianapolis tour with me? Have you ever done something similar in another city?