Indianapolis neighborhoods guide: five faves

Indianapolis neighborhood guide: directions to Indianapolis neighborhoods
Indianapolis neighborhood guide: directions to Indianapolis neighborhoods

As soon as I moved to Indianapolis, I realized it was truly a city of neighborhoods. People lived somewhere very specific and had very pointed preferences regarding which neighborhood was the best to do x, y, or z. I definitely play favorites in my head, but I’d like to encourage all of you to get out and see them for yourselves.

Then get super judgmental and choose your favorite!

So I’ve chosen five key slices of Indy and written a quick Indianapolis neighborhoods guide. I’ve broken each neighborhood down into my own critical elements: what to do, where to get coffee, the best place to grab a cocktail, and where to get the best bite to eat.



Do: take a self-guided tour of the State House, visit the Indiana War Memorial, and head to the observatory on top of the City-County Building.

Coffee: Bee Coffee Roasters, the space may be small but the drinks are expertly brewed and the coffee roasted by the company itself. 201 South Capitol Avenue #110

Cocktail: St. Elmo’s 1933 Lounge, set above the downtown classic St. Elmo’s, the bar is a speakeasy-style bar with a classic cocktail selection. 127 South Illinois Street

Food: Indianapolis City Market, 222 East Market Street

Well hello there, Fountain Square, you're just as cool as I imagined!

A photo posted by Polly Barks | Midwest Travel (@letslovelocal) on

Fountain Square

Do: head to the Hi-Fi for some live music (1043 Virginia Avenue), visit the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (1043 Virginia Avenue), or even go retro with duckpin bowling (1105 Prospect Street)!

Coffee: Funkyard, this part-gallery/part-cafe offers decently-priced coffee alongside art from local artists. 1114 Prospect Street

Cocktail: Marrow, this place can’t be missed with its elegant, off-the-wall cocktail selection! 1106 Prospect Street Alternatively, head to Fountain Square Brewing Company if you feel more like a craft brew. 1301 Barth Avenue

Food: Pioneer, one of Indy’s hottest spots which features food from northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. 1110 Shelby Street

Fletcher Place

Do: Walk down the culture trail and discover everything the neighborhood has to offer down Virginia Avenue.

Coffee: Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company, 647 Virginia Avenue

Cocktail: Repeal, includes the 12.05 Distillery next door 630 Virginia Avenue Or try Hotel Tango Whiskey, the first small-batch distiller in Indiana 702 Virginia Avenue

Food: Bluebeard (653 Virginia Avenue), Rook (501 Virginia Avenue), or Milktooth (534 Virginia Avenue), which all consistently top both Indy and national best-of lists! For an after-meal snack, head to Amelia’s Bread for fresh-baked deliciousness (653 Virginia Avenue)

Thanks, @indyhostel, for not only being a great American hostel model but helping me (sorta) make sense of Indy neighborhoods.

A photo posted by Polly Barks | Midwest Travel (@letslovelocal) on

Broad Ripple

Do: While there’s not a whole lot to do in Broad Ripple that doesn’t involve food or drink, you can definitely spend some time walking or biking the Monon Trail, shopping at Broad Ripple Vintage (824 East 64th Street) or Indy CD and Vinyl (806 Broad Ripple Avenue), and dancing it up at The Vogue (6259 North College Avenue).

Coffee: OK it’s not TECHNICALLY in Broad Ripple, but it’s close enough: Open Society. (A word of warning, though, service can be deadly slow so only go if you’re in the mood for a slow coffee date.) 4850 North College Avenue

Cocktail: For beer, head to local brewery Thr3e Wise Men (1021 Broad Ripple Avenue). If you’re looking for a cool craft cocktail, try La Chinita Poblana – and grab a couple of fusion tacos while you’re at it (927 East Westfield Boulevard).

Food: So. Much. Food. Like, honestly where do I even begin to talk about BR’s amazing food scene? My advice: skim through the Indianapolis Restaurant Scene’s Broad Ripple archives and pick something that suits your fancy!

Mass Ave

Do: Get shopping at Silver in the City (434 Massachusetts Avenue), Homespun: Modern Handmade (869 Massachusetts Avenue), and Indy Reads Books (911 Massachusetts Avenue).

Coffee: I was late in discovering it, but Henry’s on East is just off Mass Ave and the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and something to eat. Bonus points for being located right next to a vet so you can watch adorable animals come and go! 627 North East Street

Cocktail: Try the new Broken Beaker Distillery, a science-themed artisan distillery (643 Massachusetts Avenue). Alternatively, get ultra-posh with Ball and Biscuit and its pre-Prohibition cocktail list (331 Massachusetts Avenue).

Food: Head to the very far north end of Mass Ave and you’ll hit Black Market, one of Indy’s most beloved upscale eateries. The vibe? Co-owner Ed Rudisell says it best: “It’s like being at your grandma’s house — but with better drinks and better patio furniture.” Be sure to visit in warmer months and enjoy your meal on their gorgeously landscaped patio. 922 Massachusetts Avenue

What would you add to any of the recommendations in this Indianapolis neighborhoods guide? Anything you agree/disagree with? Alternatively: are you totally ready to visit Indy now?! Share in the comments below!