Gotta run? (or bike or walk?): A guide to Indy’s byways

John Lamborn


If you miss your biking, running, or walking routine when attending professional conferences away from home, bring it with you to ACRL 2013. There are plenty of opportunities to pursue these activities in close proximity to Indy’s downtown hotels and the Convention Center.


  • The Indianapolis Cultural Trail (www.indyculturaltrail.org/). Funded in large part by the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Fund, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail was completed in 2012. This urban byway, designed with visitors in mind, winds eight miles through the city’s six cultural districts: Broad Ripple Village, the Canal and White River State Park, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave, and the Wholesale District.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Photo courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • The Canal and White River State Park District (visitindy. com/indianapolis-canal-white-river-state-park-district). You can access the Trail across Washington Street on the north side of the JW Marriott to explore the attractions in the Canal and White River State Park District. These include the Indianapolis Zoo, White River Gardens, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indiana State Museum, and the historic Central Canal.

The Canal and White River State Park District. Photo courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • Indianapolis Public Library (visitindy.com/indianapolis-indianapolis-public-library-central-library). From the Central Canal it’s an easy walk to the Indianapolis Public Library, adjacent to the parks of the Veterans’ Memorial Plaza, via the sculptural gardens of the Glick Peace Walk. Dedicated to historical figures recognized for their peaceful pursuits, the Peace Walk offers, “an understanding of how these inspiring individuals were able to overcome challenges and dedicate their lives to the greater good of society.”

Indianapolis Public Library. Photo courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • Georgia Street (visitindy.com/indianapolis-georgia-street). En route to or from the Indiana Convention Center, you can use the Cultural Trail to explore the city’s Wholesale District. There you’ll find theaters and concert halls, professional sports venues, the shopping outlets of the Circle Centre Mall, and Georgia Street. Originally the site of Indy’s Super Bowl Village, it is now a lively gathering place for events throughout the year.

Georgia Street. Photo courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • Indianapolis City Market (visitindy.com/indianapolis-indianapolisity-market). The Indianapolis City Market is another popular starting point for a trek on the Cultural Trail. It’s located about a mile east of the Marriott. Once there, you can rent a bike at the Indy Bike Hub to continue your trek. But whether on foot or by bike, travel south on the Trail to explore the Fountain Square District or north to tour the Mass Ave District. Both destinations offer an eclectic mix of galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.

Indianapolis City Market. Photo courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • The Monon Trail (visitindy.com/indianapolis-monon-railtrail). Get a bike and head north if you want a lengthier tour. At 10th Street you can hook-up to the Monon Trail. A historic railway transformed into a beautiful greenway, the Monon Trail extends north ten miles, and then connects to the Monon Greenway to provide another five miles of cycling fun.

The Monon Trail. Photo courtesy of Visit Indy.

Additional trails

In addition to the Cultural and Monon trails, Indy offers a number of other walking, running, and biking venues. Among these are:

  • Eagle Creek Park. The sixth largest municipal park in the nation, there are more than 3,900 acres of wooded terrain and lake for visitors to hike, fish, or swim.
  • Military Park. Located downtown, this green space offers a peaceful setting to take a walk or relax on the grass.
  • Fort Harrison State Park. Formerly a military base, this 1,700-acre park features walking and jogging trails, picnic sites, and tons of wildlife.
  • Holliday Park & Nature Center. This is a 94-acre park with 3.5 miles of picturesque trails along the banks of the White River.

Want to go off the “beaten path”?

Indy is a great place for wanderers and wayfarers. Its compact downtown core is very walkable, and on its periphery are several historic neighborhoods worth seeing.

To begin, consider 1 Monument Circle (site of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument) as your starting point.

  • CityWay (cityway.com). Five blocks south, just beyond Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Delaware Street, is CityWay, a mixed-use development that opened in late 2012. City-Way connects downtown to the corporate campuses of Eli Lilly, Farm Bureau, Rolls-Royce, and Wellpoint. The Alexander, a Dolce hotel, is a stylish addition to Indy’s hospitality options, and its fine dining offerings are some of the best in the city.
  • Lockerbie Square (lockerbiesquare. org). Four blocks east and two blocks north is Lockerbie Square, Indy’s oldest neighborhood. It is comprised of late 19th- and early 20th- century homes, including that of poet James Whitcomb Riley.
  • Chatham-Arch (chathamarch.org). Four blocks east and four blocks north is Chatham-Arch, a neighborhood of both architectural and historical significance. Its irregular street layout dates from the mid-1800’s and includes the popular Mass Ave corridor. Its buildings are a mix of “workers’ cottages, middle class residences, rental duplexes, apartment buildings and flats, commercial buildings with second-floor sleeping rooms, and few large homes of the wealthy.” The neighborhood also boasts a rich religious history, serving as the seedbed for early congregations of the African Methodist Episcopal, First United Brethren, and German Reformed churches.
  • Indiana Avenue (discoverindia-naavenue.com). Two blocks west and two blocks north is Indiana Avenue, a street that threads through the historic neighborhoods of Lockfield Gardens and Ransom Place. Adjacent to the campus of IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis), Indiana Avenue is, at its near end, a portal to Indy’s rich African American heritage and, at its far end, will soon be a portal to the Tech 16, a development envisioned to link the city’s major education, healthcare, and research institutions.

For an extended visit

If you’re coming a few days before the conference, or staying a few days after, you may want to consider a visit to parks or recreation sites elsewhere in Indiana. The Indiana countryside offers a good deal more than corn fields. With all that lies between the Indiana Dunes in the north and the Falls of the Ohio in the south, there is surely something to please all outdoor recreationists. A couple of daytrips that merit special mention are Turkey Run State Park and Brown County, Indiana.


The Narrows Bridge. Photo courtesy of Turkey Run State Park.

  • Turkey Run State Park (turkeyrunstate-park.com). A bucolic one-and-a-half hour drive east of Indianapolis will get you to Turkey Run. A favorite of hikers and photographers, the Park presents its steep ravines and sandstone formations draped in primeval forest. The Narrows Bridge over Sugar Creek is one of the country’s most photographed covered bridges. Horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, and swimming are also available in Turkey Run. But if after hiking you want nothing more than a hot bath and good meal, book a room at the Turkey Run Inn. A delightful way to end your day.Fifteen miles northwest of Turkey Run is Shades State Park. Often referred to as Turkey Run’s “poor cousin” because it lacks amenities, Shades nonetheless offers spectacular scenery. Usually less crowded than Turkey Run, Shades is preferred by the naturalist and those who “just want to get away from it all.”
  • Brown County Indiana (brown-county-indiana.com). Home to Brown County State Park and the “historic Hoosier artist colony” of Nashville, Brown county is about one-and-a-half hours south of Indianapolis. Billboards aren’t allowed in Brown County, but outdoor recreation is offered in abundance. Hike, bike, fish, ride, swim, or just sit and enjoy the view in a landscape nicknamed the “Little Smokies,” because of its resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains. Afterward drive into Nashville to visit the boutiques, galleries, and antique shops. Enjoy a great meal at one of the towns’ many restaurants. To top off your day, take in the entertainment of the Pine Box Musical Theatre, the Nashville Follies, or the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Park.1

Tours and rentals

To help you plan an exploration of Indy, please visit the following Web sites:


Brown County Indiana. Photo courtesy of Brown County Indiana.

Note
1. For additional outdoor recreation and sightseeing ideas, visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at www.state.in.us/dnr/.
Copyright © 2013 John Lamborn

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