Indianapolis: A Quick Sampling by Terry Zinn

I shouldn’t be, but I am constantly surprised at how much quality most American big cities have to offer the casual tourist in the way of cultural attractions, fine dining and comfy lodgings. My recent short stay in Indianapolis reaffirmed this theory.
Driving from the airport to the Downtown Embassy Suites was relatively easy until I found myself circling the block trying to find the entrance to the hotel amid a plethora of traffic. The entrance is a bit hidden as it is an up ramp squeezed in-between an interesting historic theatre and a busy corner eatery. I persevered, and once checked in and ensconced in my room I was thoroughly satisfied with this Embassy Suites where all the rooms face an enormous atrium. They offer a free happy hour (yes, free wine and cocktails) with snacks each night. I could not believe such hospitality until I tried it during both of my nights stay.
Located in the middle of downtown Indianapolis, my hotel was within easy walking distance to the 284 foot tall war memorial at Monument Circle, an art exhibit in a near by hotel, and two very fine dining establishments. The Palomino offered outside dining with views of the movie multiplex and a constant parade of locals and the best starters of Truffle Devil Eggs and a Tomato-Basil Brushetta accompanied by a lemon drop martini. Of course they offered inside dining, but I was not interested in being that insulated from my first introduction to the bustle of this city.
For an over the top wine experience, the Tastings…A Wine Experience, offers an unlimited selection of fine wines by the sip full. You might want to try just one wine or sign up for their tasting and tour the many selections on a serve yourself basis per partial glass. I opted for a red 2010 Llad Pinot, a white 2010 Errazuriz Wild Ferment and of course a local raspberry/lemon drop martini. I arrived early and the wait staff was friendly and efficient. Again I sat outside, near the Artsgarden, an usual upper story
exposition area built directly over the main downtown intersection. Once more I was entertained by the bustle of the city and its inhabitants.
A short drive away is the Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art and American Indians. There are free tours at 1pm on Saturdays and Sunday of their extensive and quality collections. Besides western art they have traveling exhibits. When I was there they had an extensive motor cycle exhibition. November 10 through January of 2013 they will host the “National Geographic Photographs the American West.” Next door is the Indiana State Museum where the story of Indianapolis is exhibited in several large galleries. The museum also houses an IMAX theatre, where I saw a well presented by a disappointing film on tornadoes. The under ground free parking is a boon to both museums. Be sure and have your parking ticket validated at one of the museums or the theatre.
As an art museum buff I had to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art and was thoroughly impressed with its collection of world renown art of old world favorites and contemporary artists as well. A traveling exhibit of the best of fashion designers was an unexpected treat and showed the quality the Art Museum offers on a seasonal basis. An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse highlights the achievements of these celebrated fashion designers whom hail from Indiana. The exhibition continues to January 2013. Located outside of the downtown area, it also offers an extensive 100 acre Art and Nature Park with garden sculpture. The famous Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture greets visitors.
For my farewell dinner I drove out to Rick’s Café Boatyard, a very popular lake side establishment where once again I dined outside with views of the Eagle Creek Reservoir. An ultimate test was ordering an 8 oz. filet of beef, and with the help of my wait person we accomplished the perfect steak temperature. I toasted my farewell to Indy with Ricks’ Perfect Martini of Hangar 1, and then followed for dessert with the Upside Down Cake of Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, Stoli Vanil, pineapple juice and grenadine.
I knew my visit to this all American city would be all too short as I ran out of time to explore its other attractions, and I didn’t even miss not seeing the speed way. There is so much more to do, so I must return.