Urban Planner: Indianapolis

All eyes were on Indianapolis this past February, when the city that racing built hosted America’s most-watched sporting event - Super Bowl XLVI - at Lucas Oil Stadium.

In the years leading up to the big game, Indy made sure it would be ready for its moment in the spotlight by spending more than $3 billion to upgrade its tourism infrastructure, including expanding its climate-controlled skywalk system, connecting 12 hotels (and 4,700 guest rooms) to the stadium, the Circle Centre mall, and the expanded, 566,000-square-foot Indiana Convention Center. One of those new hotels is the world’s largest JW Marriott, with 1,005 rooms – and when attendees stay there or in one of downtown’s 25 other hotels, they’re within walking distance of more than 200 restaurants and 50 major attractions.

1. R Bistro 

Winner of OpenTable.com’s 2012 Diners’ Choice award, R Bistro is the brainchild of executive chef and owner Regina Mehallick, a Pennsylvania native who trained as a chef across the United States and Europe before settling in Indianapolis and developing her rustic yet contemporary menu, which draws heavily on local ingredients.

2. The Alexander

When it opens next January, this modern, 209-room luxury hotel, a Dolce property, will welcome business travelers with an emphasis on art, design, and creative local food-and-beverage options, including cocktails made by the talented mixologists at Plat99 and delicious seasonal menus at the Market Dining restaurant concept.

3. White River State Park

Indy’s only urban state park is a 2 50-acre wonderland of green spaces and cultural attractions, including the Indianapolis Zoo; Victory Field, home to the minor-league baseball team the Indianapolis Indians; and much more. White River is also linked with the $63-million Indianapolis Cultural Trail, now nearing completion, which will connect visitors with hotels, cultural districts, and public artwork.

4. Indianapolis Museum of Art

The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s permanent collection encompasses 50,000 works of art, including pre -war American painting and sculpture, African art, textile and fashion arts, and more. Another big draw is the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park – 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows next to the museum.

5. Slippery Noodle Inn

The state’s oldest bar, the Slippery Noodle Inn has seen a lot of history. It was a brothel, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the watering hole of none other than famed bank robber John Dillinger, whose bullet holes can still be seen in the wall. The Slippery Noodle has live jazz and blues seven days a week – and it ’s very close to the convention center, making for a great happy-hour stop for attendees.


Georgia Street, Indy’s new three-block pedestrian-friendly promenade, debuted earlier this year, connecting the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium with Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home court for the NBA Pacers. Livening up downtown’s Wholesale District, Georgia Street – which was modeled after a plaza in Barcelona – features rain gardens, decorative lighting, and scenic landscaping, making for a picturesque urban event venue.


The Indianapolis summer winds down in tasty fashion with the annual Dig-IN food festival in downtown’s White River State Park. This one-day “Celebration of Indiana Food” features everything from state breweries and wineries to bakers, farmers, and artisans.

For more information: visitindy.com

Hunter R. Slaton

Contributing Editor Hunter R. Slaton is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn.