As I hinted in my 4th of July post, my friends and I took a road trip to Kentucky to enjoy the Bourbon Trail. The trip included a few days in Chicago for one friend’s birthday and a few hours in Indianapolis for another friend’s flight. With a weird lump of time in the city, we wondered, “What does one do when they only have four hours to ‘lean in’ to Indianapolis”?
Hint: Start with the Indy 500.
We hauled ourselves over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, which is not technically in Indianapolis. It’s in its own little town, aptly named Speedway, which is exactly one street away from Indianapolis. Since their claim to fame is the Indianapolis speedway, we decided to mentally annex the thing and call it part of our great Indianapolis adventure.
The track is in a glum part of town, but don’t be put off, even those who know nothing about racing will have a blast (I can’t tell you the name of a race car driver since Mario Andretti — shameful since he was active in like 1967). The museum is packed with winning cars, some of which have the engines removed so you get a peek under the hood. (FYI: prepare yourself for a monument to white-male-ness on the back wall. It’s a bit off putting, so if you want to spare yourself, focus on the plaques in front of the cars).
Pro Tip: Listen carefully for your tour around the track to be called. Museum staff will make an announcement over the PA as the tour times can move by a significant margin depending on the weather and the driver.
Bonus Pro Tip: You really only need about an hour to get through the museum and around the track, so keep that in mind as you are thinking about timing.
With a break in the rain, we made a mad dash to the historic Old Northside of Indianapolis. Our hope was to make it to Benjamin Harrison’s Presidential Site. However, the rain had different plans and we decided to dry off/wait out the rain in the adorable, vintage feeling Thirsty Scholar. This cozy coffee house also serves a delightful selection of wine and local(ish) beers, not to mention a thoughtful staff. This turned out to be a bit of good luck, because the summer storm never passed and we spent a fair chunk of time there with a beer, making our 23rd presidents home a no-go.
Instead, we ended up taking a swim around the old neighborhood, which is packed with beautiful, historic homes from the 1840s on. The neighborhood reached peak popularity around WWI and was originally where the wealthy influencers stuck their homes to be away from the hustle and bustle of Indianapolis (a rail road hub at the time). When we were entirely soaked, we gave up and took a tour in the car. The rain was so beastly, the photos won’t do the place justice. All I can say is that if you have time to take a nice walk around the neighborhood, DO IT!
Pro Tip: Bring an umbrella and a change of clothes. Indiana summer storms don’t play.
Honorable mention to all the things rain and time prevented us from seeing, including Funky Bones sculpture garden, Canal Walk, Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, and Museum of Miniature Houses (yup, it’s a real thing). You’re all first on my list the next time I find myself in Indiana!