by Kristen J. Gough
Indiana’s capital is likely to remind you of another capital: Washington, D.C. There’s a good reason for Indy’s patriotic vibe. One of Indianapolis’s original planners, Alexander Ralston, apprenticed under the architect for the nation’s capital.
While the city certainly isn’t an exact replica (nor does it have D.C.’s congestion and crowds), this cozy Midwest town packs in enough patriotic picks to fill a week’s worth of exploration. In fact, after the nation’s capital, Indy devotes more acreage to our nation’s fallen heroes than any other city in the country. Here’s where to find some of the top patriotic finds, along with some quintessential Indy spots.
The Soldiers & Sailors Monument
Reaching 284 feet, this monument to Indiana’s fallen soldiers sits between two major arteries right in the heart of downtown, forming Monument Circle. Climb the stairs or take the elevator to the observation area for spectacular 360-degree views of Indy, 275 feet up.
Indiana War Memorial Museum
From the monument, head north on Meridian Street for about a 10-minute walk to this towering museum that looks like something out of ancient Greece. The highlight of the museum is experiencing the Shrine Room, housed in the upper level. Reverential and serene, the vaulted space includes symbols from around the world that denote peace and encourage reflection (my favorite place among all the various monuments). Just behind the museum, spend a few moments venturing around the Veteran’s Memorial Plaza, whose centerpiece is a 100-foot black obelisk encircled by a fountain.
The American Legion Mall
Keep walking north to reach this outdoor green space that spreads across two city blocks and feels a lot like Washington, D.C.’s National Mall. Make sure to save time to look around the sunken garden that houses Cenotaph Square, which honors fallen soldiers from World War I.
These are just a few of the monuments and memorials located in and around the main, seven-block stretch dedicated to remembering those that served the U.S. in wartime. Driving around, you’ll encounter others throughout the city, including the 9/11 Memorial along the canal and other parks dedicated to our nation’s history.
5 Uniquely Indy Finds
#5: Grab a LOVE selfie. Newfields is part art museum, part outdoor nature and sculpture garden. Within the indoor art museum, get your own pic with the newly restored, original LOVE sculpture.
#4: Eat a pork tenderloin sandwich. This is the Indy specialty – several restaurants around town have their own spin, but the basics include a thin piece of pork, breaded and fried and served in a bun.
#3: Feel like a kid again. Indy boasts the largest children’s museum in the world, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Kids of all ages will enjoy this interactive museum, including their newest exhibit that’s all about sports legends.
#2: Sample shrimp cocktail. Make your reservation for St. Elmo Steak House, the oldest steakhouse in the city that is still at its original locale. Their signature dish? A tangy, horseradish-laced cocktail sauce served with four jumbo shrimp. Locals swear by it, although it can be an acquired taste.
#1: Channel your inner race car driver. No visit to Indy is complete without seeing the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You won’t be able to drive your own vehicle out on the track, but the tours do take in the speedway. Get your picture in an Indy car, along with the raceway’s storied history, at the museum there.