Author: Heather Koehl
Figuring out what to do before and after the ATA Trade Show can take hours. To help save you time, we’ve studied Indianapolis so you have some options to ponder before the Trade Show opens its three-day run Jan. 10.
St. Elmo Steak House
We’d be remiss to not mention this Indianapolis staple first. Reservations to St. Elmo Steak House are highly recommended. The downtown Indianapolis landmark – and Indy’s oldest steakhouse in its original location – was honored as an “American classic” and one of the world’s 10 great classic restaurants by the James Beard Foundation and Forbes, respectively. St. Elmo boasts excellent professional service, exquisite steaks and chops, a 20,000-bottle wine cellar, and a globally recognized shrimp cocktail that the Travel Channel calls “the world’s spiciest food.”
Located on the second floor, St. Elmo’s 1933 Lounge is an intimate nightspot and a natural extension of lower restaurant’s warmth and historic charm. Share an appetizer next to the fireplace, or travel back in time with a signature cherry- and vanilla-infused bourbon cocktail while relaxing at the circa 1870s bar.
Everything starts downtown. This city thrives with shops, festivals, art displays, unique restaurants, and ever-changing museum exhibits. No matter where you go, everyone thinks “food” at the end of each day. Make the most of it by planning your nights. Here are nine “best-bang-for-your-buck” hotspots around Monument Circle near the Convention Center. Prices range from one “$” (least expensive) to three “$$$” (more expensive).
St. Elmo Steak House has been a downtown Indianapolis landmark since 1902. Unwind after busy days on the Show floor by enjoying a steak at Indy’s oldest steakhouse in its original location. Photo Credit: The Serious Eats
- The South Bend Chocolate Co.
Price range: $$
Cuisines: Coffee, tea, desserts, sandwiches.
Info: Breakfast available. (Open late Fridays and Saturdays.)
- Au Bon Pain – Downtown
Price range: $
Cuisines: Sandwich shop/bakery
Info: (6 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
- Nicky Blaine’s Cocktail Lounge
Price range: $
Cuisines: Bar food
Info: Alcohol, cocktails, nightlife. (Open 4 p.m. to 3 a.m.)
- Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Price range: $
Cuisines: Fast food, sandwiches.
Info: Delivery, takeout, live music, kid-friendly, gluten-free options, Wi-Fi.
- Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Price range: $$$
Cuisines: Burger, bar food, sandwiches.
Info: Serves alcohol, nightlife, Wi-Fi. (Lunch to late night.)
Price range: $
Cuisines: Healthy menu.
Info: Breakfast, delivery, takeout, gluten-free options, kid-friendly, vegetarian-friendly. (7 a.m. – 8 p.m.)
- Dick’s Bodacious Bar-B-Q – Downtown
Price range: $$
Cuisines: BBQ, fast food.
Info: Delivery, takeout, alcohol, kid-friendly. (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
- Winner’s Circle Pub, Grille & Race Lounge
Price range: $$$
Cuisines: Bar food, healthy food.
Info: Serves alcohol (Lunch and dinner times).
- King David Dogs
Price range: $
Cuisines: Coffee, tea, fast food.
Info: Delivery, takeout, private dining available, gluten-free options, kid-friendly, and Wi-Fi. (10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Fridays, closed Saturday and Sunday.)
Indianapolis is home to the 2017 ATA Trade Show, and the internationally famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Explore the museum’s vast collection of racing cars, and the world’s largest spectator facility after the Show. Photo Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Museum
Who doesn’t love fast cars and lots of history? Here’s your one stop for both. The internationally famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway is home to the world’s largest and second-largest single-day sporting events. The track opened in 1909 and boasts the world’s largest spectator facility. In fact, you could fit the Roman Coliseum, Vatican City, Wimbledon campus, Rose Bowl, Yankee Stadium and Churchill Downs inside the Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval.
Click here to find everything needed to plan your trip. As January nears, the track’s schedules will be updated and posted with many events you’ll enjoy.
The museum also makes a great destination. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children to admire the vast car collection amassed during Indy’s decades of racing. The narrated Grounds Tour (adults $30, children $12) lasts 90 minutes and features historical facts, an oval track tour, the Pagoda, victory platform, and the chance to stand on the “Yard of Bricks” start/finish line. Don’t let these pieces of history race by without you.
Dallara IndyCar Factory
Indianapolis overflows with racecar adrenaline. In fact, it has yet another venue where you must strap yourself in. The Dallara IndyCar Factory lets visitors explore 20,000 square feet of interactive and hands-on exhibits centered around the engineering and technology of the world’s fastest sport! You’ll feel the adrenaline rush as you strap on a helmet and slip into the Street-Legal IndyCar two-seater and speed past the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
Lucas Oil Stadium connects to the Indiana Convention Center with a climate-controlled walkway. Wrap-up your busy day on the ATA Trade Show floor with an exclusive tour at the home of the Indianapolis Colts. Photo Credit: danielshowalter.com
Lucas Oil Stadium
Arriving early for the Trade Show? Do you love football? Then make your way over to the Indianapolis Colts’ home stadium to check out this great NFL venue. The structure includes a retractable roof and provides a wonderful view of the Indianapolis skyline.
Lucas Oil Stadium connects to the Indiana Convention Center with a climate-controlled walkway. The stadium offers tours every week that provide an up-close and personal look at its many features. Tours last about one hour and take you through the playing field, an NFL locker room, Lucas Oil Plaza, the press box, and numerous other areas that are usually inaccessible to visitors. The tours typically start at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Tickets are sold the day of the tour on a first-come, first-served basis at the Colts Pro Shop on the stadium’s northeast side near the corner of South Street and Capitol Avenue. If you’re with a large group, consider scheduling a private tour.
If you love animals, the Indianapolis Zoo is the place to be. Touch a shark, walk with flamingos, or go face-to-face with a tiger. Such unique animal encounters make this zoo a must-see on your Indianapolis list. With five animal habitat biomes to explore, guests will enjoy their visit in January, no matter what the weather. The zoo is also home to the Orangutan Center, the largest such facility in the world.
Looking for a fun way to relax after the Show? Indianapolis has the Midwest’s only Duckpin Bowling alleys. They’re set in the heart of the funky, artsy Fountain Square Cultural District. You’ll find the Action Duckpin Bowl on the fourth floor of the Fountain Square Theatre Building. It has eight duckpin lanes, a billiards table, spectacular views of the city, and authentic 1930s decor.
This fun is a little pricy by bowling standards – $35 per lane (free shoes) – but how often can you have an action-packed night of miniaturized bowling during a business trip?
The three-mile Downtown Indy Canal Walk features all sorts of entertainment along the way. Stop at museums, the White River State Park or the NCAA Hall of Fame after the 2017 ATA Trade Show. Photo Credit Visit Indy
White River State Park
White River State Park offers more than 250 acres of green space filled with art, entertainment and cultural attractions. Explore the park by bike, Segway or your own two feet as you visit some of Indy’s finest attractions, including the Indianapolis Zoo, Victory Field, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indiana State Museum, and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. They’re all within a half-mile of the Convention Center.
NCAA Hall of Champions
Are you a college athletics fan? Then you must visit the NCAA’s national headquarters. The Hall of Champions explores the heart and dedication needed to be a student-athlete in all 23 collegiate sports. The whole family can try a downhill skiing simulator, test their knowledge of sport-specific trivia, or shoot hoops in a 1930s-style gymnasium.
Mass Ave Arts District
Known affectionately as Mass Ave, this five-block area features theaters, restaurants, art galleries and several eclectic, independent boutiques. Take in Indy culture at its finest! You’ll make unique finds on each block, including Stout’s Shoes, the nation’s oldest shoe store, established in 1886; Silver In The City/At Home In The City, for silver jewelry and unique gifts; and The Best Chocolate In Town, which requires no further explanation.
Care for a drink? Venture to the Athenaeum for a stein of German lager in the historic Rathskeller biergarten, or try local craft beers at Ralston’s Drafthouse. Or sip a cocktail at the prohibition-era Ball & Biscuit. Foodies, meanwhile, can indulge in American-modern cuisine at Mesh or take down a platter of tacos at Bakersfield.