When you think about Indianapolis, you probably think about the Indianapolis 500 or the Colts. Maybe only cornfields come to mind. We are a “flyover” state after all.
However, if you’re a punk ass book jockey like me, then you’re probably seeking out bookish related things in each city you visit. Well, I’m here to tell you that Indianapolis has got it going on when it comes to literary spots you should check out.
Here are five spots you don’t want to miss next time you are in the Circle City.
Books and Brews
Books and Brews marries used books and craft beers in a unique setting. With several locations around Indianapolis, this cute little brewpub features a gently used bookstore in the front of their space and 10% of all proceeds goes to IndyReads (which I’ll highlight a little later).
The drinks are named after books and with names like “The Stout of Monte Cristo”, “Clifford” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Stout”, you’ll want to partake even if you aren’t a beer drinker.
Each location hosts trivia nights, has board games on tap for you to play with friends and serves lunch and dinner so you can grab a bite to eat to go with your bubbly. There are nine locations around Indy, one in Muncie, and one in Ohio, so no matter what side of town you live on, there’s bound to be one near you.
James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home
Located in the historic Lockerbie neighborhood, this gorgeous Victorian home and museum celebrates the life and accomplishments of Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, who spent the last twenty-three years of his life living and writing in the home.
The museum also hosts events, like Victorian teas and summer writing camps.
Admission is dirt cheap – at $4/person, that’s practically a steal and the home/museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to check out Crown Hill Cemetery, where Riley is buried. You’ll also get a great view of the city skyline from his tomb at the top of the hill and you can also try to find President Benjamin Harrison and outlaw John Dillinger’s grave sites while you are there too.
Woody’s Library Restaurant
A restaurant in a former Carnegie library? Yes, please!
Woody’s Library Restaurant is located just north of Indianapolis in the swanky town of Carmel. The library moved out of the space in 1970, selling it to the Town of Carmel. They used it as office space and even a courthouse until 1998, when owners Richelle & Kevin “Woody” Rider purchased the property.
Since then, the former library has been serving up lunch and dinner in a relaxed atmosphere and while the menu offers fairly standard American fare (think burgers, tenderloins, and BBQ), there are several unique options for people wanting something a bit different. Those with dietary restrictions will be pleased that the menu designates vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options.
The owners kept the original library reference desk, which now serves as the bar counter and all the shelves and floors are original. You will be in love when you see the interior!
Indy Reads Books
In time when bookstores are dying, Indy Reads Books is thriving and for a good cause. Located off Mass Ave., the new/used bookstore is a funding source for Indy Reads, a non-profit whose mission is to make Indianapolis 100% literate.
They also offer diverse programming and feature local artists pieces on the walls. It’s a magical place, so be sure to stop in, support a great cause and check out their book mural on the side of their building while you are at it!
The Public Collection
This is one of the coolest art installments in Indianapolis!
A few years ago, several artists were commissioned to create public art pieces that could house library books. Similar to the Little Free Library, these books can be borrowed and returned at any time. They are scattered all over the city, and more are popping up each year.
The Indianapolis Public library donates all the books, the artists are based in Indiana and the purpose of the project is to “improve literacy, foster a deeper appreciation of the arts (and artists), and promote social and educational justice in our community.”
Cool, right? Check out their web site for more information and to find all the locations of the art pieces.
And in Carmel, their city has installed a Little Free Library in a telephone booth!! Make sure you check out the book benches next to it which feature Indiana authors. (You can find the phone booth off the Monon Trail in Carmel next to the Booth Tarkington Civic Center)
I hope whether you live here or are just passing through that you’ll check all these awesome bookish places out in Indianapolis! Let me know if you do and if you find anything I didn’t.