Literary Themed Spots You NEED to Visit in Indianapolis

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.

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The museum also hosts events, like Victorian teas and summer writing camps.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Indy’s Wall Murals

I love wall murals. They really make cities colorful and provide perfect backdrops for photos. When traveling some place new, I usually seek out some of the more unique murals, especially if they have the city name in them somewhere.

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on a mural guide for Indianapolis and surrounding areas. As more and more pop-up, I decided it would be best if they were all in one post!

I’m also including a map with all the locations, which I’ll update when I add new ones to this post. A few are no longer there, but since I think it’s kind of fun to look at past murals too, those are at the bottom of the post in their own section.

Fountain Square

Fountain Square is FULL of murals and new ones keep popping up all the time, including this cool two-toned green wall next to 317 Juicery. When you’re done snapping a photo, pop in and pick up a four pack of carrot juice – it’s so delicious!

1354 Shelby Street
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1429 Shelby St.

You can find this tough looking pup behind The Hero House comic book store in Fountain Square. There are a couple others around it as well, including a robot and a Tardis.

1112 Prospect Street.

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You Are Beautiful, 1029 Fletcher Ave #100, Indianapolis, IN 46203

Jules Muck recently spend a few days in Indianapolis, blessing us with her quirky street art, including this tribute to Dolly Parton. There’s been some controversy over other murals she’s done around the city, including people getting mad because she’s not local, but I say there’s enough space for everyone. I’ll be checking them out and adding them as I find them!

653 Virgina Ave.

Downtown

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Indianapolis Public Schools Building, 120 E. Walnut

Bigger than life, Reggie Miller is the latest famous person mural to crop up near Mass Ave. Miller played for the Indiana Pacers (our NBA team) from 1987 – 2005 and remains one of the most loved athletes to ever wear a Pacers’ jersey.

127 E. Michigan St

Last year, my favorite rainbow wall was torn down to make way for more apartments and a CVS downtown. However, this one still exists and I had no idea it was there until recently! There are two other murals nearby too. You can find this one at 1049 Southeastern Avenue.

Just around the corner from the rainbow wall are these cool tools! I believe the building is vacant, but it’s right next to Angie’s List which has another retro Quaker Oats mural on the side of their building. So you can knock out three very different pieces of art right in a couple blocks of each other.

Here’s the Quaker Oats mural I was talking about! It’s so retro – I’m not sure the story behind it, but it’s been there for a really long time.

Remember the rainbow wall I mentioned earlier that was torn down? Well these two stunning murals from Kelsey Montague were put up in the same area and are so pretty! She’s famous for the wings murals you see all over the country and her latest installment at City Way might be my favorite set she’s designed.

This “Dream Big” mural is on the side of a doggie daycare. It’s super bright and fun and there are some cute dogs painted around the side of the building too. I just happened to see this one while driving on the interstate. It’s not too far from the rainbow wall or tools mural. 925 E. Vermont Street.


This mural of a construction worker DJing is at the end of Mass Ave, near the Indy Reads bookstore. They also have their own mural, so be sure to check it out too!

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East Side

Shout out to my friend Forensic Fashion Notes who peeped this colorful mural on the side of Greek’s Pizza off 16th street . She knows the owners, but they were closed the day we went, so we had to climb a small fence to take a photo (with owner permission, of course). If you find yourself craving something good to eat, hop on over to Greek’s then snap a picture in front of this colorful and uplifting piece of art. You can find it at 1601 Colombia Ave.

If retro is your jam, take a trip to Rock Cola Cafe in the Irvington area! This 50s style diner not only has some fun murals on the side of their building, but it’s full of other vintage photo spots inside.

Another one of Jules Muck’s murals – the KISS cats can be found on the side of Chuck’s Coney Island. This part of town is a bit sketchy, so I’m going to recommend that you take a friend with you. There was a guy parked in the parking lot when I pulled up and he got out of his car to take a photo of me. He said the owner is his cousin and he’s being paid to watch the mural because people have threatened to vandalize it. Maybe – either way, it was kind of weird. He didn’t bother me, but I didn’t stick around real long after that.

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South Side and Suburbs

This hip rendition of Benjamin Franklin is located on the south side in Franklin, Indiana and pays tribute to the man the town was named after. You can find Ben at 351 E. Jefferson St. Be sure to check out the fun shops downtown Franklin has to offer!

Right next to Benjamin Franklin is a collection of kites. Perhaps an ode to his kite experiment with electricity?

This is one of my favorites! It’s actually part of a larger mural (see below) and was painted by Amy Hommell from the Teal Canary. You can find it in downtown Greenwood, Indiana located at 189 W. Main St.

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This mural is so new that the paint was barely dry when I took a picture of it! Also located in Franklin, you can find this colorful wall underneath the Main Street bridge next to the skate park.

Located in Whiteland, Indiana, this super cute heart mural would be the perfect backdrop for engagement or Valentine photos. Just turn on Main Street off of 31 and it’s on the side of a building next to Crystal Graphics.

At the intersection of Shelby and Raymond Street

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This running mural is located in the tiny town of Trafalgar. The Franklin Creative Council designed the mural and members of the community came out to paint it. I just love the bees! You can find this one at the Indian Creek Learning Center just before you get to the high school.

Broad Ripple

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On the side of Burger Fuel, 6320 Guilford Ave.
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Near the Bungalow, 924 E Westfield Blvd.
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4851 Winthrop Ave. (there are several bright murals right next to each other with uplifting messages as well as another set of angel wings but the sun was too bright to get a good picture of those. These are on the Monon Trail, right around the corner from Winthrop Supply Co.)

1095 E. 52nd St. near Bent Rail Brewery. The Monon Love Train is a extensive mural, spanning a long stretch of the Monon Trail.

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Muckrock worked her magic with Debbie Harry on the side of Indy CD & Vinyl in Broad Ripple. 806 Broad Ripple Ave.

North Side


The Monon Trail has a plethora of mural art. This colorful creation is located in Carmel, and was painted by a group of high school students. It’s located at 43 W. Main St.

West Side

This gorgeous mural is located at the Central State Mansion – an apartment community built on the grounds of an old mental institution. It’s located at 202 Steeples Boulevard, not far from Speedway.


Indianapolis Motor Speedway! This bright mural is inside the speedway, not too far from the pagoda which is one of the most popular backdrops for the month of May. Visit the museum year-round and if you live in Johnson County, Indiana, you can check out a museum pass for 50% off general admission to the museum from the Johnson County Public Library.

 

Gone But Not Forgotten…These Murals are No Longer with Us

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Nashville Murals

Nashville is one of my favorite cities to visit. Growing up in southern Indiana, we were only a couple hours away from Music City and would often go down on weekends to the Grand Ole Opry and later in college, I road tripped there for many concerts.

The city has seen a boom in recent years of tourism, bachelorette parties and people moving in. It’s also seen a ton of murals going up all over town. While visiting for an extended weekend, I took a little bit of time each day to hunt down some of the colorful street art in popular Nashville neighborhoods.

Here are a few of my favorites, including locations so you can find them too! I barely made a dent in all the murals Nashville has to offer, so hopefully I’ll get back soon so I can share some more.

The Gulch
Right outside of downtown Nashville, you’ll find The Gulch. A neighborhood of restaurants and shops Kelsey Montague’s famous wings mural can be found here. It was nearly dark when we got there, but never fear, there are lights up above it! So you should still be able to get the perfect shot day or night.

Right across the street you will find another colorful mural on the side of a building. There are several others in the area, but since it was almost dark, I didn’t have time to hunt them down.
Address: 230 11th Ave. South.


12 South
There are almost too many mural in 12 South to count! And I didn’t even get to all of them. The weather wasn’t great for most of the weekend and it was starting to rain again, so I photographed what I could, then grabbed some DELISH donuts from Five Daughters Bakery, which you must stop at even if only passing through town.

All of these murals are within walking distance of each other, so I suggest parking across from Draper James, then making your way up and down the street. The famous “I Believe in Nashville” mural is right across the street from Draper James – can’t miss it!
Address for Draper James: 2608 12th Ave. South.

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East Nashville
If you’re looking for unique murals, East Nashville certainly has them! Kelsey Montague has painted a spectacular hot air balloon on the side of an apartment complex called The Cleo Apartments. There’s even a basket you can sit in and it’s 100% Instagram worthy. We also saw a mural of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates on the way out of town, plus some other interesting art I’d like to go back to see another time.
Address for the Hot Air Balloon mural: 1034 West Eastland. Book Nerd mural is across the street. 

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You’ll find this one at: 625 Main Street. It’s even better in person – there were cars parked in the lot in front of it, so you can’t see the whole thing. I’d recommend going in the morning. Happy hunting! When I go back, I’ll find some more and update this post as I can. I’d love to see your photos if you find any of them.

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Redwoods, Crater Lake & the Oregon Coast

For the final leg of our trip, we left San Francisco and headed up the 101 until cutting over to make a stop at Ft. Bragg. I had planned to swing by Point Reyes National Seashore, but the GPS wasn’t working very well and it didn’t seem like we were headed to the right place, so instead of getting lost and getting stuck somewhere remote like we did last time we were in California, I decided to turn around. Maybe next time we are out that way we can find it.

Taking Highway 1 from Mill Valley to Arcata (our stop for the night), would have taken 11 hours. That’s a lot of driving, so we hopped on and off of it going to and from Ft. Bragg and I felt like we got a good sense for what the entire drive was like: extremely curvy roads!

Ft. Bragg was kind of a let down – I’d saved it on Pinterest years ago, hoping to one day get to the famous glass beach. Pictures were stunning; an entire beach FULL of sea glass, shining in the sun? Yeah, not so much. I think everyone has discovered it and most of the sea glass is gone. I did find a few pieces, but people were camped out, shoveling whatever they could find in bags to sort through at home.

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From there, it was another couple hours to our Airbnb in Arcata, which looked like something straight out of The Hobbit! They had a sauna, soaking tubs and private baths on site and our room had a full kitchen, so this would be a great place for an extended stay. The wifi was not good though, so if you’re needing to do any sort of work while you are there, good luck.

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I tried out the private soaking tubs after dark which was super relaxing, however there weren’t any lights so I had to sit there with my phone flashlight on and when I started to see slugs and worms crawling around from the moss growing next to them, that was enough for me. These are best enjoyed during the day!

Our next to last day, was another long driving day that took us into Oregon. We caught Highway 1 again, winding along the northern California coast and through the gorgeous California Redwoods, stopping to take a scenic drive on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

The forest was stunning, we saw elk, and it’s too bad there wasn’t more time because I would have loved to have done some hiking in the park itself. Next to the elk is a trail, so theoretically, you could walk right behind them. Park rangers are present to keep people from doing anything stupid.

This is a MUST scenic drive, in my opinion. It’s all paved, so you don’t need four wheel drive and it’s easily accessible off the main highway. There are several other scenic drives that you can take in the park as well, including some that are more off road. Here’s a link to those if you have more time and want to do some extra exploring.

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From there, we headed toward Crater Lake! It’s about a four hour drive between the parks and takes you through some really pretty forests along the way. We crossed over into Oregon, and I was able to get my state sign picture pretty easily. As many of you know, I’ve been working on getting photos at all 50 state signs and even though I’ve been to 49/50, I didn’t start this until 2013, so I’m behind. I have 32, plus Washington D.C. so only 18 more to go.

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Once we got to Crater Lake, it was late-afternoon, but the lake itself was absolutely stunning. Clear blue water, some snow still around the rim and gorgeous green trees out on the island in the middle. We drove partly around the rim – I would have liked to have been able to drive the whole thing, but parts of it were still closed, even in July because of snow!

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You can also hike down to the bottom of the crater, swim in the lake and take a boat tour out to the little island! We didn’t get to do any of those things since we had a tighter schedule at the end of our trip, but if I ever go back, some of those things will definitely be on my list.

Our hotel was another hour drive from the rim to Roseburg, OR so we headed there, then just relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The final sight-seeing portion of our trip was Saturday and I had planned to head back to Highway 1 and drive up the Oregon Coast to Thor’s Well, Cannon Beach and also stopping to see the lighthouse from the movie The Ring. But honestly, I was pretty tired of driving at that point and we still had two hours to Portland, so I decided to just go there first and see Multnomah Falls.

Last time I was in Oregon with my friend Jenny, we got to Multnomah early in the morning. Literally no one was there. This time, the parking lot was full and about 15 miles away, a road information sign informed us the exit was closed 🙁

So, we headed to Cannon Beach instead!

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You may recognize Haystack Rock from The Goonies. Cannon Beach is a must-visit, in my opinion. It seemed like it took forever to get there from Portland (probably because we’d been driving for a week already), but it’s really not that far and if you go at low tide, you will see ALL kinds of sea life in the tide pools. I loved it.

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Parking was not especially easy to come by – we found a spot on a side street and walked down to the beach, so be prepared for that. There’s a whole little town built around the area with shops and restaurant and has east coast vibes.

Access to the beach is free, lifeguards are on duty and there are staff out by the rock to keep tourists away from nesting birds. Sometimes you can even see Puffins!! I believe we were there at the wrong time of year for spotting them though.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our west coast journey! Would love to hear of any places that I missed and need to see for next time.


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