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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Carmel Christkindlmarkt

In the spirit of traditional German Christmas Markets, the city of Carmel has created a lovely outdoor space to bring all the holiday food, music, drink and gifts to Indiana! Carmel’s Christkindlmarkt is open through December 24th, so you still have some time to visit! It’s a perfect spot for families, a girls day with friends or even date night.

I went with my friend Bree and we had a great time watching everyone ice skate, play music and of course we enjoyed their German treats too!

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I tested the peppermint hot chocolate from Bob’s Belgian Hot Chocolate and a Bavarian pretzel from Das Pretzel Haus. Mine was regular sized, but they have some GIANT pretzels that could probably feed an entire family. Both were delicious! Next year if I am able to go, I want to try the crepes or the famous Raclette sandwiches where they scrape the melted cheese off in front of you.

 

In addition to food, there are several little shops with vendors and you can buy German gifts. And if it’s super cold outside, there are cozy warming stations going all day and night to keep you toasty.

My favorite part of the market is the ice skating rink! We didn’t get to try it out this year, but definitely will next year! I took ice skating lessons as a teen, but it’s been a VERY long time since I put on skates, so I wouldn’t be shocked if I fall down.

 

It also makes a beautiful backdrop for family photos or if you’re feeling like a new profile pic 🙂

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Carmel has done such a great job of bringing this concept to the Indianapolis area! If you are looking for the perfect holiday activity, this is it. Let me know if you go and what you did!

 

 

Farm Society in Anderson, Indiana

Anderson, Indiana is a small town a little over an hour north of Indianapolis. There’s not a lot to do or see there, however my grandparents lived there for most of my childhood, so I have lots of memories of summers and holidays spent in the town until they decided to move down to our area of the state.

I haven’t been back much since they moved, but Hanson was playing at the casino up there, so of course I had to go! Especially since it was only an hour drive from Indianapolis. My friend Lacy came up from London, KY and gave me the task of finding a place to eat.

What you’ll find in Anderson is mostly chains or fast food restaurants, but thanks to Yelp, I discovered a cute little farm to table place in the heart of downtown. Farm Society has only been open a little over a year, but it’s a lovely place that’s worth stopping at if you’re in the area and looking for healthy options.

The inside is just darling and an Instagrammers dream, right down to the seated waiting area with the greenery wall and bold lights that spotlight the restaurants name marquee.

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The menu changes depending on what’s in season and we had several different options to choose from including salads, black bean burgers, steak, pasta and a couple seafood dishes. Ingredients are locally sourced from farmers in Madison County. Our drinks were also served with the cutest paper straws!

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I decided on a BBQ chicken sandwich with a side of garlic parmesan mashed potatoes and green beans, which were cooked to perfection. They were hot, fresh and I felt like I was eating green beans from my mom and dad’s garden. The rest of my meal was also delicious, especially the potatoes which had some kind of a fresh herb that topped them and gave the dish so much flavor.

Lacy got a steak and my friend Jenny and her mom got salads along with a slice of chocolate cake. Peep our food photos below (photo cred for the cake goes to Jenny).

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Even though it was a Friday night, it wasn’t too busy; I’m not sure what their peak hours are but we had no problems getting a table around 6:30. The service was also good and our food came out in a timely manner.

So if you find yourself in the area or looking for a road trip for brunch or dinner, definitely stop in and support this lovely business that was much needed in the town of Anderson. I hope to go back and get some cake!