Are you attending PLA 2014 next week? Will it be your first visit to Indianapolis? Between the nonstop exhibits, programs, author events, and social events, consider playing tourist during your down time! Downtown Indianapolis is full of cultural institutions, sites, restaurants, and shops worth exploring. The best part is that the city is easy to navigate on foot—the downtown attractions are all within walking distance of the conference. Here is just a sampling of what lies in store for you when you arrive in the Circle City:
Indiana State Museum and IMAX Theatre
This museum offers a hands-on, three-story overview of Indiana’s history–from its prehistory to its 1816 statehood to the present day.If you’re looking for an escape, you can surround yourself with larger-than-life experiences in the six-story IMAX Theater that offers both 2D and 3D IMAX films.
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
One of only two museums east of the Mississippi to focus on both Native American and Western Art collections, the building houses pieces from T.C. Cannon; N.C. Wyeth; Andy Warhol; Georgia O’Keeffe; Allan Houser; Frederic Remington; Charles Russell and Kay WalkingStick.
NCAA Hall of Champions
A must-see for college sports fans, the museum includes trivia on 23 sports, video games that allow visitors to throw real balls at moving targets, a downhill skiing stimulator, and a theater video that explains what it’s like to be a student-athlete.
Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens
One of the nation’s Top 10 Zoos (according to TripAdvisor), the Indianapolis Zoo houses over 350 animal species on nearly 70 acres.A real treat is the world’s first submerged dolphin viewing experience.
Indiana Historical Society
Of special interest in this impressive building is “The Indiana Experience,” which uses new technology to immerse guests in stories of Indiana’s past. You’ll find yourself surrounded by actors and historic photographs that truly make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.Music lovers will enjoy the Cole Porter Room.
Mass Ave (Massachusetts Avenue)
This five-block area is a hotspot with theaters, restaurants, art galleries and a number of eclectic boutiques.
Central Library, Indianapolis Public Library
Put this at the top of your “to see” list! The Central Library is an impressive melding of old and new. The original 1917 Cret Building (designed by Paul Cret in the Greek Doric style) seamlessly connects to the glass six story addition with a soaring atrium serving as the hub. Grab a cup of coffee in the atrium café and make sure to take in the unobstructed skyline view from the 6th Floor.
Indiana State Library
Founded in 1825, the library has extensive research collections in genealogy and Indiana history. Visitors will be impressed with the walnut walls and bookcases, ornate ceilings and murals, and the stained glass windows.
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
The library includes a museum, art gallery and reading room that celebrates the literary and cultural contributions of Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut fans will enjoy artifacts from the writer’s life (such as his typewriter from the 1970s, his Purple Heart, and an unopened, WWII-era letter from his father).
Attractions worth the trip out of downtown:
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The largest (and, according to a recent survey done by USA Today, the best) children’s museum in the world, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a huge, five-level playground celebrating science, history, art, and culture.The current special exhibit is Animal Secrets!
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Located on 152 acres of splendid gardens and grounds, the museum’s permanent collection of more than 50,000 works spans a vast range of cultures and eras. Elsewhere on the grounds, visitors may tour the historic Oldfields estate and stroll through gardens designed in the 1920s by the famous Olmstead Brothers landscape design firm. Also of note is 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art; Nature Park which showcases contemporary sculpture.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Arguably what Indy is best known for and an institution since 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not just a May destination.The Hall of Fame Museum houses one of the world’s largest collection of race cars, as well as the famous Borg-Warner Trophy.
I’m a Butler graduate. However, this small liberal arts university is worth a trip if only for a stroll through the gorgeous 295 acre campus with perfectly manicured gardens and fountains and a tour of historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.
For more information: