NASPA 2016 Indianapolis Recommendations

As a Hoosier, I feel compelled to offer some advice on having a great time in Indianapolis during NASPA 2016.

Pre-arrival reading

Indiana on Wikipedia
Indianapolis on Wikipedia
Indianapolis on Wikitravel

What to eat

Hoosiers have simple tastes that skew towards fried and sugary. The most famous Indiana dishes are pork tenderloin sandwiches and sugar cream pie.

You can also find “Cincinnati chili” at Steak ‘n Shake; while not a true Indiana thing, it’s certainly a distinct regional item. Steak ‘n Shake is the Midwest’s regional fast-ish food king.

Where to eat

Shapiro’s Deli
Best deli in Indiana… maybe the Midwest (save for Chicago). It’s big and busy at lunch time, but it’s worth it.

Bazbeaux Pizza
Funky pizza joint at the entrance to Mass Ave, good for larger groups. If you want to stay out for drinks after be sure to hit up MacNiven’s and Bakersfield just a couple of doors down.

Union 50
For a more upscale dinner with colleagues this place has great atmosphere and live music. Reservations will be required.

Scotty’s Brewhouse
For fried stuff and local beer. Scotty’s was started by a former student of Ball State University and has slowly expanded as an Indiana chain to all of the college towns and larger cities. There are a lot of “sports bars” in downtown Indy, if you’re going to go to one, it might as well be a local one. Pretty good pork tenderloin sandwich.

Café Patachu
Great spot for breakfast, will likely be very busy in the AM since it’s near the convention center and its slogan is “A student union for adults.”

Le Peep
Another good breakfast spot. Probably won’t be as busy.

St. Elmo’s Steakhouse
If you want to splurge beyond your per diem on your own dime… this is where you do that. Most famous place in Indiana. If you don’t want the full experience, get in at the bar, order a drink and a shrimp cocktail.


Bru Burger Bar
For those of you who are fans of finding the “best burger in {x}” this is the closest contending joint.

Workingman’s Friend
A little further out… but can’t beat the burger and experience.

White Castle
Sometimes you just want 30 little hamburgers in a suitcase. No judgement!


Local beers

3 Floyd Brewing
– Zombie Dust (hard to find, drink it if you do)
– Alpha King
– Dark Lord Imperial Stout
– Gumballhead

Upland Brewing
– Dragonfly IPA

Sun King Brewing
– Wee Mac Scottish Ale
– Osiris Pale Ale

Flat 12 Bierwerks
– Cucumber Kolsch

Local wine

Indiana does have wineries, mostly semi-sweet to exceptionally sweet blends. If you are serious about wine and like things dry, you should probably order the classics from California, France, and Italy.

All/most Indiana wineries make Traminette (a cousin of Gewürztraminer) wine because it is the state grape of Indiana. It’s an up-and-coming vintage that is grown in the great lakes, so if you’re interested in a semi-dry white, give it a shot.

Oliver Winery
– Soft Red is very popular, very sweet
– Dry Red Blend


Most of the places on my list are on/near an area of downtown called Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave. This shopping and food area is just a short walk/Uber/bike away from the downtown core, but the eating and drinking experience is 10x, so it’s worth at least one night out.

legit German bier hall and bier garden. Closes a little early so start here.

Libertine Liquor Bar
Hipster cocktail bar.

MacNiven’s Scottish Pub
My favorite place to start an evening. Great rotating taps.

Elbow Room
Just a good old bar, that recently got all hipstery.

Slippery Noodle Inn
Oldest bar in Indiana, lots of Jazz/Blues music, touristy.

Kilroy’s Downtown
In my opinion, Kilroy’s is like the 4th best bar at IU-Bloomington, but somehow it’s the #1 “sports bar” by revenue in the U.S. This is the Indianapolis version so expect tons of Indiana University alums there.

Outdoor adventures downtown

It’s going to be unseasonably warm (60’s) in Indy, although rainy.

Pacers Bikeshare
Like most big cities Indy has rental bikes throughout the downtown area. They are bright yellow.

Indianapolis Cultural Trail
A well-maintained running and bike trail through the heart of downtown.

Canal Walk
A nice promenade along a well-maintained canal in downtown. Lots of monuments and art along the way.

For fun

If you have the time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum
Most famous cars and drivers from the most famous auto race in the world.

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Indian-a, get it? It’s not often that a museum dedicated to native people is within walking distance to a downtown conference center. The Indiana State Museum (with an IMAX theatre if you need to get away from everyone) is right next to it if you’re curious about the history of the beautiful state that you are in.

Duckpin Bowling
It’s really fun.. and hard.

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