5 Things I Got Wrong About Indianapolis

By Kelsey Ogletree, May 16, 2017

Myth 3: Big-box hotels are all you have to choose from.The Alexander Indianapolis artwork Indy

The first thing you see driving into Indy, after the downtown skyline, is the shiny JW Marriott Indianapolis. At the right angle, it looks to be about the same size as the entire downtown. The 33-story, 1,005-room glass convention hotel was, in fact, the largest JW Marriott in the world until one—in true Texas fashion—was built with six more rooms in Austin last year. While the JW is beautiful (and an ideal choice for large conference groups, as it’s located right next to the convention center), a few smaller properties are also highly desirable. I stayed at The Alexander, a 157-room boutique hotel that also includes 52 extended-stay suites, designed for business travelers in town likely doing business with pharma giant Eli Lilly and Company, headquartered across the street. The Alexander’s curated art collection with stunning pieces by local artists gives it an incredibly hip vibe. Plus, bartender Andrews at the on-site Plat 99 mixology lounge shakes up a mean liquid-nitrogen cocktail to go along with the complimentary truffle popcorn.

Myth 4: It feels like a small city.

This myth wasn’t totally debunked, but that’s a good thing. Indianapolis may be the country’s 14th-largest city, but it doesn’t have pretentious big-city vibes you might find in other downtown areas. I appreciated the plethora of locally owned coffee shops at which to sip my beloved Americanos, and I could walk to just about anywhere downtown I need to go (i.e., an impromptu froyo run to Pearings Cafe). Also compared to Chicago, there was really no such thing as rush hour.

Indianapolis Motor SpeedwayMyth 5: Indianapolis Motor Speedway is only for raceheads.

With tickets to the IndyCar Grand Prix in hand, I was expecting to walk into a nice racetrack, earplugs in hand, and kick back to watch some crazy guys drive in circles pretty fast (what can I say—a racing fan I am not). How embarrassing to realize that the track is massive, encompassing more than 1,000 acres, and that to locals, the Speedway isn’t just a place, but an entire culture. After getting to experience my first race thanks to Visit Indy, I wouldn’t say I’m going to start watching races on TV, but I see why the track is such a draw. Meeting planners can arrange a wide variety of ways for groups to experience the racing culture of Indy, from rides around the track in real Indy cars to private events inside the track to meet-and-greets with the drivers, one of whom even has a Steak ‘n Shake milkshake named after him.

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