Approximately three hours outside of Chicago, Indianapolis, Indiana has a lot to offer travelers in terms of cuisine, history and nightlife.
Start off by staying at the Conrad Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis to be centrally located while exploring the area. The layout and style is quite different than other Conrad Hotels, such as the one in Chicago. Gay men have had an obvious influence on the decor from flashy art pieces by Andy Warhol to contemporary furnishings by Jonathan Adler. The spa, pool and skyway bridge leading to the nearby shopping mall are all perks to the property.
Near the Conrad, look for night time lights projected across from the Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument with a patriotic theme. The city has the largest collection of monuments dedicated to veterans in the United States other than Washington, D.C.
There are plenty of chain restaurants in Downtown Indianapolis, but the trick is take a drive to Milktooth, 534 Virginia Ave., for a much buzzed about breakfast or brunch. There's even an early morning coffee and pastry service from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. before the full service menu. If you only try one item, order the raclette and gouda grilled cheese with a sunny duck egg on top. It's a fulfilling way to start off the day.
For biscuits and gravy, Love Handle, at 877 Massachusetts Ave., is only way to go for early morning munchies.
Kick off night time dining at Livery, a Latin American restaurant at 720 N. College Ave close to the gayborhood. Start with the cauliflower topped in avocado salsa and Fresno chile, then finish with the maxi tacos or a variety of empanadas offered.
Tinker Street is another outstanding place to dine with an extremely knowledgeable staff in the building. Order the fried Brussels sprouts that are mixed with roquefort cheese, caramelized onions and hazelnuts, then move on to the Sakura pork belly with red cabbage kimchi, forbidden rice and a duck egg on top.
Afterwards, it's a short walk to Greg's Indy, a casual gay bar that was renamed from Our Place in 2002 after the owner's longtime friend passed away. Current owner Mark Condon has created a friendly atmosphere over the years where everyone can feel welcome. From drag shows and country line dancing to fetish nights, this is the place that shows what diversity is all about.
Tini, is another queer inclusive bar at 717 Massachusetts Ave. with a bit of an awkward set up, having two rooms divided by bars on either side, but the vibe keeps patrons coming back for more.
Nearby at 707 Massachusetts Ave., gay owned Metro doubles as a restaurant and nightclub. Metro has the longest running karaoke show and a dance floor upstairs. There's an outdoor patio during the warmer months and no cover charge any day of the week.
A cultural district is quickly growing in Indiana and The Cabaret is a part of it, providing tons of entertainment and bringing in talented acts from around the country. Spend the evening at 924 N. Pennsylvania St. with top notch talent like openly gay Broadway performer Telly Leung who performs there May 8 and 9 this year.
During the daytime, there are plenty of museums worth exploring around town. Many of the them are in walking distance of each other.
Newfields may be the best museum period in terms of layout and sheer amount of interesting exhibits to view. Galleries include both American and European art with the current Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room just begging for Instagram before it moves on to other museums. Out president and CEO Charles Venable continues to support the LGBT community with eclectic galleries and his stance on gay rights.
Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut's Museum & Library opened in Nov. of 2019, focusing on his art and writing. Visitors can see a replica of his writing studio and check out a permanent Slaughterhouse-Five exhibition.
In walking distance Vonnegut's Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum is full of Native American artifacts that include current young artist's creations as well as indigenous works from the past.
Madam C.J. Walker was the first Black female millionaire in America and such a pioneer for her time period. The Madam Walker Legacy Center is currently closed for renovations, but is slowly opening in phases throughout 2020. The upcoming Netflix limited series Self Made about her life should spark up some interest with actress Octavia Spencer in the starring role.
Indianapolis is known for its sporting events, race car driving and gambling, but there's so much more to delve into. The Circle City continues to have a record breaking number of visitors each year and with good reason. Race over to VisitIndy.com for help planning a trip today!