We are off enjoying the holiday and you should be too. But if you have stopped by we thought we would share a some of what we consider the best Indy summer activities. We hope the list will inspire you to get out and enjoy our city this summer.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for some serious marketing tips.
The Indy Fringe Festival is my favorite part of the summer. This year, the 11-day festival runs from August 18-28 featuring more than 300 performances in 8 different theaters on and around Mass Ave. There is always a little something for everyone from thought provoking dramas, astounding magic acts, laugh out loud stand up comedy and clever musical and dance performances. In between plays, there are free performances in the beer tent and great people watching on the avenue.
My ultimate summer road trip is actually a tour around Indy tasting the town’s tip-top ice cream treats. It’s not a date night unless you’re finding sprinkles in your pockets the next day. The best treats in downtown Indy are found at Pearings Cafe on Washington Street. The atmosphere is super-chill and they’ve got gourmet frozen yogurt, great coffee options, even a craft beer selection. But there’s so much more to Indy’s ice cream scene. Check out these other gems hidden at all four points of the Circle City.
Go North to Auntie Em’s Frozen Custard in Carmel and get the Blue Raspberry Iceberg. That’s a slushy topped with a scoop of vanilla custard. Head East to Wyliepalooza’s E. Washington St. location and indulge in a dish of “This $&@! Just Got Serious”. Can’t really describe that one, I was too busy eating to take notes. Not sorry?
Make the trek South to Greenwood for a Crunch Cone at Mrs. Curl. Your choice of chocolate or vanilla soft-serve ice cream dipped in Rice Crispies, sprinkles, chocolate graham cracker crumbs and topped with a single chocolate Teddy Graham. Finally, journey West to hit up Frostbite in Avon. I get their chocolate malt because it’s amazing but you’ll want to kick the tires on a cherry Coke-float with vanilla ice cream.
I am an unabashed music nerd. Not in the cool music nerd way where someone would haunt old record stores and go to underground concerts featuring bands you’ve never heard of, but in the absolutely uncool music nerd way where I listen to this playlist nearly every day at work and I fervently attend marching band competitions. That’s why my favorite summer activity in Indy is the Drum Corps International Summer Music Games Tour, which both starts and ends right here in Indianapolis. By the time you read this, the tour will have already begun, with Lucas Oil Stadium hosting the 2016 DCI Tour Kickoff on June 23, featuring seven of the finest youth music ensembles on the planet in competition.
The tour then travels the country, hitting everywhere from Allentown, Pennsylvania to Concord, California and nearly everywhere in between. Indiana will see a few more events in the meantime, including visits to Muncie, Fort Wayne and Evansville. The crowning achievement of the tour is Championship Week, starting in downtown Indianapolis on Wednesday, August 10. Lucas Oil Stadium and all of downtown will be the epicenter of a celebration of music education, performance and artistic achievement with four days of individual and ensemble performances, parades, open rehearsals of the best marching music ensembles on the planet. Several events are free admission to the public, while some are by ticket only.
If you at all dig cool music stuff like this, there’s no other summer activity in Indy I can recommend more.
So far this summer has been filled with festivals, art fairs and outdoor summer concerts, but there is one event each summer that I look forward to above the others. I’ll give you a hint: greasy food, lemon shake-ups and carnival rides.
There’s something about the Indiana State Fair that makes me feel like a kid again. For two and a half weeks from August 5-21, the fairgrounds come alive with music, animals, events and fair rides and I can’t wait to see it. This year marks Indiana’s bicentennial celebration so I’m sure there will be plenty to see and do. As a warning, the website features a terrifying smiling sun, but you can find the schedule and list of events to make the most of the fair.
If the fair isn’t your thing, I would highly suggest checking out some of the outstanding craft beer our city has to offer.
Technically taking place in the fall 12 days before the start of fall, the Sun King CANvitational features of 45 breweries and is the perfect place to try something new.
My Saturday mornings during the summer are always spent at the Broad Ripple Farmers Market. I love the relaxed, unfussy environment. It’s a nice change of pace to be able to casually stroll around in the sunshine while shopping for local produce, dairy etc. while listening to live music and people (and dog) watching. The breakfast options are also a huge draw, which makes perfect sense because I don’t know anywhere else you are encouraged to enjoy a taco, grilled pizza or pretzel at 9am! For first time visitors I would highly recommend these BRFM essentials:
Fermenti Artisan: Breakfast box – a unique mix of local eggs, veggies and cheese, (and meat if that’s your thing) mixed with Fermenti’s popular kraut or my favorite, the curtido
Pete’s Peaches: The freshest peaches I have ever eaten
Wildflower Ridge: So many honey and honey products, it’s hard to choose. Try the jalapeno honey and the honey peanut butter, and be sure to chat with Dave, you’ll absolutely want him as your new BFF. (just don’t ask him for any family secrets, he won’t tell you a thing!)
As someone who is a high I on the DISC personally, it’s pretty obvious that I love to spend my summers with the greatest people in my life. With long days and warm weather, getting outside is a no-brainer for me. As a little kid, I grew up going camping frequently with the family, and just took time to slow down and enjoy the company of each other. Now I know what you’re thinking, it can be hot and bugs are everywhere, you don’t want to sleep on the ground and become “one with nature.” We didn’t do any of that because we always had a travel-trailer camper with beds, kitchen, bathroom and most importantly A/C and heat.
You can find plenty of state parks around with campsites available to rent. They are significantly more affordable than the cost of a hotel and activities are abundant. There are trails to hike or ride your bike around. Some have disc golf courses or rocks to climb (even in Indiana). Most have pools and small water parks that you can hang out in or are on the banks of lakes around the state, which means you can bring your boat and spend the day out on the water.
Of course if all these options sound like too much activity, you always have the option of sitting around the campfire and beating your friends in a game of Corn Hole. You can view the entire list of parks around the state on the Indiana DNR website.
I, too, am an unabashed music nerd. On a rainy day you can find me tapping my toe to this playlist. As such, I was elated to learn Indy has a robust Irish Fest at the end of every summer, this year from September 15th–18th (first day of fall is technically the 22nd, I checked). I went for the first time last year and had a blast winding my way around the numerous stages, booths and tents. The music ranged from pounding, rhythmic electric guitars to quieter, traditional harmonic affairs that didn’t require amplification. Combined with a fresh summer breeze and a cold pint, there is no better therapy. My favorite part is if you can donate a few hours to help take tickets, you get a day’s access for free. And a t-shirt! Just be wary of stumbling out of the park with a kilt or other Irish-inspired souvenirs before paying for them.
Like me and can’t wait until September? Indy has an awesome traditional Irish music scene in general. A quick google search will bring up numerous live sessions around the city. I’ve personally been to the one at Upland Brewery, and it was just like being in Dublin: they are insanely talented, communicated the set list via telepathy, and don’t give a flying feck what you think.
Those are our picks. What do you think we should add to our list?