Indiana touts itself as the Crossroads of America, and no matter which direction you’re coming from, the state capital has a draw. Indianapolis is home to a highly rated convention center, a growing tech sector (Salesforce has offices in the city’s tallest building), a little race called the Indy 500, and plenty of diversions for a day off.
Open the day at Milktooth, an acclaimed diner in trendy Fletcher Place. Do: Eat a savory Dutch baby pancake topped with shiitake mushrooms, Swiss cheese, cranberry
mostarda, and greens. Don’t: Say the place reminds you of New York—chef-owner Jonathan Brooks once told Bon Appétit, “It’s not f****** Brooklyn. It’s Indianapolis.”
Even if you’re not joining 300,000 other Indy 500 spectators on Memorial Day Weekend, you can still start your engines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, inside the complex circumscribed by the famed 2.5-mile track. The museum is home to more than 25 race–winning cars, including the first, the 1911 Marmon Wasp.
Head back to Fletcher Place for lunch at Bluebeard, which is named for a novel by native son Kurt Vonnegut (his portrait’s on the wall). You won’t go wrong with anything on James Beard–nominated chef Abbi Merriss’s menu, but you will go right with the Amelia’s bread, crab tartine, and shrimp and grits (and so on).
You’re very full now, so go for a walk at Newfields, the 152-acre campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Check out Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture and the Yayoi Kusama pumpkin Infinity Mirror Room. When you’re done tripping out, come back down to earth with a stroll through the lush gardens.
The space is small but the flavors are big at Tinker Street, a restaurant in the Herron-Morton neighborhood that touts Indiana ingredients on an oft-changing menu. Try dishes such as the tater tots and caviar (class warfare on a plate!) and the Sakura pork belly with red cabbage kimchi and forbidden rice. Throw a dart at the wine list and you’ll end up with something tasty.
On the way home, stop for a nightcap at Bar One Fourteen, a tiny, dusky listening room in the northside Meridian-Kessler neighborhood. Sip the vodka-based Sage Foundation (all proceeds go to the Patachou Foundation, which feeds Indy schoolchildren) while you groove to a live Ike & Tina Turner record.
Keep rolling (rolling) north to the Ironworks Hotel Indy. The boutique property’s
decor is inspired by 19th-century industrial design (note the light fixtures made from vintage glass battery boxes). There’s no better place to catch some Z’s than Indy—or, as the kids call it, Naptown.