INDIANAPOLIS — This city, showing the malleability of the self-aware (the Indianapolis 500 isn't the behemoth it once was), has embarked on a plan to become a City With Stuff To Do. Almost overnight, culture in Indy has become more than watching pit-stop practice or visiting the NCAA Hall of Champions.
It's an outdoor sculpture park, a remarkable children's museum, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and a gorgeous riverwalk that offer many delights and two challenges. One is bird-nesting season, when the little black birds that hang out along the railing dive-bomb anyone who comes too close. And the other is turning your head just right so you see the lush beauty of the riverwalk, while keeping the monstrosity that is Lucas Oil Stadium out of your view.
Here are four Indy must-do's:
—Indianapolis Museum of Art and 100 Acres: The museum has an impressive collection, just the thing to elevate your tone and conversation after a sweaty day of vroom-vroom. 100 Acres is the Virginia Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, an outdoor sculpture display and garden. Bring walking shoes. The museum and 100 Acres are free. imamuseum.org.
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—Children's Museum of Indianapolis: Even if you don't have a kid, this place is seriously cool, from its immense Chihuly glass sculpture to a new permanent archaeology exhibit, "National Geographic Treasures of the Earth." childrensmuseum.org.
—White River State Park: Be sure to hit the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (eiteljorg.org), and the surprisingly good Indiana State Museum (indianamuseum.org).
—Breakfast at Cafe Patachou: The notion is "farm to table," using organic, fresh ingredients. cafepatachou.com.