Why are you going to Indianapolis? My four friends and I were asked that question every time we told someone where our 8th annual “Waiting to Exhale Trip” was going to take place. We are a melting pot of cultures, which includes New Orleans, Los Angeles and Jamaica. We brought with us our traditions and expectations for everything from food to entertainment, scenery and shopping. Indianapolis is nothing like Miami, Chicago, New York or Vegas, which are all places we’ve been in the past. However, it should pop up on your radar as a vacation spot because Indy offers everything many popular cities offer but the Midwest twist is at a more relaxed pace. Imagine Baltimore minus terrible traffic and its famous waterfront and you have Indianapolis. There is enough to do in the city to hold your attention, respect your wallet and satisfy your appetite.
Our happy shopping feet took us to The Circle Centre shopping mall. It is directly across the street from Homewood Suites. The mall has three levels and whether you want to splurge or sporadically shop, you’ll be pleased. Flagship stores like Nordstrom, Express, Coach and Ann Taylor, as well as the trendy stops like Forever 21, The Gap and Bakers Shoes are all tenants.
The white table cloth, brown leather chairs and carpeted private room steakhouse restaurant, where servers wear suits and bow ties could likely battle it out with any Texas steakhouse. The steaks were cooked exactly the way they were ordered, seasoned with the perfect blend of salt, pepper and house secret seasonings and their famous shrimp cocktail is not for tourists with a mild palate. “Oh my goodness that cocktail sauce was good but it was very hot,” says Johnette Dillon, a New Orleans native. If you can’t finish the food, like Dillon was unable to put away her T-bone steak, servers personally box up your leftovers.
After eating at some of the best restaurants in the city, we definitely had to experience Indy’s nightlife. Howl at the Moon is a combination of a piano and karaoke bar. Customers enjoy bar food, drink and give staff a tip to play and sing their favorite song on a piano. There’s nothing like hearing R. Kelly hits and seeing the crowd go wild and keep the energy flowing, when it’s time for a string of hits by the Dave Matthews Band and Lee Greenwood. For some songs, there’s a full band with a guitarist, violinist, drummer and trumpet player who accompany the pianist.
As for actually dancing to music, the Saturday spot as recommended by locals is Blu. The club is setup rather interesting because when you walk in you are essentially on the intimate dance floor. There’s little seating available, unless you shell out some VIP cash for access to one of the two upper rooms. However, for what Blu lacks in traditional club design, its DJ, DJ Limelight makes up for with his ability to mix, scratch and infuse hip-hop, reggae and 70s hits. “I loved the music but I could only stand for an hour,” says Bell. “The DJ was great,” says Tanassa Wilson, a California native. “His (the DJ) mixes of throwback hits and some of the hottest music from Lil Wayne to Jay Z, Beyonce and Ludacris definitely put Indy on the map in my opinion. I enjoyed myself,” she adds.
If smoking in public places was prohibited, Indy would be perfect in our vacation book. A souvenir shop in the mall or on the strip downtown is also something we did not find, so we were limited to what was available at the airport.
The group photo appears courtesy of Scott Romer Photography, http://www.scottromerphoto.com/.
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