Local's Guide to Indianapolis with Raina Regan
Social media is amazing for connecting with other bloggers and influencers and sharing ideas. Even better when you get a chance to meet these people in real life. Through my blog and social media work I've met many interesting and creative individuals from all over the country with unique perspectives on the cities in which they live. Cue my new blog series, Local's Guide To... Each month I'll chat with a new local expert about where they call home and the places you must check out when you visit. First up is the..
Local's Guide to Indianapolis with Raina Regan
I first met Raina at the National Preservation Conference in Indy back in 2013. I was brand new to the Midwest and she instantly introduced herself at a social media meetup during the conference and we've kept in touch ever since.
How long have you lived in Indy? What do you do here?
I moved to Indy almost six years ago after graduating from Ball State. Although I moved here without a job, I lucked out and landed my first job less than a month later. Currently, I work for Indiana Landmarks as a Community Preservation Specialist advocating for preservation in Central Indiana. I’m also involved with our local instagram community, @igersindy, and a young preservationists group, Preserve Greater Indy.
What makes Indy unique?
As a preservationist, I see Indianapolis history at every corner. When I’m downtown, I love that the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is an anchor. Our best places are in historic neighborhoods and spaces. I love that I can feel like I live in a big city, but I feel the connections and support of a much smaller community.
Favorite Coffee Shop?
My go-to coffee shop is Foundry Provisions. The bright red building is charming and the inside is cozy and warm. You can’t go wrong at Foundry – the bottomless coffee is perfect for long meetings or work sessions and the lunch basket is always a favorite. I really enjoy sitting at the counters that look out onto 16th Street to watch city life go by. Foundry is one of my favorite places for meetings or even when I need to work on projects.
You won’t find a place in Indianapolis remotely similar to Red Key Tavern. Located on College Avenue at 52nd Street, this bar is an Indianapolis institution. Its neon sign is a local icon and the interior décor is straight out of the 1960s. You’ll find cheap drinks, cozy tables, and a menu fit for the Midwest. If the potato salad is available, don’t leave without getting an order or two. Don’t let the dimly lit interior scare you away, but bring your cards at home for this cash-only establishment.
Favorite Attraction or Historic Site?
Indiana War Memorial. Although this monumental building on Meridian Street is hard to miss, many people don’t realize its true beauty is on the inside. This building oozes beauty, but the shrine room is one of the most breathtaking spaces in Indianapolis. The upper balcony on the exterior of the monument is also a great place to watch the sunset downtown.
Favorite place to shop?
Homespun: Modern Homemade. If I need a gift for anyone, this is my first – and normally only – stop. Ever since they relocated from Irvington to Mass Ave over two years ago, the shop’s inventory has expanded to the benefit of its customers. You can find something for everyone here and most of it is all-handmade by small business owners. It’s a great way to shop local (x2) while finding really unique gifts.
Right now, I’m in love with Fletcher Place. You can’t go wrong with any restaurant in the neighborhood – from Spice Box, Bluebird, Milktooth, and Rook, the best of restaurants in Indianapolis are all located on Virginia Avenue. I love walking around Fletcher Place with the downtown skyline in the distance, but surrounded by great historic buildings.
Describe Your Ideal Weekend in Indy:
Start with dinner on Mass Ave and if it’s First Friday, take in the gallery shows at the Harrison Center for the Arts. For brunch on Saturday or Sunday, I love driving out to Plainfield with friends to grab breakfast at the recently restored Oasis Diner. My favorite weekends in Indy include an @igersindy instameet, where we explore different parts of the city together. On Sundays during the summer, I love going downtown to take in Monument Circle.
Where would you send someone visiting Indy for the first time?
I’d start downtown, with Monument Circle, City Market, World War Memorial, Mass Ave, Georgia Street, and the canal. I always love taking visitors to Fountain Square for duckpin bowling and drinks. I’ll take visitors to see the campus of Butler University including Hinkle Fieldhouse and grab lunch at the Illinois Street Food Emporium. In the great outdoors, I recommend the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100 Acres, an outdoor art and nature park, Garfield Park on the near southside, and Holliday Park on the northside. You also can’t miss the businesses at the 54th and the Monon, from Locally Grown Gardens, Good Morning Mama’s, and Bent Rail Brewing.
What you love about Indianapolis?
There is a buzz about the city that is hard to miss right now. It feels like Indy is growing and thriving -- every month there is something new to do and see. I love that Indianapolis has so many great big city amenities, but you don’t have to pay big bucks to enjoy great food and culture. I love checking out all the new restaurants that are popping up.