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Indianapolis 101: Neighborhoods

Highlights some Indianapolis activities, neighborhoods, and resources for new Butler students and their families

Introduction to: Cultural Districts

Did you know that Wonder Bread of Indianapolis was the first to publicly market sliced bread?  That an Indy native, Albert Von Tilzer, wrote Take Me Out to the Ball Game? Those are some fun facts but Indianapolis culture is more than fun.  Popular cultural sites include the Landmark For Peace Park,  the Canal Walk, and many a monument - which caused one guide to Indianapolis to note that "Only Washington, D.C. has more monuments within its city limits."

Hello Indianapolis provides a great list of neighborhoods and their attractions. Among some of the most popular areas are the Circle City's six distinct cultural districts:

  • Broad Ripple Village
  • The Canal and White River State Park
  • Fountain Square
  • Indiana Avenue
  • Mass Ave
  • The Wholesale District 

Featured below is information about three most visited by Butler students

Broad Ripple Village

Broad Ripple Village

Located about 10 minutes from Butler’s campus, you can stroll, jog, find food, stores, and other attractions and events in this Indianapolis Cultural District. An urban design blog calls Broad Ripple "the most widely known neighborhood in the city."

Discover Broad Ripple- This site lists businesses organized by their type of goods - and includes a handy map to find what appeals to you.  

The Broad Ripple Village Association  coordinates a variety of events and promotes this area. Its site has interesting meeting minutes about concerns and future planning. The association also has a facebook page.

The Broad Ripple Gazette is a free publication available in many stores and online, and includes an events calendar, features, links to other area resources, photos, and back issues.


The Broad Ripple Villlage Association spotlights neighborhood art galleries.

The Indianapolis Art Center conducts classes, spotlights artists work, and each hosts the annual outdoor Broad Ripple Art Fair.

The IndyAList  is one of many voter sites that might help you locate additional spots around the city.


Discover Broad Ripple provides a list of  spots to see live music, buy music, and other venues that host music gigs. Sites like Visit Indy,, Yelp, Zomato,and the IndyAList provide opinions and locales as well. Renaissance Studios conducts classes.

Outdoor Activities 

The Monon TrailIf you are looking for a nice place for a walk or run, the canal path is beautiful and historic, and runs behind Butler’s campus, in Holcomb Gardens, and beyond - including Broad Ripple. Check out this video from Visit Indy and you'll get the idea.

Broad Ripple Park- The 61 acre space includes an outdoor pool, tennis courts, a bark park, a family center for classes, a playground, and a pretty outdoor space that borders the White River. 

Optipark is a small park near the Indiana Writers Center and Indianapolis Art League.  It includes a baseball diamond, playground, picnic shelter, and sometimes hosts events such as a story-telling festival.

Broad Ripple has fine dining, fast food, and a range of eateries - American, Mexican, Indian and more! 

Zomato (Urban Spoon)- An organized look at the different restaurants of Broad Ripple. Search by cuisine type, popularity, establishment type, and other filters. Shows ratings by visitors and estimated price range.

Discover Broad Ripple- Placed side by side with a Google Map, the Discover Broad Ripple site lists every restaurant in the area and has them categorized by a couple of different factors beyond cuisine type. Examples of this are "Coffee Shops," "Over 21," or the coverall "Sweets."

Yelp- The site says the Best 10 Restaurants, but it lists more than that. It organizes the restaurants by their overall ratings by regular people. Rather than just providing a rating, Yelp also allows viewers to read the reviews and determine their validity and whether or not the complaints would deter them as restaurant-goers.

The local NUVO Newsweekly Restaurant Guide can be narrowed by adding the search term Broad Ripple.  Read the descriptions for tips such as specials on certain days of the week, editor's picks, address, phone number, menu, and user reviews/number of stars.

Fountain Square

Maybe you've seen HGTV's 2016 Indianapolis show, Good Bones, featuring a mother-daughter renovation-realty duo working in their neighborhood, Fountain Square? Less than two miles from downtown Indianapolis, Fountain Square was the first commercial historic district in Indiana, and it retains some great architecture and historical tidbits. Today, it's among several Indianapolis Cultural Districts and is linked to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail bike and pedestrian path.

VisitIndy's slides and 46 second video capture the flavor of Fountain Square - from duckpin bowling to neon theater life.

Afar magazine calls the area "Indy's hippest neighborhood."

Discover Fountain Square offers a downloadable Visitors Guide and map with restaurants, stores, arts and entertainment highlights - and an even larger selection on its web site; you also can discover events and photos on the organization's facebook page.  

Enter the search term Fountain Square in the NUVO Newsweekly Restaurant Guide, and whet your appetite at the results.

Discover Fountain Square's food & drink photos and listings with address and phone numbers simplify planning.

For those who like to eat and then stroll, or stroll and then eat, VisitIndy lists some Fountain Square restaurants and other attractions, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Massachusetts Avenue

This neighborhood hit the National Register of Historic Places list in 1981, but it's been near and dear to Hoosiers for much longer.

Discover Mass Ave has a block-by-block guide and also a wonderful history of this neighborhood, which dates back to the 1820s.

Visit Indy highlights the arts district's art galleries, boutiques, eateries, theaters, etc., and includes a video, so you can visit it virtually first.

USA Today's 10 Best describes this area as "affectionately referred to as 'Mass Ave.' It's a funky neighborhood with a smattering of art galleries, theaters, independent restaurants, shops and nightspots."

The area has a facebook presence as Mass Ave INDY - Facebook

Discover Mass Ave includes separate listings for restaurants and bars and nightlife.

Neighborhood eateries in the Massachusetts Ave. area can be narrowed down from NUVO Newsweekly's Restaurant Guide by limiting your search to "Mass Ave." From there you can further limit by cuisine type, price, editor's pick, and more.


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937
CAT: 317-940-8575

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