After looking through the video footage of our visit to Indy for Thanksgiving, I realized that we did a great job of getting to know an unknown city, like a visiting rock star!
Wouldn’t you like to feel like part of the community in the next new city you visit? Experience the city at a grass roots level? Be like the locals? That’s pretty much what we did in a very short visit to Indianapolis. So, how did we do it?
To me, it really boils down to a few ways to become ingrained in a new community in a short time frame.
- Visit a local, family owned restaurant. We immediately grabbed lunch when we arrived in Indy at a local favorite, Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles (http://www.maxineschicken.com/). Yes, you read that correctly, chicken and waffles. Their waffles were UNREAL! The chicken, not so much, but they added an interesting flavor to the waffles with a nice salty offset to the sweet waffles.
- Visit a local museum. Following lunch, we visited the Indy Children’s Museum (http://www.childrensmuseum.org/). This is the world’s largest children’s museum and we visited the dinosaur exhibit, model train exhibit, enjoyed the Chihuly kaleidoscope, Indy 500 cars, Egyptian exhibit, and more! The kids had a great time and so did the adults!
- Participate in a local sporting event. Thanksgiving morning, we got up REALLY early and went to run in the Drumstick Dash (http://www.wmm.org/news/drumstick-dash.asp). The Drumstick Dash helps raise money for the Wheeler Mission Ministries to help feed the local homeless. This year, they served over 40,000 meals!! That’s incredible!! We ran for 2.3 miles, surrounded by people dressed in all kinds of crazy costumes and through neighborhoods in Indianapolis. What a great way to really feel part of the community!! As part of the race, contestants chase a giant turkey (guy in a costume — the kids thought we were chasing a real turkey). The person that catches the turkey gets a gift certificate to a local running store.
- See a local special event. We were staying right in downtown Indianapolis near Memorial Circle. The Circle has a giant statue that becomes the city’s Christmas tree on Black Friday. More than 100,000 people show up for the lighting of this Christmas tree!! We could have watched from our hotel room, since we were so close, but we decided to go down, into the crowd and experience the ceremony like a real local! To be honest, it was a bit underwhelming, but we were “down in it” just like a local and got to experience the event like most tourists don’t. Afterwards, we got hot chocolate from a local establishment known for their chocolate. Even more local flavor to experience as a first time visitor!
After just a few short days, we really felt like we experienced Indianapolis. Granted, there’s much more to see and experience, but doing just a few, important activities, you get a rich, full experience of a new city….until you’re able to visit again.