It's May, and that means one thing in Indianapolis: When the Indiana Pacers aren't playing, social media and table conversations are buzzing around the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500. An event that brings in, roughly, 300,000 auto racing fans into Indianapolis each year; many coming from out of town to visit.
But if this is your first time visiting Indianapolis for the race, or perhaps it's been awhile since you last attended, here are five things you should know about Indiana to help you make the most out of your visit:
1.) You CAN NOT buy alcohol on Sunday
File this one under EXTREMELY important to know. Part of attending the race for many is engaging in the party-like atmosphere that happens over the weekend, and getting up early Sunday for some mimosas and taking in the revelry of all that surrounds the track. But be sure to plan ahead and stock up on Saturday, as liquor stores and pharmacies that sell booze can't legally sell you any on Sunday.
However, if you do find yourself in a jam on Sunday, remember that you can buy carryout booze from breweries and wineries on Sundays, but just keep in mind there aren't many breweries near the track and it's going to cost you a little more for your brew at the "craft breweries".
2.) The city IS NOT under attack on Fridays at 11 a.m.
For first time visitors, the sound of a doomsday horn can be extremely nerve-wracking, but rest assured that if you hear one on a Friday morning, it is simply just the statewide mandated test of our tornado sirens. Nevertheless, if you're outside, it can be extremely loud and annoying.
Tip: cover your ears at 10:59.
3.) St. Elmo's Steakhouse is really, truly incredible, but there are a ton of other great places to eat as well
Make no mistake, St. Elmo's Steakhouse is a staple of Indiana eating. Every good thing you have probably heard about their famous shrimp cocktail to their freshly prepared steaks is true. But if you have not been to Indianapolis in awhile, the city has recently experienced a boom in the number of amazing local eateries Downtown.
If you're having trouble getting a table at St. Elmo's, or just in the mood for something different, check out the Mass Ave or SoBro districts and experience Indy dining the way the locals do. But if you're still in the mood to shove a bunch of delicious meat in your mouth, consider some other similar Downtown options like Fogo De Chao and Shula's. Or catch a ride a little further south to one of Indy's most cost efficient gems: Bynum's Steakhouse.
And, on the topic of catching a ride...
4.) Give Uber or Lyft a try if you're looking to leave the track
If you have been to Indianapolis before, you may be familiar with the fact that our traditional cab service isn't the best, and the drivers sit there like jackals outside of the track waiting to pick you up and overcharge you for a ride Downtown.
But the good news for new visitors to Indy, is that there are now other transportation alternatives out there like Uber and Lyft. To catch a "Lyft" (or Uber), all you have to do is download their app from the iTunes or Android app store. From there, you can schedule an affordable car service pickup and pay from the comfort of your own phone, no cash or dealing with the carbon-copy credit card machines required.
5.) If you want to get the best out of Indy then know that "Hoosier Hospitality" exists
One of the coolest parts about Indianapolis, especially Downtown, is that it's very walkable. There are ton of museums, nice restaurants, and entertainment and sporting options jam-packed into a small area. A lot of the cool stuff you can find searching the Internet, but if you want to find something special you may not see in a brochure just ask a local. We take "Hoosier Hospitality" seriously around here, and we're always around to help visitors have the best experience they can in Indianapolis.
If you want any more advice on where to eat or what to do around Indy, send me a tweet @intelmediagroup and I will be happy to help.