News: NCAN News

Insider’s Guide to What to Do and Eat In Indianapolis During #NCAN2019

Wednesday, July 31, 2019  
Posted by: Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations
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If you’ve wondered how to spend your free time during the NCAN conference Sept. 16-18, we’ve got you! Read on and contemplate how you will ever choose from among all these fabulous options. But first, make sure you’ve registered for the conference. Rates go up on Aug. 17!

All You Can Eat

Jesse O’Connell of Lumina Foundation gets us started with two restaurant suggestions:

  • Do you miss that college feeling of drinking coffee and talking with friends at the student union? Get your fix with breakfast at Café Patachou, which bills itself as a student union for adults. Located one block from the conference hotel and across the street from the Indiana Statehouse, it has something for everyone (even avocado toast for the millennials or the millennial-minded), but be sure to give the omelets and the sourdough cinnamon toast a try.

  • If you’re looking for a contemporary American menu in a well-appointed space consider Spoke & Steele, located just down the street from the historic Omni Severin Hotel. The kitchen staff frequently varies dishes to highlight fresh ingredients from local farms, and the extensive cocktail list, including some barrel-aged standouts, is as good as any you’ll find in the area.

Next, Jarod Wilson and his colleagues at the Indiana Commission for Higher Education offer these dining recommendations

  • For jazz and blues performances, check out the Slippery Noodle. There are supposed bullet holes in the wall from John Dillinger. Good pub grub and drink specials.

  • Yats offers great Cajun/Creole food. Think of it as rice with a saucy topping. So good – and cheap. Make sure to get extra bread!

  • If you’re craving pizza, try Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza. Great pizza, cool atmosphere, and don’t miss the garlic Parmesan sauce.

  • At 3 Sisters Café, partake in their awesome brunch or lunch. Get the D’Nae sandwich—brie, mustard, ham, yum.

  • The Rathskeller serves amazing German food. Come hungry and leave stuffed.

  • A few blocks north of the conference hotel, Sahm’s Tavern and Big Lug Taproom offers tasty happy hour food and drink specials. They brew their own beers.

  • At Mimi Blue Meatballs on Massachusetts Ave., get four meatballs and try different bases and sauces. The vegetarian meatball with spicy cilantro is to die for.

Oca is a food stand inside Sun King Brewery offering quick bites and heavy charcuterie options.


  • Whether you are looking for art, nature, food, or performance, you will find it at Newfields, a 152-acre cultural campus just north of downtown that includes the Indianapolis Museum of Art and garden, the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, and dynamic performance spaces. There is a free outdoor area with lots of installations. Museum admission includes the museum, the Lilly House (a decorated mansion), and gardens.

  • The Children’s Museum has been consistently voted the best children’s museum in the world. It’s not only for kids, either, with many exhibits and interactive activities to experience.

  • The White River State Park Complex includes the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indiana and Western Art, the Indiana State Museum, the NCAA Headquarters and Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society Museum. All are connected by the canal downtown.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis includes a popular dinosaur exhibit.

...And More!

These other attractions will get you out and about:

  • Just across the river from the conference hotel, the Indianapolis Zoo lets you interact with all types of animals. The Dolphin Dome, the zero barrier Sloth Exhibit, and the Orangutan climbing wires are truly one-of-a-kind experiences.

  • The Canal Walk downtown is a great way to see the city and get some exercise. Rent scooters and zip around it. Or go for a run!

  • Indianapolis has the second most monuments of any city in the U.S. next to Washington, D.C. Many have museums that you can go visit, specifically the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (on the Monument Circle downtown) and the Indiana War Memorial.

  • Catch an Indianapolis Indians baseball game.

  • Tour Lucas Oil Stadium (where the Colts play).

  • Holcolm Observatory at Butler University often has the telescope open in evenings for people to check out.

  • Duckpin Bowling in Fountain Square is like regular bowling, but with tiny pins. So fun!

  • If you love racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not to be missed! Take a tour of the museum and track.

  • There are many breweries, meaderies, and cideries in town. Sun King is the largest and most well-known brewery, and Hotel Tango is the largest distillery, but there are so many others to Google and visit.

  • Check out the neighborhoods of Mass Ave (tons of great shopping and restaurants), Fountain Square (more up-and-coming restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and restaurants), Broad Ripple (cute shops and food) and Irvington (Jockamo Pizza and Black Acre Brewing are must dos).

Thanks to Lumina Foundation and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for helping us all plan a fantastic trip to their home city!

(Photos via Visit Indy)