Showing posts with label Indianapolis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indianapolis. Show all posts

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Carmel, Indiana: Teddy’s First Trip

This trip was very different from any other, even though I had been to Carmel, Indiana, before. This was my very first trip with Teddy.

Although Teddy was born and came to me during the pandemic, he was definitely not a puppy I got because of COVID isolation. I had planned for two years to get a yorkie.  

I had grown up with a dog and realized soon after we got him I was allergic. I had to avoid dogs for years. Then, a friend came to stay with me for a few weeks and I realized that I didn’t have a problem with the hair (and no dander) of the breed. I prepared financially to get and support a full bred Yorkie. He came home with me in August, 2020.

Teddy is more than a companion. I’ve also trained him as a service dog. He can bring me things, such as pills, glasses, and my inhaler. He also senses drops in my blood sugar and blood pressure. Last, but certainly not least, he comes to comfort me when I’m upset or having breathing issues.

The pandemic definitely slowed down one of the most important parts of his training – taking him to public places. He had been to Rural King and a few local restaurants, and I was ready to take him on my trip to Carmel.

I picked up my friend, Jaimee, along the way. She lives in nearby Indianapolis. There was a travel showcase there for journalists to check out all the places to go in Indiana. I was on my scooter with Teddy on my lap.


Teddy wasn’t used to all the crowds at first, but Jaimee took him outside a few times so he wouldn’t disturb anyone. We made it through, and I collected information on places I’m still working on getting to. Indiana is filled with towns, large and small, that are hidden treasures.

From there we headed to Carmel, about a half hour away. One of the reasons we chose to stay there is because it’s very pet friendly. Service dogs are allowed everywhere, but since this was Teddy’s first getaway, I felt that he wasn’t trained enough to go into places that aren’t pet friendly.


We stayed at Home2 Suites near downtown. It was my first experience in one of these properties even though I have stayed at Hilton’s other brands a lot. It was a good choice. The room was extremely large and had a very well-equipped kitchen. There was also a couch for Teddy to get comfortable on.

After we got our things settled in and I had a chance to put my feet up for a while, we went to Carmel’s Peace Water Winery. This is an unusual place for a few reasons. First, they consider themselves “Indiana’s Napa Valley Winery.” All the grapes come from California for the Peace Water wines.

The second thing that makes this place so special really impressed me. They donate 50% of their net profits to charities, some local, and some worldwide. You can see exactly where on their charity wall, located at the winery. They have three different locations. All are in the Indianapolis area.

We sampled some wine, and I settled on Wishful White, a blend, as my favorite. Teddy was comfortable in this dog-friendly atmosphere, and we decided to do as we saw others and order some food from Muldoon’s down the street to go with the wine.  

The selection on the menu was pretty big and I settled on the New York Reuben with sweet potato fries, while Jaimee had a burger. There was a fudge covered cheesecake for dessert. Teddy had a few fries to go with his dog food. Like me, he prefers the sweet potato ones.

We headed back to Home2 Suites down the road. It was time to rest up for day two of Teddy’s first trip, which included a dog park and the Christkindlmarkt. We were hoping he was tired enough to sleep through the night in a strange place.


I was hosted on this trip, but opinions are my own. 



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spring in Indianapolis

My friend Angela and I were on a short getaway to Indianapolis.

We were staying downtown at the Courtyard Marriott, directly across the street from White River State Park.

Our first scheduled stop of the day was a Segway tour at the park, but it was a bit windy so we decided to put it off for a few hours and head to brunch first.

I usually don’t repeat places when I travel because I like to try something new.

Café Patachou is the exception. Owner Martha Hoover (a fellow former New Yorker) opened one healthy brunch spot 25 years ago and it has turned into a chain of tasty cafes.

Hoover also gives back to local children in need of food through the Patachou Foundation.

The place was packed and we decided to take our food to go and sit outside instead of waiting for a table inside.

Although I usually spend some time skimming the menu filled with delectable dishes, I almost always get the same: the California Omelet (filled with lots of avocado) and a side of their delicious cinnamon toast. Angela couldn’t resist the latter with her oatmeal.

We took an Uber from there to White River State Park. The Segway Tour area is adjacent to the Visitor’s Center.

It had been a few years since I had been on a Segway and I was disappointed to find out I would have to put pressure on my recently operated on ankle.

That was out so I bid Angela farewell as she toured the park on the Segway.

I spent the time walking and taking in the many sites of the park. 

The gondolas were just coming into the park, as were the paddleboats, and kayaks – all on my list for a future trip.

Also within White River State Park is the Indianapolis Zoo, the NCAA Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, Victory Field, and the Indiana State Museum, which we had visited the previous day.

Angela loved the Segway tour. We headed back across the street to get the car from the Courtyard Marriott and then drove to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

Conner Prairie is about a half hour from downtown, in Fishers. It’s a great family attraction which is suitable for kids of all ages.

The park explores the history and agriculture of Indiana, through interactive play and displays. For 2017, there is a new balloon ride at the park.

It was too windy for us to get up in the balloon, so we opted to take the train ride to see more of the park. 

It was a fun way to end another great trip to Indianapolis.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

History and Music in Indianapolis

I’ve had the pleasure of making a lot of trips to Indianapolis as it is less than two hours from here. Every time I go there are different things to see and do. That was especially true for this trip.

My friend Angela and I checked into the Courtyard Marriott Downtown

It’s in a perfect location, directly across the street from Whitewater State Park and the Indiana State Museum.

The Courtyard has a nice coffee shop and lounge area, and it’s connected to the Fairfield Inn and the massive JW Marriott Indianapolis for more options.

First on our schedule was our first trip to the Indiana State Museum. We really enjoyed learning about the Hoosier State and it’s place in America’s history.

Among the exhibits and hands-on experiences are a 50th Anniversary exhibit on the Indiana Pacers and a looks into the gems and minerals in the state, as well as its start through the Ice Age. 

We also were able to see plenty on famous Indiana natives, including James Dean, Michael Jackson, Florence Henderson, Kurt Vonnegut (who has his own museum in Indy), and Axel Rose.

The Indiana State Museum also has a Peewinkle Puppet Studio, which has puppet classes and a puppet camp, as well as show you can watch.

We grabbed some coffee at the JW Marriott Indianapolis Starbucks and headed back to the room for some rest. We were spending the evening about a half hour from downtown at FoxGardin Kitchen & Ale.

Our motivation for heading to this venue was actually to see a local Champaign duo who Angela and I knew well on and off the stage. 

Mank N Sass, Jared Manker and Sara Siders, formerly in the band UpShot, have extended their following into the Indianapolis area, where they play frequently. 

FoxGardin is one of their favorite places so we were anxious to check it out.

While we waited for our table, we visited the upstairs whiskey bar with Jared and Sara, and did a little sampling. The place was quite busy and I’m told it’s always that way.

They took the stage and we took to the menu for some cocktails to start the evening. For main courses, Angela loved her filet oscar and I really enjoyed my eggplant parmesan. Manager/Chef Jacob Burgess has quite an unusual and popular menu.

Mank N Sass were wonderful, as usual. They played some original songs and filled in with just about everything from the Beatles to Michael Jackson to Tom Jones.

Before we left, we talked to some of the Fortville locals. 

We loved hearing about all the small women owned shops in the area. It was quite a fun evening in the little town with the big restaurant.

We arrived back at the Courtyard Indianapolis pretty late and ready for a good night’s sleep before another day exploring Indianapolis.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Family Vacation in Indianapolis

I haven’t done a lot of family travel adventures in the last few years. My job as the Midwest Travel Guide has dictated that I find I way to do this. Fortunately, I have some friends with young kid, and it’s always fun when you have little ones involved.

One trip I had recently was double the excitement with my friend Cortney and her five year old twins. They helped me check some very unique hotel rooms as well as one of the best zoos in the nation.

The Indianapolis Zoo introduced some new exhibits which I was especially anxious to see. They also have a Total Adventure Package which lets you experience it all, including the rides, for one price. One of the extras you get with the package is the interactive Zooper Challenge™. (You can also access Zooper if you have a zoo membership.)

The biggest and most exciting addition at the Indianapolis Zoo is the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. Unfortunately, the Skyway was not open the day we were there, but we did get to experience the rest of this new section.

Eight orangutans call this center home and you can watch them as their trainers and teachers show you more about the intellectual abilities of these fascinating apes. 

The center was established to expose zoo attendees to them, but it is also taking on the project of learning more about them in the hope that some of the research will keep these endangered species from extinction.

The kids especially enjoyed the opportunities the zoo has to interact, including the Shark Touch Pool – the nation’s largest -- and the Flights of Fancy bird exhibition.  

Even though we couldn’t actually touch them, we all had fun watching the walrus, penguins, and seals swimming in their tank.

We didn’t have to look through glass to see the show at the Dolphin Theater. It was a great show.

I am a cat lover so I couldn’t wait to see the lions, tigers, and cheetah. We got to see them in their habitat during the train ride through the Plains. Then we walked back to get a closer look.

We spent quite a bit of time with the brown bears, who decided to put on a show for us. They were being playful and seemed to love the attention they were receiving.

After the zoo we checked into the Crowne Plaza UnionStation. I had told the kids we were staying in a train room, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for just how unique this experience was.

The Crowne Plaza Downtown Indianapolis has 26 Pullman train cars converted into hotel rooms. They’ve done a spectacular job and the insides were even bigger than I thought they would be.

We had two connecting rooms and the twins were wide-eyed as they explored every inch of them. 

The only thing that stopped them from going back and forth was a special delivery from room service (available for purchase to anyone staying here) of milk, cookies, coloring books and M&Ms!

We didn’t indulge too much in the sweets because we were off to dinner at the Indianapolis Colts Grille. It is a very kid-friendly place and we collectively finished the Spinach Artichoke Dip and pita. I also took a cue from Foursquare and ordered the Pulled Pork with onion straws. I was not disappointed.

Back at the hotel, the kids had some cookies and milk while Cortney and I had our sweets with a wine she brought from her recent Utica trip.

The kids went for a swim at the hotel’s indoor pool in the morning and explored the hotel. I think they were almost as excited going up and down the stairs of the train rooms as they were at the zoo.

Before we left Indianapolis I got to have breakfast with one of my favorite public relations contacts in one of my favorite breakfast places. Morgan Greenlee, Senior Communications Manager at Visit Indy, met me for another delicious breakfast at Café Patachou. I love everything at this place, especially when it’s served with their fresh baked cinnamon toast. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Previewing Indianapolis for Super Bowl

I had a great trip to Indianapolis in September and discovered some of the plans the city was making to get ready for the 2012 Super Bowl. I couldn’t wait to return to the city and I had my opportunity when I received an assignment from American Way Magazine. Once I was there I had a chance to explore some more things to see, do and eat.

Evan of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association met me in the lobby of the brand new (and largest in the world) J.W. Marriott to take me for lunch. We were heading to Goose The Market, where the owner has a passion for charcuterie, combined with a taste for interesting wines and beers.

Goose the Market is famous for their bacon, and even has a Bacon of the Month Club (Apple Cider and Brandy, anyone?). They offer a few different sandwiches each day and I settled on The Goose, made with Prosciutto di Parma, basil, fresh mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil. I only had a few bites of the delicious concoction when we were also given some fresh cheese and meat platters, with treats such as Midnight Run goat’s milk cheese, tomato preserves, Calibrese (100% pork with paprika) and a homemade Black Forest Ham. It all went down very well with a glass of Australian Semillon, one of nearly 100 types of wine they have in addition to at least 60 beer choices.

After lunch, Evan took me through town and told me about the Sky Walks that connect the Convention Center, Circle Centre Mall and a dozen hotels to Lucas Oil Stadium so almost everywhere you go in Indy (including Lucas Oil Stadium) can be reached in climate control comfort. We also drove by a few of the murals being designed in the 46 for XLVI project done by the Arts Council of Indianapolis before I was dropped at Studio 2000 for a massage.

I enjoyed the massage, but I also liked the nostalgia of the place in the Circle Tower, which has great views of Monument Circle available to those getting their hair done. It’s full of nifty nostalgic pieces, such as remnants of the architectural firm it was in the 1920s and chairs from the barbershop it then became.

Cocktails were at a new establishment, The Libertine. Neal Brown, a well-known Indianapolis restaurateur, just opened this place with a focus on cocktails and small plates. (This is another meat lovers paradise, they have a Bacon Flight on the bar menu!) The bartenders are knowledgeable and make suggestions. I had a Dark & Stormy with Goslings Black Seal and Evan enjoyed The Vesper, a James Bond favorite made here with Billicoat Gin, Penin Vodka and Lillet Blanc.

We had a delicious dinner at the elegantly comfortable Meridian Restaurant.  I was really impressed with the preparation of Chef Dan Dunville and it appears I’m not alone as Indianapolis Colts like Peyton Manning make this place a regular stop.

I settled in with a glass of the 2009 Babich New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a dish of Potato Gnocchi with mushrooms, tomato, bacon, spinach, golden raisins and squash. It was absolutely delicious and hard to top when the Osso Bucco and the Wild Boar Parpadelle came, but we did manage to enjoy it all, even sampling a little of the unbelievable desserts, which included a Banana Tart with Macadamia Nuts & Caramel.

After a good night’s sleep, Morgan from the Visit Indy picked me up and we talked some more about the upcoming Super Bowl. I learned that this event will have more possible NFL competitors within a five hour drive than any in history. A Super Bowl Village will be created for 10 days for parties and activities, including zip lining through the streets. Madonna will be singing at halftime and a host of other celebrities will be attending and performing. In all, the city expects 150,000 people – and only half will be in the stadium.

I was rather excited about the prospect of heading into a private tour of Lucas Oil Stadium and was quite impressed. There’s something about standing in the middle of this huge empty place that just currently has a “Home of Super Bowl 2012” sign and will have the attention of millions from around the world in a few months.

We took a walk through White River Park, which is home to eight museums and lots of activities in the spring and summer, including gondola rides through the canal.  I dedicated a good part of my career to writing fulltime about tennis so I loved a walk through the NCAA Hall of Fame. I was able to spot quite a few names recorded in there of players I know, including the dedication to the last school to sweep singles, doubles and team championships, my very own Fighting Illini (2003).

Before heading home, Morgan and I had a wonderful lunch just outside of town at Trader’s Point Creamery. It’s a great place to bring the kids (or be a kid with sleigh rides and caroling) through the farm, but it also has a phenomenal restaurant attached. I had some of their famous hot chocolate and a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado. Lindsay, the cheese maker, came by with some delicious samples of Gouda, raw milk cheese and feta, then we finished it up with a bit of their homemade ice cream (caramel and chocolate make a wonderful combo).

I’m not sure yet if I will make it to any of the festivities for Super Bowl 2012, but I will certainly be back. One of the reasons I moved to the Midwest was the fact that I would have the opportunity to visit so many places nearby without worrying about traffic and tolls. Indianapolis is definitely one of those cities and I have a feeling there’s a lot more to discover there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brunch and Spa Time in Indianapolis

I was up in time to catch the view from my balcony at the Omni Severin before Morgan from Indianapolis Tourism met us in the lobby. We walked the few blocks (I love that everything in Indy is so walkable, it's going to be a great place for Super Bowl 2012) to Cafe Patachou for breakfast.

Morgan had been talking about this place and its owner, who had turned the successful restaurants into her own little chain in the city. It was bright and modern, with an interesting menu. Morgan had their famous Cinnamon Toast, which I agreed was delicious. Lisa went for the "Broken Yolk" Sandwich, a massive and gooey plate that she couldn't finish, and I decided to keep it simple with French Toast covered with fresh blueberries.

It's all about using local produce and food as much as possible here, and I'm told that extends to Indianapolis Airport, where the restaurants use products from the area. One thing that can't be grown in Indiana is the coffee. Cafe Patachou has an interesting selection of self-service brews. The coffees selection is worldwide and all seemed a bit strong for me, but both Morgan and Lisa raved about them.

We left the cafe and headed to the Conrad Hotel, where we had appointments at the brand new Evan Todd Spa. It is a beautiful place with all the facilities you could want, including an indoor pool, where we lounged with herb tea before our appointments started.

The facials -- which included some light massage, aromatherapy and acupressure -- were wonderful. I was I pressed with the time the estheticians took with each of us, using completely different treatments on each of us after asking questions and examining our skin to determine that we had different skin types, rather than making you pick your type of facial before you arrive.

We were feeling relaxed and refreshed when we headed over for our pedicures on the other side of the spa. It's one of those things I never find the time for at home and it's great to be at a spa that does it all.

When the treatments were over, we headed back to the Omni Hotel to pick up the car and get on the road. It was a four hour drive to the Hocking Hills area of Ohio. I had never seen this part of the state and it looked beautiful. We climbed a bit from the flatter land of the Midwest, remarking at the signs of fall already noticeable in the leaves on the trees.

The drive was a long one (which, thankfully, Lisa drove most of), but it was all worth it when we arrived at the Inn at Cedar Falls to our secluded cabin. "Redbud" is a log cabin with two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and two baths. It was missing a few things, though -- phone service, internet and television, but I had brought along a bottle of DeBortoli's new Emeri Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc to try and we figured we could make it without technology for two nights.

It was going to be an interesting adventure.