Indianapolis is no stranger to sports, especially basketball. Host of the Indianapolis 500 every year, home of the NCAA headquarters and site of Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse famously featured in the movie Hoosiers, the Circle City loves all things sports.
If you'll be in town to root on your favorite college hoops team for the NCAA Final Four Championships, we've got some tips on the best places to lay your head, fill your belly and hang out when you need a break from the action.
Le Meridien Indianapolis — Photo courtesy of Credit Bruce BuckLe Meridien Indianapolis
New on the hotel scene is Le Meridien, a chic European-inspired luxury hotel next to the city's classic St. Elmo's Steak House. Part of a chain of hotels from Starwood, Le Meridien Indianapolis is a renovation of a historic property and features the Spoke & Steele restaurant, paying homage to Indy’s racing heritage and famous artist, T.C. Steele.
The hotel connects to downtown's Circle Center Mall and the Indiana Convention Center, where you'll find Final Four Fan Fest. It's also close to both Lucas Oil Stadium, host of the Final Four games, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an urban bike and pedestrian path.
The Alexander Hotel — Photo courtesy of Credit The Alexander HotelThe Alexander
For an experience unique to Indianapolis, stay at The Alexander, the first art hotel curated by an art museum, in this case the Indianapolis Museum of Art. From the moment you walk into the lobby, you'll be exposed to unique creations designed specifically for the hotel that feature Hoosiers or have an Indiana connection.
Rooms are spacious with washer/dryers and kitchenettes and you'll be able to see Lucas Oil Stadium right out the window. Enjoy the hip Plat 99 Mixology Lounge before and after games, along with Cerulean Restaurant and Market Table for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Homewood Suites by Hilton — Photo courtesy of Homewood Suites by HiltonHomewood Suites by Hilton
For accommodations that are a little easier on the wallet, consider Homewood Suites by Hilton, which features 92 loft-style suites. Just three blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium, the hotel includes a hot breakfast daily with your stay, as well as a fitness center, heated pool and billiard room for the perfect break from all the March Madness.
Rathskeller Restaurant — Photo courtesy of Kevin FosterThe Rathskeller
You'll no doubt work up an appetite with all the cheering and excitement. The Rathskeller is a local favorite German restaurant located in a historic 19th century building downtown that offers great food and live music. Hang out in the Kellerbar with 12 imported draft beers and 50 imported bottled beers, the dining room or the outdoor Biergarten on warmer days.
You must try the sauerkraut and be forewarned: watch out for the mustard! While delicious, it does a number on the sinuses... The restaurant will have live music on April 4 and 5 of Final Four weekend.
The Slippery Noodle — Photo courtesy of Drew Endicott PhotographyThe Slippery Noodle Inn
No visit to Indy is complete without a visit to the historic Slippery Noodle Inn, which bills itself as Indiana's oldest bar and is a favorite stop for celebrities visiting the city. First opened in 1850, the Noodle has a fascinating history, including serving as a way station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.
These days, you can find live blues music seven nights a week along with a full menu of steaks, burgers and noodles, of course. If you're traveling with kids, minors are welcome in the bar before 8 p.m.
Tow Yard Brewing Company — Photo courtesy of VisitIndy.comThe Tow Yard Brewing Company
Newer to the city is the Tow Yard Brewing Company, which is incredibly convenient to Lucas Oil Stadium. This brewery features several signature craft beers, as well as The Larder, a locally-sourced food and walk-up deli where kids are welcome. The head brewer recommends their Goldie Hops brew and chicken wings. Head outdoors for some fresh air on their front porch area popular on Colts game days.
Georgia Street — Photo courtesy of Lavengood PhotographyGeorgia Street
If you'll be hanging around the city before or after the games or need an activity when your team isn't on the court, you'll find plenty of action on nearby Georgia Street. This three-block stretch between Banker's Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, and the Indiana Convention Center and Final Four Fan Fest is a pedestrian gathering spot made popular when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl in 2012.
On Georgia Street, you'll find many restaurants and bars, along with shops and hotels. This is no doubt where most of the March Madness outside of Lucas Oil Stadium will be, as businesses along the street host special tent parties and other events for visiting hoops fans.
White River State Park — Photo courtesy of Lavengood PhotographyWhite River State Park
A little further but still bordering downtown is the city's beautiful green space White River State Park. Sitting on the White River, this area features a canal where you can rent paddle boats or take a gondola ride, pedestrian walkways and public art.
Take your pick of entertainment from the Indianapolis Zoo and the NCAA Hall of Champions to the Indiana State Museum and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The lawn at White River State Park is also a popular spot for outdoor concerts during the summer months.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway — Photo courtesy of Lavengood PhotographyIndianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum
The city is perhaps best known as the Racing Capital of the World and host of the world-famous Indy 500 car race, which has been running since 1909. With a stop on these hallowed grounds just west of downtown, you can visit the onsite museum to view plentiful race cars from the last hundred years of racing, as well as trophies and other memorabilia.
The highlight is a trip on the sacred racetrack via shuttle bus where you can get a firsthand look at the "yard of bricks" crossed by the likes of Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Helio Castroneves and catch the view of a race car driver as he speeds around the track.