Welcome to Mae Meets Indy! “Who is Mae,” you might ask. Well I am Mae, and I’ve lived in Lawrenceburg, Indiana for almost my entire life. I have only been to Indianapolis a couple of times and never got the chance to truly see everything this city has to offer. I am excited to finally explore Indy during my internship this summer, and you are invited to join me! As a junior at DePauw University, I am starting to plan for life after graduation, and that means figuring out where I want to start my career. I’m grateful that I am interning here because Indy is at the top of my list, and I’m already loving the feel of this city!
This summer I will be showing you some of the best coffee shops, parks and trails, and entertainment around the city so you can make the most of your time here. I can already tell that Indy is special just by looking at the skyline, but now I’m ready to take a deeper dive and find some more of its treasures. We will have so much fun and learn a lot throughout the summer, but most importantly, I’m hoping this series will help us find our place in this community, so let’s roll!
Exploring Indy’s Best Trails
As a person who likes to stay active, I prefer to travel on foot whenever possible. Indy is a very walkable and bikeable city which makes it easy to save money on a car. You can find trails throughout the urban areas or further out in nature. I was able to visit a few while exploring Indy, and I look forward to going back!
To begin, the Riverside Woods Loop is a great little trail in Fishers, IN. It is only 2.3 miles and takes approximately 40 minutes to complete, so it is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a short walk. The multitude of trees in the area provided so much shade and made for a nice, serene afternoon.
Next, I went to the Monon Trail! It begins north of Indianapolis in the town of Sheridan, makes its way down through Carmel and Broad Ripple, and finally meets the Cultural Trail in downtown Indy. While on the trail, you will pass so many sites such as parks, houses, art, and shops.
From the Monon Trail I traveled onto The Cultural Trail which goes through all of downtown Indianapolis. Its pattern is beautiful, and I love how this trail connects you to a lot of Indy’s local shops and six different cultural districts. There are 86 bike racks on the trail which makes it great for bikers, and it also holds different running events for the community throughout the year.
The Central Canal Towpath is my favorite trail because it has both the nature and city vibe to it. There are townhomes that overlook the beautiful canal, and you can see the city not too far off in the distance. The best thing about traveling down the canal is that you can walk the path or take a boat. Renting a swan boat or a gondola with some friends will definitely make for a fun afternoon. The cute baby geese are an added bonus too.
I hope I’m able to meet some of you out on the trails this summer. Maybe I’ll even see you next week as I explore some of the greatest coffee shops in Indy!
Indy’s Finest Coffee and Tea Shops
I quickly learned that caffeine is necessary if you want to be a functioning human being after my first semester in college. So, I decided to scout out some of Indy’s best coffee and tea shops to grab a fun little drink before work. There’s nothing like an ice-cold vanilla caramel latte to wake you up in the morning!
The first coffee shop I went to was Bovaconti in Fountain Square. When I went inside, I couldn’t help but be in awe with how beautiful it was. There are plants scattered everywhere, and the blue, pink, and green pastel walls have the perfect aesthetic. They also have a big menu to choose from with delicious foods and pastries to pair with your drink.
Next I went to Amberson Coffee and Grocer in the Fletcher Place neighborhood. When it comes to sustainability this is the place to go. Every coffee is served in a mug or glass, and you can bring your container back for your next refill. The glass jars cost $1, but you can bring them back for a refundable $1 as well!
The final coffee shop I visited was Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company. The Cultural Trail runs past it on Virginia Avenue, so you can grab a nice refresher during your walk. They roast their own coffee, and the rich coffee scent fills your nose right away when you walk into the cafe.
Indy also has some great spots to order a cup of tea if coffee isn’t your thing! I visited Tea’s Me Cafe Indy in Fall Creek Place. They make their tea fresh from leaves right in front of you. I tried the oolong mango tea and it did not disappoint!
Indianapolis is filled with so many other wonderful tea and coffee shops, so I hope you find which one is best for you. I’ll catch you next time as I explore Conner Prairie — a living history museum.
GOING BACK IN TIME AT CONNER PRAIRIE
One fun fact about me is that I love learning about history. It’s fun to see and experience what the world was like way before my time and compare it to the modern world. Thankfully, Fishers, Indiana has Conner Prairie — a living history museum that allows us to go back in time and be a part of history.
When I first arrived, I took a ride in their hot air balloon and saw Conner Prairie from the sky and was blown away (not literally!) by how big this museum really is!
After I was back on the ground, I went to the barn area, saw some farm animals, and even petted a goat.
I then traveled to the 1863 Civil War Journey, and this was my favorite part.
Conner Prairie does a raid reenactment, and you even get to be a part of it. As I was in Mayfield and Nichols Dry Goods Store, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan led his troops into the area and began raiding the store. Through a screen in a window, you could see a bunch of soldiers riding in on horses. Then a boy came up to a different window and gave a store employee some letters which were given to everyone else in the store. Before you knew it, shelves were collapsing, and cups were clattering to the floor. Finally, after General Morgan was satisfied with the damage he caused, he and his troops rode away leaving a big mess behind him.
From there, I met a Union soldier at a Union Army camp and then went into a field hospital and saw some of the equipment that was used to treat injured soldiers during the war.
When I finished my journey in 1863, I time-traveled to 1836 Prairie Town.
I learned how people chiseled wood for chairs, shaped nails for wagons, and threw pottery to make dishes and mugs.
I finished off my night with Symphony on the Prairie.
Symphony on the Prairie is a summer series at Conner Prairie where all kinds of music are performed live by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and other artists. This time, I listened to some great music conducted by Enrico Lopez-Yañez — and some of it was Harry Potter!
Conner Prairie is an amazing museum that gets you immersed in history, and I can’t wait to go back again!
I’ll see you next time at the zoo!
MAKING FRIENDS AT THE INDIANAPOLIS ZOO
If you saw my first episode, you know that I love animals. I took a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo, and I loved every minute of it.
When I first arrived at the zoo, I went into the butterfly habitat. They were flying everywhere! I tried to get one to land on me but had no luck.
I made my way to the aquarium after we left the butterflies and saw penguins, manatees, and fish. There was an area where you could pet stingrays and sharks. I was able to touch a stingray, but my arm was too short in order for me to reach a shark.
From there, we caught a dolphin show just in time. They taught us some information about the dolphins as they performed a few tricks for us, and then the dolphins put on a show for us to Shakira’s “Try Everything.” They were so beautiful and pure that I even cried a little.
After I wiped up my tears and said bye to the dolphins, I traveled to the desert. There was an iguana lying on a rock when I entered. After I said hi to the iguana, I came across some meerkats. One of them was desperate to be free and ran from side to side. I then ventured towards the snakes which were both big and small. They scare me, but I find them really interesting.
I stopped for a quick drink out of fancy aluminum water bottles they have at the zoo, and then entered the forest area. I saw a tiger that liked to nap, a few loud macaws, and some monkeys that looked like they were having a serious conversation.
The last thing I saw were some bears, and they got into a bit of an argument in front of everybody. It was loud, and I was thankful that I was not in the middle of it!
Unfortunately, our time was cut short because of the rain, but I will be going back so I can see everything again and more! Come with me on my next adventure in some of the best parks around Indy!
FROLICKING THROUGH INDY’S PARKS
Exploring Indy’s parks is another great way to step back from the city and relax in nature. The coolest thing about parks is that there are so many things to do and learn. Whether it be cycling, fishing, learning about wildlife, or just walking, you can’t go wrong once you find the perfect park for you.
I visited three parks throughout Indianapolis and each one had its own unique features. The first park I stopped at was Holliday Park. This was my favorite one because it was where I saw the most dogs – and I LOVE dogs! But in all seriousness, Holliday Park has the most beautiful ruins. There is a fountain built into the ruins that you’ll love to sit and watch if you need to take a quick break. The fountain also featured a cool sculpture called “The Races of Man,” which represents the importance of unity between people of different backgrounds.
The next park I visited was Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve in Fishers, Indiana. It has so many trails, and many of them loop around so you can easily find your way around. Once you enter the park, you are just surrounded by trees. There are also plenty of picnic areas to hang out and barbecue with your friends and family. If you come at the right time of year, you can even pay a visit to their small swamp!
Beckenholdt Family Park in Greenfield, Indiana was the last park I visited. It has a pond where you can go fishing, a couple of trails to explore, and a dog park so your furry friends can join in on the fun! Beckenholdt has signs all around the park that provide information about the different trees, plants, and the park’s history, so you’ll learn something new every step of the way. The most interesting thing about Beckenholdt is that it occasionally has controlled fires to help rejuvenate its prairie lands!
This adventure was really fun and helped me see what Indy has to offer outside of the city. I hope you also find a park that you can visit in your free time. Make sure you check in for the last episode of Mae Meets Indy where I’ll find ways to give back to the city that has brought so much joy to me!
GIVING BACK TO INDY
After all of the fun I’ve had learning about Indianapolis, I finally got the chance to give back to this great city. I love volunteering because it benefits us all. We can learn more about our community, empower the voices of others, and make new friends. Volunteering is a way to truly put your words into action!
I decided to spend my volunteering hours making Indianapolis more beautiful and helped clean up the Cultural Trail with their Landscaping and Lagers event. I also learned more about the city and greenery in the area. I even met a volunteer who was taking a masterclass about gardening.
A bonus to volunteering with them was the amount of dogs that I got to see! If you’re a dog person, I highly recommend this.
When we were finished, we had a five-gallon bucket of trash and three tarps full of weeds and branches! The Cultural Trail looked so much cleaner. Bikers could pass others on the side and didn’t have to worry about getting hit in the face with branches. After all of the landscaping was finished, it was time to drink some lagers. The Cultural Trail brings a few beers for the volunteers, and everyone just drinks and socializes. There are also non-alcoholic drinks available if you need to hydrate. While I was volunteering, I met a lady who mentioned seeing Indyfluence interns during the scavenger hunt we hosted during the 2023 Indyfluence kickoff event. She was at a baseball game at Victory Field and was surprised at how many interns were out exploring the city. I also met a gentleman who was a volunteer for the scavenger hunt at Bottleworks. What a small world!
If you are interested in helping out with the Cultural Trail and meeting new people, you can sign up on their website here: https://indyculturaltrail.org/support/volunteer/events/.
I had a blast meeting Indy this summer, and I hope you did, too! I’ve found that Indy is truly a place where you can make an impact, expand your career, enjoy great entertainment, and be surrounded by a community that cares. I hope I get to see you around Indy soon! Enjoy the rest of your summer!
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