2015 Preview: Indy Set to Surprise

For me, the final few weeks of the year always require me to put serious thought into what my New Year’s resolution should be. I’ve learned that these resolutions have to be attainable, which is why the daily workout plans or the eradication of sugar-overloaded sweet tea is no longer on my resolution lists. I always throw in the towel before the season even changes. However, resolutions that require you to splurge or set aside free time for yourself actually seem to be more feasible, which is why I’ve landed on TRAVEL as my 2015 resolution.

 “In 2015, I seek to uncover surprising destinations.”

For those that might have a similar 2015 resolution, travel resource giants, Lonely Planet, make it easy with their ‘Best in the U.S.’ list for 2015. It’s a list of the top ten cities in the country that are a must for travel in 2015, and fortunately for me, Indianapolis was selected to be on this heralded travel list. It’s evident that a New Year’s resolution to uncover surprising destinations may not have me traveling too far. (Click here to see the full list of recommended destinations. )

As an Indy lover, such an accolade isn’t much of a surprise, really. Indy has given travel-junkies many reasons to put the Circle City on ‘must see’ lists, and with 2015’s line-up of new exhibits and locales, next year will be no exception.

In fact, here’s a quick look at my ‘most-anticipated’ Indy highlights for 2015:

BlueIndy: Nation’s Largest All-Electric Car Sharing Program: Get ready for 500 tiny, yet efficient electric cars to swarm the city streets.

Blue Indy Electric Car Sharing

Glorious Grub: As if 2014 didn’t bring enough new local dining favorites, we’ve got more food options expected to top the charts in 2015: Dinosaur BBQ, Yard House, which will have over 100 beers on draft or The Tap, slated to move inside the old Indy Star building. Downtown will also welcome former Indianapolis Colt, Gary Brackett’s new restaurant endeavor, Georgia Reese’s and Chef JJ brings his Big Green Egg bistro to a perfect downtown corner with fantastic city views.

Dream Cars: 19 concept cars will shine inside the Indianapolis Museum of Art this May. Timing couldn’t be more perfect with over 300,000 motorsports aficionados ready for the Indy 500.

Dream Cars

Stout Scarab, 1936. Designed by William B. Stout. Courtesy of Larry Smith. Photo by Michael Furman.

 10 Years of Devouring: Yes, we’re back to food, but that’s because one of Indy’s most popular food traditions turns 10! Devour Downtown will kick off in January and again in August for the best way to see some of the city’s best restaurants at a discounted price.

 The Stamp: This new $40 million concert venue will break ground in early 2015, completely expanding the downtown footprint. Visitors and residents alike will start hearing sweet sounds from across the River and on the grounds of the old GM Stamping Plant as early as 2016.

Hoopla Hysteria: Indy plays host to the NCAA Men’s Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium. That also means free concerts, team practices and a massive Fan Fest inside the Indiana Convention Center.

Men's Final Four

Tinker Flats: A whole new district in the city will start to shine when Tinker Flats opens their doors in August. This $3.3 million food and beverage incubator will be open to the public for events, classes and of course, taste-testing.

Gold: Real gold – and lots of it – is heading to Indy when Eiteljorg, Indy’s Native American and Western Indian Art museum, opens their doors to show off their new exhibit: Gold! Riches and Ruins on March 7th.

Corvettes: For the first time ever, Indy will host the nation’s most prestigious and longest-running all-Corvette show at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from June 25-27, 2015.

Here’s to discovering surprising destinations in 2015.

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Categories: Arts, Arts & Culture

Week 6: Spot Andy in Indy

 The clock is ticking! How are your holiday shopping lists coming along? Time’s running out and I sure am feeling the stress. Luckily for me, Indy has the perfect place to pick up last-minute gifts, stocking stuffers or treats for your co-workers or family members: South Bend Chocolate Company.

South Bend Chocolate got their start spoiling the Fighting Irish at the University of Notre Dame and now have a shop on our very own Monument Circle. I’m not surprised they’ve been recognized as the fastest growing chocolate company in the nation!

One of my South Bend Chocolate favorites are their holiday products: candy cane fudge, Christmas tree pretzels, Christmas crunch popcorn and Rudolph noses malted milk balls. There’s something for anyone on your list—especially the ones who are so picky to buy for! You’re sure to walk out with your shopping list finished, and probably some treats for yourself as well.

This week, drop by South Bend Chocolate and see me! I’ll be waiting for you to grab a photo with me and tag it #SpotAndyinIndy on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram—you’ll be entered to win this week’s prize! I’ll be giving away $50 to South Bend Chocolate, an Indy Food Tour for two, and $30 to the Libertine.  Can’t wait to see you there!

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Categories: Arts, Arts & Culture, Contest, Uncategorized

Week 5: Spot Andy in Indy at Mass Ave Toys

I loved seeing so many of you out and about on Small Business Saturday! For those of you who didn’t join us, don’t worry—there’s still time to enter the weekly and grand prize giveaways. Simply find me at all eight locations, snap a photo and post it on social media with the hashtag #SpotAndyinIndy to enter!

This week I’m camping out at Mass Ave Toys to find the best gifts for my rambunctious newphews. They’re all so different—and very picky!—but this place has everything I could ever dream of when shopping for kids’ toys.

For my tiniest ones, they have the best mobiles and stuffed animals I’ve found. Any toddlers in the family will love the building blocks, baby dolls or mini musical instruments. Those who are a bit older will love the art supplies, books and educational bits Mass Ave carries. Their selection is out of this world!

This week I’ll be giving away a $50 gift certificate to Mass Ave Toys, as well as $50 to Yolk and four passes to the Indianapolis Zoo. To enter to win, simply stop by the store, take a photo with me and tag it #SpotAndyinIndy! I can’t wait to see you there.

And, as if you needed more incentive, anyone who enters with #SpotAndyinIndy at Mass Ave Toys today will also be entered to win a $100 American Express gift card!

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Categories: Arts, Arts & Culture

Big Ten Football Championship in Indy

Big Ten Championship Tailgate on Georgia Street

Big Ten Championship Tailgate on Georgia Street

No matter if you’re a Badger fan or a Buckeye, come on out and join in the Big Ten Fan Fest from 3 pm to 9 pm Friday, December 5 and 10 am to 8 pm on Saturday, December 6 at the Indiana Convention Center. After you’ve had your fill of the Fan Fest, step out on Georgia Street and experience the Big Ten Football Meijer Tail Greater Party, a four-block long tailgate, complete with a beer garden and food.

Join Indiana Sports Corp at their inaugural Indiana Taps & Touchdowns tasting event that will take place on Georgia Street on Friday from 4-7 pm. Attendees will  sample 15+ craft breweries from around Indiana. Tickets are$25 in advance and $30 on-site.

If you’re really up for a challenge, throw your name in the hat for the World Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Eating Championship. Warning: This is not for a spice newbie.  A teaspoon of St. Elmo’s cocktail sauce is enough to get my tears flowing (hey, Travel Channel named it the “the world’s spiciest food” so I don’t feel too pathetic). Joey Chestnut will defend his title (last year he put down 9.4 lbs of shrimp!).

Joey Chestnut competes at the 2014 St. Elmo Shrimp Eating Contest.

Joey Chestnut competes at the 2013 St. Elmo shrimp eating contest.

Looking for a specific cheer zone? Here’s a list of bars reserved for your team’s fans:

Wisconsin

Weber Grill

Scotty’s Brewhouse

Buffalo Wild Wings

O’Reilly’s Irish Bar and Restaurant

Palomino

Champions Sports Bar and Restaurant

Hard Rock Café

Granite City 

Ohio State

The Ram Restaurant & Brewery

Champps

Harry & Izzy’s

Colts Grille

Dick’s Last Resort

Slippery Noodle Inn

Prime 47

High Velocity

Kilroy’s

Scotty’s Brewhouse

Between the Georgia Street Tailgate & the Big Ten Fan Fest, this weekend’s competition is a guaranteed good time. For tickets and information to the game, click here.

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Categories: Sports, This Week in Indy
Tags: Big Ten, Big Ten Championship, Big Ten Football Championship, Big Ten Tailgate

Celebrate: The Return of The Cocktail Party at St. Elmo’s 1933 Lounge

Photo courtesy of You Are Here Photography LLC

Image courtesy of You Are Here Photography LLC

Do you know what happened on December 5, 1933 at 5:32 pm?

On this day, the 21st Amendment was ratified, and Americans celebrated the end of national prohibition. This year, you, too, can celebrate at a place that is both historic and wildly appropriate, St. Elmo’s 1933 Lounge. In 1933, it was St. Elmo Steak House that celebrated the end of prohibition by serving draft beet at just .10 cents a glass.

How will you celebrate?

St. Elmo Steak House and its 1933 Lounge are graciously hosting The Return of The Cocktail Party to support the mission of the Indiana State Museum, and you are invited to attend. As you may have heard, the Indiana State Museum is having a roaring good time educating visitors about the cause and effects of prohibition at their latest exhibit, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.

Tickets are $75 to attend this smashing event on December 5 from 5 pm to 7 pm in the 1933 Lounge. Your ticket includes:

  • Specialty St. Elmo cocktails and food
  • Sun King brews
  • Entertainment
  • A World Famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail gift card
  • Admission to American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition at the Indiana State Museum, on display now through February 2015

See you there.

Cheers!

P.S. Get your tickets here. Use the code “visitindy” for $10 off! Tickets also available at the door.

 

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Categories: Arts & Culture, Beer, Nightlife, Uncategorized
Tags: 1933 Lounge, 21st Amendment, American Spirits, Beer, celebrate, cocktail, Dec, December 5, downtown, Event, food, Indiana State Museum, indianapolis, Indy, party, prohibition, repeal day, shrimp cocktail, St. Elmo Steak House

8 Days, 8 $100 American Express® Gift Cards, 8 Chances to Win

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are just days away, but these holiday festivities have nothing on my favorite holiday: Small Business Saturday. As a little extra “Thank you” to the small businesses of Indy, I’ll be giving away a $100 American Express®  gift card each day for eight days starting on Small Business Saturday (November 29). Anyone who participates in #SpotAndyinIndy now through December 6  will be entered to win an AMEX giftcard, in addition to our already spectacular prizes.

With all the holiday hubbub, it’s easy to get swept up in buying, buying, buying for your friends and family. But this is also the perfect time to give back to the amazing community we live in. I’m doing that this week with Indy Reads Books.

Not only is Indy Reads Books the only non-collegiate bookstore in downtown Indy, they’re also an independent, Indy original. Bonus: all children’s books are only $1, which means you get way more bang for your buck than at other bookstores.

In addition, they’re a source of income for Indy Reads, a nonprofit organization with the mission of improving and promoting literacy of adults and families in Central Indiana. Anyone who purchases a book at Indy Reads Books not only gets amazing deals, but also helps those in need.

When you stop by Indy Reads Books to snag a photo with me, bring your new or gently used books to donate to their cause. Drop them off at the store on Mass Ave, grab a picture with your favorite reindeer (that’s me!) and tag it #SpotAndyinIndy to enter this week’s giveaway AND the $100 American Express gift card giveaway!

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Categories: Arts, Arts & Culture

A Motown Christmas Presented By The Asante Children’s Theatre

Even if you were not alive in the 1950s and 1960s, it’s likely that some of your favorite holiday tunes come from the Motown record label. The album A Motown Christmas features a powerhouse of award-winning, platinum selling artists such as Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Diana Ross, The Temptations and many more, all with a groove and jive that your body can’t refuse to move to. Don’t just settle for listening to Spotify this season – attend The Asante Children’s Theatre’s A Motown Christmas for only $5  instead! 

A Motown Christmas Presented By The Asante Children's Theatre

Created in 1990, The Asante Children’s Theatre of Indianapolis is a youth development organization committed to enriching the lives of young people so they become empowered citizens of the world. The organization serves two purposes: to respond to the fact that fewer and fewer school-age youth are introduced to and involved in the arts on a regular basis, and to celebrate the unique traditions of African and African American performing arts. Youth as young as six years old can work alongside adults to learn and build confidence in acting, singing, dancing, storytelling, writing, teamwork, obedience, respect of authority and how to quickly resolve conflict.

Keesha Dixon, Executive Director, says “there are many ways to tell a story. As keepers of the culture, this year, ‘The Holiday Concert: A Motown Story” is our platform to tell and celebrate the Kwanzaa principle of Umoja (ooo-mo-jah) which means unity. Our goal is to present family-friendly edutainment that will rekindle memories and spark conversations.”

The first performance will be Friday, December 5 at 7:30 pm at The Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts on Butler campus. The second performance is on Saturday, December 6 at 7:30 pm at the Madame Walker Theatre Center in downtown Indianapolis. Both performances are only $5 a person. Tickets may be purchased in advance here or by calling 317-654-0264. Non-perishable food items will be collected for Gleaners Food Bank at both performances. Happy holidays!

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Categories: Arts & Culture, Family, Meetings & Events, Music
Tags: Asante Children's Theatre, Motown Christmas

Holiday Hotel Deals in Indy

Indy’s a fun place to be during the holidays. Between light displays, shopping deals, and New Year’s Eve extravaganzas, you’ll have plenty to see and do while you’re in town. All you need is pillow to lay your head. Here’s a round-up of some of our favorite holiday hotel deals.

Holidays in Indianapolis

Crowne Plaza at Historic Union Station

Polar Express Package, rates starting at $179/night, November 22 – December 30, 2014

  • Golden Ticket to Polar Express movie pajama party in Grand Cental Station, with refreshments including creamy hot chocolate
  • Complimentary valet parking
  • Sleigh bell souvenir gift

Nestle Inn

Holiday Package, rates from $289/night, now through January 30, 2015

  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Two cooking class registrations (guest to chose topic)
  • In-room sparkling beverage and chocolate truffles

Please use promotional code “HOL14″ for reservations.



Conrad Indianapolis

Black Friday Package, rates from  $139/night, November 27 & 28

  • Complimentary glass of celebratory Prosecco at Tastings
  • Complimentary chair massage at Evan Todd Spa and Salon
  • Complimentary high-speed internet access

To book the “Black Friday” package, guests can visit Conrad Indianapolis or dial 317.713.5000 and mention the promo code, “FRI.”

Cheers to the Holidays, rates from $224/night

  • Decadent holiday welcome amenity
  • $10 gift card to Tastings –  A Wine Experience
  • Continental breakfast for two at The Capital Grille
  • Complimentary valet parking for one vehicle

The Best Year Yet, rates from  $299/night, December 31, 2014

  • Deluxe accommodations
  • Chilled champagne and chocolate covered strawberries upon arrival
  • Celebratory Conrad champagne flute
  • Party favors
  • Guaranteed late check-out of 3 pm


Indianapolis Marriott Downtown

Our Holiday Gift to You, rates from $139/night, now through January 19, 2015

  • $25 daily hotel credit

Please use promotional code1AH” for reservations.

New Year’s Eve Package, rates from $169/night, December 31, 2014

  • Complimentary self-parking
  • 1 pm late check-out on New Year’s Day

Please use promotional code “EVE” for reservations.



Sheraton Keystone

Shop, Sip & Stay, rates from $209/night Friday-Sunday and $259/night Monday- Thursday 

  • $100 Simon GiftCard
  • Personal shopping experience at Saks Fifth Avenue, along with a complimentary bottle of wine and tote bag
  • Welcome amenity in room, from participating stores of The Fashion Mall at Keystone


JW Marriott Indianapolis

‘Tis the Season at the JW Marriott Indianapolis, rates from $169/night, November 27 – December 30, 2014

  • Complimentary overnight self-parking
  • Complimentary breakfast at Osteria Pronto for two adults, two children
  • Your choice of crafted amenity at check-in

Please use code “HO9″ for reservations.



Omni Severin

Stocking Stuffers, rates from $109/night, now through December 30, 2014

  • Luxury accommodations
  • 15% off our best available rates
  • One (1) $10 gift card from either Starbucks®, iTunes® or Omni Hotels & Resorts

Please note this promotion requires a two-night minimum and a one day advanced booking.



All rates are subject to availability. Please check with individual hotels for reservations. Additional hotel deals can be found in Indy Daily Deals.

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Categories: This Week in Indy, Uncategorized
Tags: Hotel Deals, hotels

Week 3: Spot Andy in Indy at Homespun

I’ve seen so many of you out and about, doing your holiday shopping and supporting local businesses. If you haven’t come to visit me in my eight locations yet, don’t worry—there’s still time! Stop by this week’s featured location to snag a picture with me, tag #SpotAndyinIndy, and you’ll automatically be entered to win this week’s giveaway prize.

This week I’m knocking out those hard-to-shop-for people on my holiday shopping list. The best place for people like this is definitely Homespun on Mass Ave. They have a huge selection of handmade items that make the perfect gifts!

Homespun works with more than 200 vendors, and half of them are based in Central Indiana. I love their selection of Indy-focused items, like their Indianapolis sweatshirts or wooden Indiana cutouts.

For my holiday gift-giving, I’ll focus on their huge selection of jewelry and accessories. Because everything is handmade, these gifts are truly unique. From colorful pendants to simple charm necklaces to their selection of bracelets or hair accessories, I can guarantee no one on your list has anything like their merchandise. They even have a great selection of youth apparel items for the young ones on your list!

Plus, if you head to their location on Mass Ave., snap a photo with me and tag it #SpotAndyinIndy, you’ll enter to win a $50 to Homespun, as well as $50 to MacNivens and four passes to the Indianapolis Zoo. Who doesn’t love that?

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Categories: Arts
Tags: Holidays

Shop Local at Yelp’s Totally Bazaar

Holiday shopping in a city as large as Indianapolis is hard. There are so many local retail options and they are scattered all throughout the metro area, which means multiple trips and a lot of time spent in the car or on the bus. What if you could visit all of your favorite local stores in one place at the same time? Thanks to Yelp, you totally can.

Yelp’s Totally Bazaar on Thursday, December 11 will cure your shopping woes by bringing more than 120 local businesses together for this annual pop-up shopping party. All you have to do is roll up to the Indianapolis Central Public Library between 6 p.m to 10 pm and be ready to shop until you drop. Who will be there? Vendors who all share one thing in common – a love for local. Call it holiday spirit, but that Hoosier hospitality is united by how we work for and support each other.

  • Furniture, vintage and new
  • Jewelry, vintage and new
  • Food and beverage items such as cocktail syrups, marshmallows, coffee, chocolate, slow cooker meals, peanut butter, candy and more
  • Sewing and knitting supplies
  • Purses and wallets
  • New and vintage men, women and children’s clothing
  • Fine art, graphic art prints and pottery
  • Homebrewing kits and ingredients
  • Dog treats and accessories
  • Bath and body products
  • Vinyl records and CD’s

And that’s just the beginning! If you’re like me then you also tend to get hungry from walking up and down the aisles of any shopping arena. Take a break to satisfy your hungry and thirst with local eats from Fountain Square Brewing Company, Mallow Run Winery, Spice Box, Rocket 88 Doughnuts and more.

Still need convincing? This video produced in 2012 shows some of the fun you’ll be having at Yelp’s Totally Bazaar. Just expect to see twice as many vendors, people and fun!

Not a Yelper yet? That’s ok! You don’t have to be one Yelp to attend the event, though it is a super cool way to meet people and connect with a fun community. Find the full list of vendors and RSVP on the online event page. Who are you most excited to shop local from?

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Categories: Meetings & Events
Tags: food, indianapolis, local, Retail, Shopping