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    Indianapolis,

    Indiana

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    Indianapolis (), colloquially known as Indy, is the state capital and most-populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana and the seat of Marion County. According to the United States Census Bureau, the consolidated population of Indianapolis and Marion County in 2020 was 977,642. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-autonomous municipalities in Marion County, was 887,642. It is the 15th most populous city in the U.S., the third-most populous city in the Midwest, after Chicago, Illinois and Columbus, Ohio, and the fourth-most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Columbus. The Indianapolis metropolitan area is the 33rd most populous metropolitan statistical area in the U.S., with 2,048,703 residents. Its combined statistical area ranks 28th, with a population of 2,431,361. Indianapolis covers 368 square miles (950 km2), making it the 16th largest city by land area in the U.S. Indigenous peoples inhabited the area dating to as early as 10,000 BC. In 1818, the Delaware relinquished their tribal lands in the Treaty of St. Mary's. In 1821, Indianapolis was founded as a planned city for the new seat of Indiana's state government. The city was platted by Alexander Ralston and Elias Pym Fordham on a 1-square-mile (2.6 km2) grid next to the White River. Completion of the National and Michigan roads and arrival of rail later solidified the city's position as a manufacturing and transportation hub. Two of the city's nicknames reflect its historical ties to transportation—the "Crossroads of America" and "Railroad City". Since the 1970 city-county consolidation, known as Unigov, local government administration operates under the direction of an elected 25-member city-county council headed by the mayor. Indianapolis anchors the 29th largest economic region in the U.S., based primarily on the sectors of finance and insurance, manufacturing, professional and business services, education and health care, government, and wholesale trade. The city has notable niche markets in amateur sports and auto racing. The city is home to three Fortune 500 companies, two major league sports clubs, four university campuses, and several museums, including the world's largest children's museum. However, the city is perhaps best known for annually hosting the world's largest single-day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500. Among the city's historic sites and districts, Indianapolis is home to the largest collection of monuments dedicated to veterans and war casualties in the U.S. outside of Washington, D.C.
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    Celebrate Labor Day with these last-minute deals

    It’s been a long, hot summer and Americans have certainly been hitting the road — according to a recent survey by TripIt, 82 percent said they’d already traveled in the last three months while 98 percent said they had plans to within the next year. If you are going to be traveling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends not doing so unless you’re fully vaccinated, following travel health guidelines at your destination, and taking extra precautions if you haven’t been vaccinated. Play it safe — wash your hands, and wear a mask and keep your distance anytime you’re indoors or spending time with those outside your group. If you’re ready for a road trip or seeking a staycation closer to home this holiday weekend, there are still deals to be had. Here’s where to celebrate Labor Day weekend this year, with all hotels within driving distance of major U.S. cities and prices under $260 a night (based on a three-night stay from Friday, September 3, to Monday, September 6, 2021). Delaware Thanks to Southern Delaware’s Bike & Stay specials, you can spend your days cycling along scenic trails to local breweries, restaurants, distilleries and shops, and your nights at charming boutiques in Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Milton or Dewey Beach. Mention the “Bike & Stay” package when booking through a participating hotel — paddle & stay packages are also available for those who prefer kayaking. Washington, D.C. Two popular hotels near Dupont Circle are offering summertime deals, which works out perfectly if you’re planning to be in town for DC JazzFest. The Summer of Lyle package (at Lyle) includes valet parking, daily breakfast, complimentary welcome drinks and soft serve ice cream, with rates from $246 a night over Labor Day weekend. Nearby, The Ven at Embassy Row’s Soak Up the Sun package gives you two signature cocktails, sunscreen, koozies and access to a viewing of the film “Dodgeball” as part of the hotel’s rooftop movie program, from $249 a night. Virginia Unwind in style with Colonial Williamsburg Resorts’ Spa Escape Package, which, from $254 a night, includes overnight accommodations, two tickets to Colonial Williamsburg’s museums and historical exhibits, up to $350 in resort outlet coupons, and your choice of a 50-minute massage or a 50-minute facial. In southern Virginia, The Bristol Hotel has packages from $245 a night including daily breakfast at Vivian’s Table (the golf package also throws in two Turtleson golf shirts and tee time at a local 18-hole luxury golf course), while business travelers can save with rates from $189 a night and daily breakfast. South Carolina While nightly rates at The Caravelle Resort start at an affordable $145 over the holiday weekend, families with flexible travel dates can save more on a Myrtle Beach trip by staying Sunday through Thursday, when prices shrink to $65 a night. Tennessee In Memphis, the Somewhere Your Summer Deserves package at the Hu Hotel, available now through September 30, 2021, gives you daily breakfast at Lucy’s Café and 20 percent off stays of at least two nights, bringing starting rates over Labor Day weekend down to $252 a night. Mississippi Not all heroes wear capes. In Gulfport’s Centennial Plaza complex, the Grand Centennial Hotel is honoring all teachers, healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters, AMR ambulance and military personnel with a 10 percent hero discount, meaning Labor Day weekend rates start at $207 a night (starting rates for everyone else start at $229 a night). Spend some time relaxing on the beach — if you can tear yourself away from the lazy river, slides, pools, and dancing fountain. Ohio Moxy Columbus Short North is offering rates from $146 a night when you book five or more nights, so spending an extra-long weekend from Thursday, September 2 to Tuesday, September 7, could be a great staycation option. The Moxy is pet friendly, too, so you can take the whole family along, including your beloved fur baby. Indiana Vera Bradley fans, rejoice! Just opened in July 2021, The Bradley in Fort Wayne offers a chic Midwestern staycation option about a two-hour drive from Indianapolis or a 2.5-hour drive from Detroit. Labor Day weekend rates hover around $157 a night, making it a great base for checking out the city’s concerts and other events. Missouri Save 15 percent on a Kansas City stay and get Labor Day weekend started off right with the Crossroads Hotel’s Somewhere Your Summer Deserves package. Nightly rates start at $239 and include two complimentary koozies, two ice-cold PBRs and two frozen cocktails at the hotel’s swanky Percheron Rooftop Bar. Texas In San Antonio, Hotel Valencia Riverwalk is offering 15 percent off stays of at least two nights, bringing starting rates over the long weekend down to $229 a night. The hotel is right in the heart of downtown and makes a great base for checking out the historic Pearl District, The Alamo, and the San Antonio Museum of Art, among other popular attractions. Don’t miss the Ford Parade of Lanterns, happening along the River Walk from September 3–5 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wisconsin About a two-hour drive from Milwaukee or Madison (or a 40-minute drive from Green Bay), Fox Cities is a fun place to plan an affordable long-weekend getaway, especially if you want to spend time outdoors on Lake Winnebago. CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel & Spa, part of Best Western’s boutique Premier Collection, puts you in the middle of all the Appleton action with rates from $107 a night. About 15 minutes away in Neenah, kick back at the Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel, which offers family friendly amenities like a water park, mini-golf course, an arcade and pickleball and tennis courts, with rates from $161 a night. Arizona Two hotels in Scottsdale are offering summertime specials just in time for Labor Day weekend. Downtown, nightly rates at The Saguaro Scottsdale start at $125 for a king room with a private balcony when you use promo code Saguaro, while stays of three or more nights are 30 percent off, with rates from $128 a night (use the same promo code). Nearby, Hotel Adeline has a daily happy hour deal that includes two cocktails and appetizers at SelfMade, from $209 a night. Families planning outdoorsy adventures in northern Arizona should check out Hyatt Place Page / Lake Powell’s Sweet Summer Fun package, which throws in a candy charcuterie board with fresh fruit and a mix of sweet, sour and spicy locally made candy; s’mores; and a water toy for children ages 12 and under; with Labor Day weekend rates from $219 a night. Another hiking-themed package, from $239 a night, includes a map to some of the most scenic spots in the area and a picnic lunch for two, complete with sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, chips and water. California Save 20 percent on a stay at the Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs when you book three or more nights this summer and use promo code SZCOOL. Rates over Labor Day weekend start at $182 a night, giving you the perfect excuse to visit one of Palm Springs’ newest hotels. For a real treat, visit the St. Somewhere Spa or try some craft cocktails at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar.

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    Best spots for fall foliage in the mid-west

    MID-WEST Kansas In Northeast Kansas, the Glacial Hills Scenic Byways runs through a distinct landscape named for the rolling hills and the rock-strewn valleys. Its name reflects the receding ice, which left highly fertile farmland. Illinois In Southern Illinois, the Shawnee National Forest is a hiker’s paradise, seated between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and with paths meandering through canyons under forest canopies. Its crown jewel, Garden of the Gods, overlooks views of towering sandstone outcroppings formed millions of years ago. In the central part of the state, the Grandview Drive is considered to be one of Illinois’ most scenic routes. Indiana An hour from Indianapolis, Brown County State Park resembles the Great Smoky Mountains but Indiana’s largest park is fall color hot spot, with nearly 20 miles of tree-lined roads and many scenic vistas overlooking miles of uninterrupted forestland. The 2,300-acre O’Bannon Woods State Park is surrounded by beauty located within the foothills of Southern Indiana and bordering the Ohio and Blue rivers. Credit: Northeast Iowa RC and D Iowa Yellow River State Forest in Harpers Ferry makes for a good fall jaunt. Its Backpack Trail was named Iowa’s best hiking trail by Outdoor magazine in 1996, while Paint Creek Unit is quite the recreational hiking loop. Or catch some fall color via kayaking or canoeing on The Upper Iowa River in Northeast Iowa that can be accessed at Kendallville, Bluffton and Decorah. Minnesota The North Shore “All-American” Scenic Drive stretches 154 miles along the shore of Lake Superior is aligned with yellow aspen, birch trees and scarlet maples. And the Minnesota Great River Road follows the Mississippi River and passes through Chippewa National Forest, Itasca State Park and Frontenac and Great River Bluffs state parks. North Dakota The Rendezvous Region in northeast North Dakota is home to the wooded Pembina Gorge and Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area; hike on marked trails or rent a kayak to paddle along the Pembina River. Next, head west on the Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway and stop at Coghlan Castle and Lake Metigoshe State Park in the Turtle Mountains along the U.S/Canadian border. Credit: North Dakota Tourism Oklahoma The Talimena National Scenic Byway is a 50-mile drive partly through southeastern Oklahoma and touches upon Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest. Also in this region, Beavers Bend State Park is adorned with forests of pine and hardwood plus rugged terrain and waterways for seeing on foot. South Dakota Custer State Park is not only known for its free-roaming resident bison -- it also produces vibrant fall foliage at every turn. The Needles Highway has views of the Cathedral Spires, among birch, aspen and ponderosa pines while the Wildlife Loop leads towards Mt. Coolidge, where burr oak tree leaves burst in orange. On the northern edge of the Black Hills, Spearfish Canyon offers waterfall views from a spruce, pine, aspen, birch and oak tree forest.

    Budget Travel Lists

    10 socially distanced travel experiences near Indianapolis

    The state of Indiana is in Stage 4.5 out of 5 of reopening due to COVID-19. The good news is that Indiana has not only farmland but also rivers, forests, and lakes that are great ways to have socially distanced travel fun. 1. Turkey Run State Park There are many ways to explore Turkey Run, especially the ravines and sandstone gorges. Trail 2 and Trail 3 (Ladders Trail) are notable hiking trails and were voted as the top two hiking trails on VisitIndiana.com. Trail difficulty ranges from “easy” to “very rugged.” Other activities include camping, hiking, fishing, boating, birding, hunting, bicycle riding, horseback riding, and geocaching. Turkey Run State Park is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the summer season, and the drinking fountains are turned off. The Nature Center and historic buildings are open but may have limited hours and visitor capacity. 2. Brown County State Park Within an hour drive from Indianapolis, the largest state park in Indiana has many opportunities to recreate responsibly. It has the longest mountain biking trail in Indiana, which Bike magazine said has the most varied terrain east of the Mississippi, and the hiking Fire Tower Trail which was ranked as the fourth best hiking trails on VisitIndiana.com. You can also go horseback riding on well-marked trails or visit picnic areas, fishing and boating lakes, and tennis courts. Stay overnight in various campsites, cabins, or lodging. The state park is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the 2020 summer season, and drinking fountains are turned off. Gates may be closed on busy weekends when parking capacity is reached. Photo by Katelyn Milligan 3. Kosciusko County lakes Build your own weekend getaway by visiting Lake Wawasee, Tippecanoe Lake, Winona Lake, or Barbee Lake which are some of the lakes formed from glaciers in Kosciusko County in northern Indiana. On the water, each lake has opportunities to go boating, fishing, skiing, or kayaking, and outside of the lake, there are areas to go biking, geocaching, and bird watching. Stay in hotels, resorts, rental houses, or condos. Most of the area is commercialized and has several local tourism attractions. Most places are open, but check for COVID-19 updates and restrictions on their website. 4. Hoosier National Forest Hoosier National Forest spans nine counties in southern Indiana. You can hike, mountain bike, ride horses, camp, fish, hunt, or canoe. There are many special places, like the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, to visit within the 203,000 acres of land. Most areas are open. After you’re done exploring, cool off from the hot weather by visiting the nearby Patoka Lake, the second-largest reservoir in Indiana. If you a weekend getaway, Patoka Lake has houseboat rentals and floating cabins, and within a half hour drive is the iconic hotel The French Lick Resort which has many outdoor leisure activities like golf, horse stables, swimming pools, and sporting clay ranges. Most places are open with social distancing guidelines in place. 5. Clifty Falls State Park If you are looking for waterfalls, creeks, and canyons made from the last Ice Age, then Clifty Falls State Park is the place to visit. Big Clifty, 60 feet in height, and Tunnel Falls, 83 feet in height, are popular waterfall attractions. In addition to hiking, there are picnic tables and tennis courts. Clifty Falls is located in Madison, IN. It is open for nearly all activities. The public outdoor swimming pool is closed for the summer season, and the drinking fountains are turned off. Photo by Patrick Williams / @cartoonsushi6. Indiana Dunes National Park Explore the 15,000 acres of sand and beaches among this shifting Hoosier landscape. Swim on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, or hike the multiple trails of dunes, wetlands, prairies, rivers, and forests. The 1.5 mile 3 Dunes Challenge reveals a great view of Lake Michigan. It is currently recommended to visit West Beach due to the open space available there. Near the Indiana Dunes central beach is the Michigan City Lighthouse, built in 1904, and pier. Most beaches, trails, and restrooms are open. Park closures and updates are in a constant flux. Visit here for the most recent information. 7. Canoe Country Located in Daleville, IN, rent a kayak, canoe, or inner tube for the day and float down the White River with different options for length of trip. Park at the main building and board a shuttle that drops you off upriver so you will end up back at your car. Along the river, spot turtles basking in the sun or eat a packed lunch on the riverbank. Due to Covid-19, online reservations are required, and they close at 3 p.m. For evening activities or eateries, check out the nearby cities of Yorktown, Muncie, or Anderson. Photo by bellena/Shutterstock8. Shipshewana Located in northern Indiana, this town is home to the third largest Amish community in the U.S. and operates the Midwest's largest flea market. Shops have a reputation for selling hand-crafted wares and antiques. The flea market is outdoors and is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays through September 30. The Blue Gate Restaurant, known for home cooked Amish meals and featured in USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times, is also open and following state guidelines. LaGrange County is currently requiring face masks to be worn indoors or when 6 feet social distancing cannot be maintained while outdoors. A violation of this may result in a fine. 9. Mammoth Cave National Park Exactly a three hour drive from Indianapolis is Mammoth Cave National Park, which has the world's longest cave, 400+ miles. below ground and 53,000 acres of forest. There are 70 miles of trail, including tree covered ridges and valley floors, nearby the Green River. The visitor center, food/beverage opportunities, and retail sales have recently reopened. From June 1, 2020 - July 31, 2020, you can take a 2 mile round-trip, 1.5 hour self-guided Extended Historic Tour of Mammoth Cave, done at your own pace. Make a reservation online for your ticketed entrance time because tickets are limited to reduce capacity. Park campgrounds are open. Masks are strongly encouraged. Check the website for additional information on park operating modifications. 10. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden The Cincinnati zoo, the fifth-oldest zoo in the U.S., is open to the public with new changes in place. Outdoor animal habitats and large garden exhibits are open as well as the train ride and giraffe feeding. Some indoor animal habitats are closed, and animal encounters are closed momentarily. Per Ohio’s city ordinance, face masks are required in all buildings and high congestion areas. Indoor restaurants and gift shops are closed at this time, but outdoor dining options are available. Online reservations with reserved entry times are required to ensure limited capacity. To learn more, visit the Reopening FAQ. Katelyn Milligan is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of Purdue University.

    Budget Travel Lists

    The 10 Best Diners in The US

    With a casual atmosphere, familiar greasy spoon fare and a distinctive lingo all their own, roadside diners hold a nostalgic place within the greater scope of American restaurant culture. Whether you’re stopping in for a burger, fries and a milkshake or breakfast all day with a bottomless cup of coffee poured by sassy waitresses who can still get away with calling customers “hon” and “sweetie,” these iconic eateries can always be counted on to deliver a satisfying dining experience. Here are ten of the most quintessential diners to visit across the country. 1. The Roadside Diner – Wall, New Jersey New Jersey bills itself as the diner capital of the world, and the Roadside is about as exemplary as it gets. Housed in a shiny chrome unit that still contains the original 1940s stools and booths, the eatery’s been cooking up omelets, pancakes, burgers and tuna melts since the 1940s. A fun bit of local trivia: the Roadside served as the backdrop for Bon Jovi’s 1994 Crossroad album cover, and also made an appearance in Bruce Springsteen’s “Girls in their Summer Clothes” music video. 2. Tom’s Restaurant – New York City Seinfeld fans will immediately recognize this Morningside Heights corner spot where Jerry, George and Elaine frequently hung out (it also inspired “Tom’s Diner,” Suzanne Vega’s biggest hit), but the family-owned joint has actually been in operation since the 1940s. Hearty lumberjack breakfasts, traditional Greek salads and gravy-drenched hot turkey sandwiches keep loyal customers coming back again and again. 3. Blue Benn Diner – Bennington, Vermont For such a little establishment, the charming Blue Benn Diner boasts a surprisingly big menu that spans breakfast burritos, salmon burgers, open-faced sandwiches, falafel, fried scallops, gyros, vegetarian options and Indian pudding. If you can’t find something to eat here, you’re just too darn picky. The classic 1940s boxcar setting and unpretentious servers only add to the appeal. 4. The Palace Diner – Biddeford, Maine With just 15 seats to work with, it’s safe to expect a wait at this breakfast-and-lunch-only diner. The railcar that houses the restaurant was originally built in 1927, and holds the distinction of being one of just two surviving Pollard cars left in the country. The tuna salad sandwiches and tuna melts here are two of the most in-demand dishes, and good enough to make diners forget all about traditional New England lobster rolls. 5. Brent’s Drugs – Jackson, Mississippi Movie buffs may remember Brent’s Drugs from its star turn in “The Help,” but the historic Fondren district diner/soda fountain inside the pharmacy has actually been in business since 1946. Snag a vintage turquoise vinyl booth or a seat at the counter and order up some classic Southern pimento cheese, biscuit sandwiches with a side of cheese grits, or a signature Brent’s Burger washed down with a classic Coke float. 6. The Oasis Diner – Plainfield Indiana Just a few miles west of Indianapolis, the Oasis moved around a few times before finally settling into its current location on the Old National Road/U.S. 40 in 2014. Originally manufactured in New Jersey and shipped to Indiana by rail in the 1950s, the now-restored diner shines like a new penny. On the menu? Western omelets, biscuits and gravy, patty melts, hand-crafted sodas, slices of pie, and of course, breaded Hoosier pork tenderloins pounded out thin enough to overhang the bun. 7. Rick’s White Light Diner – Frankfort, Kentucky Sitting pretty right next to the “Singing Bridge,” which got its name thanks to the sonorous metal gate flooring, Rick’s ranks as Frankfort’s oldest restaurant, in business since 1943 with memorabilia on the walls that details the history of the beloved local eatery. The diner’s small stature belies a big reputation for Cajun/Creole-inspired breakfast and lunch fare — crawfish pie, chicken and sausage jambalaya, New Orleans-style muffaletta and a handful of tasty Louisiana po boy sandwich variations. 8. Mickey’s Diner – St. Paul, Minnesota Art Deco style is alive and well at this period railcar diner, shipped to the Twin Cities from New Jersey in the 1930s and entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The joint never closes, staying open (and busy) 24/7, 365 days a year slinging hash browns, pancakes, eggs, chili, burgers and creamy, hand-dipped milkshakes so thick you’ll probably want to just ditch the straw altogether and use a spoon. 9. Lou Mitchell’s – Chicago, Illinois Nearly a century old and still going strong, Lou Mitchell’s stands directly where the original Route 66 begins in Chicago’s West Loop, making it a long-time landmark for hungry “Mother Road” travelers. As a sweet tradition, Lou’s greets guests with doughnut holes (the kids get Milk Duds!) when they come through the door. The breakfast and lunch menus cover all the expected diner bases, but the ethereally fluffy omelets are the most consistently popular orders. 10. Pann’s Restaurant – Los Angeles, California Los Angeles is full of great hipster retro diners to explore, but Pann’s is required eating on the way to or from LAX. The Googie-style building with slanted roof looks like something out of the Jetsons, and the “Just Wonderful Food” motto doesn’t lie — Pann’s plates up dependably satisfying steak and eggs, buttermilk pancakes, fajita omelets, Dreemburgers and six-slice BLTs. There’s even a champagne brunch option on Saturdays and Sundays.

    FamilyBudget Travel Lists

    The 10 Best Zoos in the US

    There are plenty of fun, interesting ways to walk on the wild side all across North America, but these destination zoos lead the pack by offering some of the most memorable visitor experiences rooted in animal encounters, community outreach, conservation efforts, unique programming and special events. Lincoln Park Zoo The 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 on Chicago’s north side, making it one of the oldest in the country. Movie buffs might remember the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House from its appearance in the 1999 film Return to Me; although the habitat has since transformed into the $26 million Regenstein Center for African Apes, the mighty gorillas are still a major draw. There’s also an amazing conservatory on site to check out. Best of all, the zoo stays open 365 days a year, and while you may have to pay for parking, admission is always free. San Diego Zoo Long respected for its conservation initiatives, the Balboa Park-based San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals across 650 different species, many rare or endangered. The property is massive and navigation can be a little overwhelming; double-decker bus tours make it easier to get the lay of the land. A few of the most popular animal attractions include the Australian Outback koalas, the 2.5-acre elephant habitat and the penguin-populated Africa Rocks exhibit. Hearts broke when the zoo’s beloved giant pandas were returned to their Chinese homeland in spring 2019. However, the adorable red pandas are still around to admire. Cincinnati Zoo Paired with a world-class botanical garden, the Cincinnati Zoo has been delighting Midwestern youngsters and their families since 1875 when it opened under the direction of the Zoological Society of Cincinnati. A pioneer in successful breeding efforts, the facility launched the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife in 1986 to help propagate and preserve globally endangered species. Amid the lovingly tended collection of animal exhibits, visitors tend to gravitate toward the cheetah run, the meerkats and the lions, but the world-famous Fiona — a charming young hippo born in early 2017 — is the biggest animal celebrity in residence. Bronx Zoo A much-loved New York City fixture since 1899 and the largest city zoo in the US, the Bronx Zoo gives guests a glimpse into the world-wide animal kingdom within the beating heart of the urban jungle. With more than 260 forested acres to explore and 6,000 animals from aardvarks to zebras, this expansive attraction merits at least a full day to truly appreciate. Expect to do a lot of walking; you can always hop on the Wild Asia monorail or the seasonal Dinosaur Safari for a quick breather. The facility is also notable for having opened the very first veterinarian-staffed animal hospital back in 1916. Henry Doorly Zoo Home to the largest indoor desert habitat in the world, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s soaring glazed geodesic Desert Dome has come to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Nebraska. Inside, a 55-foot tall central “mountain” divides the landscape into distinctive Namib, Australian and Sonoran habitats; nocturnal creatures make their home in the Kingdoms of the Night exhibits on the lower level. Elsewhere on the property, immersive Asian Highlands, Alaskan Glacier Bay and African Grasslands exhibits transport visitors around the world without ever leaving Omaha. The stunning Scott Aquarium facility showcases sea turtles, sharks and other marine life. Indianapolis Zoo Arranged in five distinctive biome areas, the Indianapolis Zoo delivers a comprehensive visitor experience for animal lovers of all ilks. The organization partners with global researchers to promote animal conservation and education, acknowledging the work of worthy recipients with the coveted Indianapolis Prize awarded annually. The ethereal Dolphin Pavilion often doubles as an event space (guests can even arrange in-water adventures to swim along), and the Simon Skojdt International Orangutan Center furthers efforts to study and support these majestic animals in the wild. Access to the lovely White River Gardens is included in the price of admission. St Louis Zoo One of several appealing attractions that populate Forest Park, the city’s verdant crown jewel, the free-to-visit St Louis Zoo receives approximately 3 million visitors each year. A leader in animal management, conservation and awareness with assistance from the Saint Louis Zoo Wildcare Institute, this friendly Midwestern facility houses and cares for more than 17,000 resident mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects on site. The zoo originated during the 1904 World’s Fair, taking shape around the original Flight Cage that still stands as part of the Cypress Swamp exhibit in the Historic Hill section. Woodland Park Zoo This Seattle-based organization enlightens visitors as to the vital roles conservation and sustainability play (particularly in the Pacific Northwest region) through field projects and interactive exhibits spanning 70 developed acres. Bioclimate zones range from tropical rainforest and Australasian to temperate forest and African savanna habitats, housing more than 1,100 animals across 300 species. African Lions and Malayan Tigers and Brown Bears — oh my! Don’t miss the Assam Rhino Reserve, a partnership project with the International Rhino Foundation that raises funds to protect these threatened animals from illegal poaching. Detroit Zoo With sections that showcase African forest and grasslands dwellers; Arctic animals; and American, Asian and Australian-hailing creatures, the 125-acre Detroit Zoo offers plenty of incentives to visit. The state-of-the-art Polk Penguin Conservation Center is currently closed until summer 2020 for repairs, but once it reopens, visitors will be able to again observe the antics of 75 resident penguins in a spectacular 25 foot-deep, 326,000-gallon aquatic facility. In the meantime, you can still enjoy the butterfly garden, the bird enclosures and a diverse variety of other animal exhibits. Sedgwick County Zoo Wildlife park meets mainstream animal attraction at this award-winning Wichita zoo, where guests can watch elephants splash, play and eat in the third largest dedicated habitat in the country. Spend some time in the Downing Gorilla Forest, then marvel at the big cats in the immersive Slawson Family Tiger Trek. Animals are grouped according to geographical origin, making it easy to beeline directly to African, Asian, North American or tropical settings. A leisurely wander through the impressive aviary caps off the adventure in fine feathered form.

    Inspiration

    Seven Top Mural Hotels in the U.S.

    Have you ever stayed in two different hotels on separate coasts and seen the same art prints in each? You’re not alone. Hotels have long rubber-stamped their art collections, though that’s changing. The Alexander hotel in Indianapolis, for one, has an accredited art museum curating its collection. Hotels are also coloring outside the frame and decorating with street-art-turned-interior-décor. Some hotels commission internationally known artists to create one-of-a-kind murals, while others hire locally to give the interior a distinctive sense of place. Either way, the muralists transform the hotels into pieces of art in their own rights. Here are seven hotels with the best – and yes, most Instagram-able – murals in the country. Mural by Asend at Hotel Chicago West Loop, courtesy of the hotel Hotel Chicago West Loop Chicago, Illinois Six rooms in Hotel Chicago West Loop’s art-centric annex immerse guests in Windy City culture. Chicago-based artists including Josh Grotto, Brandin Hurley, Elloo, and Ascend have lent their talents to mural rooms, which showcase Chicago architecture, music, and history. Ascend’s work is exhibited locally and internationally, including in top-notch art fairs like Art Basel; his paintings combine a classical approach to portraiture with contemporary backgrounds. When not in use, the street-art rooms are open for viewing, giving the public a chance to see the works outside hallowed museum halls or traditional galleries. The artistry is growing: In late 2019, street artists will install another six eye-popping guestroom murals. Art students will join the artists for mentorship during the installation of the new murals. Hotel Chicago West Loop plans eventually to install paintings in the majority of its 116 rooms. From $119 Nativo Lodge Albuquerque, New Mexico Heritage Hotels & Resorts called upon a stable of contemporary Native American artists to paint 47 guest rooms (and counting) with murals. The rooms feel like living inside an artwork; they touch every wall and even flow into the bathroom and vanity spaces. Their artwork is rooted in cultural traditions and symbolism, but it’s expressed in vibrant and surprising ways. For example, in Love Movement, Jaque Fragua researched pre-Columbian Mesoamerican pottery designs in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and expressed these designs in a hot-pink background splashed with gold paint. In Sustenance, Warren Montoya expresses traditional hunting practices of the Pueblo (Native American) people in the Rio Grande Valley. From $118. Hotel Des Arts San Francisco, California Hotel Des Arts certainly lives up to its artistic name: More than fifty guest rooms show installations or edgy, graffiti-art inspired murals. Internationally known street artists including Shepard Fairey, David Choe, Buff Monster, Jeremy Fish and Casey O’Connell have painted the one-of-a-kind room. David Cloe, a Los Angeles artist who painted room 304, has collaborated with everyone from Facebook to Jay-Z. Shepard Fairy, the South Carolina artist behind room 210, is perhaps most well-known for illustrating former President Barack Obama’s “Hope” campaign poster. From $159 Hotel McCoy Tucson, Arizona In its first life, Hotel McCoy was a 1969 motor lodge, but in the fall of 2018 new owners transformed it into an art hotel. Hotel McCoy has worked with 48 (and growing) Tucson artists on the outdoor murals, and via the lobby art gallery and in-room art. The murals capture Tucson’s creative side. They serve another purpose, too: “The inspiration behind my idea to incorporate art comes from my love of travel and addressing the feeling of homesickness that comes from it,” says Nicole Dahl, general manager and creative director. “When we travel, often our hotel leaves us feeling empty, disconnected if you will. We wanted to fix that and offer people a place where they could stay and feel a connection.” From $109 Hotel Vintage Portland Portland, Oregon Graffiti artist Andrew Horner freestyled three of Hotel Vintage Portland’s original murals in 2015. Just him, spray paint, and inspiration emanating from Portland’s sub-cultures. He incorporated Portland landmarks and symbols, like roses after the City of Roses’ nickname, in paintings located in a game lounge, downstairs hallways, and the main entrance stairwell. In 2016, this trio doubled when Viva La Free, a Portland non-profit that teaches at-risk youth to use art for healing, painted three additional murals on the fences of the Urban Soak Suites. The hotel is an urban outpost in Oregon’s wine country, the Willamette Valley, and the murals have a (perhaps surprising) similarity to wine: Just as a wine’s flavor blossoms with each sip, the murals reveal hidden elements over time. From $218 W Hotel Bellevue Bellevue, Washington The artists behind W Hotel Bellevue’s six murals may hail from outside the Pacific Northwest, but they certainly capture its vibe. Baltimore-based street artist Gaia gives a lesson in the past, present, and future of Bellevue in Settler Futurity. The towering, three-story mural on the main stairwell showcases the city’s agricultural roots with depictions of strawberry fields, and points to its present and future with aviation references. Other murals include three by Japanese-born and Brooklyn-based Lady Aiko, and two murals by San Francisco artist Zio Ziegler. The W brand hotels emphasize design and the Bellevue edition lives up to that mission. From $289. Mural by Chaz Bear at Ace Hotel and Swim Club, courtesy of the hotel Ace Hotel & Swim Club Palm Springs, California The hoteliers behind Ace Hotel & Swim Club had an artistic eye when they reimagined a 1965 Westward Ho Hotel and former Denny’s restaurant as a mid-century modern hotel and King’s Highway restaurant. They outfitted the hotel with vintage furniture and a sun-washed bohemian design. Each year, the hotel invites a new artist to complete a mural on the property ahead of Desert Gold, a twelve-day Coachella oasis that includes meditative sound baths and wellness pop-ups. In 2018, Laura Berger used desert hues in Lifting the Sun, which speaks to humanity’s interconnectivity. In 2019, Chaz Bear painted vibrant florals in Desert Void, which reflects upon the experience of living in the desert. From $159

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    DESTINATION IN Indiana

    Hamilton County

    Hamilton County is a county in the U.S. state of Indiana. Census 2010 recorded a population of 274,569. The county seat is Noblesville. Hamilton County is part of the Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Hamilton County has been the second most populous county in Central Indiana. Hamilton County's roots are in agriculture. However, after World War II, Indianapolis grew north and towns in the southern part of the county developed as suburbs. Residential and commercial development have replaced many farm fields. The northern part of the county remains largely agricultural. Today, the county is one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. According to 2007 estimates by the U.S. Census, the county's population increased from an estimated 182,740 in 2000 to 261,661 in 2007, making it the fastest-growing county in Indiana out of 92. Recently, Hamilton County surpassed St. Joseph County in population, making it the state's fourth most populous. It is also the third densest in the state, after Marion and Lake Counties. In 2010, Hamilton County was home to three of the state's 20 largest cities and towns: Carmel (8th), Fishers (9th), and Noblesville (14th). Geist and Morse reservoirs are two man-made lakes in Hamilton County that offer recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, and waterfront living. In June 2008, Hamilton County was named America's Best Place to Raise a Family by Forbes.com due to its strong economy, affordable living, top-ranked schools, and close proximity to Indianapolis. The city of Carmel in southwestern Hamilton County was designated CNN Money's top place to live in 2013 and in 2017, the city of Fishers was named best place to live.