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Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

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Birmingham, AL
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Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

My wife and I are driving up from Birmingham for the UAB/Butler basketball game on Dec. 30 (staying Dec 28-31) and need some advice:

-what Marriott brand hotel would be closest (possibly walking distance) to restaurants/bars downtown? Is downtown Indianapolis walkable?

-recommend any "can't miss" places/restaurants/districts

-areas to avoid

-any driving/winter weather advice for us snow-deprived Southerners?

We really appreciate any advice and are looking forward to our trip!

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1. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

Downtown is VERY walkable and safe. The Marriott Downtown would be right in the middle of everything. There is also a nice Courtyard by Marriott that is probably 3 or 4 blocks from most dining, shopping, etc.

My best driving tips: remember to scrape your windshield BEFORE getting in and driving off and also remember that windows have a tendency to freeze and won't roll down. These are two important lessons my friend from Louisiana learned last year during her first Midwestern winter. :-)

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

You will be in one of the "can't miss" places when you attend the UAB/Butler basketball game. A visit to Hinkle Fieldhouse is, as I've said MANY times on here, a dip into the soul of the great Hoosier basketball tradition. There is simply something very special about watching a college or high school basketball game in that classic and historic fieldhouse - once the largest indoor stadium in the land.

Just don't let a UAB loss sour you on the experience.

Butler University is about a 20 minute drive due north of downtown - make sure to allow plenty of time to park & walk to the fieldhouse.

The White River museum complex (NCAA Hall of Fame, Eiteljorg Western & Native American Art, Indy Zoo, etc.) is a nice place to explore during the holidays - the zoo typically has a nice holiday light display on certain nights - although may not after Christmas ...

Some of the locally owned restaurants & bars to consider:

Harry & Izzy's (steak & American cuisine - expensive), Slippery Noodle (bar food & blues music), Ambrosia (fine Italian - Tuscan food, moderately expensive & in Broad Ripple - near Butler University), Bruges (Belgian food - mussels, steak & frites, belgian stews, belgian brews - also in Broad Ripple, moderately priced), The Rathskellar (o.k. German food, but a GREAT bavarian bar in it's midst - the best bar in Indy - although it gets smokey), ... that's what comes to mind now anyways.

Have a great time. Well, ... not too great, that would mean UAB upset the Bulldogs (that would stretch Hoosier Hospitality to excess).

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3. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

St Elmo's Steak House, right downtown, an Indianapolis tradition. NOT a chain. It you like horseradish, be sure to have the shrimp cocktail!! Pricey but well worth it.

It will be an easy drive, you will be heading straight up I65 and literally whenever you stay, you will be within a mile once you leave the highway.

You could easily not ever get back in your car other than driving to Butler for the game.

There is a large mall downtown called Circle Center, Slippery Noodle is a can't miss for live music and it is also I believe the oldest bar in Indiana.

I live here so if you have anything specific, be sure to ask.

Westfield, Indiana
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4. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

Since you'll be driving north on I65, once you get through Louisville and into Indiana, the interstate will open up and despite the 55mph speed limit, you'll be tempted to drive faster. DO NOT DO IT. That stretch of I65 from the Ohio River to about Sellersburg, IN, is a notorious speed trap and is almost always home to numerous state troopers and their radar guns. Take my advice.....slow down for a few miles. The money you save will go a long way toward some of the excellent food and drink mentioned by the good folks above.

Enjoy your stay. Hinkle Fieldhouse is a great venue.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

... boy howdy is that good advice. My immediate family has plenty of experience speaking with local and state officers during that first fifteen miles into Southern Indiana (... welcome to Indiana, boy ...).

And I'd lived in Indy for 50 years, & just moved away 2 months ago. I'm not a St. Elmo fan, and think they've been living off their reputation for about two decades now. But PLENTY of people disagree with me, so it seems fair to add to them to such a "can't miss" list. I'd take Mortons, Mo's, Sullivan's, and particularly locally owned Peterson's near Fishers on the far NE side, over St. E's any day.

And yes, my nerves are a bit raw today, ... sorry.

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6. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

Looks like everything is pretty much covered by the above. But, since you will be up at Butler, if the weather is nice and you have time, drive norh up Meridian past 46th to about 71st St and check out all the homes along there. These are some of the "old mansions" here in Indy. The Governor's Mansion is at the corner of 46th and meridian

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7. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

I recently stayed at University Place. Not far from downtown & actually considered a "downtown" hotel, but on the IUPUI campus, a few blocks away. They had a complimentary (tips) shuttle to take you anywhere in the downtown area & driver gave us his card to call for pick up. Worked real well for us.

Beautiful hotel with lovely downtown view.

Also, we enjoyed the Rock Bottom brewery for lunch & again to watch a game on Sunday.

Excellent suggestion to drive up Meridian.

Indianapolis, IN
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8. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

All of the previous suggestions are good.

Snow at that time of the year is hit or miss. Sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping for/had never seen snow. We may have it, we may not. If no snow, the wind will cut you in half, especially downtown as it whips around those buildings. Inside the Hyatt is Charley & Barney's, a good place to go for chili and warm up. There's also a McDonalds there. It's the only one right downtown. Some miss it thinking the Hyatt is only the hotel.

Downtown is very safe and very walkable. Driving between downtown and Butler is easy and is a straight shot up Meridian or Illinois Streets. One thing to be aware, downtown Indy has alot of 1-way streets, so before you turn look for a sign or yellow lines. If no yellow lines, it's a one way. That's how I always judge. Its not at all unusual for residents to see a car going the wrong way down a 1 way street until they see a pack of cars coming towards them. lol..

Bodies...The Exhibition is going on downtown until 1/4/09 and might be interesting. Tickets are $22.

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9. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

areas to avoid the area out of the downtown area East , West of IUPUI campus, north of 16th street, the area close to Butler campus is OK but just south is not so nice around 38th and 42nd street. But anywhere downtown is fine and south of downtown is OK.

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10. Re: Coming up from Birmingham, AL late Dec... need advice

When you are driving up to Butler, take Illinois St. north to 48th St., turn left & across to Boulevard Place. Fieldhouse is at the corner of 49th & Boulevard. Parking is the thing to consider. Parking passes for season ticket holders takes up part of the Fieldhouse lot but you can also pay $10 for parking there on the lot. Otherwise you will have to park on-street & walk several blocks. Try to arrive at least 30-45 minutes prior to tip-time so you're not stuck in line.

Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of the truly great arenas in the country. If you'd like a guided tour of the facility, come to the scorer's table following the game & ask for Gary. Will be glad to give you the tour if you have 45-min to spare.