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A Leisurely Stroll Down the Indy Canal Walk or A Race to the Finish Line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

by Jeanne Brei

The Indy Canal Walk was born in the 1840s when the Indiana state government was trying to bring more commerce to the city. But the state found itself bankrupt and the plans for a 296-mile waterway were shelved. Today, the Indy Canal Walk is a three-mile waterfront pedestrian loop that that runs along the central canal, and begins in the 250-acre White River State Park and runs north to 11th street. You can walk alongside the canal, book a Segway tour, hire a gondolier or rent a pedal boat or kayak. White River State Park boasts expansive green spaces and is home to some of the city’s top tourist attractions, including the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana State Museum, an Imax theater, the Eiteljorg Museum, the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial, the NCAA Hall of Champions and Victory Field (a baseball field where the Triple-A affiliate team of the Pittsburgh Pirates—the Indianapolis Indians play), and among other popular attractions.

Whatever mode of transport you choose, you’ll enjoy a spectacular view of the Indianapolis skyline, not to mention a 17-foot waterfall, some of the city’s best contemporary architecture, and memorials to the U.S.S. Indianapolis and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Keep your eye out for colorful murals on the canal underpasses, too. This is the spot for quiet relaxation in Indy.

Entrance to the canal is free, but you’ll have to pay to rent any equipment. Wheel Fun Rentals, which is stationed in White River State Park, offers hourly kayak rentals for $15; renting a double kayak costs $20 per hour while pedal boats can be rented for $30 per hour. They also offer bikes for rent. If you want to up the romance, consider renting a gondola ride from Old World Gondoliers, which start at $25 per person for public rides or $150 for private sailings.

Of course, no visit to Indianapolis would be complete without a jaunt out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, seven miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis, where the U.S.’ most celebrated car race, the legendary Indianapolis 500, is run every year. It is only used for this race and two others: the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Race and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. The circuit, a-2.5 mile oval, was originally designed as an automobile test track, but the first 500-mile race in 1911 was so successful that it became a regular fixture. In the course of time, the track, which was originally paved with bricks (still used to mark the finishing line), was adapted to cope with ever-increasing speeds. Accommodation for spectators was also increased, and the speedway can now handle more than 250,000 people in the stands and more than 150,000 on the ground.

Also located on the grounds of the Speedway is the Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum, devoted to the world of automobiles and auto racing. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the museum features an outstanding collection of race vehicles and automobile memorabilia associated with the Indianapolis 500 race, including motorcycles, dragsters and cars that have set world land speed records. Visitors can take informative guided tours of the Speedway, which include stops at the victory platform, garage area, and Gasoline Alley hospitality suite. Narrated track tours, which cover one lap around the 2.5-mile oval track in a special bus, are also available.

Of course, if you’re a race car fanatic, you’ll want to do the Indy Racing Experience – which allows you to either drive three laps around the track (at a maximum speed of 180 mph) or do a ride-along with a professional driver. Maybe even Mario Andretti!

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located at 4790 W 16th St, Indianapolis, IN 46222. For more info, visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com. The Indy Racing Experience is located at 2A Gasoline Alley, Indianapolis, IN 46222. For more info, visit www.indyracingexperience.com.

This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Exhibit City News, p. 78. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_flipbook_janfeb2019web?e=16962537/66750078

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