Street Savvy: Kokomo

The landmark glass factory turns 125 this year—and its history is written on the walls.

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1. Cruise
Kokomo used federal stimulus money in 2010 to launch the City Line Trolley Service with old-fashioned cars. Two routes hit the best visitor destinations, including Kokomo Opalescent Glass and the historic Silk Stocking neighborhood. 765-456-7556, cityofkokomo.org.

2. Nosh
Both a coffee bar and a bistro, the new Main Street Cafe occupies a former bank space and uses the vault as a pantry. The decadent Hog Farmer’s Friend (pork barbecue topped  with ham and bacon on a pretzel roll) is a fork-and-knifer, and where else will you find slushy frozen hot chocolate? 223 N. Main St., 765-236-1600.

3. Gaze
Even if you aren’t in town for some ink, pop into The Bohemian Club tattoo parlor to see its edgy collection of local art. It starts in the entry and continues down the back hallway, where you can watch through the large windows as the skin artists work in their studios. 206 N. Main St., 765-434-0066, bohemiantattooclub.com.

4. Shop
On the courthouse square, one door leads to a pair of boutiques: Lux, which feels plucked from Broad Ripple with a selection of under-$100 knit jackets (military, motorcycle, trench, blazer—you name it), and Angie Meyers Designs, selling the owner’s sterling-silver jewelry with unusual gemstones, like iridescent iolite. Lux, 102 W. Walnut St., 765-432-7049; Angie Meyers Designs, 104 W. Walnut St., 765-456-3800, angiemeyersdesigns.com.

In the Know: Nadine Cook
Drink Depot “diva” on the town’s flavored-soda craze.

Why are drive-thru soda shops a staple here? It’s a moving town. I see a regular’s car and know she’s getting a newspaper, two iced teas, and long straws.
What’s in the Kokomo Klassic? Coke, cherry, lime, and marshmallow.
What would Kokomantis [see no. 6] drink? She overlooks the Girl Scouts’ Little House, so I’d go with s’mores Coke: chocolate syrup and marshmallow.

5. Nibble
A bowler hat and moustache on Pepperwhistle Bakery and Cafe’s window channel what co-owner Michael West calls its “Victorian steampunk” soul. Don’t miss the selection of plastic moustaches on sticks by the register. 106 N. Main St., 765-398-1851, pepperwhistle.com.

6. See
A giant bug sculpture named Kokomantis drew mixed reviews from locals when a real-estate developer installed it outside Subway a block off the square, even with this adorable Facebook bio: “I’m just a mantis. Standing in front of a town. Asking it to love me.”

7. Hunt
You’ll find cabinets and Bakelite flatware among the American treasures at Wild Ostrich Antiques, but it’s the charming surprises we love—like retro Pan Am Airlines luggage. 928 S. Main St., 765-452-3990.

8. Tour
Kokomo Opalescent Glass opened in 1888 with Louis Comfort Tiffany as a client. On a five-buck factory tour, you’ll feel the heat from the original furnace, visit the master glass-blower’s studio, see where employees signed the walls more than 100 years ago, and shop for art glass. 1310 S. Market St., 765-457-8136, kog.com.

Photos by Tony Valainis; illustration by Darren Johnson.

This article appeared in the April 2013 issue.

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