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Street Savvy: Mooresville
Head south for the area’s newest Zip Line, antiquing, and crawfish boils.
Ralph & Ava’s Cafe outgrew its former location nearby (don’t be fooled by the old sign still up around the corner) thanks to the popular menu, featuring a classic pretzel melt, a buffalo-chicken grilled cheese, and a respectable list of local craft beers. Regulars gather at the mom-and-pop cafe—named for the owners’ dogs—for live music on Fridays and Saturdays and trivia night on Thursdays. 6 W. Main St., 317-834-9780, ralphandavas.com
Visit Yellow Moon Antique Mall on weekends to chat up vendors. Favorite story: A “button ring” made with a Victorian velvet-backed notion speaks to a time when women sprayed perfume on the fabric to give men a reminder of their wives whenever they were separated. 10 E. Main St., 317-831-8599
3. Fill Up
You’ll find mostly locals in this cash-only diner that’s somehow charming despite its dust-covered knickknacks that remind you of Grandma’s living room. Biff’s Pioneer House is where you’ll want to have the most important meal of the day, whether it’s the famous Bismark (an iced, nut-topped cinnamon roll that costs just a buck) or the enormous serving of perfectly spiced biscuits and gravy. 14 E. Main St., 317-834-3899
It comes as no surprise that Cash Exchange carries rare coins—appropriately, the pawn shop is located in a 19th-century building that was originally a bank (one that John Dillinger, who lived in Mooresville as a teenager, never robbed). The owner also stocks jewelry, antique furniture, and military garb to keep customers—including the wife of a former Indiana Pacers player—coming back. 3 E. Main St., 317-834-2200
“What I love about Mooresville is the old downtown. My mom and I shop for antiques about once a month, and I stumbled upon a pie safe that looks almost exactly like the one my great-grandmother had.”
—Ashtyn Fisher, Mooresville native & IUPUI student
With two floors to meander, Mooresville Open Market Antiques appeals to both diehard pickers and curious browsers. Not everything is vintage here—you’ll find scented soaps and Indiana-made Warm Glow Candles for sale—but that just means there’s a good chance you’ll come across something for even the hardest in-law to buy for this Mother’s Day. Don’t let the creaky wooden staircase scare you off; the best stuff is in the basement. 5 E. Main St., 317-584-5814, mooresvilleopenmarketantiques.com
The Mardi Gras decor, oyster-shell wall, and complimentary beads are part of the Zydeco’s experience, but it’s the food that keeps regulars hooked. The long-standing restaurant features staples like jambalaya, gumbo, and gator on a stick. Crawfish boils in late spring and early summer provide authentic Cajun cuisine that’s rare this far north (follow @crawfish_report on Twitter for updates). Behind the bar, you’ll find Louisiana-brewed Abita on draft and a boozy Hurricane that wouldn’t be out of place in the French Quarter. 11 E. Main St., 317-834-3900, zydecos.net
A stop in Mooresville would not be complete without a trip through the line at Gray Brothers Cafeteria for some legendary home cookin’. Just want pie? We won’t judge. Skip the long lines (especially after church on Sundays) and grab a piece to go from the separate carryout entrance. A slice of strawberry topped with a mound of whipped cream won’t let you down. 555 S. Indiana St., 317-831-7234, graybroscafe.com
In Pioneer Park, the new Homeland Security Department–inspected Soaring Eagle Zip Line gives riders two thrills for the low $5 cost of one. Load at the bottom, solo or tandem, and slide up the 600-foot cable to the top, 90 feet high. Then zoom back down. In other words: hooray, zero stairs to climb! Open weekends until May 23 and then daily. 1101 N. Indianapolis Rd., 317-831-7149, mooresvillepark.com
Take It Home:
Handmade apron, $19.99 at Mooresville Open Market Antiques
Vintage racecar, $25 at Cash Exchange
Button rings, from $5 at Yellow Moon Antique Mall
This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.