There’s something about running along the Canal that makes me want to give everyone I see a big thumbs-up. The tourists taking photos in front of the State Museum’s mammoth statues with honest-to-goodness Nikons (not iPhones). The families pedaling along the narrow channel in rentable boats that look like floating golf carts. My fellow runners and cyclists zooming along the sidewalks, their neon shoes glowing in the early evening light. But especially the local firefighters, in their navy tees and crewcuts, whom I spotted earlier this spring on their hands and knees, fishing a skateboard out of the water for a young girl in skinny jeans. Big thumbs-up, guys.
What can I say? The Pleasantville that emerges down there when the weather complies fills me with benevolence. Which is why I’m a little ashamed to admit that until this March, I rarely went down to the Canal, though I live just a couple of miles away. Only when friends and family came in from out of town would I make sure to usher them down for a quick stroll. I wanted to show them one of the most picturesque views of Indy—the best, according to Visit Indy, which tested a bevy of Indianapolis photos with potential visitors.
But as soon as winter thawed, I started using the Canal’s walkways after work to train for my first Mini-Marathon, and I was instantly charmed. Wider paths than the Monon, more varied topography, the feeling that I was not just traversing the city—I was absorbing it. This month, writer Lindsay Lyon explores the Canal for Street Savvy, sharing inside tips on well-known attractions like the Old World Gondoliers and heralding new gems like Quills coffee.
Now that I more fully appreciate one of the city’s best assets, I find myself joining the chorus of those who say it’s criminally underused. Luckily, new attractions and programming are coming, including the Eiteljorg’s soon-to-open shaded garden. In the meantime, I’ll be kicking off my running shoes, lingering over a Quills pour-over, and sunning myself with the ducks as they burrow their heads into their shoulders for an afternoon nap.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.