Street Savvy: Canal Walk

Left unfinished in the 1880s, the waterway now hosts museums, music, a burger joint, and much more.


Todd Beattie of Downtown Boot Camp leads small groups through killer moves by the Canal’s north basin. Want a beach bod? Sign up for burpees on the pavement and backward crabwalks over the bridge. (That still sounds better than the Canal Death Run, an obstacle-style training program for downtown firefighters, who have to be ready to scale the
stairs in tall buildings.) 317-491-5831,


If coffee bars are turning into chemistry labs with their advanced brewing systems, Quills is the trend’s open classroom, and not just because it attracts the IUPUI crowd with private study rooms and lots of laptop outlets. Baristas in the large, industrial cafe happily explain tasting notes on the menu, how they make liquid smoke to garnish espresso, and each step of a V60 or Chemex pour method. The best part? Taste tests. 335 W. 9th St., 317-426-1431,


Gourmet burgers reach slightly embarrassing heights at Burgerhaus, a newish joint with waterfront seating. Unhinge your jaw to enjoy juicy patties topped with the traditional (bacon) and the exotic (grilled pineapple). 335 W. 9th St., 317-434-4287,


Easily overlooked but worth your time is the USS Indianapolis Memorial, a powerful tribute to those aboard the World War II vessel. The story of 1,196 men onboard floating five days in shark-infested waters, many eaten alive, sounds like a Hollywood plot. And it will be, starring Nicolas Cage, in 2016. East bank at St. Clair Street,


GAUNDALA_MAN“A lot of parents send their kids on a first date on the gondola, because they know it’s supervised, and there’s a driver.” –Jeff Hutson, owner of Old World Gondoliers


Relax while a gondolier rows you gently down the Canal, singing—in Italian—“O Sole Mio” and other classics. Imported from Venice to the tune of $150,000 each, the Old World Gondoliers boats seat six to eight and are piloted by pro singers. Ride two ways: public cruise ($25 for 30 minutes) or private excursion ($150 for 30 minutes), perhaps to propose under Walnut Street’s “kissing bridge.” Reservations recommended. 340 W. Michigan St., 317-340-2489,


You’d expect a lot of ice-cream vendors on the Canal, but save for a cart or two, there’s only Fresco, serving fruity, housemade Italian ice from the ground level of the Cosmopolitan. 301 W. Michigan St., 317-797-9185,


Indiana’s chapter of the Center for Inquiry—a national nonprofit that rejects religious dogma and pseudoscience—won a lawsuit against the state last year, earning “secular celebrants” the right to solemnize marriages. All are welcome at “Coffee and Conversation” on Sundays. 350 Canal Walk, 317-423-0710,


Music + summer evenings = yes, please. The Indiana History Center’s Concerts on the Canal are back (Thursday nights, 6–8 p.m.) through July. Pack a picnic and chill out for free on the grassy east bank, or buy seats—and, if you wish, grub or alcohol—on the Stardust Terrace. 450 W. Ohio St., 317-232-1882,


Eiteljorg MuseumProspect
Gold! Riches and Ruin runs through August 9 at the Eiteljorg. Learn how the gold rush impacted America, inspiring fortune-seekers to ditch—and risk—their lives to journey west. Check out antique mining tools and gold ingots rescued more than a century after the infamous 1857 shipwreck that triggered a U.S. economic collapse, when hoards of the precious element went overboard. 500 W. Washington St., 317-636-9378,


The 92 County Walk features sculptures representing each of Hoosierland’s diverse regions. Most stud the Indiana State Museum’s facade, though some well-hidden ones make for a fun hunt. (Pssst: Check the bridge over the Canal.) When you need air-conditioning, go inside to see the exhibit 19 Stars: Quilts of Indiana’s Past and Present, running June 13 through October 4. 650 W. Washington St., 317-232-1637,