If all you know about Indiana’s third-largest city is that Madonna slept there while filming A League of Their Own, it’s time to get reacquainted. Some prominent Indianapolis artists already have, helping to revitalize Evansville’s historic neighborhoods.
In August, painter Artur Silva finished his last work in Indiana—a bright mural in the Jacobsville neighborhood—before moving to L.A., while architect Wil Marquez has been involved in an effort to return the riverfront Haynie’s Corner Arts District to its former glory. Must-stops in the latter area include Penny Lane Coffeehouse (600 S.E. 2nd St., 812-421-8741), recognized by USA Today and Rand McNally, and the sleek Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science (411 S.E. Riverside Dr., 812-425-2406), which made national news in 2012 when staff discovered an original Picasso that had been mislabeled and stored unnoticed for nearly 50 years. The museum is still trying to sell the work but has moved ahead with major improvements in the meantime; visitors now watch planetarium shows in the flashy, igloo-like Koch Immersive Theater.
The walkable Riverside Historic District is adjacent to the Arts District; its crown jewel is the 1871 Reitz Home Museum (224 S.E. 1st St., 812-426-1871). The former nest of a German lumber baron reinforces the decorating mantra that more is more with a gold entrance hall and a different parquet floor in each room. The action, though, is across town along the Franklin Street corridor, home to Tin Man Brewing Company (1430 W. Franklin St., 812-618-3227) and an annual Mardi Gras party (February 13–14) that is expected to draw a crowd of 5,000 this year.
Drive Time: 3 hours
Stay: Owned by Vegas’s Tropicana and perched across the street from the casino, Le Merigot (from $149/night; 615 N.W. Riverside Dr., 888-633-1770) is Evansville’s first (and only) boutique hotel.
Eat: The Arabian salad, steaks, and Lebanese specialties are required eating at the quirky House of Como, strewn with Christmas lights and Santas year-round (2700 S. Kentucky Ave., 812-422-0572).