The sun dimmed as my husband and I shuffled down the sidewalk toward Hinkle Fieldhouse, scarves muffling our voices as we converged on the arched barn. Through the double doors, we climbed up the ramp, wound around the College GameDay booth, and took our seats in the narrow bleachers. We have to do this, my husband had insisted. We have to see a basketball game—any game—here. We just happened to pluck from StubHub what ended up being the best matchup of last season: No. 13 Butler vs. No. 8 Gonzaga. At the end of two neck-and-neck halves, wing Roosevelt Jones stole an inbound ball and put up a floater with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. The buzzer-beater caused us, with no allegiance to either team, to jump up and down and scream in the stands.
It was a classic Indy moment. A dramatic, last-minute win on hallowed hoops ground. If you call this city home, it’s an experience you should have. Witnessing a game like that is the type of hallmark that’s long defined true Hoosierdom. Along with climbing the claustrophobic stairs to the top of the Monument, seeing things you can’t unsee in the 500’s raucous Snakepit, crying from the horseradish in the shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo, check, check, check.
But there are new traditions and rites of passage taking root here, too, from reading (and spotting the local landmarks in) John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars to hovering in the helium-filled balloon over Conner Prairie. So we created a fresh set of iconic local experiences—“The New Indy Must-Do List,” as we’ve dubbed it—for you to explore in this issue.
At the end of last summer, I attended my inaugural First Friday at Fountain Square’s Murphy Arts Center, which we teach you how to master in this issue as well. And by “attended,” I mean blindly wandered up and down stairs in a veritable funhouse of art galleries and studios. Never knowing exactly where we were going was half the fun. Seeing the diversity of the crowd, though, was just as inspiring—babyfaces and Baby Boomers, white guys in crisp plaid shirts, black women in too-cool eyewear. It reminded me that the monthly tour has become a city event that transcends age and ethnicity and social class. That sounds like a must-do to me.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.
This article appeared in the February 2014 issue.