Street Savvy: Fort Ben
An old Army base becomes a thriving city center right outside Lawrence’s Fort Harrison State Park.
Indiana State Parks will turn the big 1-0-0 this year, and as part of the centennial celebration, they are bringing back the Arts in the Parks program, which mashes up nature and culture. At Fort Harrison State Park (1), join Liza Hyatt on July 9 for a writing hike that combines prose and adventure. The Indianapolis Symphonic Band performs on July 30. 6000 N. Post Rd., 591-0904, facebook.com/fortharrison
The Fort Golf Course (2), created by Carmel’s Pete Dye, an international star of golf-course design, challenges semipros and duffers alike with rolling hills and deep ravines that you won’t find at any other Central Indiana course. The pro shop is also the top club-fitter in Indiana. 6002 N. Post Rd., 543-9597, thefortgolfcourse.com
One of the most unique places to call home in Indianapolis, Lawton Loop (3) circles the old parade field, which hosted military drills for decades. The grassy expanse—for resident use only—is ringed by 400 mature maple trees, officer quarters converted into gorgeous three-story brick homes, and troop barracks that now serve as urban apartments within walking distance of the Fort’s businesses. Houses with upgraded kitchens and new garages list for $400,000 to $500,000. If those aren’t enough selling points, Fort Harrison State Park is literally in the backyard.
Porter Books and Bread (4) features three of our favorite things—the third being coffee. Husband-wife duo Will and Marcy Worley opened their two-story cafe and used-book store in September. Step down the spiral staircase, grab a paperback off a cinderblock shelf, and settle down with one of the author-themed sandwiches on fresh focaccia. You’ll need some napkins if you get the Twain, a grilled cheese that uses a family recipe for pimento cheese. 5719 Lawton Loop East Dr., 388-5046, porterbread.com
Nestled among the trees and birdsongs, Fort Harrison State Park Inn (5) resides in a stately Colonial that used to function as an Army hospital. The hallways are filled with old relics like a vintage typewriter, 1960s Life magazines, and a portrait of George Washington, and spacious rooms feature gilded mirrors, old-school tile bathroom floors, and fancy wood trim. 5830 N. Post Rd., 638-6000, in.gov/dnr/parklake/inns/ftharrison
The Railsplitter at Triton Brewing Company (6) is the top-selling IPA in Indiana, but it’s not because there’s something in the water. Owner David Waldman swears by his reverse osmosis system for purity—the Greek god Triton was also called the bringer of good water. The taproom in a converted mule barn offers more than 20 drafts—plus a killer housemade root beer, and yoga classes and free tours on Saturdays. 5764 Wheeler Rd., 735-2706, tritonbrewing.com
Built for servicemen in 1929, the small but mighty Theater at the Fort (7), which seats a little more than 200, showed scores of plays before it closed in 1980. Partnerships for Lawrence recently raised the curtain once again with performances of Charlotte’s Web. 8920 Otis Ave., 875-1900, partnershipsforlawrence.org
Big with the lunchtime crowd, sports bar Fort Ben Pub (8) also packs them in for Bar Bingo, a group version in which everyone gets a card and the first team to score two bingos wins. 5645 N. Post Rd., 547-6701, fortbenpub.com
Fuel up for the park’s trails at Cafe Audrey (9), set in a former blacksmith shop. The all-day breakfast menu includes bottomless local coffee, from-scratch specialty pancakes, omelets, pastries, and a signature veggie slaw. 9134 Otis Ave., 546-6000, cafeaudreyatthefort.com
The third location of Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza (10) offers the same hangover options (like omelets on a crust) and other pies you know and love (Slaughterhouse Five, a quintet of meats; The Bollywood, with masala sauce, chicken, goat cheese, and toasted coconut), served up here in a jazzy environment with an outdoor patio. 9165 Otis Ave., 986-4545, jockamopizza.com