Canal Walk & White River State Park

Check out White River and The Canal Walk, just one of six districts in the Indy area.

It’s all about variety

In this city full of wonder, art, and sports lies a cultural district unlike all of the rest. The White River State Park and Canal Walk, located just west of downtown Indianapolis, is full of fun for everyone. The Canal Walk is a three-mile walkway loop that runs along the canal, which dates from the 19th century, and stretches from the White River State Park north to 11th Street.

It’s a great place to go on a sunny day. The Canal is a popular place to walk, jog, or ride bikes—one-, two-, and four-seaters are available for rent if you don’t have your own bike handy—at the water’s edge. You’ll find people of all ages traversing the water in rented paddleboats, and there are even gondolas with serenading gondoliers who evoke the spirit of Italy.

The Indiana State Museum, which includes an IMAX theatre, is known for hosting such special shows as the recent Titanic exhibition and is a great place to visit for an understanding of Hoosier history.

Embedded art

Works of art dot the entire Canal Walk, but the Museum displays its art in a unique fashion. Embedded in the building’s exterior walls, both high and low, is artwork representing each of Indiana’s 92 counties.

“I found it fun to search for my county, along with seeing the representations of the other counties in Indiana,” Elkhart’s Erin Cooper, a senior biology major, says.

The Indiana Historical Society also has its home on the Canal. In addition to its exhibitions and displays, it houses the Stardust Terrace Café, named for the classic “Stardust”—one of the most-recorded songs of the 20th century—by famed Indiana composer Hoagy Carmichael.

You can eat inside “under the stars” (its ceiling glistens) or outside on the Stardust Terrace overlooking the Canal Walk.

The nearby Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art is the only one of its kind in the Midwest. Architecturally compelling, the museum features one of the best Native American and Western art collections in the world.

The place is a zoo

The White Rive State Park also is home to the Indianapolis Zoo. The Zoo features the largest shark touch pool in the country, a new tiger forest, and the world’s only underwater dolphin-viewing area. Next door, you can stroll the flowered pathways of the 3.3-acre White River Gardens and learn about the beauty and bounty of the natural world.The national headquarters of the NCAA is found in White River State Park, too, and Indy plays host to an amazing number of collegiate athletic events, including men’s and women’s basketball Final Fours. The big games include opportunities for lots of related events, too. White River State Park featured a free Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry concert, for example, as part of the 2010 festivities.

The Lawn at White River State Park is a great place for concerts, which run all summer. And just across the street from the Lawn is award-winning Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians baseball team.

—Staci Reafsnyder ’11