Julia Joins In
One of the things that makes Indianapolis such a great city is that in the span of minutes you can escape the urban jungle for some scenic greenery. The weather is finally getting better—goodbye rain-filled spring!—and summertime Indianapolis is ready to shine. This week I wanted to venture out to some unique parks in Indianapolis that offer more than just a green patch of grass and a couple benches. I picked a couple that looked interesting, tied my shoes, and ventured out to experience what sets these parks apart.
With all of the social distancing and closures happening right now, getting outside and exploring the city has been one of my favorite ways to unwind. Parks are one of the places you can still visit while easily maintaining a safe distance from others and enjoying the views. Indianapolis has been the perfect place for me to get my nature fix.
Indy Parks and Recreation has a directory of all the Indy parks you can explore. Unfortunately, I did not have the stamina to hit all 211, so be sure to check out their website to discover more: https://www.indy.gov/agency/department-of-parks-and-recreation
Eagle Creek Park
This. Park. Is. Huge! I was almost immediately lost in the maze of trailheads and patches of trees. No complaints, though, because I could adventure in this place for hours (days?) and never get bored. Every turn I took led me to a different amenity or activity. We’re talking a golf course, an ornithology center, picnic areas, and ropes courses. There were also lots of people in the park getting their workouts either on foot or by bike. Eagle Creek would definitely be ideal for a beautiful run when you’re getting sick of the treadmill or your neighborhood sidewalk. The path I picked took me hiking through the forest until I reached a loop around the picturesque 1,400-acre lake. I couldn’t believe there was such a truly expansive natural landscape I found just minutes from the urban downtown. The terrain was level enough to keep my footing easily but also rough enough to feel like I was really on a legit hike.
Something I didn’t get to try out but definitely penciled into my schedule was all of the water activities they offer. Eagle Creek lets you rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, pedal boats, and even 6-seater pontoons to take out on the lake. They offer lots of deals and specials throughout the summer, making it a great weekend adventure. And the lake is huge, so there are plenty of places to just float and enjoy the view! (Yes, I do have plans to be on a kayak in the sun all weekend now. Please don’t judge me!)
This park makes you feel like you’ve been transported from the northside of Indianapolis to ancient ruins in Rome. At first glance, the park seems like a standard green area with walkways winding through it, buta second look reveals what makes this park so unique. Once you enter the premises, you walk down a long walkway lined with pillars and trees. At the end of the path is a massive structure, called the “Ruins.” The assemblage of fountains, pillars, and statues is striking and totally out of place in the middle of an Indianapolis park. That’s part of what makes it so distinctive with its towering pillars and crumbling bricks.
On one side of the ruins, there are three statues of men titled Races of Man. These sculptures made of Indiana limestone were designed in the 1890s, where they previously adorned a Manhattan skyscraper. The three men are supposed to represent the Black, Asian, and Caucasian races laboring together to hold up the building. In the 1950s, the skyscraper was remodeled, and cities competed to receive the sculptures for their own use. Indianapolis for the win!
The Ruins serve as a central connector to the many other features of Holliday Park. There is a huge green area behind the ruins that’s lined with lounge chairs and walkways. If you take the walkways far enough, you’ll find a wooden ravine with springs, wetlands, and a pond. You can even reach the White River and walk the stretch of the beach. And in the other direction, the path leads to their Nature Center and playground. This park really has a little bit of everything, and I enjoyed how easy it was to explore all of its different elements.
100 Acres Park
For my fellow art lovers out there, this museum park is the perfect balance of nature and art. The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres is part of the Newfields campus which is also home to the IMA, one of Indy’s best museums. The park commissions temporary, site-responsive artworks and engages the public in discussions about the pieces.
All of the different art pieces surround a 35-acre lake and wetlands. There is a beautiful tree swing near the entrance where you can sit and admire the view around you. They also recently installed a nesting platform and bird feeding stations for all of the wildlife that this spot attracts. They even live stream the bird feeder camera!
One of my favorite pieces is the famous Funky Bones sculpture that is nationally recognizable from Indy native John Green’s novel and film, The Fault in our Stars. This work consists of twenty bone-shaped benches that together form a large human skeleton. It was popularized as a date location in the rom com. Ansel Elgort was unfortunately nowhere to be seen, but the piece was still cool and fun to explore.
I could try to explain all of the sculptures and exhibits, but my word jumble would absolutely not do any of it justice. I urge you all to visit this park if you want to admire some really cool exhibits while also still getting a nature stroll. It’s easy to get lost in a place like this surrounded by such fascinating art. I would absolutely return here for an aesthetically pleasing picnic or photo op!
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