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Exploring Mile Square: A Day Out in Downtown Indianapolis

Right in the heart of downtown Indianapolis you’ll find Mile Square. This is where the city began. Back in 1821, surveyor Alexander Ralston was chosen to devise a layout for the capital city in a four square mile area of forest.

He didn’t even think the city would grow any larger than that scale, so he planned out one square mile – bounded by streets on the East, West, North and South. This square is bisected by the diagonal streets of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Virginia and Indiana – connecting the corners together.

Now of course, Indianapolis did grow larger than Ralston anticipated. Much larger, in fact. Today it encompasses more than 370 square miles. However, the original “mile square” still remains the cultural, economic, political and physical center of the city.

What is there to see within this historic point of origin? Here are some of the top attractions in Mile Square:

Monument Circle

Named one of America’s “Great Public Spaces,” Monument Circle is a popular gathering point. It’s often filled with life during the lunch hour and regular events and performances are held here all year round.

At this location you’ll find many important historic and commemorative monuments. For example, there’s a Soldiers and Sailors Monument which was dedicated in 1902. It was the first memorial in the USA honoring the common solider.

Important annual events in Monument Circle include the annual Circle of Lights celebration where 4,700 lights are strung up to the top of the monument. Plus, there’s the 500 Festival Parade which takes place before the Indianapolis 500 auto race over Memorial Day weekend.

Indianapolis City Market

The Indianapolis City Market is the place to go if you want to sample local artisanal treats, pick up a unique gift or hang out and enjoy an alfresco lunch.

It’s packed with great local vendors and food stalls, including Las Tapatias Mexican Grill, Completely Nuts & Candy Co., Spice Box and the Amazing Potato Chip Company. This makes shopping here a great way to support small local businesses in Indiana.

If you work up a thirst from all that shopping, you can visit the Tomlinson Tap Room and choose from 19 rotating taps of locally brewed Indiana craft beer. If the weather is nice, take your pint outside in a plastic to-go cup and enjoy the City Market plaza.

Circle Centre Mall

If you’re in the mood for a shopping spree during your visit to Indianapolis, Circle Centre Mall is the place to go. It’s packed with your fav brands, including Banana Republic, Forever 21, H&M, Eddie Bauer and more. With 99 stores to choose from on four levels – there’s more than enough shops to choose from.

Plus, if you’re hungry there are 21 full-service restaurants including Yard House, Burger Study, Nada and Harry & Izzy’s. You can also go bowling at Punch Bowl Social, check out the latest blockbuster at the Regal Cinema or visit the Rhythm! Discover Center.

Indiana War Memorial

Another one of the major attractions within Mile Square in downtown Indianapolis is the Indiana War Memorial. It contains a 30,000 square foot museum complete with military equipment and artifacts, four fountains, three parks and 25 acres of monuments. It was constructed in 1924 to honor the veterans of WWI.

There is nowhere else in the country with more acreage dedicated to honoring veterans. The design of the monument is inspired by Neoclassical architecture from Greece in the 5th century.

You can also visit the Indiana World War Memorial Military Museum, which honors soldiers from the American Revolutionary War all the way to modern conflicts. History buffs will love the complete replica of the USS Indianapolis, with authentic original equipment from World War II. 

Old National Centre

Once called the Murat Shrine Temple, the Old National Centre is owned by the Murat Shriners of the ancient arabic order and is the oldest existing stage house located in downtown Indianapolis.

The theater was built in 1910 and over the years it has featured Broadway plays and even a 1932 speech by Winston Churchill. This downtown Indianapolis venue hosts nearly 300 public and private events throughout the year.

From the beautiful polished appearance of the dramatic Grand Lobby to the unique architecture of the Egyptian Room, the Old National Centre is an exclusive venue like none other.

Explore Mile Square on your visit to Indianapolis

When you stay in one of the centrally located vacation rentals Indianapolis has to offer, you’ll be close to all the great attractions within Mile Square. Enjoy this historic center of the city – the true heart of Indianapolis. 

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