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The Lowdown on Hosting Citywide Events

Author: Sarah Beauchamp       

From a growing, vibrant culinary scene to a wide range of unique indoor and outdoor event spaces, many within walking distance, Indianapolis makes an ideal destination for a citywide. Here’s how to take advantage of all this surprising city has to offer.

HOTELS
With consistently high occupancy rates in its 32,000 area rooms (7,100 downtown), Indy has more than 20 hotel projects at some stage in the pipeline, representing more than 1,000 additional hotel rooms downtown. Two tips to make the best choices for your event:

Book early. Visit Indy is already working with groups looking as far out as 2031. “Consider being flexible in your pattern when it comes to rates, dates, or space,” said Susie Townsend, senior vice president of visitor experience at Visit Indy.

Leverage the DMO’s expertise. Work with Visit Indy to find the hotels that work best for your group. There are 12 hotels connected to the Indiana Convention Center by enclosed skywalks, and properties within walking distance, like the Hilton Indianapolis (with 28,000 square feet of flexible space), and the upscale, boutique Le Méridien Indianapolis (2,622 square feet of event space). When you work with the DMO and their hotel partners, you can achieve consistency in terms of types of properties, cutoff dates, amenities, and terms.

UNIQUE OFF-SITE VENUES
Consider venues within walking distance to reduce transportation costs. “Indy has many options when it comes to unique off-site venues, all within a short distance of meeting and convention space,” Townsend said. Some spaces to consider taking over:

Indy’s stadiums. Bankers Life Fieldhouse offers meeting rooms and pavilions accommodating thousands of people, and Lucas Oil Stadium offers seating for more than 67,000.

The city’s famed boardwalks. Take conference-goers to Georgia Street, where they can sample local fare at food trucks, catch an outdoor concert, or cruise the streets in a real IndyCar. The three-block tree-lined street connects the Indiana Convention Center, Pan Am Plaza, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Indy’s urban parks. There’s a wide range of indoor and outdoor venues, like White River State Park’s three museums, amphitheater, and the Indianapolis Zoo, recent host of the Association for Zoos and Aquariums’ Annual Conference.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE
There’s good reason why Condé Nast Traveler named Indy the “most underrated food city in the United States.” Notable chefs here are creating innovative menus, like Milktooth’s Jonathan Brooks. “The more that happens [in Indy], the better the food is,” he told Traveler. Don’t miss:

Indy’s vibrant food truck scene. The National Safety Council brought 14,000 safety, health, and environmental professionals to Indy in September and they hit the food trucks, including Spice Box, NY Slice Truck, and R & R Extreme Wings.

Yoga on Monument Circle or in White River State Park. If they want to explore the outdoors, groups can hold morning runs around the Central Canal or group biking tours on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Next summer, Team Beachbody will hold a Super Workout for thousands on the campus of a local university during its Coach Summit.

Indy 500 drivers often make appearances for groups, like when Indy hosted the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

By relying on the experts at Visit Indy, you can save time and energy when it comes to parking, permitting, street closures, signage, and other logistics. City ambassadors can also be on site to answer delegates’ questions, make reservations, and ensure a welcoming and memorable stay.

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