It's hip to browse Indy's scenic, eclectic Broad Ripple section

It's hip to browse Indy's scenic, eclectic Broad Ripple section

Chris Moyer is a Riptilian – a Broad Riptilian.

That's a self-reference to his status as a resident and business owner in the artsy, hip section of Indianapolis known as Broad Ripple. This midtown part of the Indiana capital is where to head for tons of funky and fabulous restaurants, art galleries, nightclubs, clothing stores and more.

"Broad Ripple is a very charming and artsy part of Indianapolis," says Moyer, a former Champaign resident who sells Segway Personal Transporters as the owner of Segway of Indiana. "It's a very eclectic environment."

Broad Ripple is about 7 miles north of downtown Indianapolis, with College Avenue forming the district's north-south spine. The Broad Ripple area officially starts at 61st Street and continues north to where College Avenue crosses the White River, beyond 67th Street.

"It's a very neat, kitschy area," says Kimberly Harms, associate director of media relations for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association. "You have all these retro shops with funky clothing, neat bistros and restaurants."

And at night, it's also the premier party area in Indianapolis, at least for those in the 18-to-35 age group. Part of that is due to the proximity to Butler University and part of it is the hip atmosphere fostered by all the bars and restaurants.

"It has two completely different sides. It's young and hip and vibrant at night and more laid-back and hippie-ish during the day," Harms says.

Many of the restaurants along the Central Canal and the White River offer outdoor seating. Moyer is in Broad Ripple's Canal District. Nearby and running north to south through the heart of Broad Ripple is the Monon Rail Trail, usually just shortened to the Monon Trail. The old rail line has been turned into a popular 7.6-mile walking and biking path, a portion of which goes along the White River, another watery feature of Broad Ripple.

"It's a very busy trail. It's fun just to people-watch. You see all kinds," Moyer says.

Adds Harms: "A lot of the restaurants along the Monon Trail cater to those people who use the trail."

Broad Ripple is an old community and was a separate town until it was annexed in 1922 by Indianapolis. It was founded in 1837 on the south bank of the White River and was officially incorporated in 1884.

"There really isn't a comparable section of Indianapolis," Moyer says. "Broad Ripple has been here for a long, long time. You have all these big, mature trees and everything is within walking distance."

While the walking may be good, the parking is not. Finding a spot for your car can be difficult, especially as the night life heats up, according to Moyer.

"Parking is at a premium," he adds.

With all the shops and galleries, there's plenty to do for someone who wants to spend a weekend in Broad Ripple. The Indianapolis Art Center, founded in 1934 as a Works Administration Project, started in community buildings, and its first permanent facility went up in 1961. It moved to its current location in 1976. Today, it is the hub of the Broad Ripple arts scene with a popular annual art fair (the 38th annual took place last weekend).

"There's a lot of outdoor art – murals, Artspark at the Indianapolis Art Center. There are a lot of interesting little shops with an art orientation," Moyer says.

Officially known as ARTSPARK, the 12 acres that surround the Indianapolis Art Center received a makeover in 2005 with a design by well-known architect (and Hoosier native) Michael Graves. It combines about 30 playful, interactive sculptures created by internationally known artists in a natural setting.

With its growing popularity, Broad Ripple residents and business owners struggle at times with how to maintain the area's charm.

"There has been a bit of angst as old buildings are being torn down to make way for way for new ones," Moyer says. "It's such a wonderful part of the city, and everyone wants to maintain that charm."

Moyer attributes much of Broad Ripple's appeal to other Riptilians.

"People are very friendly here," he says. "I like their demographics. There are a lot of young people here, and they are really comfortable in their own skin."

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