Budget Travel by BILL MALCOLM
Close to home, we have Nashville, Ind., arguably the cutest town in the Hoosier state.
Just an hour or so from Indy, the shops, art galleries and restaurants make for a fun day. Nearby Brown County State Park is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, or enjoying the Inn for a stay in the lodge or their cabins.
Get information on Nashville and Brown County at www.browncounty.com.
Thirty minutes to the east is Bloomington, the home of Indiana University. On the way home, visit the Oliver Winery for wine tasting or lunch.
Just six hours to the south (MegaBus fares from $6) is the Music City, Nashville, Tenn.
It reminded me of Austin – music everywhere, and interesting architecture, too.
Don’t miss the Interstate Park, just west of the State Capitol. It includes a farmers market and lots of food-truck style restaurants with every possible cuisine.
The free bus downtown is perfect for touring the sites, although you can walk everywhere. The pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River is a must. Bring a bike helmet and use the shared bike program to explore the city. See nashville.bcycle.com or www.nashvillebikeshare.org.
Broadway Street has all the music and action with lots of bars and restaurants. It is wild on a Saturday night. Other bars, including the Pulse, are in midtown on Church Street.
I liked the Omni Hotel – a newer property with an outdoor pool and bar and a large gym.
Take the No. 18 express bus from the airport for just $1.70.
Nashville is perfect for a long weekend – especially with the cooler fall temperatures. Get info at www.visitmusiccity.com.
Madison is a Midwest gem
Madison, Wis., is perfect for a fall weekend: Catch a UW Badger football game. Pick up some cheese at Fromagination on Capitol Square, home of the infamous Saturday Farmers Market. Walk along Lake Mendota and stop by the UW Memorial Union Terrace for a micro-brew and bratwurst. It’s the only student union in the country that serves beer (and Wisconsinites drink a lot of it).
Bring your bike helmet and enjoy the shared bike program and ride along Lakes Mendota, Monona, and Wingra. Stay at the newly remodeled Edgewater Hotel, which has rooms overlooking Lake Mendota. Enjoy the isthmus – the one-mile stretch of land between Lakes Mendota and Monona.
Chicago’s Field Museum a must
You can’t beat Chicago for a long weekend.
I always stay at the Days Inn at Broadway and Clark (on Diversey). It’s near the Diversey Brown line station or you can take the bus from Union Station if you arrive by train. It’s a short walk to the Halstead and there are lots of nearby shops and restaurants. Go easy on the deep dish pizza, carmel corn and hot dogs if you are watching your waistline – you’re not in California.
Don’t miss the great museums. The Field Museum (www.fieldmuseum.org) was fun, interesting and very interactive. You can walk there from the Red Line Roosevelt Station.
The Frontrunners meet Tuesdays and 6:30 p.m. for a run and walk (meet at the Totem Pole off Addison along the Lake) as well as Saturdays at 9 a.m. They walk along the lakefront path, which is also great for a bike ride north or south. I rode from near Soldier Field to Diversey past Oak Beach, with a beautiful view of the great architecture of the city.
IND an award winner
While I like taking the train and bus, you can’t beat the Indianapolis International airport. It continues to win awards and is arguably one of the most user-friendly airports in the country.
I’ve had good luck on both United and Delta Airlines lately. Both offer legacy carrier service to their hubs so you won’t always be on regional jets.
However, I was on a United Airlines regional jet recently that was brand new (operated by Indy’s own Republic Airlines) and quite spacious. It’s just the older, smaller ones that are a bit less comfortable. Southwest has no “regional partners” – you are always on Southwest and I like that you can change your ticket for free.
Alaska Airlines coming to Indy!
My favorite airline, Alaska, is offering starting a non-stop to my favorite U.S. city, Seattle, starting May of 2017. It’s hard to go west from Indy to the Northwest. And unlike the United non-stop to San Francisco, there are no taxpayer subsidies for this new flight. Alaska is the last of the regional carriers.
Bill Malcolm writes the Round the Ripple column for The Broad Ripple Gazette and All Aboard Indiana, the official newsletter of the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance. He also works for a non-profit from his home in Broad Ripple.