Review: Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis

This is part of a series of reviews from my time in Indianapolis this past weekend.  There’s nothing so fun as a quirky, hipster, neo-boho shopping district in a big city.  Nashville has its Hillsboro Village, but in Indy, why keep the joy to just a couple of blocks?  Massachusetts Avenue stretches, at 45 degrees, across 7 intersections – fully walkable and chock-full of great shops!

Here are the specs:

Massachusetts Avenue
Entrance to the South begins at the corner of Delaware St and New York St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317.637.8996 ext.202 – Riley Area Development Corp.
Facebook

There are too many shops to see in one visit or to write about in a blog (I count 71 listed on the map), so I’m going to only put up the places I visited with a short description. First up!:

Stouts Footwear
318 Mass Ave – 317.632.7818
Oldest, coolest shoe store in the nation, holding fast to personal service, quality shoes, and tradition.

This place is pretty fab.  It’s basically the first shop you encounter if you choose the Japanese route of going up the left side of the street first.  We only went inside because of the cool sign out front telling us that it is, in fact, the oldest shoe store in the nation.  You can see why when you go in.  The shoes they sell are great quality, and they built their reputation on custom fitting shoes from the manufacturer for their customers.  But this isn’t the only cool thing about the place.  First, there’s a parrot who is semi-friendly.  It let me pet it until it apparently had had enough and didn’t want any more.  Second, there is a pulley and basket contraption that spreads from a crows nest in the center of the shop to various spots in the rest of the store.  The floor staff puts the shoes in the basket, pull a cord, the basket lifts up to the top, they pull the cord again, and the basket flies off to the crows nest.  There, another attendant carefully removes the shoes from their box, checks everything out and, I only assume, wraps it up to send it back down, the same way, to the cashier.

At Home in the City/Silver in the City
434 Mass Ave – 317.955.9925 – Website | Facebook
Jewelry, gifts and home decor. Voted Indy’s Best 2006-2008.

I went to Silver in the City/At Home in the City some years ago when they still had a store in Lafayette, IN. This place is a great combo of jewelry, Eco-friendly home furnishings, and the ridiculous novelty items. They carry one of my favorite silly/awesome brands, KnockKnock. They also have Jesus Bandaids, which feel like they work faster than other brands. There’s just a plethora of items; I highly recommend a stop through bc its next to impossible to really describe all of it. BTW, this is their only store now. I’m not really sure how Lafayette is surviving without them.

Global Gifts (Fair Trade Shop)
446 Mass Ave – 317.423.3148 – Website | Facebook | Twitter
Fair Trade store providing hope and opportunity for artisans from 35 countries.

This shop is excellent. Tons of artsy and unique home furnishings and they are, wait for it…fair trade! I was told that a lot of the work comes from rescued victims of human trafficking. They have all sorts of goodies – home decor, fashion, chocolate, etc. Everything is priced very reasonably, so be sure to stop in.

Best Chocolate in Town
880 Mass Ave – 317.636.2800 – Website | Facebook | Twitter
Hand-made chocolates, specializing in truffles and locally made gelato.

Ok, so I definitely pulled an Elf with this one. We walked in and all I wanted to do was say, Congratulations! Indy’s best chocolate! But then I saw them. Sitting there, in perfect little rows, hundreds of them. Truffles. Gobs of them. And the Cinnamon ones were calling my name. After having a great discussion on the health benefits of cinnamon with the two staff members, I went ahead and bought one. It was $2+ for one, but it was so worth it. It took 4 bites to finish, partly because I was trying to savor the amazingness of it. It’s a definite top on my list.

Aesop’s Tables
600 Mass Ave – 317.631.0055 – Website
Mediterranean restaurant. Fifteen years on the avenue.

We had just been saying how we wanted to find a good Mediterranean restaurant for dinner and our answer was Aesop’s Tables. Unfortunately, by the time we got back to the restaurant, we weren’t all that hungry. We stuck with some appetizers, and sorry, I didn’t catch any pics of the food. The service was lacking though. The place wasn’t packed, so I’m unsure what his issue was. The food was pretty good, but not the best I’ve had. I would recommend it though if you’re in the area. There are other restaurants too, though, so be sure to check the map (view online or get one from any of the Mass Ave stores).

Market

We also managed to get there while an Artist/Food Market was going on. Lots of different items: bath products, hair and fashion accessories, organic teas, jewelry, and, my personal fave, worm poop. Check out on the website for any other cool events that might be happening.

Here’s the breakdown:

The Street:  Very fun. Lots to check out. The website lists a lot of the events going on.  There are also some comedy clubs and such there, and restaurants have offer live music too.
For kids: There’s a toy store.  Enough said.
For pets: There are some doggie/pet specific shops on the street as well.  If you are curious, go to the website and check out all the shops on the list. You’ll be amazed at what they’ve come up with.
The cost:  Moderate to high-priced.  If you’re going to shop, you’ll spend a good amount.  Window shopping is fun too though.
The food: Tons of restaurants there, running the gamut of styles and tastes.
The help:  Most of the places we stopped into, the staff was helpful and accommodating.  They would usually tell us of another shop up the street where we could find such and such and was run by a friend of theirs.  They really put a lot into the community-feel of the place.
The parking: There is parking along the street and on adjoining streets.  If you’re like me and enjoy walking, you can park somewhere downtown and walk all the way there.  Just a few blocks away and it’s all flat.
The accommodations: There’s a B&B right on the street!  I so want to stay there some time.  Like most B&B’s expect to pay more than you would for a hotel, but it looks totally worth it.
Returnability:  This is definitely on my Favorite Places list (which I guess I should post at some point on here) and whenever I’m in Indy, or even passing through, I know I will try to get in there for a quick walk and peruse.

I’ll try to get some more pics up, but I just don’t have them right now.  Enjoy the review anyway!

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