David manages marketing and communications for The Parks Alliance of Indianapolis, a local non-profit that supports Indianapolis’ parks, trails, and public spaces. He is an Evansville native, a graduate of Franklin College, a lover of the great outdoors, and an advocate for all things Indy. You’ll likely see David running, biking, eating, and drinking his way through Indy with his wife, Ashley, and their pup, Dyno.
The Garfield Park neighborhood is an oasis in the heart of Indianapolis.
The Garfield Park neighborhood is truly an oasis, in both the literal and figurative sense of the word. Just south of downtown Indianapolis, the neighborhood is named for the historic, lush park that sits at the center of its tree-lined streets. This community welcomes all, serving as a refuge from the stress of city living. It’s an escape from the weight of the day—a place to play, and a place to breathe.
My first experience in the Garfield Park neighborhood was back in 2014, when I was living downtown. I hopped on my bike with no destination in mind, got on the Cultural Trail, and started riding. I took the Cultural Trail through Fountain Square, turned right on Pleasant Run Trail, and found myself in the beautiful Garfield Park neighborhood. It felt like I had stepped into Narnia. I saw an amphitheater, some sort of giant greenhouse, a picturesque garden with fountains, and so many people! Tons of people were having picnics, reading books, hosting birthday parties, playing music, and making the park their own. I fell in love.
Now, I live here—with my wonderful wife, Ashley; our pleasantly plump cat, Bear; and our German Shepherd pup, Dyno! We all feel lucky to call Garfield Park home because this neighborhood truly feels like a neighborhood. I know that sounds redundant, but let me explain.
Garfield Park is the image you paint in your head of the perfect neighborhood. Think Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood! Everywhere, neighbors are chatting, taking dogs on walks, pushing strollers, mowing yards, and just being neighborly. Garfield Park is a place that embraces you and makes you feel at home.
Garfield Park is our neighborhood’s giant green gem.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with our neighborhood’s namesake: Garfield Park. Over the last decade, I’ve heard Garfield Park almost exclusively referred to as a “hidden gem.” And it’s definitely a gem. In fact, it’s more than a gem! It’s a giant, green, community-owned diamond with magical properties!
But hidden? I have trouble with this one. I mean, Garfield Park is the oldest park in Indianapolis—and it’s huge. The formation of Garfield Park started before Indianapolis was officially established, and we built a community around this 128-acre greenspace.
However, I understand why it still has a reputation as a “hidden gem.” Like I said, I stumbled on Garfield Park during a casual bike ride. I knew it existed, but I didn’t realize it had so much to offer. Garfield Park is way more than greenspace, and you can always pull back the layers and discover something new.
Garfield Park is full of amenities like an outdoor pool, picnic shelters, baseball fields, tennis courts, walking trails, playgrounds, basketball courts, a gym, and the perfect sledding hill. It’s also home to the beautiful Conservatory and Sunken Gardens, the MacAllister Amphitheater, the Burrello Family Center, and the Garfield Park Arts Center. Whether you’re single, starting a family, or sending your kids off to college, the park has something for everyone.
Catch a live performance at the MacAllister Amphitheater.
The MacAllister Amphitheater—or The Mac, as many call it—is one of the many places where Indy comes to life. Live music is one of my favorite things this world has to offer, and the MacAllister Amphitheater hosts incredible concerts throughout the summer and fall. Local, national, and international talent take the stage thanks to Indy Parks, MOKB, and other local organizers.
Each summer, Indy Parks and Recreation puts together about 70 free concerts, including many at The Mac. This summer, the amphitheater hosted a free concert every Wednesday and Thursday evening. For most shows, we would bring a blanket, leash up the pup, pack some snacks, and grab a beer from the Garfield Brewery tent. These performances make for an easy and heart-lifting night out in the neighborhood.
MOKB Presents brings incredible national and international artists to the MacAllister Amphitheater. I’ve attended quite a few concerts and festivals hosted by MOKB in the park, and none have failed to impress. We’ve had the John Butler Trio, Houndmouth, Mt. Joy, Citizen Cope, and Børns—just to name a few in recent history. These concerts aren’t free, but they’re worth every penny. I can’t wait to see who comes through next!
Garfield Park also creates the perfect environment for festivals of all types. We recently hosted the Garfield Park Arts and Music Fest, Asian Fest, Holler on the Hill, Recycle Fest, Irish Fest, Jazz Fest, and many more! You’ll have trouble choosing, so you might as well go to all of them.
In the early 1900s, there was a large lake in Garfield Park. The lake was dammed off in 1896 and served as a popular spot for ice skating, fishing, and boating.
Garfield Park used to have exhibition cages for bears! The old bear tunnels still exist in the Garfield Park Arts Center today.
Soak in the history at the Conservatory and Sunken Gardens.
The Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens are beautiful, full of life, and like nothing else in the city. The Sunken Gardens opened back in 1916 with pristine landscaping, colorful flower beds, and eye-catching fountains. You’ll find the same is true today, but the activities there may look a little different. The Sunken Gardens now regularly host the Garfield Park Biergarten, live music performances, Saturday morning yoga, and—of course—weddings.
Meanwhile, the Conservatory is your cure to the winter blues. It’s 10,000 square feet of tropical greenhouse goodness! Even during the coldest months of the year, you can escape to this indoor jungle to warm your body and soul, making Garfield Park a literal oasis.
Support local at the Garfield Park Farmers Market.
The Garfield Park Farmers Market (GPFM) takes place every Saturday from May through October. Starting bright and early at 9 a.m., you’ll find local produce, friendly faces, tasty treats, cute puppers, live music, giant bubbles, and one amazing community.
Our local farmers market gets bigger and better every year, but they always make sure that healthy, locally sourced foods are their top priority. GPFM also promotes diversity and inclusivity at every market, with about 25% of their vendors minority-owned!
Also, I know what you’re thinking. “What does he mean by giant bubbles?” I mean GIANT bubbles. One of our neighbors is an artist who loves to make bubbles, and they join us at the market most Saturdays. Who knew soap and water could be so captivating?
Get involved in the Garfield Park community.
If you explore the streets around Garfield Park, you’ll notice quite a few yard signs that read: “Garfield Park Welcomes All.” This message is something the neighborhood has made its own, truly taking it to heart. The Garfield Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA) created the concept and prints out signs for neighbors to purchase. Most of the signs are identical, but some neighbors have designed their own versions with a unique artistic spin. We just want to make the message as clear as possible. Garfield Park neighborhood is the place for you!
Speaking of the GPNA, there are tons of opportunities for you to get involved in our community. The GPNA has seven volunteer committees focused on Community Engagement, Walkability and Beautification, Diversity, Block Ambassadors, Education, Marketing and Social Media, and Economic Development. If you’re interested in living here, we invite you to join a committee. And if you need a little convincing, most of the weekly committee meetings take place at Garfield Brewery!
Our community also takes a lot of pride in our streets and our park. There are always scheduled cleanup days, but many neighbors just clean up on their own, including Ashley and me. I think this pride comes from knowing our neighbors and feeling like our neighborhood is an extension of our home. Because of this wonderful community, we don’t mind walking with trash pickers while we take Dyno on a stroll. To be honest, I sometimes look forward to picking up trash because it makes us feel connected to our neighbors, even when we’re physically apart.
Garfield Park is a place to eat, drink, and be happy.
Our neighborhood is always growing, with new restaurants, bars, and coffee shops on the way. But we also have some older neighborhood staples you can’t miss! I recommend checking out Griener’s, The Line ‘Em Up Saloon, Porky’s Pizza, Shelby Street Saloon, and my favorite place for all things sweet and salty: The Dinner Bell.
What is The Dinner Bell? No, it’s not a southern-style restaurant. In fact, it’s actually not a restaurant at all! The Dinner Bell is the best convenience store in Central Indiana. There’s nothing good for you here, but that’s what makes it great. They’ve got cheap beer, salty chips, bulk candy, and a history of regular lottery winners. It’s mostly vices, but they’re worth indulging.
If you’re looking for some real food, Greiner’s has the subs, and Porky’s has the pizza. (And sometimes, you have to have both!) The Line ‘Em Up Saloon is great for a Bud, a game of pool, and conversation. Meanwhile, Shelby Street Saloon offers weekly deals on food and drink, including their fried chicken dinner on Wednesdays. They also recently opened a speakeasy upstairs that you just have to see for yourself!
One of our more recent additions is the Garfield Brewery. They opened up in 2018, and they’ve been the neighborhood’s go-to gathering place ever since. Garfield Brewery has an inviting patio, regular live music shows, and limited runs of new beers. They’re also focused on giving back to the neighborhood and our local creators, hosting art fairs and park cleanup days of their own. Garfield Brewery is a perfect fit for our neighborhood—and it doesn’t hurt that they have great beer!
Garfield Park is a vibrant, artistic neighborhood.
Our neighborhood is home to major art institutions like the Garfield Park Arts Center and Big Car Collaborative, attracting artists of all disciplines. Garfield Park also offers affordable housing, which helps local artists on the rise live close to downtown.
Garfield Park Arts Center (GPAC) constantly offers art classes and hosts local art exhibitions and concerts. They’re also the leading force behind the annual Garfield Park Arts and Music Fest. The GPAC makes it easy for people of all ages to get involved, and they even host outdoor movie nights during the summer. These events make for a perfect picnic-and-a-movie date and a fun night out with the family.
Big Car Collaborative has also made Garfield Park their permanent home. Their space is called the Tube Factory, and it’s an artist-run contemporary art museum and community center! They do a lot for our neighborhood and Indy as a whole, but I think their mission statement says it best. They “bring art to people and people to art—sparking creativity in lives to support communities.” The Tube Factory is currently expanding its footprint with a larger gallery, more event space, and artist housing on the way. They also have the best First Friday events Indy has to offer—hands down.
All of these talented creators make Garfield Park a more vibrant community! Many of our local artists work on projects to improve the spaces we see on a daily basis, including our local tattoo artist. Ceremony Tattoo quickly embraced the neighborhood spirit with a mural on their building that swayed Ashley and me to get our first tattoos!
- Manual High School
- Christel House Academy South
- University of Indianapolis
- Garfield Park Brewery
- Shelby Street Saloon
- Pen and Pink Antiques
- Ceremony Tattoo
- Garfield Park Farmers Market
- MacAllister Amphitheater
- The Conservatory and Sunken Gardens
- Tube Factory Artspace
- 10 Miles from Indianapolis Airport
- 20 Minute Drive
- Garfield Park
- The Dog Park at Immanuel
Find your home in the Garfield Park neighborhood.
It may sound crazy, but it feels like downtown is getting closer to Garfield Park (and vice versa). Every day, I see more people commuting to the neighborhood from downtown via the Cultural Trail and Pleasant Run. The Red Line bus runs right through the neighborhood, providing a direct connection from the University of Indianapolis all the way up to Broad Ripple. And Shelby Street continues to grow, filling old buildings with new businesses.
Garfield Park may be seen as a “hidden gem,” but our neighborhood is less than a mile from Fountain Square. And we’re only three miles out from the center of the city. This distance feels farther when you’re spending a day in the park, but we’re still remarkably close to everything Indy has to offer.
Your oasis is right here in Garfield Park, and it’s closer than you think. As I discovered back in 2014, your new home is just a few pedals of the bike away.