Kylie and Kenny are two Gen Z Hoosiers who love their life in Indy. Kylie is a coffee connoisseur, a freelance writer, and a music industry marketer. She also oversees the “Fun on Weekdays – Indy!” GroupMe where Indianapolis residents can find out about upcoming events. Meanwhile, Kenny is a current Orr Fellow who works at Genesys, a tech company in the telecommunications industry. In his free time, he enjoys working out, reading, listening to music, and hanging with friends and family. You can connect with Kenny on his LinkedIn or Instagram.
A Gen Z’s Guide to Indianapolis
Photo courtesy of North Mass Boulder
Indianapolis and its surrounding suburbs get a lot of praise for being family-friendly. In fact, places like Carmel, Fishers, and Westfield consistently rank among the Top U.S. Cities to Raise a Family. But did you know that Indy’s also a popular city for recent graduates?
With affordable living, top-tier companies, and a vibrant arts scene, Indianapolis has a thriving community of Gen Z professionals ready to start climbing the ladder. This college-age crowd typically comes to Indianapolis for career opportunities, but it doesn’t take long for them to fall in love with their new home. Because if you know where to look, the Indy region is chock full of fun things to do and places to explore!
Luckily, these two Gen Z-ers know the best spots for networking, exercising, coffee drinking, and more. Check out our takes on the best things Indy has to offer for the Gen Z generation!
Kylie’s Top Picks
I am obsessed with exploring local coffee shops, and Bovaconti is near the top of the list for me. Nestled in the young adult-friendly Fountain Square District, Bovaconti is always buzzing with people who look effortlessly cool while ordering their specialty lattes. (I recommend trying their Cherry Blossom Matcha Latte in the summer months!) If you’re hoping to stay awhile, the exposed brick wall in the back room offers the perfect ambience to crack down and get to work, while their outdoor seating is the ideal place to stop and enjoy a beverage on a Saturday morning stroll. Best of all, people almost always bring their pups with them to the patio.
As a young adult, making friends outside your college community can be difficult. Everyone is on a different path, and it’s hard to strike up a conversation with a stranger, even if you think they could be a friend. But one way I found community was by trying out different fitness centers and classes.
My current go-to is the heated yoga at Invoke Studio, which has both Downtown and Northside locations. The vibes are calming. The breathing exercises help me feel more centered, amidst the stress of getting accustomed to the working world. They offer classes that accommodate all types of schedules and skill levels, and there are usually a bunch of other young people taking the classes with me.
North Mass Boulder
Although I’m not a member myself, about 75% of the time I meet new friends around my age, they tell me they work out at North Mass Boulder. North Mass Boulder is a unique climbing gym, fitness center, event venue, café, and community hangout—all in one. They have a young staff and a casual culture that really brings Gen Z people together. And they host tons of events each month, including everything from live music to LGBTQ nights!
As someone with stage fright and very little upper body strength, I haven’t gone climbing at North Mass yet. But I love to work from the Top Out Café while drinking a juice or snacking on something from their menu. The atmosphere there is vibrant and inviting, and I enjoy going both alone and with others.
If you’re a young adult new to the Indianapolis area, IndyHub is often the best place to start looking for your community! IndyHub is a young professionals network focused on catering to local “20- and 30-somethings” in all kinds of industries.
As someone who has both attended and worked at IndyHub events, I can attest to the approachability and non-networky-feeling of these gatherings. Their events allow you to enjoy live music, try amazing local food vendors, and socialize over some drinks, while the city’s many entertainment and volunteer opportunities.
IndyHub’s biggest annual event is IndyVolved—a huge volunteer fair that showcases over 100 local organizations where you can get involved. What better way to feel established in Indy than by giving back to the city and meeting other people who care about making a difference?
Young Professionals of Central Indiana
There is an element of culture shock in going from a college campus surrounded by people your age to a professional career with employees from all generations. If you’re finding it difficult to relate to your coworkers and colleagues, groups like the Young Professionals of Central Indiana (YPCI) are a great way to connect with people going through the same life changes.
YPCI offers a space for career-minded young adults to enjoy each other’s company and feel a sense of belonging here in Indianapolis. They host regular happy hour events, as well as monthly Coffee at the Top networking events.
Photo courtesy of Kenny Coleman
Photo courtesy of Kenny Coleman
Kenny’s Top Picks
The Indianapolis Public Library
With 25 locations across the city, each branch of the Indianapolis Public Library (IPL) offers something different than the rest—and the IPL Central Library is no exception. I was recently exposed to the Center for Black Literature & Culture at the IPL-Central location, and let me just say this. If you haven’t been yet, take this as your sign to go for a visit. I promise you it’ll be worth the parking fee.
You may be thinking, “It’s just the library…” But from the moment I climbed the steps to the Center, I knew it was something special. Walking into the building, you have to try really hard to not get lost in a sea of Blackness—in the most amazing way possible.
It was like looking at mirrors everywhere I turned, seeing pictures of Black celebrities, Black entrepreneurs, Black artists, you name it. Lining the walls are portraits of Black icons from Indianapolis, including Vivica Fox, Amos Brown, Oscar Robertson, and more. Yet, these pictures are only a complement to the huge collection of books in the room.
Standing in the Center for Black Literature & Culture, I was surrounded by books and other works all written by people who look like me. As a kid growing up, reading about Black characters in books was already a rarity. But to be standing in a room filled with books written by Black folks was amazing to me.
If you or your family’s looking for something new to read, I urge you to check this place out. The Center clearly marks sections for all genres and different types of books written by Black authors. They have a great mix of variety that makes it easy for everyone to walk away with a book in hand.
BUTTER Fine Art Fair
Though Indianapolis is widely known for being a sports city, Indy is also home to a thriving community of creators—with innovative organizations like GANGGANG reviving the local arts scene. GANGGANG describes itself as “a cultural development and creative advocacy firm” focused on producing, promoting, and preserving culture as a means toward equity. Basically, that means they create new opportunities for diverse artists to make more art.
One of their largest events is BUTTER. No, not like margarine. I’m talking about BUTTER: A Fine Art Fair that features works from Black artists across the country. And let me tell you, this BUTTER is solid no matter how long it sits on the counter.
Established in 2021, GANGGANG has made BUTTER an annual tradition here in Indianapolis. The impact of the event continues to grow each year, bringing more and more attention to the talented Black artists in the Midwest. To give you an idea of how big it’s gotten, take a look at this article written by the New York Times about BUTTER 2 in 2022!
Last year I was able to participate as a volunteer, and BUTTER was an event like no other. Seeing the artworks while watching my people put on their best fits and dwell happily in their Blackness was an altogether wholesome experience for me.
I can’t guarantee that everyone’s experience will resemble mine, but you’d be silly to not attend and see this amazing event for yourselves. You can browse the art on display, hear from guest speakers, enjoy the MELT dance party, or even get involved—as a volunteer or an artist. There isn’t much that you can’t do if you choose to attend BUTTER this year and in the future.
Indianapolis is a place where you can feel at home.
To be young and Black in most places can be difficult, but I applaud the Indy Public Library and groups such as GANGGANG for prioritizing the Black residents of Indianapolis. Together, these spaces have opened a world of representation and exposure to Black culture that has people buzzing, especially Indy’s residents of color.
After all, a strong sense of community is what makes a place feel like home. Nowhere in the world is perfect, but the people and opportunities in Indianapolis are ideal for Gen Z-ers like us. There are many ways to get involved, get connected, and further your career here in Indy. Because Indianapolis is a place where anyone can have a seat at the table—no matter what generation you’re from.