Top 5 Must-See Things to Do in Southside Indianapolis

Fountain at the Sunken Gardens at Garfield Park

Photo courtesy of IndyHub

Just past bustling Mass Ave, the lights of Monument Circle, and the crowds of Lucas Oil Stadium, you’ll reach my home down at The Point. Located on the southside of downtown Indianapolis, The Point is where Fletcher Place, Fountain Square, and the Holy Rosary neighborhood all meet. 

I grew up in the Fountain Square area, putting down firm roots in this place I call home. There are things about living here that have shaped me into the father, husband, business owner, and civic-minded person I am today. But this place did more than just shape me. Southside Indianapolis has molded my parents, my eight siblings, and the generations of children that followed.  

Now, I strive to positively impact my neighborhood as both a resident and an entrepreneur. Since 1977, my company Crystal Signature Events has helped invest in this city and execute flawless events for our Indy neighbors. Given all the memories made, jobs created, and joy brought to me and my family, it’s clear I made the right decision to stay close to my roots. 

I’m often asked what’s so special about the near southside of Indianapolis. But when you live in a place as long as I have, you quickly learn the best things a community has to offer. Check out some of my top recommendations and most fond memories from decades of experience living on the southside. 

1. Explore the beauty of Garfield Park.

Every Hoosier should experience Garfield Park at least once in their life. As long as I can remember, Garfield Park has always been one of the most important gathering spots in the area. You can often see family reunions going on in the park pagoda, which really made an impression on me. It showed how impactful gatherings like that can be, and that only added to my passion for community and people-focused events—a passion that led to founding my own events company. 

As a kid, Garfield Park was like a one-stop shop for just about anything. In the summer, we would stroll past beautiful mosaic fountains and go swimming in the public pool. In fact, that pool’s where most southsiders go for a swim during hot Indiana summers. Seeing our neighbors, friends, and teachers all soaking up the sun and splashing around was always a special feeling that strengthened our sense of community. 

Then, when the temperatures dropped and the first snow fell, my friends and I would grab our wooden sleds and head to the hills. Nothing could beat the thrill of gliding down the slope when school was canceled for a snow day. 

Back then, sports were also an integral part of my time at Garfield Park. I’ll never forget the days spent playing ball out in the field. But perhaps one of my favorite parts of the park was the banana tree, which still stands tall today in the Garfield Park Conservatory. In my opinion, you haven’t truly experienced Indianapolis until you’ve paid a visit to Garfield Park! 

Tree in the Garfield Park Conservatory

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Indianapolis City Market

Photo courtesy of Indy Chamber

2. Discover the importance of good meals.

Food is the heart of my family and my business, and it’s remained instrumental to the fabric of southside Indianapolis. When I was growing up, my mother and aunt would host weekly community dinners for anyone and everyone. In Fountain Square, our Italian family was surrounded by other Italian families, and we would spend hours preparing homemade pastas, soups, and desserts to share with our neighbors.

The produce we used often came from our family stand down at City Market, where the laughter and stories could be heard down the block. Today, the Indianapolis City Market is still open for business, offering a variety of unique restaurants, bars, and even a barber shop. During the summer months, the market still fills with produce stands for the weekly Farmers Market. 

But the City Market isn’t the only place that’s important to the food culture of southside Indianapolis. From original favorites like Shapiro’s Delicatessen to newer spots like World Famous Hotboys, food has been a major part of the renaissance and redevelopment of this neighborhood. 

After all, Shapiro’s Delicatessen may serve a great hot pastrami on rye with mustard, but the most important part of dining are the faces gathered around the table. In these moments, I associate meals with true love and fellowship, and those values have stayed with me from my home table to the restaurants now lining Fletcher Avenue. 

3. Find great music right in your backyard.

Nothing brings people together like a good meal, but music is a close second. That’s never more apparent than when we’re hosting events at our family of venues. Two of the most important factors in creating a successful event are always food and music. 

When I’m not working events, I’m often out in the community, enjoying some music of my own. Square Cat Vinyl is one of my favorite spots for quality entertainment and good company. Located in the heart of Fountain Square, Square Cat Vinyl gives off the feeling of comfort and charm, welcoming everyone who is lucky enough to stumble inside. 

From the vintage leather chairs to the colorful rugs, Square Cat Vinyl feels like you’ve gone back in time to a record store from the 1970s. You can even sit down at the bar in the back and order coffee, tea, or a beer while you relax. This combination of food and music creates a pleasant atmosophere that’s hard to explain to those who have never experienced it before.

4. Catch a game at the Home of Basketball.

No matter where you go in Indiana, it’s impossible not to experience the impact of basketball on our community. From high school games to the NBA, Indiana’s called the Home of Basketball for a reason. Hoosiers are passionate sports fans who always show up to support their local teams, and this is no exception on Indy’s southside. 

When I was growing up, I spent many Friday nights at the largest gym on the southside—the Southport High School arena. Every game, the bleachers would be packed full of school spirit with parents and friends ready to cheer on the home team. 

Indy’s southside neighborhoods are also within walking distance from Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home to the Indiana Pacers and the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. Gainbridge is an award-winning venue, known for hosting elite basketball games and world-class concerts. Throughout the years, Indianapolis has hosted some of the biggest sporting events in the country, ranging from Big Ten Championships and Final Fours to the entire 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament.

Fans watching a Pacers game
Square Cat Vinyl

5. Enjoy a round of golf in the city.

Another favorite hobby I had as a kid—and one I still enjoy to this day—is golf. Growing up, I went down to Orchard Golf Center an immeasurable number of times to play putt-putt and practice my swing at the driving range. Then, after a game, I’d head next door to the local drive-in theater to watch a movie.  

The golf course is another place where you can see the southside community in its greatest light. No matter your age or experience, everyone can enjoy some friendly fun on the green—or not-so-friendly fun if you’re more competitive in nature. Regardless of your playing style, the atmosphere on the range was always one of simplistic joy. 

Today, visitors and residents can also enjoy the new Back 9 Golf and Entertainment on the banks of the White River. This covered driving range allows you to play in any weather, so you can always enjoy a round of golf with your loved ones.

Visit southside Indianapolis and make some memories of your own.

Here on the southside of Indy, community is at the heart of all that we do. People often wonder what makes the southside such a great place to live, but the answer is easy—it’s the people. The individuals who live in this area and run our local businesses make Indy a diverse, culturally rich, and community-focused place. When you combine that with the wide variety of things to do here, Indianapolis truly is a special place to be. 

Decades ago, I made the decision to call southside Indianapolis my home, and I would go back and make that same choice over and over again. Every day, I try to give back to the community around me and embody our values in both my family and my company. Because unforgettable experiences start with good food, great music, and even better people.