(Not going to The Influence Conference this year or have no idea what I’m talking about? Stick with me, there’s plenty of things for you in today’s post too!)
Later this week, I’ll be attending my favorite conference of the year. The Influence Conference is a place for women to be encouraged to make their online presence for God and his glory. While not specifically a blogging conference, there are many bloggers and social media folks that attend and I love meeting new people, learning from other women, and coming home overflowing with ideas and motivation. It’s kind of like summer camp for women without the bugs and yucky boys (although there are some husbands in attendance, but thankfully they’re not yucky).
The first year I went to Influence, I did not know a single soul. I had been writing this blog for a few years and didn’t really know other people that blogged or that there were whole communities of people doing what I was doing and talking about it. So that first year was overwhelming and eye-opening and wonderful. I met women that became friends, bloggers that became mentors, and people that I would end up collaborating with. I think back to how nervous and anxious I was–how out of place I felt that first night–and I know that God used that weekend to start some big things. So as long as it stays close by (and maybe even if it moves away), I’ll do everything in my power to be a part of The Influence Conference every fall.
So if you happen to be heading downtown this weekend for the conference, here are some things you should check out to complete your Indianapolis experience. And while this list could get extremely long, I’m sticking to places you can get to easily from the hotel since you might not have any other mode of transportation besides your feet.
What to eat and drink
Acapulco Joe’s (365 N. Illinois St.) This is my favorite Mexican restaurant ever. People of Indy have strong opinions about it, they either love it or they hate it. I LOVE IT. Get the Mexican pizza and a margarita, you won’t regret it.
Bee Coffee Roasters (201 S. Capital Ave. #110) This amazing small batch coffee roaster is low on frills, but big on coffee. Don’t come in with your fancy Starbucks order, this place is for people that like quality coffee and know what good beans taste like.
Champions Sports Bar (350 W. Maryland St.) Located right next door to the Influence Conference hotel, this classic sports-themed restaurant serves delicious Americana cuisine. It would be a great place to eat if you’ve got a big group and want to get loud, since they’re used to sports fans and lots of cheering.
Patachou (225 W. Washington St.) Need a relaxing, filling breakfast Sunday morning before your flight or long drive home? There might be a wait, but it’s always worth it. If breakfast is your favorite meal of the day, this is your spot.
Where to shop
Circle Centre Mall (49 W. Maryland St.) You can easily access this two-level mall from the conference hotel without even stepping outside. There’s a food court, plenty of shopping (H & M, Forever 21, Also, Banana Republic, Express, Gap, and tons more), and a movie theater on the top level. Plus, there are numerous restaurants surrounding the two-city-blocks structure that would be great for a meal in between conference breakouts. Go here for the full list of shops and food choices.
Mass Ave If you’re up for a longer walk, Mass Ave is where you need to be to really experience downtown Indy. The restaurants are mostly local and proudly serve local products. And the shopping! Go to Silver in the City for a unique gift to take home for yourself or a friend. Grab a coffee, frozen yogurt, a drink, or some to-die-for guacamole at Bakersfield. Or grab a gift for the kid in your life at the wonderful Mass Ave Toys. You could spend all day on Mass Ave and not experience everything.
The City Market (222 E. Market St.) This place is Indiana. So many local artisans, vendors, brewers, and artists fill this one-of-a-kind space. Stop in for a snack or make a meal out of trying all the booths. If you have a foodie at home that wants a souvenir from Indy, this would be the place to pick up a treat.
What to do
Bike Share (all over the city) You’ll find 250 bikes at the 25 bike stations around the city meant for short-term rentals. Touring the city on a short evening bike ride is a perfect way to get moving after a day of sitting in sessions.
Monument Circle (100 Monument Circle) Whether you want some great photo opportunities of the city or to just people watch, the Circle is where to be. It’s a nice spot to hang out on a crisp evening and with restaurants, ice cream shops, a chocolate shop, a old school candy shop, and a Starbucks, there is something for everyone.
The Canal (entrances all over the city) Use that bike you rented to ride up and down the Canal (or just walk, lots of people will be out doing the same thing if it’s a nice day), you’ll get a beautiful view of the city and its people. This would also be a good spot for blog pictures if you’re into that sort of thing.
The gals at Influence have worked out a nice mix of conference stuff and down time for attendees because a lot of us come to conferences to learn but also to build relationship and community. So grab a group of friends (or soon-to-be friends!) and explore Indy while you’re here for the conference. I know you’ll fall in love with this place, it’s almost impossible not to.