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The NFL is back… Well, sort of. For the next 10 days, Indianapolis is the epicenter of the NFL universe, as the NFL Combine takes over downtown Indy. College prospects trying to prove their draft-worthiness are the main attraction, but it is also an unofficial start of the off-season with representatives from every team including front office staff, scouts, players, coaches, and the media taking over the city.
There’s a reason Indianapolis has been the only host of this event since 1987: It’s a city that is thoughtfully designed to host this type of event. If you’ve never been to an event in the Circle City, you will not be disappointed.
A compact, walkable downtown ensures that you’re close to the action and a series of tunnels that connect the Circle Center Mall, the Convention Center, Lucus Oil Stadium, and a number of hotels ensure that even the worst weather won’t ruin the festivities.
Indianapolis also is one of the most underrated cities in the country, with an emerging foodie scene, a booming convention business, and a midwest charm that much of the country will fall in love with.
The recognition has followed: Food and Wine named Indy one of America’s 20 Favorite Food Cities, Forbes called Indy America’s Most Underrated City, and Zagat added Indy to its 30 Most Exciting Food Cities. And Indianapolis the best convention city in the US according to USA Today and Lucas Oil is the Best Stadium of the Year according to Stadium Journey Magazine. In other words, if you’re heading to Indianapolis this week, you’re going to have a great time.
So how do you make the most of your time in Indianapolis? We can help.
Where to Stay in Indianapolis?
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Indianapolis is such a walkable city that any hotels in the downtown area will give you easy access to the Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium. That said, there are better locations then others, depending on your budget.
Luxury Hotels in Indianapolis
Indianapolis has a JW Marriott, Conrad, Le Meridien, and The Alexander. Each is in a great location that is near nightlife and walkable for everything you need. In the future, the Indianapolis Signia Hilton will bring another 800 luxury rooms to help ensure they continue to win convention and events.
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The Convention Center is fairly centrally located in the downtown area and connects to Lucas Oil Stadium at the most southern point. We recommend any hotel around or near Monument Circle. This includes Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Sheridan, Westin, Embassy Suites, and more. You will be very walkable if you stay anywhere east of West Street, South of Ohio Street, North of South Street, and west of East Street.
We recommend looking at reviews and picking a hotel in your budget, but if you stay in that general area, you’ll be in a good location with access to food, entertainment, and most importantly everything NFL combine.
We highly recommend the downtown location, but if you can’t swing it or can’t get a room, the “donut” areas have some good options. We recommend the Iron Works Hotel for a luxury option.
If you are looking for Airbnb, the Broad Ripple area is nice (strip of bars and good food), Carmel and Avon are nice suburbs that offer access around 20-30 minutes. The Fountain Square area is one of the hot spots in the city, but be careful, as surrounding areas can be a bit sketchy. Read reviews closely.
Best Restaurants at the NFL Combine
St. Elmos is the classic Indianapolis restaurant that you will see on nearly every list. It’s famous for its VERY spicy shrimp cocktail and is always a great option. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation, you will be dining with NFL celebrities, as it will be on everyone’s list. If you can’t get in but still want to try the famous shrimp, their sister restaurant Harry and Izzy’s is a great backup plan (and many locals prefer).
If you want to run into Jerry Jones, check out Prime 47. Rumor has it that it’s the only restaurant Jerry will visit in Indianapolis and you will often see the Cowboys bus parked out front. It’s also one of the places to be seen in Indianapolis and offers one of my favorite steaks in the city.
Other top steakhouses include Mortons, Ruth Chris, Fogo De Chao, Capital Grille, CharBlue, and Tony’s. Hyde Park is one of my personal favorites.
Want something a little bit unexpected in Indianapolis? Head to Bluebeard, the James Beard semifinalist farm-to-table restaurant in the Fountain Square area south of downtown. It has a rotating
Other Indianapolis local hot spots include Livery (Latin with great drinks), The Rathskeller (huge German spot with beer garden when warm enough), The Eagle (fried chicken), Cafe Patachou (awesome breakfast/brunch), Bru Burger, Shapiro’s Delicatessen, Union 50 (unique foodie).
Other interesting concepts like Hedge Row (Kimbal Musk), Mesh (American), Salt on Mass (seafood), MacNiven’s (Scottish), and Ralston’s (tacos and tequila) are other great options. In other words, take some time looking on Yelp to find a local place, because they rank up there with many of the best cities in the country.
If you want something familiar, Indianapolis has many of the restaurants you know including Yard House, Buca di Beppo, P.F. Changs, Dick’s, Hard Rock, and more. I recommend you skip the chains and try some of the local places, but there are plenty to chose from.
NFL Combine in Indianapolis History (Video)
NFL Combine Fan Experience
A limited number of fans will get an inside look at the 2019 NFL Combine and will have the opportunity to watch top prospects LIVE from inside Lucas Oil Stadium!
Request your FREE tickets today to watch top NFL prospects take on the interview of a lifetime as they compete to get drafted into the NFL.
Fans participating in NFL Combine Inside Look will receive in-ear radios with access to the NFL Network broadcast as well as exclusive insight from NFL Legends and Combine staff.
Request your tickets now: https://1iota.com/Show/877/2019-NFL-Scouting-Combine
NFL Combine Schedule
Here’s when players will be on the field:
- March 1: Special teams, offensive linemen, running backs
- March 2: Tight ends, quarterbacks, wide receivers
- March 3: Defensive linemen, linebackers
- March 4: Defensive backs
NFL Combine Nightlife & Entertainment in Indianapolis
If you’re looking for a party in Indianapolis, you’ll find it in a few different places. The closest to the NFL Combine action is the bars on South Meridian Street, but you can also hit up the trendy Mass Ave area, the
If you want to chill, listen to some live music (blues), and have a drink near the stadium, The Slippery Noodle Inn is your place. It’s one of the original bars in Indy and is a fan favorite because of its history and location near Lucas Oil. It’s usually an older crowd, but it shows up on Indy nightlife lists, so you might be surpised who you see.
If you’re looking for a club, Blu, 247 SkyBar, Subtera, Tiki Bob’s, Revel Nightclub and Taps and Dolls will be traditional clubs. Ike & Jonesy’s is where the older crowd calls home and can be a blast. Howl at the Moon is a dueling piano bar that comes alive on the weekends and Tin Roof always seems to be rocking.
If you’re looking for something a little more classy, 1933 Lounge offers cocktails in the upstairs bar at St. Elmos and Ball & Biscuit is a great option. And there are a number of Sports Bars including Kilroys, Brothers, BW3’s, and Coaches that offer stiff drinks and plenty of beer.