A Trip To Indy BottleWorks District

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by Anne Braly, Travel Writer

The City of Indianapolis awakened a sleeping giant with the opening of The Bottleworks District. Once a vibrant area andhome to the region’s Coca-Cola plant, the largest in the world in its heyday in the mid-1900s, the plant and its supporting businesses closed and the area was shuttered, underutilized — not reaching its full potential.

But as developers around the country have breathed new life into forgotten downtown areas, so have those in Indianapolis who are bringing old buildings back to life. In doing so, they’ve created a path for local small businesses – restaurants, spas and others — to take root, and new neighborhoods are once again thriving. The latest in town is the Bottleworks District.

It’s just a little more than a square block, but it completes the popular Massachusetts Avenue section of Indianapolis. It’s a piece of the puzzle that’s been missing since Mass Ave, as the locals call it, became a popular haven for downtown living and small-business commerce, along with a welcoming nightlife scene more than a decade ago. Mass Ave is a neighborhood that embodies the spirit of downtown revitalization with its numerous restaurants and bars open morning, noon and night. Toe-tapping music emanates from unexpected places — alleyways, nooks and crannies. Local businesses have found a new home.

The Bottleworks District adds to this esprit de corps, a spirit shared by residents and visitors to the Massachusetts Avenue neighborhood.

Here’s a little of the new things to experience in The Bottleworks.

The Bottleworks Hotel

Inside the former Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Indianapolis, an iconic structure of white terra cotta, Bottleworks Hotel opened its doors in December 2020. When it opened as a bottling plant, though, in 1931, it was quickly recognized as the most stunning of all Coca-Cola bottling plants in the country with its gleaming façade, terrazzo-tiled floors, and dazzling glass-and-brass doors. After sitting mostly empty for decades, it has been repurposed as a hotel and in less than a year, become one of the top places to stay around not only Mass Ave, but the city, too.

Bottleworks Hotel makes history sexy, as told through the many architectural elements saved from its days as a bottling plant — high ceilings, restored plaster detailing, ironwork framing. Rooms — all 139 of them — are large and come with bathrobes, high-end toiletries, soft velvet sofas, luxury bedding, and marble bathrooms with large waterfall showers. The color palette chosen for the rooms is black, white, and that all-familiar Coca-Cola red.

The hotel also features hand-crafted coffee drinks at Blue Collar Coffee Co.; a restaurant, Modita with an Asian-inspired menu; W Nail Bar; Woodhouse Spa; and Sundry and Vice, a bar scheduled to open in mid-July. While waiting for Sundry and Vice to open, there’s a pop-up bar in the old Coca-Cola accounting office behind the hotel lobby.

The Garage

Just across the brick-lined street from Bottleworks Hotel is The Garage, a hip food hall with more than a dozen vendors offering tastes from around the world.

Food halls are a “thing” in cities across the country, but The Garage has a couple of things others don’t. The building was once the garage used by Coca-Cola trucks that delivered soda around the region. When they needed repairs, they’d pull into the garage where machinery – primitive by today’s standards – would diagnose and fix the problem. Some of those machines have been painstakingly restored and are mounted in the central dining area of the massive, 38,000-square-foot food hall.

Look for everything from lobster rolls at J’s Lobster and Fish Market; Asian-fusion poke bowls at Poke Guru; and freshly shucked oysters from BluPoint Oyster House and Bar. Or head on over to Axle’s Garage Tap for a local brew or Lick for cold creamy ice cream on a hot summer day.

Pins Mechanical

Up for a game of ping-pong? How about a game of bocce ball or some duckpin bowling? Pins Mechanical is the hot spot in the Bottleworks District. It’s a family place during the day, but after 7 p.m., it’s for the over-21 crowd only – and they do check IDs at the door – because Pins Mechanical is more than just a bowling alley with ping-pong tables, bocce ball courts, and arcade games. It’s a bar with sudsy beer and great cocktails.

Duckpin bowling is essentially the same as traditional bowling, only on a smaller scale with shorter lanes, smaller balls with no finger holes, and none of those charming bowling shoes. Just wear the shoes you have on.

Pins also offers one of the few downtown rooftop spaces, and they encourage you to bring outside food. It’s right across the road from The Garage, so make it a twofer – stop in The Garage, get your chimichurri fries from Gaucho’s Fire or a burger from Clancy’s Hamburgers, carry it over to Pins Mechanical and start playing.

Woodhouse Day Spa

If you’ve never experienced salt therapy, you’re missing out on one of the most relaxing spa treatments offered in spas of today. We’re talking a zero-gravity experience in a salt cave as you sink into a lounge chair and breathe in the salty air. There are claims that it can ease asthma symptoms as well as treat bronchitis and allergies. But there’s one thing for certain, it will take the stress of the day away.

The newly opened Woodhouse Spa in the Bottleworks Hotel offers this treatment, as well as many others, such as a stone massage, seaweed wrap or Lavender Dreams treatment.

Ask about renting the salt cave for yourself or a small group – a great idea for a bridesmaid’s party or birthday. The spa offers access from the street level, but also from inside the hotel. And here’s a plus for hotel guests: Don that comfy hotel robe and walk right into the spa, then indulge in a few hours all to yourself.

 

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