Love Indianapolis like I do? This holiday gift guide shares some of my favorite artisans and businesses from the circle city and beyond (because some of these items are outside Indianapolis but inside Indiana, and I just couldn’t NOT share them with you!).
I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things, including non-food related gifts like museum memberships, sports stuff and other ways in which I get out and explore the city. You’ll only read about companies/places/things that I’ve personally experienced – there’s so much of Indy I have left to explore, but I only wanted to write about what I can truly endorse. Inevitably I’ll forget something super important, but if so, please leave a note in the comments so others can see what YOUR favorite Indy gifts are.
Oh, by the way, there’s a sweet giveaway courtesy Visit Indy at the bottom of the post!
Food & Drink
Bacon from Goose the Market - Okay, so they have a whole lot more than bacon available, but bacon was my gateway to Goose the Market. I don’t bat an eye at spending a few extra dollars on quality bacon, so when I walked up to their stand at the Broad Ripple Farmers Market and saw that bacon was available, I took a chance on it. I could go so far as to say it’s the best bacon I’ve ever had and I truly believe that. Goose the Market has several other items such as specialty meats, lobster, unique sandwiches, a beer/wine cellar and plenty of events to help you learn how to butcher meat, taste wine and lots of other cool stuff.
Don’t mind the terrible, unfocused photo – it’s still B-A-C-O-N.
Gourmet popcorn from Just Pop In! - If you know me well, you know that popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. Just Pop In’s gourmet popcorn allowed me to step away from traditional butter flavor and enjoy more flavor combinations that I could ever imagine. I’ve enjoyed reviewing new flavors and even taste testing to pick my favorites. Last year I purchased several small bags as stocking stuffers – there’s at least one flavor that everyone will love! Each kernel is loaded with flavor all the way to the bottom of the bag.
Frittle Candy – Got someone on your list that has a sweet tooth? Frittle Candy’s original brittle comes in the right size box with the right size of brittle. It’s meant to be savored and not devoured, so you’re secretly teaching your friend some portion control because while they’ll be tempted to eat the whole box, they’ll love it so much they will savor it. Frittle Candy can also be an ingredient – crumble it up and put it in your ice cream or crust a pork tenderloin with it. All Frittle Candy is gluten free and vegan friendly.
Sage’s Simple Syrups – Have a budding mixologist on your holiday gift list? Sage’s Simple Syrups is a company based in Whitestown, Indiana and offers unique simple syrups for your next cocktail adventure. With flavors like cucumber basil and roasted apple, these syrups are just aching for you to make them into your next favorite drink. Recently I made Cranberry Pear Cocktails with their cranberry syrup and I can’t wait to mix up the Roasted Apple syrup with bourbon and caramel sauce.
Tell City Pretzels – It’s unfortunate that my first introduction to these pretzels came after a run-in at the Indiana State Fair because once I took a bite, I was so sad that I hadn’t been eating these all of my life. These pretzels are known for being thick, salty and offered in a variety of flavors. Since taking this photo, the packaging has changed, but the insides haven’t.
Pasta from Nicole Taylor’s Pasta Market - Another fun find from the farmers market, Nicole Taylor’s offers gourmet pastas in various shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. If you haven’t had fresh pasta and you have no desire to make it (like myself – well, maybe one day, but not today), Nicole Taylor’s is IT. Pasta as a gift? Why not! Pair it with homemade sauce, a bottle of wine and a baguette for any Italian lovers in your network.
All things Indiana beer – Oh, my love of beer goes a ways back. Okay, I’m only 25, but still, since I moved to Indy I’ve watched Sun King Brewing grow and impact our community in many ways. Now, there are over a dozen breweries and more homebrewers than you can imagine. Instead of listing them all here (because I’ve done something similar for Visit Indy), I just want to remind you that growlers, koozies, t-shirts, gift cards and other merchandise purchases support our local breweries. There’s even a Craft Beers of Indiana wall calendar that provides love of Indy breweries every day of the year.
Girls’ Pint Out was the organization that not only taught me everything I know about beer, they gave me a way to meet friends in the city I had just moved to. Girls’ Pint Out provides social and education programs for women who want to learn about craft beer in a friendly environment. Support them with purchasing t-shirts and stickers from their online store.
Meads from New Day Meadery – Beer is wonderful, but sometimes I want a drink that’s lighter and crisper. I have a need for mead! (Okay, that was cheesy, but I had to do it). Located in Fountain Square, New Day Meadery offers several hard ciders, meads and seasonal drinks that can be purchased by the glass or bottle. Give this unique gift to the wine or beer connoisseur in your family or bring it to your next holiday gathering.
Bjava Coffee and Tea – My first taste of Bjava was at Dig Indiana, where I tried their Plum Buzz Iced Coffee. I went back twice for another sample, not just because the sun was bearing down on me but because it was just sweetened enough for my tastebuds. Holiday blends are now available for the coffee lover in your life, and what a great way to ween them off of not-to-be-named big box coffee shops with locally roasted beans!
Loose Leaf Teas from Kei Tea – I JUST found Kei Tea recently while I made a visit to the Carmel Winter Farmers Market, located in the garage underneath the Indiana Design Center on Rangeline Road. Kei Tea offered several unsweetened and sweetened samples (I prefer unsweet) to try along with plenty of smells. I have a weakness for tea, especially the loose leaf variety, so for a mere $6 I purchased a nice bundle of Hibiscus Tea, a naturally sweet, earthy and floral variety.
Not sure what to do with loose leaf tea? A few tips about why they’re better than the pre-bagged variety and recommended tools from this blog post will get you going on your new tea journey.
There’s a reason I have an “Indy Adventures” category on this site. I love exploring Indianapolis and my Hoosier state, and thanks to Visit Indy, I’ve been able to “geek out” and share my experiences with many others. These are just a few of my favorite ways to enjoy Indiana that do not always involve food.
Museum Memberships – I am a member of the Indianapolis Museum of Art because I support art and arts education (and as an art history major who also interned at the museum, it has a special place in my hear). For $50, an individual membership offers free parking year round, discounts in the museum store and free tickets to special openings. The Indiana State Museum, Children’s Museum, Conner Prairie and Eiteljorg all offer individual or family memberships.
Here are just a few ways in which I explore Indy’s museums:
Midwest Balloon Rides – A hot air balloon ride might not be considered an extreme sport, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Give the gift of a beautiful scenery by purchasing a sunrise balloon ride over downtown Indianapolis. See the photos from my trip here.
Naptown Roller Girls – Now in their 8th season, the Naptown Roller Girls offer entertainment for the whole family. If you’ve never been to a roller derby game, you’re truly missing out. John and I have been to several seasons now and we enjoy introducing people to the game. Purchase season tickets now or wait until it gets closer to the game for individual tickets. The first bout will be December 28, 2013.
State Park Pass – For a mere $40, you can give the gift of exploration with a State Park Pass. All state parks charge a $5 entrance fee, but purchasing one of these park passes means you can visit as many parks throughout the state that you want without paying that fee. This is a great gift for families or friends who like to bike, hike, swim, travel, or just enjoy the beautifully scenery of Indiana. Purchase a Holiday Gift Pack for $99 a state park entrance permit, a 1-year subscription to Outdoor Indiana Magazine, and a gift card to a state park inn.
Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest – A book is an adventure? Well, if you decided to take a trip to see these artisans and farmers, it sure could be. But I couldn’t end this gift guide without mentioning it. Food for Thought has brought national attention to Indiana and is an essential publication for anyone interested in local food.
Whew, what a list. I’m sure I’m missing something, so thankfully there is Yelp’s Totally Bazaar on December 12 where you can purchase all of your Indy items in one place.
Ready to shop? Visit Indy is offering a giveaway that will let you enjoy a night out in Indianapolis to shop and breakfast to relax with the day after. Here are the details:
One Night Stay at the Wyndham Indianapolis West (must be used by 12/31/13)
$50 Gift Card to LePeep
Enter via the Rafflecopter below – one winner will be picked on Friday, December 6 and will be notified by the email you provide in your blog comment. If you click the “I Commented” button you MUST leave a blog post comment to be entered to win.