Even though there was a proverbial cloud hanging over our trip, we set off on our first first family vacation in three years as our visits to the Hoosier State and Buckeye State began in Indianapolis, where we spent 4 days. It’s a great city and the kids had a fun time as we spent a day at the world-renowned Children’s Museum, in addition to one day at the Zoo and one at Connor Prairie. That last one featured a ride on a tethered helium balloon that went up 377 feet. Downtown was pretty cool too as we took a paddleboat down the Canal, went to the State Museum and checked out the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
In the middle of the city is where Victory Field is located and that’s where we saw the Indians play on a Saturday night. It’s a near-perfect minor league ballpark in terms of design as it has nearly everything I look for: upper-deck, comfy seats, great sightlines including a city view and 360-degree concourse. The accolades that came their way in 1996 still apply. I do wish they had more food options, better team displays and cheaper parking ($20). The park was half full, but they made great noise when the home side pulled off an impressive late-inning comeback. Indianapolis rallied from a four run deficit to win 6-4.
Other random notes from the Circle City…I had to make sure to get a Hoosier Classic: the Breaded Pork Tenderloin. It was hard to find one on a Monday, but I eventually settled on going to the Pawn City Pub (despite an extra wait since our takeout order was given to someone else). Call me a fan of this sandwich!……Lots of churches here. And also some pushy billboards towards that religious direction on our drive to Ohio…….We stayed at a Drury Inn for the first time and I was very impressed. We don’t have these on the East Coast and it’s a really solid hotel option. I’m usually a Hampton Inn guy, but the shower was better, bed more comfy and price the same. Plus free drinks and dinner!……Kudos to the waitress at the Flatwater Restaurant in Broad Ripple who made dining with kids more tolerable.
Cincinnati was our other destination and as soon as we reached the Queen City, we went to Skyline Chili. I needed to try a 3-way despite my reservations going in. Spaghetti and chili just isn’t an appetizing combination for me. It was good for what it was, but I’m glad I was at the hotel for the aftershocks. For our visit to see the Reds, we spent the day on The Banks as the Riverfront location included a park that was great for the kids before and after the game. It was a hot day and bringing their swimsuits worked well as they played in the fountains.
A weekday afternoon game in near 90-degree weather made it understandable for such a tiny crowd, but it’s still jarring to see 10% (at most) of a pro sports facility filled. That was the only hiccup in what I thought was a flawless ballpark. Not sure why this place isn’t rated higher by others as I’d put it ranked around #10 based on feel (we’ll see where the official ranking falls). The river views were awesome and I really liked the paddleboat themes in the outfield. The seating was all good and the red color everywhere was fitting. Even more Cincy-centric was the Team HOF. What a magnificent homage to the league’s oldest team. I didn’t like the $12 cost for it, but at least it was offset by our cheap $10 seats (in the shade) thanks to a vaccination promotion. Unfortunately, the Reds didn’t hold up their end of the bargain as they got shellacked by the lowly Cubs.
As for the city, we liked Indy more, but Cincy still had its moments. Walking the Roebling Bridge was pretty cool, as was the other side of the Ohio River. The Museum Center in the gorgeous Art Deco former train station was a stunning piece of architecture. As was the miniature city in the history museum. That ended up being a great place to spend the day with 3 museums for the price of one. The zoo however was awful as the layout was confusing and it was hard not to walk into repeated areas. When you have kids and it’s hot out, that’s a horrible combination.
The last stadium of vacation was in nearby Mason, OH at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. What a fantastic sports experience this was. Driving to the complex was super easy, as was the free parking. I loved the grounds, which were well decorated and filled with amenities and unique seating areas. The Main Stadium was quite unique and the piecemeal additions have added character. I enjoyed great sightlines in the corner as Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. The best part was in between the 2nd and 3rd set, I hopped over to the Grandstand court for a glimpse of Alexander Zverev-Casper Ruud. It’s mostly open seating and I was able to get a seat a few rows from the court. Being that close as Zverev (the tournament winner and recent gold medalist) played was awesome. I highly recommend this tournament for any tennis fan and it was a great capper to the vacation!