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Outdoors in Indy: 3 picnic pairings to make the most of the warm weather

photos by Geoff Chen


Outdoors in Indy: 3 picnic pairings to make the most of the warm weather

It’s finally happening. The sun is peeking out, the rain has stopped, and the hum of warm weather is hitting Indy full-force. You know you’re itching to be outside, but what to do? Sure there are plenty of patios out there where you can drink–you’ve probably made the rounds. Why not try some of the other incredible outdoor spaces Indy has to offer? And because no experience is ever complete without a snack and a beverage, here are my top three favorite pairings for the perfect romp around Indy’s outdoor scene.


Garfield Park + Wildwood Market


Tucked just South of Indy’s bustling Fountain Square Neighborhood is one of the city’s meticulously kept, botanical gems. Garfield Park and the conservatory that sits squarely in its Sunken Gardens encompasses three acres of gorgeous, English style gardens kept as they would have looked in the early twentieth century. Along the grounds you’ll find pavilions, large and small for any size gathering or you can just get down and dirty in the grass, throw a blanket down, and enjoy the sights.


 (by Tyeesha Bradley)

For a quick, toteable bite to bring along, stop by Wildwood Market on your way through downtown. This place has some seriously wonderful goods ranging from every-day produce to lots of specialty charcuterie and gourmet snacks. And for picnicking purposes, their daily made mind-blowing sandwiches are ideal and feature some of the city’s best meats, cheeses, and accoutrements.


Or if you’re lucky enough to be in the area on a Saturday, the Garfield Park Farmers Market runs from 9:00am – 12:30pm May through October and boasts a wide variety of products from local and sustainable producers. Check them out next to the tennis courts near the
corner of Shelby St. and E. Southern Ave.



Rhodius Park + El Ranchito


One of my very favorite views of the city is tucked away in Rhodius Park, located at 1720 W. Wilkins Street. With lots of wide-open green space you’ll have plenty of room to play a pickup game of soccer or frisbee golf, or take advantage of their giant playground. It’s one of those spots that has something for everyone and truly, you do not want to miss the view of Indy’s skyline.


As luck would have it, a quick 2.5 miles away sits a favorite West Indy taqueria and carniceria. El Ranchito is home to one of my favorite versions of my favorite tacos; Cecina. Comprised of thinly cut slices of beef marinated in peppers that are dried, it is similar to prosciutto with a salty, earthy flavor. Along with a variety of tacos, you should absolutely pick up a cup of elote to take to the park for the most perfect taqueria-induced, outdoor siesta/food coma. You will not be disappointed!


Holcomb Gardens + Illinois Food Emporium


A throwback to my beloved years at Butler University, I will never be able to get enough of Holcomb Gardens. A formal garden that lies just next to the Inland Waterways, the garden is lined by two formal rows of hedges leading to the famous Armand Touissant statue of the goddess Persephone. For an extra bit of fun, make it a sunset picnic and hit the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium after dark. Public and private tours are available and offer the chance to see Jupiter, assorted stars clusters, double stars, and the Moon if visible.


Whether you go with takeout deli sandwiches or one of their loaded, classic croissants Illinois Food Emporium is a Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood favorite. Add in some of their incredible desserts and you have yourself a veritable takeout picnic feast. If by some chance your find yourself with a group of ten or more, you can also take advantage of their pre-made boxed lunch option, ready for pick-up on the way to the garden.

The scenery at each of these locations simply can’t be beat. Paired with easy grab-and-go bites, you now have the recipe for a truly carefree chance to kick back during the Indy summer. For more picnic perfect spots, check out the city’s handy park finder here.



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Elise Shrock is a native Hoosier residing in the Fountain Square neighborhood and is the creator of She is a politico by day and an avid explorer of Indy's dining and entertainment scene the rest of the time.

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