This piece is part of a series of articles submitted to The Local Tourist through a cooperation with a 400-level travel writing class at Purdue University.
By Nicolle Kain
I am an adventurer at heart. I love exploring new places, especially ones with a story.
At the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and College in Indianapolis lies the Bottleworks District, a combination of buildings originally home to the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Indianapolis. The District has become a historic location that has slowly been evolving as a place for visitors to stay, eat, and be entertained.
If you took a trip to Bottleworks Indy today, you could stay in the Bottleworks Hotel, eat a variety of ethnic cuisine at The Garage food hall, take in a movie at its Living Room Theaters, enjoy a night of games and entertainment at Pins Mechanical Company, get your haircut at Brick & Mortar Barber Shop, enjoy a spa day, grab a coffee, go shopping, and so much more!
Bottleworks District has something for everyone, all in a location dripping with history, architecture, and culture.
I was able to take the short trip down to Bottleworks Indy one weekend with my good friend Carynton Howard, who has grown up in the Indianapolis area. Carynton, a Purdue University junior, told me that it was cool to see how The District has grown.
“There wasn’t much here a few years ago,” Carynton told me, “but now it’s where all my friends want to go out to.”
History of Bottleworks Indy
There’s a story behind everything you see at Bottleworks. Originally built in the roaring 20’s as the largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in the world, the District served as an industrial accomplishment the local community could be proud of.
Now, it serves as a place for people to come together. The art deco design and architecture of the time is something the Bottleworks District is now renowned for. As you walk through the cobbled streets, under the limestone arches, and through the glossy red doors, you feel as though you have walked onto the set of a period piece, where factory workers await the lunch bell and men in clean business suits await an event hosted by Gatsby himself.
Everything appears new and clean, yet the industrial setting and green and red color scheme indicate a different time. While the District still contains many of the structures and elements from back in the day, including bottling machinery that is on display in different spots around Bottleworks, it doesn’t feel as though you are in a factory.
Bottleworks is able to retain the charm from its past while transforming into a cozy and modern place to visit.
The plant functioned as a bottling plant until 1964, when Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman bought the Coca-Cola franchise and moved the plant to Speedway, Indiana.
The plant became a service center for Indianapolis Public Schools until 2016, when Hendricks Commercial Properties decided to transform the plant into a site for arts and entertainment that would attract visitors from all over the country.
Related: While you’re in Indy, explore neighboring Hendricks County Indiana.
The Bottleworks Hotel
For around $250 a night, visitors can stay at the Bottleworks Hotel. What was once an office building for the plant has been transformed into rooms for guests to stay in.
When looking to reserve a room, guests can choose from eight different layouts ranging from Classic King to Pemberton Penthouse. When walking down the hallways, black and white portraits decorate the walls, acting as windows into the souls of those captured. These images show plant workers, models, and everyday people.
Local artist Barbara Zech restored the original bold-colored tiling in the lobby and various details of the original design of the plant. Upon exiting the lobby, visitors climb a brass spiral staircase to the level above, passing a vintage grand piano on the way.
The white brick walls of the original building on one side clash with the freshly painted gray drywall on the other side of the hallway, eloquently complimenting the red doors to the guest rooms. Everything was so beautiful, we couldn’t stop taking pictures!
The Garage Food Hall in the Bottleworks District
Just stopping by for a bite? Reconstructed from the plant’s original garage buildings, The Garage food hall offers your palette delicacies from Greek dishes to Brazilian street food to Venezuelan eats. The food hall features 18 different food vendors as well as small shops offering local products from clothing to soaps.
Located just a few steps from the hotel, The Garage Food Hall is open Sunday – Thursday 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
When I visited, I tried a classic hamburger from Clancy’s and pizza with Peruvian flair from Abbiocco. Both were delicious, and I’m looking forward to going back to try more.
Carynton was a bit more adventurous, and ordered arepas, air-fried corn pancakes with meats, cheeses and vegetables from Azucar Morena. “You always have the opportunity to try something unique and different when you go to The Garage,” Carynton said.
I explored the little shops around The Garage Food Hall, and was particularly tempted by Becker Supply Co, which sells clothing and personal care items with the mission of planting a tree for every purchase made. In addition to this, I think that it’s unique that The Garage features different pop-ups throughout the week. I will need to return to The Bottleworks District to see what else they have to offer.
The Garage also hosts live musical performances Thursday from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. These include a variety of DJs and local musicians.
Living Room Theaters
What’s dinner without a show? Living Room Theaters is an eight-screen cinema dedicated to showing the best indie, foreign, and local films.
The theaters are designed to imitate the comfort of one’s own home with comfortable plush seating and soft carpet. In between shows, visitors can gather in the café and lounge for a drink or quick snack.
The theater showcases both local and international acclaimed films and independent filmmakers. In fall of 2021, this venue hosted the Heartland International Film Festival, attracting attendees from all over the world.
Pins Mechanical Company
But wait, there’s more! Pins Mechanical Company has been slowly gaining popularity since its opening in early 2021. This hub for entertainment is open to everyone until 7 p.m., then players will have to show their IDs to prove they are of legal drinking age to be invited in.
Pins offers a variety of activities, including duckpin, ping pong, pinball, foosball, bocce, giant Jenga, and bowling.
Before we left, Carynton and I decided that we needed to come back. There was so much more we could do with more time.
The Bottleworks District is still growing but is already starting to make an impact on the surrounding community. In my opinion, it is worth planning a visit! To learn more, visit their website.
Where is the Bottleworks District?
The Bottleworks District is located in downtown Indianapolis at 850 Massachusetts Avenue.