18 Things You Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners About Indianapolis

Jolene Ketzenberger/Thrillist (edited)

Whether you’re hosting friends and family or acclimating a new neighbor (who’s still thoroughly impressed by the cheap housing), there will come a time when you have to explain to an outsider how Indianapolis operates. Being the true Hoosier that you are, you’ll help set this noob straight with these 18 local tips. Or, at the very least, just warn them not to wait until Sunday to pick up beer for the game.

1. Don't step out in traffic to hail a cab

They're not going to stop for you. Johnny Law says you have to call for a cab or get one at a designated taxi stand. Or just Uber like the rest of humanity.

2. That “world’s largest Christmas tree” is not really a tree at all

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is called that because it's 242ft tall and is strung with like 5,000 lights -- and it looks pretty much like a Christmas tree, OK?

3. Yes, the breaded pork tenderloin you ordered is way bigger than the bun

It's supposed to be like that.

4. Not everyone in Indianapolis has a basketball hoop on their garage

But we can probably beat you in a game of horse, sitting down, behind the back, no backboard.

5. Don't be the one jerk in a crowd who crosses against the lights downtown

We really do obey the “Walk” and “Don't Walk” signs (crazy, right?). Unless there are really no cars coming. And no one’s around. Then OK. Maybe.

6. If you're headed to Carmel, know how to pronounce it

The upscale suburb to our north is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable. Not like in California.

7. Speaking of Carmel, they really do have a zillion roundabouts

But we really don’t have a tough time navigating them. Monument Circle is a roundabout, right? So we get it.

8. If you’re asked to a pitch-in at dinner, say yes and take along a dish to share

What you’ve been invited to is called a potluck dinner or a carry-in supper, depending on where you’re from. You don’t need to have a casserole. Chips and guac are always appreciated. So is beer.

9. Don’t try to buy beer in a store on Sunday

Thanks to our antiquated blue laws, you can’t buy beer, wine, or liquor on Sundays in stores. But you can order it at bars, restaurants, and sporting events. You can also buy booze on Sundays at breweries, wineries, and distilleries where they actually make it.

10. You also can’t buy a car on Sundays

Auto dealerships are closed, thanks again to our blue laws (puritans!). Even though we don’t know what could possibly be immoral about buying new wheels.

11. We measure distance in minutes, not miles

We’ll tell you how far away a place is by how long it takes you to drive there. How far is Carmel from downtown? About 20 or 30 minutes.

12. Those ducks and geese on the canal in Broad Ripple will never migrate

They live here year round. Why? Because we feed them, of course. Whatever you do, don’t give them bread. Go buy a bag of duck corn at Good Earth for $1.50.

13. Have pocket change if you head to the highest point in Crown Hill Cemetery

That’s where you’ll find poet James Whitcomb Riley’s grave strewn with coins. After his death in 1916, local children gave money to help erect a memorial, and the tradition continues. The quarters, nickels, and dimes you still see atop his grave are collected and donated to his namesake, the Riley Hospital for Children.

14. Bank robber John Dillinger grew up around here

We’re not proud of this or anything. He’s buried in Crown Hill, too.

15. Don't make up nicknames for us

Please. We’re not Indianans or Indianapolitans. No. People who live in Indiana are Hoosiers, even if they went to Purdue.

16. You can smoke while you’re gambling, and sometimes while you’re out drinking

As you’d expect, the city’s smoking ban prohibits smoking in bars and restaurants in Indianapolis -- except for cigar bars and the off-track betting parlor.

17. Speedway is not just another neighborhood

Neither are Lawrence, Beech Grove, and Southport. They’re all separate cities or towns, with mayors or town councils, even though they’re situated within the Indianapolis city limits.

18. The Snake Pit isn’t what it used to be

If you go to the Indy 500 to experience the scene your parents saw back in the day, you’re going to be disappointed. The infield at the track is much more family friendly these days. Not completely PG, but not like the raging ‘70s.

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Jolene Ketzenberger is a freelancer who covers Indianapolis at and who tries to wait for the light to change. Follow her at t and she'll share her tenderloin sandwich.