home is beautiful, too: exploring cafés in my own backyard of Indianapolis

Born and raised in Indianapolis until I was about 7 years old and having spent many a weekend there during the latter half of my high school years and the years in-between undergraduate and graduate school, I consider it home. I really do. So much of my heart belongs in this below-the-radar city. Indianapolis is truly beautiful, and it’s an up and coming city, with new stores, museums, art scenes, breweries, restaurants, bookstores, and cafés opening up, not to mention that the famous author, John Green, is an Indianapolis native and still resides there. Indianapolis is also the city he uses as the setting in his two most recent books, The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down (So, Indianapolis has to be pretty stellar after all, right?). It’s truly a city worth visiting or spending more time in if you are a Hoosier native. Though I can’t really write about it much while I’m here in Paris (as I can’t really explore it while I’m across the ocean. haha), I definitely plan to write about it more in the future.

As for now though, I must absolutely share about two cafés in Indianapolis that are a must visit: the Nine Lives Cat Café and Sure Shot Coffee (okay the latter half isn’t really a café, just a coffee shop, but that’s besides the point).

Anyways, while I was home for the holidays, I decided to do a bit of exploring in this city that I call home (one of the many). During the winter, going to restaurants and cafés is really your only option for exploration, so I took full advantage of that.

First, the Nine Lives Cat Café is located in Fountain Square, which is a very artsy district of Indianapolis, located about two miles southeast of circle center (which is what we natives consider main downtown Indianapolis), east of I-65 and I-70. In single degree weather in the winter, you want nothing more than to cuddle up in a cozy café with a nice cappuccino. How much more awesome would this be if it involved cats? The answer is epically more awesome.

At Nine Lives Cat Café, you can enjoy your cup of joe while you interact with, on average, about 8 to 10 cats in their cat room. Unfortunately, yes, you do have to pay $5 for a one hour session. However, it’s totally worth it, not just for the kitty loves and cuddles, but also because those $5 go directly towards taking care of those beautiful fur babies.

There’s nothing like cuddling kitties to warm up the soul. I spent my full hour playing with and petting those beautiful creatures, and I even had one cuddle up on my lap. I made a new friend. For a cat lady such as myself, it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. It brought so much joy.

Having been away from my fur baby for 3 and a half months, I was in some serious need of kitty loving (though I did get to see my fur baby twice while I was home).

In addition to being able to hang out with awesome kitty cats, these beautiful babies are actually up for adoption! Nine Lives Cat Café partners with the Indianapolis Humane Society. Along with them, the Nine Lives Cat Café choose a variety of cats that come in to be welcomed into their café, and from there, customers that are looking to adopt a cat (or just so happen to fall in love with one) can adopt directly from the Nine Lives Cat Café. I’ll definitely be looking into this when I decide to finally get a brother or a sister for my fur baby, Edgar Allan Poe.

In addition to being able to play with the cats, they also have a separate café area, where you can still enjoy your coffee after your one hour session is up. The coffee is pretty tasty, and they have pastries, of course. They also have art work and merchandise for sale, all cat related, what else?

You can enjoy playing with the cats or just sit in the cat room while you read or get some work done, while you have a sleeping cat on you, of course. It’s definitely a cat lover’s paradise, and I highly recommend 100%. You can learn more about their mission, their policies, and their menu at their website. They do a great job of answering any questions you might have. I believe you can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Spending time there was definitely one of my highlights of being home for the holidays.

As for Sure Shot Coffee, I’ve known about it for a couple of years, however, I had only been there once before. I have a confession though, Sure Shot Coffee is not technically located in Indianapolis but rather in one of the most booming suburbs of Indianapolis, Fishers. Fishers has so much to offer. Though some aspects of Fishers is a little too bougé for me (it resides in the richest county in the state and one of the richest counties in the nation. That richness definitely shows from time to time). Despite the dominance of the upper class and the upper class attitude that sometimes comes with this area, it still has a lot to offer, and you can meet some really good people there.

Anyways, Sure Shot Coffee actually resides inside a private clothing company’s shop in the main center of Fishers, 116th street, off of I-69 going north. Vardagen has some amazingly designed t-shirts, hoodies, accessories, etc, but even if you aren’t in the mood to buy clothing, the coffee here is amazing. They get all of their coffee beans from a local Indiana roaster, located in Greenwood, Indiana, which is south of Indianapolis. Additionally, they not only have the typical espresso drinks like latté, cappuccino, etc., but they also have their own signature drinks, such as what they call Desperado. If I remember correctly, this deliciously smooth and flavorful espresso drink contains elements of honey and chili powder. If you’re all about the sweet and spicy thing, this is the drink for you. They are also known for their cold brew coffee. I did not try myself, but it’s definitely on my list to try next when I’m home the next time (much more appropriate for summer, I think, anyways).

You can enjoy your cup of joe in the clothing store itself, where the coffee bar is located, or they also have a small area in the back, complete with cozy, wooden benches, arm chairs, and pillows. Very cozy indeed. It’s the perfect place to hole up with a book or to get some work done.

The baristas are really nice and welcoming as well, though I might be a little biased, as I discovered that one of my close friends from high school/undergrad works there now as a manager, my friend Ty, or as we used to call him, Tynosaur. So, if you are ever in town, you should stop by, and if you see a guy that looks like a hipster Waldo, that’s Ty. He’s amazingly kind and funny, and he makes a killer cup of coffee (It was so good to catch up with you after about 2 years, Ty!). Say hi for me.

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Being away from home as much as I have over the course of the last few years has opened my eyes up to how amazing it actually is. Yes, podunk, rural Indiana can be so boring sometimes, but it also has so much to offer. In the countryside, we have endless plains that allow for the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life, and there is so much to discover about Indianapolis. When we think of interesting, big, or cool U.S. cities, Indianapolis does not make the list, but I’m telling you my friends, if you live in the U.S. or you find yourself traveling to the U.S. put Indianapolis on your list. It’s an underrated city full of life and vibrancy and pretty cool people.

Even though I know that I will most likely never settle down permanently in Indiana, it will always be one of my homes, not just because my family lives there and because I was born and raised there, but also because it really does hold some of its own unique magic. It’s a beautiful place to be.

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This windmill farm is nowhere near Indianapolis. It’s located north of Lafayette on I-65 headed towards Chicago, but didn’t I tell you that Indiana has some of the most beautiful sunsets? There’s no filter on this baby.

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