Until the turn of the 20th century this corner of the Indianapolis metropolitan area was totally rural, and known for its abundant beech trees.
The treasured poet and women’s rights activist, Sarah T. Bolton (1814-1893), purchased a creekside property here in 1871, which is now a park named in her honor.
Beech Grove has a flourishing Main Street, where many of its local businesses are concentrated, and there’s a sprinkling of scenic parks and fun family attractions to check out.
Mile Square at the heart of Indianapolis is less than six miles away, so you’ve got world-class entertainment, sights and sports action within shouting distance.
1. Main Street
Beech Grove’s historical market district is on this east-west artery, fronted by two long rows of local stores, eateries, bars, services and civic buildings like the City Hall.
Main Street is a joy to discover on foot, with its newly planted trees, hedges, flower beds and a smattering of fine old facades.
Some of the businesses have been here for decades, like the beloved Napoli Villa Italian restaurant, sharing the street with exciting newcomers like Beech Bank Brewing.
When we wrote this article there were cute stores for antiques/vintage clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, flowers, pottery and home design, shoulder-to-shoulder with cafes, pizzeria, a bar/grill and the charming Mom’s Family Restaurant for comforting breakfast food.
2. Sarah T. Bolton Park
The town of Beech Grove purchased Sarah T. Bolton’s former farm in 1930 and turned it into a park to commemorate the poet. You might be pleased to find several tall, old beech trees growing in the park’s southern portion.
The park is in a picturesque rolling landscape straddling Lick Creek, and is a Certified Wildlife Habitat recognized by the National Wildlife Federation.
Just southwest of downtown Beech Grove, this is a lovely spot for a picnic, and has shelters, restroom facilities, a one-acre dog park and sports amenities for baseball, basketball and soccer.
The park is a fitting place to watch the 4th of July fireworks, organized by the Beech Grove Promoters Club.
3. Garfield Park Conservatory and Gardens
The oldest park in Indianapolis is less than ten minutes from downtown Beech Grove. First laid out in the 1880s, Garfield Park was named for 20th President James A. Garfield following his assassination in 1881.
Much of what you see now is the work of renowned landscape architect and city planner, George Kessler (1862-1923), who redesigned the park in the 1910s as part of an ambitious but mostly unrealized plan for the whole city.
His beautiful Sunken Gardens, a setting for many outdoor events, have a formal European layout, and are replanted with glorious seasonal displays three times a year.
The current conservatory is from the 1950s and houses a 15-foot granite waterfall, as well as tropical plants including orchids, epiphytes and bromeliads.
4. Beech Bank Brewing
This craft brewery opened in downtown Beech Grove in 2018 and has become a fixture since then, as a laid-back hangout, pouring beer brewed with local ingredients wherever possible.
Beech Bank Brewing’s motto is “Paddle Your Own Canoe”, which comes from the Sarah T. Bolton poem.
When we compiled this list there were eight beers on tap including an IPA, a Hefeweizen, a traditional-style Lager, a Blonde Ale, two Red Ales and two Porters.
Towards the end of the week there’s always something happening at Beech Bank Brewing, be it Dungeons & Dragons on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays or live music and food trucks on Fridays.
Mile Square is just 15 minutes from downtown Beech Grove, putting you effortlessly close to a smorgasbord of big sights, culture, entertainment, sporting action and family attractions. Something to love about Indy is how walkable the city is, especially around the Central Canal.
You can use the Canal Walk for must-sees like the Eiteljorg Museum, the Indiana State Museum, the Indianapolis Zoo, White River State Park and the iconic Soldiers and Sailors Monument a few blocks away.
Sports have a special place in the city’s heart. Quite literally as the magnificent Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, is right in the middle of the city.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, famed for the Indy 500 is less than 20 minutes away, traffic permitting.
You might also enjoy the quieter delights of historic Indianapolis in the refined Lockerbie Square Historic District. Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) lived in this neighborhood and his Victorian home is preserved as a museum.
6. Beech Grove Bowl
A few blocks east of downtown is one of two bowling alleys in Beech Grove.
This spot has the distinction of being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the only alley in Central Indiana with those hours. There are 12 lanes here, each one with overhead flatscreen displays.
After a recent renovation Beech Grove Bowl offers cosmic bowling on weekend evenings, and has a neat interactive projection system over the lanes, for a small extra fee.
7. Napoli Villa
This elegant Italian restaurant has been a go-to for the Indianapolis area for more than 60 years now.
Napoli Villa was established by an immigrant couple, Guerino and Carmela Santo, from Southern Italy, and has been ably managed by their daughter Antoinette for decades.
A third generation is now involved in the day-to-day, and grandson Gino oversaw a tasteful renovation in the last few years.
Among the specialties are the hand-rolled meatballs and the lasagna bolognese, still made with Guerino’s own recipe. Other picks include the toasted ravioli (appetizer), and oven-baked dishes like stuffed manicotti and cannelloni.
8. Greatimes Family Fun Park
This family entertainment center is a self-contained world of fun, with indoor and outdoor attractions.
On five acres, the outdoor activities at Greatimes Family Fun Park include two 18-hole miniature golf courses, bumper boats and go-karts.
There’s a 22,000-square-foot indoor facility here containing a two-level game room with over 120 arcade and redemption games, as well as a wonderful indoor playground for littler visitors. Food-wise you’ve got the Final Lap restaurant, for pizza, subs and more.
9. Sarah Shank Golf Course
This public golf course is under two miles from downtown Beech Grove and has been around since 1928.
What you get at Sarah Shank Golf Course is a tricky course that requires every club in the bag, set in stunning parkland.
On rye grass, the course measures 6,491 yards from the tips and is known for its extremely quick greens sure to punish wayward putts. Shank Creek bends through the top end of the course and comes into play on the 3rd, 4th, 17th and 18th.
10. Don Challis Park
Towards the south of Beech Grove, at 1100 S. 9th Avenue is a fine park, bounded to the south and east by Beech Creek.
Don Challis is named for the local parks and recreation stalwart who oversaw its construction in the early 1970s.
Ideal for families, this facility has a great playground with newly installed equipment and a sand pit.
Much of the park is taken up by a sweeping lawn area, dotted with trees, along with a volleyball court and a picnic shelter.
11. Hanna Haunted Acres
Come spooky season there’s a hugely popular theme park a few short minutes east of Beech Grove. Receiving national attention in the last few years, Hanna Haunted Acres has six attractions at one location.
These change with the season, but feature a creepy barn and mansion, a haunted hayride and bloodcurdling fun out in the cornfields on the property.
This haunt has won a lot of acclaim for the quality of its props, scenarios, animatronics and makeup, and the hayride has a level of detail that warrants multiple rides.
You can pick from a menu of different packages, depending on which attractions suit you.
12. Waterman’s Family Farm
Close to the Marion County Fairgrounds, just out of Beech Grove, is a family-owned farm with a market that is open May through November.
Waterman’s Family Farm also opens for seasonal events, like the Strawberry Festival in June, with U-Pick strawberries, live music, playgrounds, strawberry treats and much more.
Later, October brings the Fall Festival and a host of family fun, from hayrides to farm animals, a pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving, pony rides, a gigantic hill-slide, food vendors and tons of farm-themed games.
As for the market, you can check the website to find out when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in season, while the shelves are stocked with home-produced honey, kettle corn, jams and preserves.
13. Southport Antique Mall
An Indianapolis antiquing destination for more than a quarter of a century, the Southport Antique Mall is a labyrinthine treasure trove containing more than 500 dealer booths in 30,000 square feet. There are even maps on the walls to help you find your way.
The selection is vast and is constantly updated, whether you’re hunting for furniture, rare collectibles, upcycled items, vintage clothing, toys, dolls, games, historic signs, used books, board games, ceramics, sports equipment, home appliances and a ton more.
14. Tolin-Akeman Park
Just south of Beech Grove is a small but well-equipped neighborhood park, seen as a place to find a little peace in the suburbs.
With beautiful deciduous trees and a large grassy expanse, this is a good place to get away from it all for an hour or two with a picnic.
For some shade, there’s a gazebo with picnic tables and a grill. This is by the parking lot, and sits right next to the park’s playground, with climbing equipment and swings.
15. Marion County Fair
Dating back to 1930, the Marion County Fair had a few different locations before settling at its current location, close to where the Indianapolis Beltway meets the I-74.
This event usually takes place across ten days in late June and still has a rural feel despite Marion County being the most populous in the state.
Naturally there’s a wide array of 4-H displays and competitions, as well as classic fair food, a petting zoo, a pageant, carnival rides and games and a bill of live music catering to all tastes.
Also on site is the Circle City Raceway, hosting grandstand events like a tractor pulling and a demolition derby.