Life in Indy’s North Neighborhoods

By Erica Irish

Fellows find a place to call home and build community in Broad Ripple, Carmel, and Zionsville.

Indianapolis, and the greater central Indiana area, is a vibrant community with many different neighborhoods. But where have Orr Fellows chosen to live as they build their professional careers? 

In part two of our series on the neighborhoods of Indy, we’re exploring the city’s north side. From the historic and artsy Broad Ripple village to the small-town feel of Zionsville, here’s a look inside Indy north. 

Broad Ripple

In many ways, one could argue Broad Ripple is the heart of Orr Fellowship. It’s home to many of the Fellowship’s featured events, partner companies, and individual Fellows & alumni. 

Once you’ve visited Broad Ripple, it’s hard not to see why. Broad Ripple is a haven for young professionals, complete with some of the city’s best local shopping, nightlife, and access to natural features like parks and canals. 

Fellow Caroline Schmerge moved to Broad Ripple because it gave her and her roommates a central location to get to their offices. Midway between downtown Indy and communities further north, like Carmel—meant that everyone could make the most of their time in Indy. 

But what’s kept Caroline in Broad Ripple for more than a year is its youthful energy and the connectedness of the people who live there.

“You still have the city feel, but also green space,” she said. “It’s very young and active. There are always people out and about. I walk the Monon almost every day and see familiar faces.” 

When Caroline works from home, she starts her day by getting coffee at local favorites Hubbard & Cravens, Java House, or Perk Up Cafe. And on Tuesday mornings, she has company: a group of Broad Ripple Fellows get coffee every week to stay close. 

On her free days, Caroline makes the most of Broad Ripple’s walkability, touring shops like Lola Blu Boutique and Monon Plant Company before breaking for lunch at Flatwater. BRICS for dessert is a must, and, if she’s feeling active, she’ll visit nearby Holliday Park for some extra time outdoors. 

Carmel 

When you cross 96th Street, you leave Indianapolis and enter Carmel, one of central Indiana’s most iconic neighborhoods. Many know it as the official roundabout capital of the world; others see Carmel for its many world-class businesses and arts destinations like The Palladium concert hall. 

Fellow Kayla Fisher knew she wanted to move to Carmel at the start of her Fellowship experience because she believed the area would give her the peace and quiet of a suburb, all while letting her stay connected to Indianapolis with a short drive. 

“Life in Carmel is more tailored to the experience of someone who doesn’t need to be doing something 24/7,” Kayla said, and that’s proven with its extensive amenities like shopping, dining, and local parks. And, they’re adding more to a mix: “it’s a town that’s changing,” Kayla said. “There’s always something new opening up for you to explore.” 

Between getting engaged and regularly walking her dog Griffey at Coxhall Gardens, Kayla’s connection to Carmel has grown tremendously in the last year. Her average work day starts with a workout at Planet Fitness, followed by coffee at Carmel neighbor Lulu’s Coffee & Bakehouse

But on days that are just for her, Kayla gets to take advantage of all Carmel has to offer. Her free mornings begin with breakfast tacos at Rosie’s Place. Then, she’ll head over to Clay Terrace for hours of thrifting clothes at Plato’s Closet, selecting treats for Griffey at Three Dog Bakery, and browsing the self-care items at Buff City Soap

Zionsville

To the west of Carmel, you’ll find Zionsville—a cozy neighborhood that has the feeling of a small town without sacrificing the energy of the city. With a traditional city square home to shopping and Bender’s Alley, locals can fill up on artisan goods and great dining. Zionsville also offers many opportunities to get outside, with miles of bike paths and trails in Lions Park.

When Fellow Sarah Rozzi moved there in 2021 with her roommate, she found some of Zionsville’s best community features haven’t changed. The farmer’s market she grew up visiting as a Browsnburg native still happens every Saturday morning in the town’s center square. An outdoor adventurer, Sarah also regularly visits Lions Park to kayak, ride her bike, and sample the newest ice cream flavor at The Scoop (a.k.a. Scoop’s). 

Sarah says Zionsville is best for those who appreciate slow living, and a great choice for any Fellow who works on the northside. But the neighborhood “still has a buzz,” she says, “it’s just not as overwhelming as other areas. FOMO isn’t a thing here. You get to move at your own pace.”

Because she works from home, an average week day for Sarah starts with meetings at her Zionsville apartment. But thanks to the city’s bike paths, she can add variety to her day by making a short trip into the town’s center. She spends her afternoons working with a café con miel at Roasted in the Village, a place that “always feels like home” with its local art and window seats. 

For a break, Sarah will stop by Bender’s Alley to sit and read a book amid a rainbow of plants at the alley’s neighboring florist, Events & Florals of Zionsville. On her free days, Sarah fits in a trip to her favorite brunch spot, Rosie’s Place, to sample their monster cookies and will grab dinner with her friends at restaurants like The Cobblestone

While most Fellows might think of downtown Indy or Broad Ripple for nightlife, Zionsville also has some great options. Sarah recommends visiting The Salty Cowboy for its signature drink, tacos, and guacamole, which chefs hand-mash at your table.

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