Guest-written by Meghan Stratton, Marketing and Communications Intern at Indy Maven

As a senior at Butler University, I’ve been lucky enough to celebrate four winter seasons in the great city of Indianapolis. From the more well-known activities to the hidden gems, I’ve explored our city to bring you some of my favorites. This winter bucket list day promises to stay in a college student’s budget and support local businesses — a true holiday treat.

1. Visit the outdoor patio and seasonal menu at Just Pop In!

Just Pop In! is a Broad Ripple staple for anyone interested in stylish decor, extraordinary popcorn, and seasonal drinks. I started my ultimate winter day by meeting up with my co-intern at Indy Maven, Kylie Stine, for lunch! We enjoyed Just Pop In!’s cozy outdoor patio and devoured these beautiful salads.

2. Make it a “tropical” holiday at Garfield Park Conservatory

The second stop of the day was driving over to Garfield Park to enjoy the toasty, oxygenated air in the Garfield Park Conservatory. This conservatory has hundreds of gorgeous plants, it truly feels like a tropical oasis. Although the activity is indoors, everyone was responsibly wearing masks, and the path through the conservatory was one-way only. This activity is a sure way to stay warm for the holidays, and for only $4 admission!

3. Grab dinner and drinks at Union Jack Pub’s outdoor igloos

After that, it was time to celebrate the weekend with drinks! I had been eyeing the small, decorated igloos on Broad Ripple Avenue for quite some time now, so I was so excited to see what Union Jack Pub was all about. Each igloo fits two to three people and they were heavily sanitized after each use. The food and drinks were wonderful — and let me tell you, this seasonal cocktail menu “Union Jack Frost” blew me away! We got in the festive cheer with drinks called “The Grinch” and “Yule Mule.” And Indy has many phenomenal outdoor patio spaces, it’s so hard to choose!

4. Walk off dinner at Newfields Winterlights

This winter activity should be a staple in any Indianapolis holiday season. This year, the activity is all outdoors and there is a one-way walking path as well. Also new this year is the Whimsical Terrace area lit up outside the Lilly Family Playhouse. My personal favorite parts of Winterlights are the Ice Storm Walk, the Snowflake bridge, and of course the hot apple cider! With over 1.5 million lights, this is the perfect experience gift for Indianapolis residents and visitors of all ages.

5. View the Circle of Lights from 10 stories tall

Have you ever wanted a spectacular, socially-distanced view of Indy’s holiday icon? Look no further than the Pennsylvania Street parking garage. On any Friday night, cars will line up two blocks to see the Circle of Lights, only to get a drive-by glance. But atop the parking garage, you can stay and marvel at the lights for as long as you’d like! You could even have a picnic and eat takeout from a local downtown restaurant. And another pro-tip, learn from my mistake and park your car on the first floor and take the elevator to the top floor, instead of driving up 10 stories of tight turns. You’ll thank me later.

And there you have it! Five winter activities in Indianapolis to help you celebrate the holidays. Whether you’re celebrating from near or far, be sure to celebrate all Indianapolis has to offer this holiday season. I for one am so grateful.

Meghan Stratton is a marketing and communications intern at Indy Maven, Indianapolis’ women-centric digital media brand. She is also a senior at Butler University and the Editor-in-Chief of The Butler Collegian student newspaper. During any typical wintertime season, you can find her baking too many chocolate chip cookies, or visiting the Santa Claus Christmas store in Santa Claus, Indiana. But that’s a story for a different day!