Chuck's Lovely Adventure: Indianapolis

Chuck's Lovely Adventure concluded here in Indy. (WTHR)
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Chuck Lofton

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — OK, I have lived in Indy for nearly 35 years, and there is nothing I haven't experienced — right? Wrong.

Our Lovely Adventure trip back home was filled with thrills, fun, family and romantic experiences that I would have missed if it weren't for this special series on Sunrise.

Penn and Beech Candle Co.


One of the big trends we have seen in traveling five states on our lovely adventure is this: people now want an EXPERIENCE — something more that just a dinner and a movie. They want to make memories.

I had not heard of Penn and Beech, but believe me, I am going back.

Penn and Beech is a place where you can buy lovely scented candles, but the folks here want you to create your own custom fragrance with a date or a group of people. Making candles, to them, is a social experience.

Our scent experts helped us pick three different scents that would go together, and it was off to the table in the beautifully decorated showroom. We grabbed a clipboard with a menu card and made our selections from 100 different scents. As the staff puts together the scent, you choose your jar, and the pouring begins as we created a candle. The candles have to cure, and some guests stay for a drink or head to a nearby restaurant for a meal, then head back to pick up their candles. I have plans to come back.

Smelling other peoples choices, laughing and talking about the choices — everything from lavender to bacon — left all of us in a good mood. Plus, bringing the date night experience home means the joy of the evening lasts for a while — or at least til the candle finishes burning!

My suggestion: call ahead, or go online and make a reservation, and bring lots of friends. Penn and Beech is more than a candle store — it is a place where memories are made.

Hoosier Heights

The lead wall at Hoosier Heights. (WTHR)

Hoosier Heights in Carmel is a rush — literally! Located on Mayflower Park Drive, Hoosier Heights guests are united in their love for indoor climbing.

The folks we met were experienced climbers in the steep and challenging walls in the facility, but the general manager of Hoosier Heights was quick to note that they will introduce first-timers to a class that introduces the three pillars of climbing and help them get started. Yes, we were told this is the perfect date night for the hearty, and many couples have experienced a love for vertical adventure after just one visit.

The facility hosts parties and corporate events too. Couples, if they wish, can also take private classes. I loved this place!

5 Star Dance Studio


Speaking of love, we next spent time with four lovely couples who are taking their relationships to new levels thanks to dance. Craig Cassel has been in the dance lesson and completion business since the 1970s, and we stopped by one of his 5 Star Dance Studios in Carmel.

These couples love to dance and have found that trust and patience, and a deeper appreciation for their spouse can come together through dancing.

Full disclosure: my wife and I have been dancing at 5 Star in Greenwood for a couple of years, and it has been a fun way for us to do something together that we really enjoy. Even though I have a broken foot, I couldn't keep off the dance floor and did a modified version of "The Hustle" with one of the instructors!

Gallery Pastry Shop

Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Chuck trying his hand at making deserts at Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Chuck and Mary having fun sampling at Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Chuck giving it a good stir at Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Enjoying the fruits of their labor at Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Mary taking a turn stirring at Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)
Gallery Pastry Shop. (WTHR)

Without question, the biggest surprise of this trip came when my wife Mary joined me at the Gallery Pastry Shop on East 54th Street. Producer Megan had contacted my son, Phillip, and daughter-in-law, Heidi, and they were there waiting for us. Needless to say, I was shocked!

Known for its delicious French macaroons, Chef Ben Hardy gave us a crash course in macaroon making, and even though I can burn toast easily, this was a wonderful time. We made 300 macaroons, including Chef Ben's favorite — the pistachio flavor. These things were incredible. After the work of preparing the filling and baking the shells, we got to eat them, and they melted in your mouth.

What a wonderful place. Gallery serves brunch and offers cooking classes during the week. I heartily recommend the experience!

Tinker Street

We quickly moved to the crowded but wonderful Tinker Street restaurant where Tom Main and his staff take real pride in their cozy, wonderful, friendly restaurant on 16th Street near downtown. This place has a well-deserved reputation for deliciousness.

After all the macaroons, I wasn't very hungry, but the burger was incredible, the staff was on point and I promise to return. It was a cold night, but you can east outside under a canopy. Yes, it was plenty warm.

Speedway Indoor Karting

Speedway Indoor Karting. (WTHR)

Next stop, off to Speedway to see my friend, former Indy Car driver Sarah Fisher, who along with her husband, Andy, have made their Speedway Indoor Karting facility a must-see when you are in town. Sarah has made SIK a fun place for couples to enjoy the experience of racing each other a fun time. She and her husband met while racing, and she is a firm believer that getting out on the race course can bring people together.

Despite my broken foot, I was able to go a couple of laps racing Sarah and yes, she kicked my tail. That's OK — I really enjoyed spending some time with this trailblazer in racing and the wonderful business she has opened up.

Bar One Fourteen

Bar One Fourteen. (WTHR)

Martha Hoover has a lot of wonderful restaurants in Indy, but her Bar One Fourteen is very special. This intimate building on 49th Street is a luxe microbar that is not only a high fidelity listening room but also a place for an intimate meal.

The food and drink is great, but I was blown away by the Klipsch Forte speakers that generated a fantastic sound by a vintage reel to reel tape player and vinyl turntable. It's a listening experience but also a food and drink experience all in a cozy little nook in the Meridian Kessler neighborhood.

The Alexander


Finally, a trip to The Alexander — a place I had been before but enjoyed visiting again.

The Alexander is one of my favorite places downtown, and we visited at the end of the breakfast hour when guests were checking out, but we were checking in to the wonderful coffee bar. Near Bankers Life Fieldhouse and nestled in the City Way area, this hotel is one of the country's most unique inns — part hotel and part art museum. Due to an exclusive agreement with Newfields, this hotel features art from local and international artists. You can't walk down the hall without stopping and soaking in the creativity of both artists and the hotel designers.

By the way, the breakfast pastries are to die for, and if you see barista Devin, ask her to make the Chuck Lofton special — a red velvet mocha that is awesome!

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How glad I am that we ended our Lovely Adventure in my favorite city of all — Indianapolis — and how glad I am that I will be enjoying taking the bride of my youth on our own lovely adventure right here in this great city.

Thanks to Megan, Steve, John, Scott and Clint for helping me bring this wonderful adventure to all of you.