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Your ultimate guide to Indianapolis during College Football Playoff National Championship festivities

Where to go, what to eat, and how to get around Indianapolis during the College Football Playoff National Championship.

INDIANAPOLIS — Georgia against Alabama is something we've seen before. The two SEC teams faced off a little over a month ago — and Alabama came out on top. 

But when they suit up this time in Indianapolis, a national championship is at stake. 

Some 100,000 people are expected to flood into Indianapolis to watch Georgia take on Alabama at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, Jan. 10.

Days before kickoff, and all throughout the weekend, the Circle City will be abuzz with concerts, events and celebrations. 

Here's your guide to everything happening in Indy this week! 

Credit: WTHR

Game time

The 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship will air Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at 8 p.m. ET.  

It will air live on ESPN and can be streamed in the ESPN app.

Alabama advanced to its sixth national championship game in seven years after defeating Cincinnati 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl. 

Georgia beat Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl to advance to the national championship.

RELATED: 9-time Grammy nominee Natalie Grant to perform national anthem at College Football Championship

What to eat

You shouldn't expect corn on the cob when you come into Indy.

For the past few years, whenever Indianapolis has happened to make one of those end of year, "here's where you should travel" type lists, food has been a big reason why. 

Some bad news: reservations are already are non-existent at St. Elmo's Steakhouse — the oldest and award-winningest restaurant in town. It's the same story at their sister restaurant, Harry and Izzy's. 

While the shrimp cocktail is stuff of legend, this is a city that cannot be defined by an appetizer. 

RELATED: 2022 College Football Playoff posters unveiled at Indianapolis airport

On Massachusetts Avenue, a popular area not far from where many events will be held on Monument Circle, a lot of great restaurants like Bakersfield or The Eagle do not take reservations.  

An ideal strategy is to get to Mass Ave early — we're talking noon to 3 p.m. — put your name in, then make your way to Nine Irish Brothers or Rathskeller for a drink while you wait. Dinner at either of those locations wouldn't be bad, either. 

In Fountain Square, a trendy part of town that is about a 10-minute drive to Lucas Oil Stadium, spots like Upland, La Margarita (located under the "You Are Beautiful" sign so it's Instagrammable, too) or Bru Burger Bar are promising locations for dinner. 

If you're anywhere near Mass Ave. during your trip to Indianapolis, a stop by the Bottleworks District is in order. Staying at the hotel can be a bit pricey, around $599 for a night this weekend, but you don't have to be a guest there to enjoy some of the swanky cocktail bars inside. The Garage Food Hall is also a must-visit if you want an authentic taste of Indy. Current vendors include:  J’s Lobster & Fish Market, Lick Ice Cream, La Chinita Poblana, BluPoint Oyster House & Bar, Poke Guru, Azucar Morena, The Harbour, Hard Truth Distilling, Clancy’s Hamburgers, Certain Feelings Coffee Co., Gaucho’s Fire, Abbiocco Pizzeria, Axle’s Garage Tap, Herculean Meal Prep, Chapati Beta, and Mama Fofo’s

For the brunch connoisseurs among us, think Milktooth in Fountain Square, Garden Table on Mass Ave., Lincoln Square Pancake House on Meridian Street or Cafe Patachou downtown. 

Looking for a place to get a drink throughout the weekend? Sun King downtown or Metazoa (dog friendly!) and Upland in Fountain Square are popular local breweries. 

Places like Kilroy's and Winner's Circle offer a more quintessential sports bar experience. You can also get into Indy's emerging cider scene at Ash & Elm on the east side. 

Visit Indy has an ultimate guide to the top 25 restaurants in the city, so you can take a look and decide what you like!

Getting around

Navigating around Indy by car can be tricky right now. 

The city is in the middle of the North Split construction project, a two-year undertaking that essentially cut off the stretch of interstate that makes downtown accessible.

"INDOT is working with Downtown Indy and the CF Playoffs to make sure that fans and teams know where to go and how to avoid construction," an INDOT spokesperson told 13News. 

For North Split updates, you can text NORTHSPLIT to 468311.

Locals have been dealing with this since spring, and know the key to success downtown, if you have to have a car, is getting there an hour or so earlier than you think is necessary. 

Fortunately, the folks with Downtown Indy already have a map laid out that lets you look at construction projects around Lucas Oil and get a glimpse at what kind of parking spots (overnight, electric, etc.) are available near you. 

Those using Uber or Lyft will actually be picked up and dropped off one block east of Lucas Oil Stadium, on northbound Illinois Street. 

If you're driving your own car, the Park Mobile app will be a lifesaver! Instead of schlepping to the nearest Park Mobile pay station, you can find a parking spot and pay from your car. It is available on Apple or Android. It lets you add time from your phone as well. 

You can also reserve a parking spot with Park Whiz

If you're not looking forward to walking everywhere in single digits temps — more on the forecast later — or dealing with a likely Uber surge, IndyGo buses are also a great option! 

IndyGo Bus lines 14, 31, 90 are closest to the stadium, and you can pick up a pass here. IndyGo bus services also offer more than 30 routes to and from the city’s downtown transportation hub. It's a short walk to Lucas Oil from there. 

For the more daring, the city does have scooters. Bird and Lime Scooters are located around Indianapolis and can be driven to the stadium. 

Park your scooters by the Indiana Convention Center located at Capitol Avenue and Georgia Street or by the post office on Capitol Avenue and South Street. 

Events

Now to the fun part! There are a ton of events happening. 

Throughout the weekend, guests will enjoy Championship Campus by experiencing CFP signature events, such as Playoff Fan Central, AT&T Playoff Playlist Live!, Allstate Championship Tailgate, Media Day, Extra Yard 5K and Taste of the Championship.

Playoff Fan Central / Jan. 8 - 9 / Indiana Convention Center

Playoff Fan Central is an experience that gives thousands of fans the opportunity to be a part of the College Football Playoff National Championship.

The event will include games, clinics, pep rallies, band performances, special guest appearances, autograph signings and exhibits celebrating college football and its history. 

Credit: WTHR
Friends pose in front of the statues at Fan Day, 2022.

Jan. 8: 10 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Jan. 9: 10 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Jan. 10: 10 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

AT&T Playoff Playlist Live / Jan. 8-9 / Monument Circle 

AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! will bring a weekend of music to Indianapolis, serving as the soundtrack for the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship. The free concert series kicks off Saturday, Jan. 8 and continues on Sunday, Jan. 9, leading up to the national championship game on Monday, Jan. 10. 

Fans braved frigid temperatures and a bomb threat on the first night of the AT&T Playoff Playlist Live show to see Doja Cat and AJR. 

Police arrested a man near the College Football Playoff festivities in downtown Indianapolis after witnesses said he spoke of carrying an explosive.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said the man was trying to get through the security line at Monument Circle. Nearby witnesses told police the man said he had an explosive on him.

Minutes before performers took the stage, crews were pouring ice onto the pavement in an attempt to mitigate hazardous conditions caused by a Winter Weather Advisory that was put into effect across central Indiana on Saturday night.

Both performers, AJR and Doja Cat, eventually performed. 

It was announced Saturday evening that due to inclement weather, the BANDALOOP dance performance on the Salesforce Tower and drone light show were canceled. 

The drone light show was also canceled Sunday and Monday due to the weather.

Twenty One Pilots and Ava Max are scheduled to perform on Sunday, Jan. 9 from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Credit: WTHR
Temps were low, but spirits were high as concert goers awaited entry.

Extra Yard 5K / Jan. 9 / Indiana Convention Center

The Extra Yard 5K is the official road race of the College Football Playoff. It is a 3.1 mile walk/run that starts in the Indiana Convention Center and winds through downtown Indianapolis. 

A post-race tailgate party will feature live entertainment, activities with race sponsors, an awards ceremony and more. 

Proceeds benefit the CFP Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers initiative. Get tickets here.

Allstate Championship Tailgate / Jan. 10 / Monument Circle

On game day, celebrate with other fans!  Prior to kickoff on Monday, Jan. 10, the stage at Monument Circle will be transformed into the Capital One Stage at Allstate Championship Tailgate.

From noon-5:00 p.m. watch Sam Hunt and Breland perform!

Forecast 

Yes, it is likely there will be a chill in the air this weekend. 

Confidence is high that the coldest air in 11 months hits us Thursday night into Friday morning — with or without snow on the ground. Lows plummet into the single digits, and harsh wind chills between -5 degrees to -10 degrees are expected.

Safety protocol

The College Football Playoff (CFP) Management Committee announced a series of steps to protect student-athletes' health and safety from coronavirus through the championship game in Indianapolis. The changes include possibly delaying a game and team forfeitures.

“As we prepare for the Playoff, it’s wise and necessary to put into place additional precautions to protect those who will play and coach the games,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the CFP. “These policies will better protect our students and staffs while providing clarity in the event worst-case scenarios result.”

RELATED: College Football Playoff announces COVID plan, including possible team forfeitures

The national championship game in Indianapolis may be rescheduled to no later than Friday, Jan. 14. If one team is able to play and the other is not and the game cannot be rescheduled or is rescheduled and cannot be played, then the team unable to play shall forfeit the game and the other team shall be declared CFP National Champion. If both teams are unable to play on either an original or rescheduled date, then the game shall be declared “no contest” and the CFP National Championship shall be vacated for this season. 

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