I65-South Emerson – Indianapolis, IN

The no-nonsense name of this neighborhood may not sound lovely, but for residents from this portion of southern Indianapolis, few other places compare. I65-South Emerson is less populated than other neighborhoods in the region, its interstate less traveled and its numerous commercial outlets less busy. In the face of quickly developing and gentrifying north and east sides, locals also argue that their home blocks are more affordable and safer. It’s a claim I65-South Emerson proudly makes, even though it lies in one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas of the United States. Just 10 miles southeast of Indianapolis’ city center, residents access a list of retail and dining venues as well as the cultural gems of downtown. This middle class neighborhood attracts a growing number of educated, family-focused individuals to the “southside" for urban proximity in a comfortable suburb.

Schools in I65-South Emerson

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

I65-South Emerson residents benefit from a supply of Asian and American restaurants in their own neighborhood and a further abundance of ethnic kitchens in nearby Beech Grove. Follow the smell of home cooking down South Emerson Avenue to Dale’s Family Restaurant, a local establishment for breakfast and brunch. The menu features classics such as pancakes, bread pudding and savory meatloaf with a side of bacon green beans. Made-from-scratch meals draw families and seniors to this comfortable dining environment. At Fujiyama Steak House of Japan, the house ginger salad dressing nearly steals the show from the entertaining hibachi chefs. Try the teriyaki chicken, then buy a bottle of dressing to use at home. On Mondays and Tuesdays, pay half price for sushi rolls. On weekends, reservations are highly recommended. Hana Japanese Fusion competes for neighborhood loyalty with fresh sushi rolls of its own. Blending Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine, this sushi bar has previously won awards for the “Best Asian Fusion” in Indianapolis. Order creative concoctions such as the Mexican roll or the Land & Sea roll with steak and crawfish salad. Dining options include eating in or taking it with you. A casual nightlife scene spills over the neighborhood’s northern boundaries. Stay in I65-South Emerson for pool, darts and live music at Mikie’s Pub. The bar gets especially busy on Tuesdays, when it serves $.25 tacos. Just over South Arlington Avenue, the Irish-themed Murphy's Pubhouse serves pretzel bun sandwiches and shows sports on the TVs. The state chain Scotty’s Brewhouse, just west of East Southport Road, features specialty draft beers from Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., $3 pints on Thursdays and free meals for kids on Sundays. For clubs and a dance scene, head downtown.

History & Culture

I65-South Emerson remained a rural section of the county until the turn of the last century. After the building of a railway line and large railway facility in nearby Beech Grove, Indianapolis’ urban dwellers followed the trains – and later the interstate – to the south side of the city. Now, the neighborhood contains the trappings of a suburb, minus much artistic or cultural flair. Head to Beech Grove for a community theater performance at Spotlight Theatre, or pop over Interstate 65 into Greenwood to visit their Vino Villa winery. From a three-story converted old house, take in the view as you try tapas and a wine tasting. For one of the biggest events in the area, attend the Marion County Fair. From rides and old carnival games to fireworks, agricultural exhibits and fair food, the event has something for everyone. The fair takes place every June and costs $5 admission.


Interstate 65 and South Emerson Avenue require the use of private vehicles around the neighborhood. Though safety statistics comfort residents who prefer to bike or walk when possible, I65-South Emerson is too large and contains too many major roadways for comfortable foot and cycle traffic. South Emerson Avenue and several other streets are rated the “least bikeable” by cyclists; however, confident, highly-skilled cyclists do attempt them. For an easy alternative, catch a bus with the city’s public transportation system, IndyGo. Route 16 runs along South Emerson Avenue, carrying passengers through Beech Grove Business District and on to downtown Indianapolis. Buses run every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday, and the trip to city center takes about 50 minutes. Drive yourself and reach the downtown area in just 13 minutes when you take Interstate 65. A few minutes journey in the opposite direction sends you toward rural Indiana. One of the city’s taxi companies can make the trip in similar time, or, you can travel around Indianapolis using Uber. When it comes to parking, most commercial venues provide ample lot space for vehicles.


The cost of living in the I65-South Emerson neighborhood is nearly 8 percent less than the average cost of living in Indianapolis. While goods and services cost roughly the same, housing prices are almost 20 percent lower. For this reason, rental rates for a one-bedroom unit average $953 a month. Catch the bus downtown, and pay $1.75 for a single fare ticket or $4 for a full day pass. If you fill up your car, you pay approximately 10 percent less than the national average. Planning a night out? Keep $3 to $5 in your wallet for a pint of beer and at least $12 for dinner.


Suburbia’s biggest and most common retail names - Target, Kmart, Lowes - call the neighborhood home. However, these corporate chains push the area’s smaller, specialized stores into compact population centers such as nearby Beech Grove. Inside I65- South Emerson, the remaining locally owned businesses balance a personal touch with a professional environment. Self Reliance Outfitters manufactures its own goods for Pathfinder School. This survival and educational course tests the fishing, camping, hunting and trapping equipment in real conditions to guarantee quality. The store holds events such as lessons in archery, knots and lashings, and tool maintenance. Staff members at Dammann’s Lawn, Garden and Landscaping are quick to answer questions and help customers choose the right plants. Higher prices reflect a wider selection of flowers, shrubs and trees. Visit their website for a seasonal gardening calendar and bird-feeding information. Purchase your food supplies at Kroger, Aldi or the regional chain, Meijer. For independent grocers and ethnic markets, look toward downtown Indianapolis. The nearest farmers market is held in Beech Grove, north of the neighborhood. Organic, sustainable and handmade wares are sold each week.


While I65-South Emerson has no park of its own, residents access various outdoor facilities at two nearby green spaces. Hornet Park in Beech Grove provides over 14 acres of open lawn and picnic areas. Its location, next to two schools gives the park a constant hums from students, children and families. A community center on park grounds houses meeting rooms and work-out rooms with fitness equipment. You can use the high school tennis courts after school hours, or trade the athletic activities for a more relaxing walk through the park’s woods. Several blocks east of Hornet Park, Hartman Park is home to several baseball diamonds and a summer baseball league. Dogs are welcome in both parks but must remain on-leash. Cyclists craving a long stretch of maintained pavement should check out the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a unique bike trail that takes riders through downtown’s greatest public art pieces, historic buildings and dining venues.
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