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The Indy 500 Isn’t the Only Reason to Visit Indianapolis

Plus: How to check a bag for free, and the best way to recover lost luggage.

A bustling street in Indianapolis
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Indy
 

Memorial Day weekend means racing fans are on their way to the largest single-day sporting event in the nation, the spectacularly deafening Indianapolis 500.

Racing not your thing? Take it down a notch in downtown Indy, where you can explore the city’s brand-new Cultural Trail, a biking and walking trail that makes a rectangular loop around the downtown. The eight-mile trail connects several cultural districts and neighborhoods—including trendy Mass Ave with its art installations, the 250-acre White River State Park, museums, theatres, and the illuminated gardens of the Glick Peace Walk. If you stay at the Alexander, you can borrow one of the hotel’s bikes and hop on the trail right outside the doors.
 

Try American’s New Zero-Baggage Boarding Plan Before Travelers Game It Out of Existence

Last week, American Airlines announced that customers with little to no carry-on luggage may board early—in the relatively prime position between Groups 1 and 2. The kicker, though, is that you can show up with a bulky carry-on, check it at the gate at no charge, and still board prior to Group 2. Critics are already carping about the plan’s obvious flaw: “Why would you ever pay a baggage fee if you can gate-check your bag for free?” said Jami Counter of TripAdvisor, who was quoted in a recent news story about the plan. Read Ben Mutzabaugh’s full article in USA Today.
 

Lost Your Luggage? Don’t Cry. Tweet!

Instead of getting in line at the airport to file a report, Wendy Perrin, a travel-advice columnist at The Perrin Report, recommends that you first tweet the airline. In “How To Use Twitter to Solve Airline Luggage Mishaps,” Perrin recounts her own luggage debacle earlier this month in Quito, Ecuador, when she turned to Twitter for an assist. “I tweeted to American Airlines and, within literally three minutes, it responded with more useful information than I had been able to extract in more than an hour at the airport,” she says. Read her account at Condé Nast Traveler.
 

The Vatican Debuts at This Year’s Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennale, one of the highest profile art exhibitions in the world, starts on June 1 and runs through November 24. This year’s surprise? For the first time in the Biennale’s 55 years, the Vatican will take part—with plans for a modernist interpretation of the Book of Genesis. Find out more on CNN or flip through a New York Times slideshow from the 2011 Biennale for an up-close look.
 

Every Soldier Deserves a Free Vacation—or At Least a Deal

Since 2009, the non-profit Troop Rewards has brokered recovery vacations for U.S. soldiers and their families returning from overseas through its charitable network of hotel partners. Through the service, the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, for example, will offer free four-night vacations to five lucky service men or women over Memorial Day weekend. While we haven’t found a freebie like that in Chicago, the Renaissance Blackstone gets close with its Half Price for Heroes deal, which offers first responders, active, and retired military up to 50 percent off. That can mean rates as low as $89.50 a night.

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