More to Muncie that Meets the Eye
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More to Muncie that Meets the Eye

This article is commentary by senior Eleni Bow. The opinion expressed in this article is not necessarily the opinion of Delta High School or the Eagle’s Eye magazine.

By Eleni Bow

I was born at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. I’ve been in Muncie for all 18 years of my life. I’ve participated in several community programs this town has to offer, such as the Muncie Youth Council. I have patronized many small businesses and restaurants in and around the area. 

Muncie has hidden gems everywhere – you just need to look around.

It pains me when people say Muncie is “boring” with “literally nothing to do.” Even worse, I hear many people, especially teenagers, say that the only food places Muncie has are fast food joints. 

While we do have our fair share of McDonald’s and Taco Bells, we also have places that serve up protein shakes, BBQ egg benedicts, and vegan cupcakes. What makes these even better is that these are exclusive to Muncie – the beauty of small businesses.

All of the restaurants and businesses that I recommend here are ones that I have been to and purchased from multiple times. 

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Located on the northeast corner of East Charles and South Walnut streets next to Murray’s Jewelers, The Caffeinery has a drink for everyone. The owners are husband and wife who roast all their coffee in-house, meaning that fresh coffee grounds are being made right under you in the basement! This café sells coffees, teas, special seasonal drinks and a variety of pastries. My go-to order is a lavender tea and a toasty cinnamon roll. The atmosphere is great for hanging out with friends or having a study session. If you’re torn on what to order, I recommend trying one of their signature lattes. 

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On the western edge of the Ball State University campus is Christy Woods. The entrance gate is on West Riverside Avenue, next to the Charles W. Brown Planetarium. While you may have to pay a parking meter, admission into the woods and everything inside is free! Inside the woods are four greenhouses, two of which are open to the public for visiting. The Teaching and Research Greenhouse contains over 3,000 plant species found all over the world to study and admire. Tours of the greenhouse are available upon request. 

My favorite greenhouse to visit, however, is the Rinard Orchid Greenhouse. This greenhouse, with over 2,000 different orchid species, has the largest university-based orchid collection in the United States. Additionally, this greenhouse houses some animals, including poison dart frogs, turtles and a honeybee colony. The student volunteers are more than happy to give a tour here as well. My favorite plant in the greenhouses is the humble plant, or mimosa pudica. If you’re wondering why, you’ll just have to visit the greenhouse yourself. 

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“The only place you can mini-golf in Muncie is at Boulder Falls.” Wrong. In the heart of downtown on South Walnut Street, just across from The Barking Cow of Muncie, The Clubhouse @Accutech offers mini-golf in a few unique ways. Their trademark activity is their “micro-golf” course, which is exactly what it sounds like. Eighteen unique holes, some themed after Muncie landmarks, fit into one area of the building. A handful of the holes are interactable as well, meaning you can move the obstacles and traps to challenge your opponents as much as possible. If you do well enough, you can put your name on the monthly scoreboard!

If you’re a fan of simulator games, the Clubhouse offers multiple bays you can rent for a time to play virtual golf, soccer, skee-ball, the list goes on. The best part about these bays is that you also can order food and have it brought to you. I enjoy the mango habanero wings with some beer-battered fries. Before you leave, I recommend sharing one of their upscale milkshakes with your group. 

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Since my first trip to Europe, I’ve wished I could experience the laid-back energy of the continent back here at home. The Cafe at the Crossing does just that for me. Found in The Crossing plaza on West Jackson Street, this cozy restaurant opened at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and continues to succeed. You and some friends can grab a table inside or on their new patio. My mother and I are obsessed with the pearl sugar waffles – a European style waffle with pearl sugar instead of granulated. When I’m in the mood for something salty, avocado toast is my go-to. 

While some could argue that you can get waffles or avocado toast anywhere, the Cafe at the Crossing offers a unique breakfast item – a breakfast charcuterie board that will definitely fill you up. Don’t forget the coffee!

Waffles, French toast, croissants and fruit with chocolate sauce! (Photo by Eleni Bow)

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I painted this tile piece back in December 2020…my most recent piece is waiting to be fired! (Photo by Eleni Bow)

An artist’s paradise sits just past Ron Lahody’s Trust Your Butcher Steakhouse on South Walnut Street. Made in Muncie is a walk-in pottery painting studio where you can paint pieces made here in town. I don’t get to visit often, but when I do, I always feel relaxed and inspired when I leave. On my most recent visit, I painted a square plate with some personally special flowers. I enjoy working on pieces like plates that allow for extra creative freedom. On the other hand, if you like a bit more structure, you can paint little animals and magnets. Even if you don’t have much painting experience, the workers are happy to give advice, and there are dozens of different tools to experiment with for free! I really like using the glaze tips to get small clean lines. The overall atmosphere is warm and inviting, and I wish more people would visit it. 

I like to go to Made in Muncie with my boyfriend or my parents! (Photo by Eleni Bow)

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There are a few bakeries and pastry shops around town, but none of them can claim that all of their goods are vegan like Sea Salt & Cinnamon can. Found at the northeast corner of West Main and North Walnut streets, its owners, Amanda and Kyle Reninger, want their establishment to be welcoming to anyone’s dietary lifestyle. All of their equipment and ingredients to make cookies, cupcakes, sandwiches and more are vegan. I am a fan of the birthday cake cupcake and the macaroons. When I want a warm drink for a brisk day, a dirty cocoa (hot cocoa with coffee) is my absolute favorite. The Reningers are warm people, and eager to answer any questions you may have about their work and goods.

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This downtown restaurant is one of the places discussed in this article that I have possibly visited the most. Twin Archer Brewpub sits on West Charles Street next to Normandy Flower Shop, and can serve anyone, not just adults. The first thing you will notice is that your table is covered in brown paper, with crayons sitting in the condiment caddy. The next items that will catch your eye are the retro arcade machines, complemented by the colorful drawings plastered on the walls done by past customers. The last thing you – especially your nose – should catch on to is the smell of homemade wing sauces and soups. I could have a meal of just the maple chipotle wings and bleu cheese, but when I need something more, I can’t go wrong with the Jive Turkey burger. Just the thought of a grilled turkey patty with fresh spinach, grilled red peppers and a pesto aioli makes my mouth water. Instead of fries, I usually find myself dipping my sandwich into the homemade dill tomato soup. 

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At either of the two Starbucks’ locations in Muncie, you could get a venti salted caramel mocha frappuccino for $5.25, or you could go to Downtown Nutrition Muncie on North High Street and get three drinks for a grand total of eight dollars. First, you choose a shot of aloe vera juice flavored with cranberry, mandarin, or mango. I either go with the mango or mandarin. Next, you choose from one of the six or so flavors for your 16-ounce iced tea. I’m not too fancy, so I go with the peach flavor. The last and my favorite part is picking out your shake. I mean this literally when I say there is a flavor for everyone, from French toast to blueberry banana, marshmallow brownie to thin mint. There’s around 50 to choose from, but I always go with the lemon pound cake flavor. The best part about it is that it actually has pieces of pound cake mixed into it. Seasonal tea and shake flavors are featured throughout the year as well. 

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Many Muncie residents are familiar with this restaurant, but I wanted to include it anyway for those who maybe don’t live in or visit Muncie often. Sitting on Wheeling Avenue across from the Dollar General, By Hand and Fork is a fantastically yummy mom-and-pop restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch items all day. When you’re craving something salty, I recommend the Spicy Chipotle Brisket eggs benedict with hash browns. When my sweet tooth is aching, I love feasting on the Honey Bear French toast or pancakes. The combination of bananas, pecans and honey is a satisfying spiced flavor. No matter what I get however, it can never be complete without a fresh cup of coffee with French vanilla creamer. In terms of lunch, this place serves up filling sandwiches like reubens, tenderloins, even gyros!  If you somehow still have room for dessert, you can’t go wrong with a slice of lemon meringue pie. 

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Arguably the most unique small business in this article is the Rustic Rebels Geode and Crystal Mine on West University Avenue, just before Roots Burger Bar in the Village. The name may give away some aspects of this place, but it certainly does not reveal all of them. When you walk into this cozy place, you will see exotic plants for sale on your left and a plethora of rocks, fossils, crystals, local handmade art, jewelry and more for sale on your right. No matter what I go in there for, I always walk out with one of the $20 mystery boxes available for purchase. Twenty dollars sounds like a lot, but for all things you get with it and their variety, it definitely makes it worth it. Some of my favorite things I’ve gotten from these boxes are tiny geodes to crack, tumbled rose quartz that can be strung on a necklace, and a small pat of goat milk soap. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family or significant other, I recommend buying a bucket for the crystal mine. The price depends on the size of the bucket, but once you choose one, you can slowly sift your way through it using the sluice.

My crystal and rock collection, all of which have come from Rustic Rebels! (Photo by Eleni Bow)

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For a Muncie location as well known as Minnetrista Museum and Gardens, you may wonder why I even chose to include it in this article. There are quite a few activities, sites and community services offered that are relatively unknown through here. The entrance is found on North Minnetrista Parkway, and within the campus are a few community gardens. Just outside of the Orchard Shop is an herb garden that can be used by the public. Occasionally I visit it to get a few sprigs of lavender and rosemary. Volunteer Saturdays, which take place every second Saturday each month from March to December, give opportunities to plant said garden. These also allow you to help maintain the community produce garden, which is found near the orchard. Community members can help themselves to fresh cabbage, carrots and tomatoes just to name a few. If you want to start a garden of your own from scratch, you can take some seeds from the seed box within the produce garden. If you have extra seeds you don’t plan to use, you can leave them in the box for others. This past summer I used the seed box to get a spoonful of mixed wildflower seeds to sprinkle in my garden for free!

You can get wildflower seeds, gourd seeds, herb seeds…there’s always something new inside! (Photo by Eleni Bow)
October 27, 2022

About Author

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Eleni Bow Eleni Bow watches too many cartoons and takes too many photographs. Never seen without paint on her hands. An aspiring photojournalist and journalist while a senior (!) in high school. Stops to pet every cat or dog she sees. A day filled with new experiences is a day well spent. A day without a rainstorm is a day wasted. Currently listening to I Won't by AJR and THAT SUX by Royal and the Serpent.


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