I wasn’t familiar with Carmel until Hamilton County Tourism invited me to visit. In case you didn’t know either, Carmel, along with the towns of Noblesville, Fishers, and Westfield, make up northern Indianapolis, Indiana. The cities bring 175 outdoor concert offerings per year, 500 miles of walking and hiking trails, 15 craft breweries, 100 local restaurants, and continually make the list of best places to live in America (CNN Money). There are so many cool things to see and do in this part of the Hoosier state that my daughter, Taylor, and I instantly fell in love with. Here are four ways to enjoy Carmel, Indiana, and its neighboring suburbs.
Taylor and I are both bath junkies, so we found it perfectly fitting that we visit the Bath Junkie store in the Carmel City Center. This “everything but the kitchen sink” store has been mixing custom fragrance products for the past five years in its fun bath studio. Items include body and foot lotions, pet shampoo, fabric softener, dish soap, massage oils, after-bath mist, and a variety of shower and bath products. You pick the color and scents; Bath Junkie does the rest.
While you’re at the Carmel City Center, be sure to check out the other boutique stores. Afterward, head over to Clay Terrace or the Fashion Mall at Keystone (boasting over 120 stores, including Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue) for even more choices. If you are looking for home improvement, products, or decor, there is a fantastic IKEA store.
2. Living History
Conner Prairie is a brilliant interactive history museum (in Fishers) that will delight the entire family with its living history, animals, science exhibits, educational workshops, and hands-on activities. Step into an 1863 Civil War raid, field hospital, and union camp, all with interpretive actors setting the stage for you to experience it. Then, visit the Mayfield & Nichols Dry Goods Store or an 1836 prairie town schoolhouse where classes are in session for everyone.
See what life was like during the days of yore (19th-century) along the White River. Check out working Blacksmith and Carpenter shops, the Golden Eagle Inn, and McClure’s home, to name a few.
Kids will love the treetop outpost with a nature walk or practicing their carpenter skills inside of the main museum. Meanwhile, Taylor donned safety glasses and participated in the sawing display and a handful of others.
My favorite part of Conner Prairie was the animal encounters barn where we go to see, pet and admire adorable goats, sheep, and a calf. If you go in the spring, you are pretty sure to see animal babies–it’s worth the visit!
Fun Fact: Conner Prairie was created by the pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly, in 1934 and was Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate. I wish I had known about Conner Prairie when my kids were young.
My favorite breakfast in Carmel was from Rosie’s Place, in both Carmel and Noblesville. It offers dozens of fresh baked goods and pastries, but the egg dishes were the star of the menu. Choose from daily egg scrambles, quiche, Bennys, burritos, quesadillas, tacos, or omelets. My favorite was the Winter Veggie Hash with sweet potatoes, onions, beets, Brussels sprouts, and spinach over quinoa, topped with poached eggs, hollandaise, and balsamic. This dish is unreal!
Enjoy a full-course British meal with a proper afternoon tea at Tina’s Traditional Old English Kitchen. Come for the tea and scones, but stay for the fabulous Coronation Chicken.
Enjoy a unique dinner at Woody’s Library Restaurant. Be sure to order the fantastic tenderloin sandwich, a specialty in the state of Indiana. You may have the best pizza of your life at the award-winning BoomBozz Tap House, an institution that has perfected pizza crust.
After stuffing yourself with delicious grub, save room for a tasty ice cream cone from Graeters.
Read more about our dining adventures around Carmel in this food post.
A Gourmet Hotspot
Eggshell Bistro is another top foodie destination. Here is what our friend Sue Reddel of Food Travelist had to say about it:
The thing I remember the most about the Eggshell Bistro in Carmel, Indiana, is the feeling. That feeling that you know you just walked into someplace special. Chef Larry Hanes immediately made us feel at home. Every dish is crafted with his global inspiration. A true student of the world his passion for creating unique dishes really shines in every single dish.
It’s hard to define the cuisine on the menu because it has influences from France, Spain, Morocco and the United States. My best advice is to try as much as you can and plan on a leisurely brunch experience. Just choosing from the list of gourmet coffee or tea selections will be more difficult than you’d expect. For a taste of the world go visit Eggshell Bistro in Carmel, Indiana.
Read Food Travelist’s Eggshell Bistro story here
Pop in with the whole family or enjoy a solo break at Books & Brews, a unique place to visit at the Carmel City Center. Here, you can peruse the book selection, play one of the dozens of games on-hand, drink a craft beer, or order light snacks to pair with your beer, cider, or other beverages. The atmosphere is relaxing and is welcoming to visitors. It is kid-friendly.
If you are looking to get outside, consider strolling around the Carmel Arts & Design District. The complex is filled with shops and eateries as well as cool life-like statues that are perfect for photo-ops and admiring. Pop in some of the shops listed on the Indiana Glass Trail.
Tired of walking? Try out the Zagster Carmel Bike Share program to explore the local trails and town by bicycle If you are feeling ambitious, consider biking the Monon Trail, a former railroad route that’s now a paved bike trail.
When you need a pick me up, fill your energy tank with a sugary donut from Jack’s Donuts.
Topgolf is a big draw in the Fishers area. Regardless of the weather conditions, practice your golf swing and have fun at this world-class attraction with 100 climate-controlled hitting bays. Don’t miss the rooftop terrace and fire pit.
If you crave the real thing, you’ll find epic golf courses in these friendly Indiana towns. One Scottish links-style course was designed by Pete Dye and had the longest front nine course east of the Mississippi. There is even a Pete Dye Trail featuring three courses in the local area: Plum Creek Golf Club, The Fort Golf Resort, and Brickyard Crossing Golf Club.
Looking for a Place to Stay?
The Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis/Carmel is ideally located for exploring Carmel and nearby Hamilton County towns. It offers upscale, comfortable accommodations with attractive decor and accessible amenities at a reasonable price. Be sure to check out the indoor pool, fitness center, on-site convenience store, a 24-hour business center, and complimentary WiFi. A delicious breakfast is included with your stay.
More Than I Could Ever Have Imagined in Carmel, Indiana
With such excellent shopping, living history, food, and things to do, you can see why Carmel is a place you should add to your travel bucket list. We loved it and think you might, too. I hope you find this part of the state as fascinating as we did!
Thanks to Visit Hamilton County, Indiana CVB for hosting our visit. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased. To learn more about the area, check out their awesome website.
Read about more places to visit in Indiana: