After an amazing visit to Indianapolis, I decided to make an overnight stop in Hamilton County to see what life was like outside of the city. I was mainly looking for some outdoor adventures to counteract my city experience and after talking to a few friends from the area, I found out that Hamilton County was the spot to go. Let me just say, it blew me away and I wanted to pick up and move to the little town of Carmel!
If you’re wanting to get out of the city, Hamilton County, is one of the best day trips from Indianapolis!
Hamilton County is one of the counties bordering Indianapolis and is pretty easy to get to from the city for a short weekend or day trip. Most people opt to get there by driving or even taking a bike! If you drive it would take you about 30 minutes to Carmel and if you bike along the paved Monon walking and bike trail from Indianapolis it would take you about an hour depending on where you leave Indy. Both, Indy and Carmel have street bike rentals that make it extremely easy to get from one to the other.
Rent bikes from Zagster and mill around Carmel or on the forested Monon Trail
This trail is incredible! You can ride all the way from Indianapolis to get to Carmel or just take a ride around Hamilton County. You’ll pass forests, over bridges, through parks, and by water. The whole trail is beautiful and it’s fun to ride on a sunny day! Zagster is an easy bike share in Hamilton County that we used.
Check out the riding trails and horses at K-Trails
I love horses and they are scattered all over the expansive land in Hamilton. You can ride them if you head over to K-Trails and they’ll take you through the parks, wilderness and close to the White River.
Test out your archery skills at Koteewi Archery Range
Right next to the K-Trails is the archery range. This is the perfect activity for a date or day outing if you want to try it. I didn’t try it this time, but there were a lot of people out there enjoying the sun and slinging some arrows.
Hit up the ropes course at Koteewi Aerial Park.
This was my ultimate favorite part of my trip to Hamilton. I’ve done ropes courses before but experiencing this one was another level. It was super challenging, but fun because I had Jen and Whitney there with me. The course has three different levels and Jen and I tried them all. I was so sore afterward because the advanced level was REALLY challenging for me. I did feel super accomplished afterward though and it was the perfect activity for a Sunday afternoon!
Have a picnic, bring some lawn games and chill out in Strawtown Koteewi Park
This park is massive and allows for lawn games, sports games, picnics and just about anything else you’d like to do. The park itself is beautiful and it almost feels like you’re in the wilderness instead of an actual park.
Kayak on the river with White River Canoe Company
The White River goes right through Hamilton County and is a perfect day trip activity out of Indy. Taking a ride down the river is also a great way to see the county from a different viewpoint. White River Canoe Company offers kayaking, tubeing, and canoeing on the river.
Walk downtown Carmel to see all of the statue art
Carmel is one of the cutest little towns I’ve ever been to. The downtown is extremely clean and walker and biker friendly. As you walk through the downtown you’ll also start to notice real life looking statues all over the place. At first I seriously thought they were real people just standing around, but once I got closer I realized they were art statues. It was a really fun and unique thing that i’ve never seen before in a small town and I ended up loving the quirkiness of it!
Bike up to the Carmel City Center
City Center is a somewhat newer part of Carmel and can easily be accessed from downtown by walking or biking along the Monon Trail. There are tons of shops, workout classes, and little restaurants inside the center. City Center is also located next to The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts and Civic Theatre. Both beautiful buildings to check out!
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
- Bubs Cafe – they have any type of down-home breakfast you could want! From biscuits and gravy (they are amazing) to huge breakfast burritos, to yummy breakfast donuts. Plus, they have a porch to sit on in the summer and it’s located right off of the Monon bike trail.
- Eggshell Bistro is a popular brunch spot, filled with locals and right in the hip City Center in Carmel.
- Joe’s Butcher Shop and Fish Market – this is a great place to grab a sandwich and go eat in a park. I loved the chicken pesto and BLT.
- Woodys Liberty Restaurant – make sure to order the famous dish of Indiana. The famous pork tenderloin sandwich. I loved it!
- divvy – This dinner spot is really popular for the locals and located right inside City Center in Carmel.
- Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream – we came here for the ice cream and the line was long, but the ice cream was well worth the wait. You’ll feel like you’re in small town USA and it’s extremely charming. It reminded me a bit of Idaho and they serve burgers that look amaze.
- Peace Water Winery – this is a fun little wine bar that gives 50% of their profits to charity and you get to pick the charity on their giving wall! Their patio is really cute and their wines are pretty amazing (mostly coming from Napa Valley in CA).
- Union Brewing Company – located right off of the Monon trail, this brewery is a perfect place to bike or walk to for Happy Hour. They also allow you to order food from the next door Jamaican restaurant if you want to eat out on their huge patio.
WHERE TO STAY
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