Hamilton County, Indiana, lies approximately 30 miles northeast of Indianapolis. I’ve been to Indy several times in my life but never stopped to have a look around Hamilton County. After spending a recent weekend there with the kids, I realized all that we’d been missing out on!
The “crown jewels” of Hamilton County are the towns of Noblesville, Carmel, Fishers, and Westfield. We spent some time in each town except Westfield (no one’s fault – we just ran out of time), and it was clear that each has its own unique personality. Noblesville has the historic charm and adventurous spirit; Carmel has the creativity along with a slight pretense; Fishers has the educational, family fun; and Westfield is the sporty type. Families can easily spend a few days in each of the four main Hamilton County towns; we had just a few days to explore the whole county but we managed to see and do a lot! Below are the highlights of our trip as well as recommendations for future visitors.
Start out your visit to Hamilton County at the historically charming town square to admire the “Instagram-worthy” Hamilton County Courthouse. Construction of the building was completed in 1879 and, today, the Second Empire style courthouse is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to stop into Rosie’s Place across from the courthouse for a bite or a scrumptious bakery item. I highly recommend the avocado toast with fresh ricotta, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and pine nuts.
You’ll need the fuel before heading to Strawtown Koteewi Park, about a 15-minute drive from the Noblesville town square. Once inhabited by the Delaware and Miami Native Americans, Strawntown Koteewi is now a 750-acre park. With miles of hiking and biking trails, a canoe launch on the White River, aerial adventures, an archery range, and an equestrian center, the park is also the outdoor lover’s dream. Stay tuned for a full feature on Strawtown Koteewi Park!
Another highlight of our trip located in Noblesville is the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. The brand new hotel served as our base for exploring Hamilton County and everything about our stay was perfect. The property is immaculately clean, bright, and colorful. Our double-queen room had a pull-out sofa bed, also, and it was more than enough room for the two kids and me. (Each of us had our own bed!) Equipped with a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a coffee maker, the rooms really are ideal for traveling families. And yes, always an added bonus, breakfast is included with your stay.
I need to get back to Hamilton County just to spend more time in Carmel. The few hours we spent there were not nearly enough to try all of the restaurants, pop in all of the shops, and take in live music performances. What we did see and do in Carmel, we loved.
Carmel’s Main Street makes up the town’s Arts & Design District, and that’s where visitors will find galleries, boutiques, restaurants, bars, and even public art displays. The kids and I walked both sides of Main Street. They cracked up over and posed with the life-sized sculptures of every-day people. I spent a whole lot of time and even more money in Silver In The City, a delightful shop offering “jewelry, housewares and whatnot” with an abundance of snark, humor, and Indiana pride.
All of the restaurants and pubs we passed were oh-so-inviting, but the kids wanted pizza so we had lunch at Bazbeaux. Being Italian-American and a lifelong Chicagoan, I’m extremely critical when it comes to pizza, especially of places that offer toppings like Cajun shrimp, black bean dip, and snow pea pods. I opted for a more traditional pizza, the Genova, with eggplant, mushroom, fresh tomato, fresh basil, and goat cheese. It definitely exceeded my expectations! Lucia created her own pizza with pesto sauce, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese and was IN LOVE. She made sure to tell our server that she gives Bazbeaux Pizza two thumbs up.
The star of the show in Fishers is, hands down, Conner Prairie, Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate. Described as an interactive history park, Conner Prairie is an outdoor museum spanning more than 1,000 wooded acres. Across those acres of land are 12 different outdoor and indoor destinations and experiences that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering, and math. As they say at Conner Prairie, they “use the past to shine a light on the future.”
The kids and I spent a full day at Conner Prairie. They loved it so much that they didn’t even realize we completely skipped lunch (we had some snacks, though). I had to drag them out of there, literally kicking and crying, so I could feed them a proper meal!
Conner Prairie is one of the best historical and educational attractions we have ever visited. I hate to tease you all with such a brief introduction to Conner Prairie, but it truly is deserving of its own full article. Stay tuned.
As I stated, we didn’t make it to Westfield due to time constraints. I can tell you that it is known as the epicenter of youth sports so, if you’ve got a little athlete in your family, there’s a chance you might find yourself in Westfield at some point. There is also much excitement surrounding Westfield’s growing dining scene featuring locally-grown menus.
Did You Know?
Hamilton County, Indiana, is approximately…
- 30 miles from Indianapolis
- 3 hours from both Chicago and Columbus, Ohio
- 4 – 4.5 hours from both Detroit and St. Louis
…. making it a true Midwest family travel destination!
My family and I were hosted by Visit Hamilton County, Indiana; Holiday Inn Express & Suites Indianapolis NE – Noblesville; and other partners. Be assured that all thoughts and opinions expressed here are, as always, my own.