Inside: Follow along on a fun adventure through nearby Hamilton County, Indiana. I’ll walk you through some of our favorite activities and meals and show you just how much fun you can have with the whole family!
Growing up, my family took a lot of road trips. Every summer, we’d pile into our old station wagon (remember when those were a thing?) with a cooler full of sandwiches and a loose plan for the week ahead. While the locations changed, the constant to all our family vacations was learning.
We’d learn fun facts about where we were headed, along with bits of history. On a trip to Virginia one summer, I remember my dad calling out facts like “Did you know William and Mary is the second oldest college in the country?” Or “Hey, did you know that the first Thanksgiving was held in Virginia?” It sounds a bit nerdy, I guess, but my brother and I loved it.
And the tradition has continued with my own family.
So on our short drive (about 3 hours from Columbus, OH), I sprinkled in lots of fun facts and bits of history about Hamilton County. I just couldn’t help myself!
Hamilton County, Indiana is comprised of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville and Westfield. The county is named after Alexander Hamilton, and my family had a blast listening to the entire Hamilton Soundtrack on our drive.
Fun Facts About Hamilton County:
Carmel, Indiana has more than 120 roundabouts! I’ll be honest that I was a little anxious driving on these at first, but by the end of my weekend, I was really loving them! If you’re not totally sure how a roundabout works, here are some helpful tips:
- Yield to drivers in the roundabout
- Stay in your lane; do NOT change lanes
- No stopping in the roundabout
Carmel is pronounced “Kar-muhl” but I didn’t learn this until the last day of my trip. I kept calling it “Car-MEL” because my husband once took to me Carmel-by-the-Sea, in Monterrey, California and it was etched into my brain. Whoops! Don’t be like me, lol!
Hamilton County has won a ton awards, including Best Places to Live (CNN Money), Best Place to Raise a Family (Forbes), Best Food & Drink Trails in the US (Trips to Discover), Best Places To Visit in the Midwest (Chicago Parent), and Best Food Towns in America (The Daily Meal).
Family-Friendly Adventures in Hamilton County, Indiana
We spent the weekend in Hamilton County, but you can definitely make it a longer stay. There were so many fun options that we wanted to do, that we’re planning a second trip. My family loves food and exploring, so we were excited by all the family-friendly activities and amazing restaurants to check out!
Where to stay in Hamilton County
We stayed at the Staybridge Suites in Carmel. The location is perfect – you’re never more than a few minutes away from restaurants and attractions, and we loved the apartment-style room. I think having a full size fridge and kitchen space is valuable when traveling with kids, especially young ones. The hotel also has a pool, a complimentary hot breakfast, fitness facilities, and even a cool outdoor patio where you can unwind from the day.
What To Do With Kids in Hamilton County
Carmel Arts and Design District
Our first stop was to the Carmel Arts and Design District, located in Old Town Carmel. This was such a fun spot to walk around and explore. For starters, they have life sized statues all over and it was fun checking them out and taking some fun pictures.
There were also fun boutiques to check out, full of hand-made jewelry, artwork, specialty items, as well a ton of art galleries.
We passed by the World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery!
We absolutely loved Conner Prairie. It’s worth the drive just to visit this outdoor living history museum. We spent the entire day here and barely scratched the surface! It’s also a lot of fun for adults, and would be great for a multi-generational visit with grandparents, too!
Our favorite was interacting with the talented actors as they stayed in character and answered questions about history and how life was back then.
Conner Prairie is Indiana’s first Smithsonian affiliate – which means in addition to the living history, they also have cool exhibits on art, wonders of nature, scientific specimens, and icons of American history for you to check out!
Strawtown Koteewi Park
Strawtown is a 750-acre park with family friendly features like hiking trails, equestrian trails, a natural history center and even an archaeological exhibit! Ziplining, treetop adventures, archery and more!
For more details, check out this link.
Float Down the White River
Grab a canoe, kayak, or river tube and check out any one of nine trips that span 28 miles of the river as it meanders through Hamilton County!
For more details, check out this link.
Where To Eat With Kids in Hamilton County
Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream
We loved Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream in downtown Carmel. We had heard of this place on Man vs. Food and couldn’t wait to check it out! We sat on their large patio and had some of the friendliest service ever. Bub’s is known for their “Big Ugly” burger – a giant one pound burger. It’s so big, that if you finish it, you’ll get your photo on their wall!
We went for a slightly smaller option, and absolutely loved our burgers.
Rosie’s Place in Noblesville was another great meal. We stopped in for a lazy brunch and it was absolutely delicious. Rosie’s is an institution around these parts, and is known for its “locally sourced” and “seasonally prepared” cuisine.
They also have delicious treats and baked goods! I totally recommend the Gooey Butter cookies – insanely delicious!
Other kid-friendly spots to check out:
Bazbeaux’s had a great patio and has been named “Best of Indy” for pizza!
Books and Brews
This cute little bookstore/bar/tavern is perfect for families! There’s a bookstore in the front that sells gently used books, and the menu features classic favorites named after popular books! You can sit and relax, play board games and have a fun time. I was partial to the “Holden Caulfield” on the kids menu.
We had such a fun time exploring Hamilton County with our family. For more ideas for fun things to do in the area, check out Visit Hamilton County, stop in to their office located in the Carmel Arts District, or check out what we did on day 2 of our trip!
This post was written in partnership with Visit Hamilton County. Pictures, thoughts, and opinions are my own.