Great Places for Family Vacations: Hamilton County, Indiana
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Sure, you could go to Indianapolis and find plenty of things to do, but why would you when there are already plenty of amazing and fun things to do in Hamilton County, Indiana? Whether you’re traveling or you’re right at home, Hamilton County has something to offer everyone. There are seasonal and year-long activities for all types of people, from adventure seekers to history lovers. Check out this list of fantastic and entertaining things to do alone, with kids, or as a couple or group.
Conner Prairie was created in 1934 by Eli Lilly to help people of all ages explore the past, enjoy nature, and discover science. They have a variety of indoor and outdoor activities and exhibits, which include a Lenape Village, one of Indiana’s first brick homes, a four-story tree house, a discovery station, and more. There’s so much to do and see here that it could take up its own post. It’s also home to Follow the North Star – a very special interactive experience about what it was like to be a slave in Indiana during the 1830s.
Take a Train Ride on the Nickel Plate Express
If you like trains, then the Nickel Plate Express is for you. It runs on 12 miles of track between Atlanta and Noblesville and is more than just your average train. Chances are you’ve probably never ridden in a Santa Fe Railway Hi-Level passenger car. These unique cars are two stories tall and allow the passengers to sit high above it all, taking in the view.
Go for a Hike at Strawtown Koteewi Park
Strawtown Koteewi is the largest park in Indiana at more than 800 acres. The name Koteewi means fire and maybe prairie in Miami-Peoria. The name pays respect to the natives who called this land home. It has more than 8 miles of multi-use trails, including equestrian, biking, and hiking. There’s also an archery range, fishing, nature trails, and aerial adventure trails, to name just a few of the park’s many features.
Strawtown Koteewi has something for everyone. It’s also home to the Taylor Center of Natural History, which features both archeological artifacts and exhibits on the flora and fauna of the area.
Things to Do in Hamilton County: Learn or Practice Your Archery Skills
Always wanted to try your hand at archery or just want to practice your skills? The Koteewi Range is the perfect way to enjoy a morning or afternoon. There are two ranges – a traditional range and a “family fun” range with 3D objects like dinosaurs and zombies. The staff is friendly and helpful. They’ll get you fitted with the right bow and teach you how to shoot if you’ve never done it before. Either way, you’re sure to have a great time.
Carmel Arts and Design District
The Carmel Arts and Design District is in the center of Old Carmel. The district is home to art galleries, interior designers, specialty shops, and restaurants. Every month, there’s a “Meet Me on Main” Second Saturday art walk featuring caricatures, face painting, live music, and extended business hours. There are also gift card drawings and hands-on make-and-take projects. The gallery guide is online, so you can print it and decide where you’d like to go before visiting.
The Carmel Arts and Design District also has plenty of great restaurants to sample. If you’re looking for an entertaining afternoon stroll or a night of gourmet cuisine, the District is sure to please.
Go Tasting at a Winery or Brewery
If you’re into wine or beer, Hamilton County has both! Urban Vines is the newest winery in Hamilton County. They offer wine flights and charcuterie boards, plus trivia nights and live music. There’s also Harmony Winery in Fishers. They let you mix your own batches and create your own labels so you can have a perfectly customized bottle of wine. For a list of the top wineries, visit the Visit Hamilton County website.
Breweries are also abundant in Hamilton County. Union Brewing Company is dog-friendly and boasts live music. It even has access to the Monon Trail! Upland Carmel Tap House & Brewing Co.has more than 40 beers of all types. Their menu includes vegetarian options. Flix Brewhouse isn’t just a brewery; it’s also a cinema. Eat, drink beer, and watch movies all in one place. Hamilton County is the right place for you if you were looking for a craft beer-rich culture.
Plan by the Season
Every season brings something fun and entertaining to Hamilton County. Winter offers tubing on Koteewi Run and the Carmel Christkindlmarkt. There are also things like the Nickel Plate Express reindeer ride and holiday shows at the Center for Performing Arts. Conner Prairie has its Candlelight and Gingerbread Village, and colorful light displays can be seen in many areas, including the Nickel Plate District of Fishers.
Spring has indoor activities like escape rooms and laser tag. There’s also outdoor fun with many of the hiking trails and Conner Prairie’s hot air balloon ride. Monon Community Center has a whole pool and indoor water park to splash the day away in.
Summer and the Fourth of July season bring the Star Spangled Symphony at Conner Prairie, CarmelFest in Carmel, and Spark!Fishers in Fishers. Not to mention the host of hiking and nature trails that can be found all over the county.
Last but not least, fall brings visits to pumpkin patches and apple orchards at various local farms. You can also go horseback riding or try your hand a the archery range at Strawtown Koteewi Park. Take in a fall festival like the Headless Horsemen Festival at Conner Prairie, or find your way out of a corn maze.
Hamilton County is a fabulous destination for family vacations and couples getaways. It’s quiet, it’s scenic, and it’s calm. You can have an adventure or an educational trip. Hamilton County affords you a place where you can relax without the breakneck pace of a city. Best of all, it’s also affordable.
Learn more on the Visit Hamilton County website to explore these and other amazing things to do in Hamilton County.