We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving five hours Northwest of Charleston brings you to Carmel, Indiana, often known as north Indianapolis. With offerings ranging from 11 local craft breweries, 175 annual outdoor concerts, 100 local eateries, and 500 miles of gorgeous trails, Carmel and neighboring cities (Noblesville, Fishers, and Westfield) bring a slice of the midwest to new heights.
WHAT TO DO IN CARMEL
Enjoy shopping at its finest at the Carmel City Center, a vibrant neighborhood of retail shops (businesses, and residences, too) that are in close proximity to the hotels on the Meridian Corridor. If you are a bath products fan, you’ll jump for joy over creating your own at Bath Junkie, where you can craft a blend of your favorite scents. While you are at the city center, grab a craft beer and appetizer while enjoying a good book, game with friends, or just catching up on your social media at Books & Brews.
You can find more awesome boutique shopping at the Hamilton Town Center in nearby Noblesville. It is a more-hipster walkable city with an adorable downtown with local eateries.
Golf fanatics will love the three public courses in Carmel. One of those, Prairie View, is the only course in Indiana designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Nobleville’s Purgatory Golf Club claims to be the longest course east of the Mississippi. Those looking to expereince golf in a more modern fashion can head over to TopGolf Fishers for fun, food, and games.
Outdoor lovers can swing through the treetops through trails and ziplines at Hamilton County Tree Adventures or hike the 5.2 miles of trails at Monon Greenway,a popular area for walkers, runners, bicyclists, and nature enthusiasts.
WHAT TO SEE IN CARMEL
Falling into both the what to see and do categories is Conner Prairie, one of the most fascinating living history museums in the country. Not only do the exhibits feature dressed storytellers in the blacksmith shop, trading post, and 1836 prairie town schoolhouse areas, but the unique attraction also has hands-on kid’s classes and an animal encounters barn. The 1863 Civil War journey is one for the books; it will definitely suck you right into learning about history and wanting to! After all of this, take a ride in the 1859 hot air ballon (weather permitting). Conner Prairie sees nearly half a million visitors annually.
Carmel hosts a few stops along the Indiana glass trail, located in the Carmel Arts & Design Center. See exceptional Indiana glass artists’ works by Ben Johnson, Laura Avery, and Nancy Keating as you explore this cool showroom.
On the streets of the Carmel Arts & Design District, watch for the lifelike collection of unique statues by artist Seward Johnson depicting normal people in their daily activities. You’ll also find the Indiana Design Center, restaurants, interior designers, antique stores, and specialty shops. This is one of the Midwest’s premier arts and design areas. If you’d prefer to bike your way around, Zagster bikes rent for $3 per hour or $24 per day.
Visit Coxhall Gardens for beautiful scenery, a fishing lake, and occasional special exhibits on this 125-acre site.
WHERE TO EAT IN CARMEL
Eggshell Bistro comes highly recommended as a “purveyor of fine brunching” with a sophisticated menu that features global-inspired recipes. The restaurant has a vintage, industrial look with a collection of art and artifacts. Both the Artichoke Heart and Truffled Egg Brioche are dynamite choices.
A yummy breakfast (or lunch) choice is Rosie’s Place, in both Carmel and Noblesville, offering exceptional egg dishes, salads, fresh baked pastries, sammiches (as they call them), and quesadillas.
Tina’s Traditional Tea Room offers a full British menu and a fantastic tea selection. It has been voted one of the top teahouses in the state by Tea Time Magazine. Bring the kids and let them have their own special afternoon tea, as well.
Eat the best pizza of your life at the award winning Boombozz Tap House. Try their Old World Style thin crust on a classic Margherita pie or Carnitas Libre, with slow-cooked pork, caramelized onions and peppers, tomatoes, cheeses, and green chili jam.
Another tasty dining option is Woody’s Library Restaurant, where you can either dine in themed rooms of the main house or sit in the casual bar area downstairs. Start your meal with the White Cheese Fondue (with grapes, apples, bread, sausages, and broccoli) or the French Dipsters.
Be sure to stop by Graeter’s Ice Cream or Jack’s Donuts for a delicious snack.
WHERE TO STAY IN CARMEL
Both the Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis/Carmel and Homewood Suites by Hilton offer casual, yet contemporary hotel rooms, free WiFi, and parking for under $100 most days. They also have indoor and outdoor pools plus fitness and business centers, as well as onsite restaurants.
For a more intimate stay, the Old Towne Carmel Bed and Breakfast is within walking distance of the Carmel Arts & Design District and has modernly furnished rooms, private baths, gourmet breakfasts, and a cozy living room with fireplace for all guests to enjoy.
CARMEL: LET INDIANA DAZZLE YOU
The small-town feel of this upscale and thriving north Indianapolis town will impress and surprise you at the same time with the amount of things to see and do. After visiting Carmel, I can see why Money Magazine lists it as #3 of the top 20 places to live in the US in 2018. Come see for yourself!
Fun Fact: Carmel has more than 80 roundabouts, the most of any city in the country.