Road Trip Destination: Hamilton County, Indiana

Looking for a one-tank road trip destination? Hamilton County in Indiana is that place! Located just two hours west of southwest Ohio, Hamilton County offers a plethora of family-friendly attractions, indoor and outdoor adventures, and charming communities to explore.

Composed mainly of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville and Westfield, Hamilton County is located just north of Indianapolis. And although Indianapolis is considered the “Circle City,” Hamilton County might have to adopt the nickname the “Circle County,” because there are more than 150 roundabouts in Hamilton County, with 120 of those in the city of Carmel alone! 

This is all a “roundabout” way of telling you that Hamilton County, Indiana, is a must-visit destination with something for everyone. Here’s where to stay, what to do and where to eat in Hamilton County! 

Conner Prairie

Where to Stay in Hamilton County

If you’re looking for family-friendly accommodations in Hamilton County, you’ll find plenty. If you’re also looking for a little more oomph and luxury in your stay, the iconic Hotel Carmichael, located in the heart of downtown Carmel, fits that bill. This stunning boutique hotel not only provides a comfortable and stylish retreat for you and your family, but it also immerses you in the rich history of the area. And bonus: It’s within steps of The Palladium concert hall, the Carmel Farmers Market that takes place every Saturday, world-class restaurants, and lots more.

The hotel pays homage to the golden age of American songwriting, with each of its elegant rooms and suites named after legendary composers. The rooms are designed with both comfort and luxury in mind. You’ll find comfy beds, modern amenities like free wi-fi and interactive games on the big-screen TV, and an in-room Nespresso machine.

Foodie families will love staying at the Hotel Carmichael for the two restaurants located on the first floor of the hotel. Vivante offers a fine dining experience with a menu inspired by the flavors of the season, while Feinsteins at Hotel Carmichael offers dinner and show.


What to Do in Hamilton County

Conner Prairie

Located in Fishers, Conner Prairie is a must-visit for families looking to experience a little slice of history. This living history museum takes you on a journey back in time, allowing you to immerse yourself in the daily life of Indiana’s past. It’s a great place for hands-on exploration of the daily lives of Hoosiers from different eras.

One of the most notable features of Conner Prairie is the Pioneer Adventure area, where visitors can step into the lives of 19th century pioneers and learn about their daily routines. Kids can enjoy a variety of activities, like making candles, exploring a prairie town, and even watching a blacksmith work his magic. 

Opening soon is Conner Prairie’s newest exhibit, Promised Land as Proving Ground, an experience dedicated to immersing visitors into the many ways African culture influenced what is known today as “American” culture.

But Conner Prairie is more than just a place to learn about history. The outdoor spaces are beautiful and expansive, inviting families to spend time outside and appreciate the natural beauty of Indiana. Explore the Treetop Outpost (a giant treehouse for kids), voyage on a hot air balloon, encounter animals, and lots more year-round fun. 13400 Allisonville Rd, Fishers


Strawtown Koteewi

Strawtown Koteewi is a hidden gem in Hamilton County, and is the perfect place for families looking for  adventure and outdoor fun. The 800-acre park offers an array of activities, including trails for hiking or riding horses, a natural history center and an archaeological exhibit. 

One of the most exciting experiences at Strawtown Koteewi is Koteewi Aerial Adventure, a ropes course and zip line that spans across the treetops. And good news: It’s fun whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, because the courses are tailored to different skill levels. 

Strawtown is also home to Koteewi Range, a top-notch archery range. Here, children can learn the art of archery under the guidance of skilled instructors. They’ll learn proper technique, focus, and concentration, all while fostering a love for this ancient sport. 12308 Strawtown Ave, Noblesville 

Nickel Plate Express

Imagine chugging along on a train, taking in the beautiful views of the Hamilton County countryside, with its charming farms and lovely landscapes. You can do that on the Nickel Plate Express, a historic train that takes passengers on a scenic journey through Atlanta, Arcadia, Cicero and Noblesville in Hamilton County. 

Nickel Plate Express offers a variety of themed excursions throughout the year, including holiday train rides, superhero adventures, an ice cream express, and even train rides just for the grown-ups. These special events provide an extra layer of excitement and entertainment, making each trip one-of-a-kind. 825 Forest Park Drive, Noblesville 

X-Golf Carmel

No matter the weather, you can always book a tee time at X-Golf Carmel (XGC), an indoor golf and entertainment experience in Carmel’s Clay Terrace. The great thing about XGC is that it’s fun for all ages and skill levels, whether you’re an expert golfer or beginner putt-putter. This fun facility features six state-of-the-art simulators, allowing golfers the chance to play some of the world’s most famous courses. Each tee time booking is for up to six people. 

Immerse yourself in a golf game with your family and friends, all while enjoying snacks and drinks from the XGC in-house restaurant. (Get the Giant Soft Pretzel — it lives up to its name!) And if you’re into watching the pros golf, you’ll find multiple large screen TVs showing golf and other sports playing on the big-screen TVs all around the facility. 14511 Clay Terrace Blvd., Carmel 

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Hoosier Heights

Looking for a challenge that will take you to new heights — literally? Hoosier Heights, an amazing Hamilton County indoor rock climbing facility, offers climbing experiences for all skill levels. Visitors can enjoy free climbing on bouldering walls, as well as harnessed lead climbing and belay climbing. Your best bet is to get a day pass ($19 for ages 15+, and $15 for ages 6-14), which lets you climb the ropes and boulder to your heart’s content, then leave to go get a bite to eat or take a break, and come back for more climbing fun. Day passes also include harness and locking carabiner rentals. 9850 Mayflower Park Dr, Carmel 



Birdies is the place for putt-putters to play, eat and relax in Hamilton County. Yes, this is a great 36-hole miniature golf course. But it’s so much more! Along with mini golf, you’ll find a huge rooftop grillhouse and sports bar overlooking the golf course, offering a fun atmosphere to enjoy burgers, sandwiches and the Birdies signature fried chicken sandwich. This is a place where fun and great food meet on the golf course. 632 IN-32, Westfield


Pinheads is not your typical bowling alley. This entertainment center in Hamilton County has multiple attractions, including 32 bowling lanes, a luxury arcade with more than 70 games, a tiki bar, four sand volleyball courts (open seasonally) and Alley’s Alehouse. 

Alley’s Alehouse, the restaurant inside Pinheads, can get very busy, so reservations are highly recommended. Once you’re seated, you’ll find a large menu with Indiana classics like pork tenderloin (so good!), burgers, quesadillas, fish and chips and lots more. Adults will delight in the rotating and ever-changing local beer menu. 13825 Britton Park Rd, Fishers 


Midtown Plaza Carmel

You could spend the better part of an entire day just in Midtown Plaza Carmel. It really is the perfect destination for families visiting Hamilton County. There’s something for everyone, from young kids looking for a place to play, to foodie parents searching for a great meal. This stretch along Carmel’s Monon Trail — between Carmel City Center and the Carmel Arts & Design District — is a goldmine of fun, food and festivities. 

Playground and Interactive Play Area

Midtown Carmel has lots of fun activities for families to do together. Play a game of ping pong, shuffleboard, corn hole or bocce ball — all of these family favorites are located in the outdoor play area in Midtown. You’ll find these outdoor games just off the Monon Trail near the parking garage.

Another popular Midtown feature is the playground. The playground in Midtown includes a huge climbing structure that’s accessible to all ages, with a rock climbing feature built into the Astroturf ground. The playground is one of the first things you see when you enter Midtown from the Monon Trail going north — it’s just that tall and impressive!

Best of all for parents and caregivers: There are lots of shaded tables and chairs. This is a fun area to play with your kids, but also a nice spot to relax while your children play, while you sit back and watch the walkers and cyclists go by.

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Splash Pad

During the warmer-weather months, two small splash pads are turned on in Midtown Carmel, so kids can splash their hearts out. One sprinkle spot is located near Anthony’s Chophouse at the far north end of Midtown, and another bigger splash pad is in the center of Midtown near the parking garage. Both are perfect for kids to cool down on a hot day. These Midtown Carmel splash pads are especially great for toddlers because the water gently bubbles up in small streams. 

Public Art 

One of the things you’ll notice when you visit Midtown Carmel is all of the public art located all around. One of the bigger ones is called Sail, a tall, colorful sculpture that stands in the middle of in Midtown. This 29-foot art piece looks like a patchwork kite or ship’s sail, and is a sight to behold. Visitors can stand inside the sculpture to get a different view — look up, and it’s almost like being inside a kaleidoscope! During the nighttime, the sculpture is lit with and takes on a whole other look.

Restaurants + Places to Eat in Midtown Carmel

There are a lot of places to find a bite to eat in Midtown Carmel! Here are some of our favorite foodie stops that offer family-friendly fare:

Sun King Spirits Food Hall: This building is the anchor of Midtown Carmel. Inside, you’ll find Sun King Brewery and Distillery, plus a variety of restaurants. Kid-favorites include: 

Queenie’s, which serves slices of pizza as big as your head

La Margarita, where you can get your taco and burrito fix

The Den by FoxGardin, which serves salads, sandwiches, and the best barbecue poutine fries in Hamilton County. 

Grab your food from any of the restaurants located inside Sun King, then find a seat inside the food hall, or out on the patio. You can also enjoy dining on Sun King’s rooftop, where you can see all the action happening in Midtown Plaza below.


Fork + Ale House: This restaurant features a comfort food menu with a family-friendly vibe. The outdoor patio at Fork + Ale is just steps from Midtown Plaza’s greenspace, where you can watch the action happening from the nearby pool tables, bocce ball, ping pong tables and big-screen television.

Java House: This local coffee shop serves cold brewed coffee. Stay a while and sip your coffee indoors, or use their walk-up window outside, which is convenient if you’re stopping by during a bike ride. Pro tip: They also sell scoops of ice cream! 

Other Places to Eat in Hamilton County

The Mash House at West Fork Whiskey Co.

Nestled within West Fork Whiskey distillery is The Mash House, a restaurant with a menu inspired by the flavors of the Midwest. The Mash House takes pride in offering dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, including farm-raised beef for their burgers. This family-friendly restaurant has a big kids’ menu with lots of options. For the adults, be sure to taste West Fork’s small-batch spirits, like their flagship Old Hamer Straight Bourbon. You can taste their dedication to quality in every sip. 10 E. 191st St. Suite A, Westfield |


HC Tavern + Kitchen

The Yard at Fishers District has more than a dozen amazing restaurants located in this space that combines dining, shopping and entertainment. But HC Tavern + Kitchen stands out for its warm and welcoming atmosphere, especially to families. It’s the perfect place to grab lunch or dinner with the kids, as they have a full children’s menu and offer Wikkie Stix to keep the kids entertained. For adults, you’ll find creative appetizers like Waygu corn dogs (which happen to be a kid-favorite, too!), flatbreads, salads, fish and steak options. 9709 E 116th St, Fishers |


The Cake Bake Shop

Step into The Cake Bake Shop, and you’re automatically transported to a sweet world adorned with chandeliers, glitter and pastel hues. You’ll want to bring your camera to his charming, beautiful bakery and café that offers delectable treats that are as Instagram-worthy as they are delicious.

Pop in and grab a treat from the to-go bakery, which features an assortment of cake slices — from classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla to more unique creations like lemon blueberry and raspberry champagne — as well as cookies, pastries and macarons adorned with glitter. Or stay a while and take a seat in their charming café area, but make sure to make a reservation — The Cake Bake Shop is a popular spot in Carme’s City Center. 799 Hanover Place, Carmel |


Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream

Handel’s is so popular that you will probably have to wait in a line to order your cool, creamy treats — but it’s so worth it. Open year round, this walk-up ice cream shop has three locations in Hamilton County: Carmel (2466 E. 146th St.), Fishers (8760 E. 116th St.) and Noblesville (14165 Cabela Pkwy.). There are always at least 50 different flavors of ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt available, with featured flavors updated regularly.

This is just a small fraction of all there is to experience in Hamilton County, Indiana! For more ideas to make your visit a special one, check out Visit Hamilton County.

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