Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, Hamilton County, Indiana, offers a unique blend of modern convenience and small-town charm. This vibrant county, situated just north of Indianapolis, boasts a rich history, thriving communities, and a wealth of recreational opportunities. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie seeking culinary delights, Hamilton County has something to offer everyone.
Hamilton County's history dates back to the early 19th century. Named after Alexander Hamilton, the county is home to several historic sites and museums that preserve its rich heritage. The Hamilton County Historical Society and Museum in downtown Noblesville is a must-visit for those interested in the area's past. It houses an impressive collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the story of Hamilton County's development.
In addition to the museum, the Noblesville Courthouse Square is a picturesque destination with beautifully preserved 19th-century architecture. The square is surrounded by charming boutiques, restaurants, and cafes, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll and some local shopping.
Noblesville’s neighbor to the west is Carmel, often voted as one of the best places in America to live. And speaking of the best, one of the best places to spend the night is the fabulous Hotel Carmichael, located in the heart of Carmel City Center and adjacent to The Center for the Performing Arts. The Marriott property takes decadence to a level not typically seen in Indiana. The ornate lobby contains lush seating, crystal chandeliers, and a swanky bar complete with a piano player.
The rooms at Hotel Carmichael are equally luxurious. Ask for a room overlooking the square so you can watch all of the activity taking place below. The property features Feinstein’s, an upscale live entertainment venue developed in partnership with legendary musician Michael Feinstein and Vivante French Eatery, their signature restaurant offering delicious French cuisine.
And speaking of cuisine, just a few steps away from the property is Cake Bake Shop. Guests are instantly transported to Paris in one of the most over-the-top experiences I have ever seen. The restaurant offers no shortage of crystal décor as well as edible sprinkles. Even their coffee is not your common cup. Try the coconut latte which comes complete with a rim of toasted coconut and gold sprinkles. Cake Bake Shop is so whimsical that Walt Disney World even asked them to open a location at Disney's BoardWalk property.
Nature enthusiasts will find plenty to love in Hamilton County. The county is blessed with numerous parks and natural areas that offer a wide range of outdoor activities. The White River, which winds its way through the county, is a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking. The White River Greenway Trail provides scenic views and a perfect pathway for cyclists and hikers and the Monon trail connects Hamilton County with downtown Indianapolis.
One of the crown jewels of Hamilton County is Conner Prairie, an interactive history park that immerses visitors in the 19th century. From hot air balloon rides to hands-on experiences at the pioneer village, Conner Prairie offers a fun and educational experience for the whole family.
For those who enjoy golf, Hamilton County boasts several top-notch golf courses set against picturesque landscapes, providing both challenges and relaxation for golfers of all skill levels.
After a round of 18-holes, head to Convivio for dinner. The restaurant has two locations, in Carmel and neighboring Zionsville, and offers a variety of high-end Italian fare. During my visit, my guest and I shared the Caponata Brushette served with eggplant, sweet peppers, capers, olives, and taleggio cheese. For our entrée, we decided on the Nero, squid ink spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes, lobster, shrimp, and crab bathed in a lobster cream sauce. The dish was very good although we both agreed it lacked a bit of seasoning.
Hamilton County also has a thriving arts and culture scene. The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel is a world-class venue that hosts a variety of musical and theatrical performances throughout the year. Its acoustically stunning concert hall, the Palladium, is a must-visit for music lovers.
I had the pleasure of attending the annual Carmel International Arts Festival, which took place in downtown Carmel on a lovely Saturday afternoon. The street was filled with what seemed like hundreds of artists of all kinds, ranging from fine art to jewelry to metal sculpture. Each artist goes through a juried process to ensure their art is unique, not mass-produced, and the highest of quality. I purchased an incredible work of art by Ohio-based photographer Matthew Platz.
Foodies will be delighted by the culinary scene in Hamilton County. The county's dining options span a wide range of cuisines, from farm-to-table establishments to international flavors. The charming towns of Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville offer a plethora of dining choices for all tastes and preferences. Farmers markets, such as the Carmel Farmers Market, provide an opportunity to taste locally grown produce, artisanal cheeses, and other homemade goodies. It's an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local food culture and support local farmers and producers.
Hamilton County, Indiana, is a hidden gem in the Midwest, offering a perfect blend of history, nature, culture, and culinary delights. Whether you're interested in exploring its rich heritage, indulging in outdoor activities, immersing yourself in the arts, or savoring delicious cuisine, Hamilton County has something to offer for everyone. So, pack your bags and head to this charming county to experience the warmth and hospitality of Indiana's heartland.
Enjoy the Journey!