If you spend some time in Carmel, IN you will quickly see why it’s been voted the #1 place in America to raise children. There are always events to attend, but what is there to do when there aren’t any scheduled activities? Below are 5 ways to spend a family day in and around Carmel, Indiana–available to visit any day.
1. For those who want to explore Carmel’s downtown:
If you are looking to explore the heart of Carmel and hang out in more of an urban setting, these stops make for a fun-filled family day while also seeing some of the coolest parts of the city.
Monon Playspace: Located just south of Midtown Plaza along the Monon Trail, (roughly 571 Monon Blvd. Carmel, IN) this small park is built into the side of the walking path and is a great place for kids to play while adults can easily watch them while having a conversion themselves! There are bocce ball courts, shuffleboard, and ping-pong tables near the play space as well.
Walk the Monon Trail to Lunch/Dinner: After you’re done playing, you can walk along the Monon trail to three different areas. If you walk south from the play space, the monon will connect you to the Carmel City Center where you can find family-friendly food options like the Cake Bake shop or Manele Cafe.
If you walk north along the Monon from the playspace, you’ll walk through Midtown Carmel where you can grab a cold brew at Java House, a smoothie at Pure Green, or stop for a meal at Fork and Ale.
Further north past Midtown Plaza, the monon will connect you to the Carmel Arts District that has lots of great food options like Basbeaux’s Pizza or Bub's Burgers.
Sub Zero Ice Cream: After your meal, you can grab a sweet treat from Sub Zero Ice Cream where they use liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream right in front of you! My kids think this is so fun.
2. For those who like games and competition:
Mini Golf at Birdies: Friendly for even the littlest golfers, mini golf at Birdies can spark a little family competition or just play for fun! Open during the fall and winter months.
Birdies Grillhouse: After you’re done with your minigolf round, you can walk to Birdies grillhouse for lunch or dinner. The menu is excellent for both kids and adults. We like to sit on the patio if the weather is nice and let the kids play at the outdoor cornhole set.
Grand Junction Plaza Park or Simon Moon Park: Both within 5 min of Birdies are Grand Junction Plaza park and Simon Moon park. Both great parks with turf flooring, Grand Junction tends to be more fun for older kids (4+) while Simon Moon is an awesome park for babies and toddlers. Grand junction: 225 S Union St, Westfield, IN 46074. Simon Moon: 3044 E 171st St Westfield, IN 46074
3. For those who like nature exploring:
Creek stomping/hiking at Cool Creek park: On the north side of Carmel, Cool Creek Park and Nature center has lots to offer a family looking for some adventure in nature. Clean creeks and short hikes. Be sure to stop at the nature center before heading in for maps and information about the park. Address to the nature center: 2000 E 151st St, Carmel, IN 46033
Play at Cool Creek playground: If you still have energy to burn after exploring the woods, cool creek playground is at the entrance to the park and has lots to offer kids of all ages. Here is a link to a park guide.
Head over to Clay Terrace for a bite: Clay Terrace outdoor mall is less than 5 min away and has a couple great local restaurants like Cafe Patachou (Brunch/Lunch) or Prodigy Burger.
4. For those who want to burn energy indoors:
Hoosier Heights: Hoosier Heights indoor rock-climbing is a fun way to burn some energy while trying a new sport. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under the age of 4, however 5 and under are free to climb. If you’re kids are littler, I’d swap this indoor activity for a trampoline park–our favorite (and closest to Carmel) is Sky Zone Indy North.
Park Nearby: After you climb, Lions Park in Zionsville is within 5 min from Hoosier Heights. This park has specific areas for each age of kid, ranging from babies to elementary age. Lions Park Address: 1053 Sycamore St, Zionsville, IN
Food: From Lions Park you can walk to get ice cream at The Scoop, or to grab lunch/dinner at Bub’s Burgers Zionsville.
5. For those you want a hands-on experience indoors:
Carmel Main Public Library: The main branch of the Carmel library is set to re-open on October 1st, 2022. The children’s department is a great place for kids to explore! They will also have regular programming for all ages of kids once the re-opening takes place. Main library address: 425 E Main St, Carmel, IN 46032.
Walk into Carmel Arts District: From the library you can take a short walk into the Carmel Arts and Design district where you’ll find lots of shops, local restaurants, ice cream, and the Monon trail.
Meadowlark Park: If you are looking for one more stop in your day, one of the best parks in Carmel is within a mile from the arts district and is friendly for all age kids–babies to elementary. Park address: 450 Meadow Ln, Carmel, IN 46032.