November and December in the Carmel area are festive, joyous, and nothing short of magical! There are some incredible activities put on each year for families to build into their holiday traditions. If you are looking for the best family-friendly holiday attractions to make some extra special memories with your crew, let the Holiday Hot List be your guide.
1 Carter Green, Carmel, IN 46033
Nationally ranked as one of the best German Christmas Markets in the country, our very own Carmel’s Christkindlmarkt is a must visit for the whole family, as a date night, or a night out with friends.
If you’re bringing the kids, you’ll want to stop at Kinderecke–aka the kids corner. You’ll find hands-on activities, crafts to take home, and special guests throughout the season. Be sure to grab a Kinder Club passport! Take your passport to 5 different participating huts to be stamped and turn it in at guest services for a special prize!
Check out the schedule to see which bands are performing, special guests are attending, and food options will be on the menu the day you are visiting.
There are three outdoor ice skating rinks in and around Carmel–each with different scenes and perks.
Ice at Carter Green: 10 Carter Green, Carmel, IN.
This rink is in the center of the Christkindlmkt! It’s the largest rink of the three. You can book times to skate in advance (highly recommend). There is skate rental available or you can bring your own. FYI–-this is the only rink that does not allow skate “trainers” for younger kids to hold onto on the ice. If you have little ones wanting to skate, they will likely need to hold onto the sides or your hands while on the ice!
This rink is a great place for families and kids of all ages. Your ticket prices covers the entire day. You can skate in the afternoon, go grab dinner, then come back and skate the night away. You can bring your own skates or rent theirs. They also have skate trainers for younger kids to hand on to while skating! Bonus–there is a walk through light display in the park area near the rink you can walk through before/after your time on the rink.
Zionsville Winterfest: 1100 W Oak Street Zionsville, IN
Our family's favorite skating location is at Zionsville Winterfest. This rink offers a unique option for parents of small kids…RIDE ON SKATE AIDS. You read that right! There a skate aids kids can sit on and the parents push while skating. My kids LOVE this so much and it makes it much easier for parents to skate with their small children.
Sullivan Hardware, 6955 N Keystone Ave, Indianapolis, IN
One of the most sought after holiday traditions is hopping aboard the Sullivan express to visit Santa! Your train car will take you on a journey to the North Pole while seeing lots of cute, animatronic visitors along the way. Once you arrive at Santa’s workshop, you de-board the train for a visit and photos with one of the most realistic Santa’s around. Tickets for prime weekend dates sell out in hours, but less popular week dates can usually still be found.
Winterlights at Newfields
4000 Michigan Rd. Indianapolis, IN
Walk through the grounds at Newfields while setting your gaze on over 1,000,000 artistically displayed Christmas lights. This is an evening-only event and can be chilly–so bundle up and bring the stroller/wagon for the kids. Dates and times can sell out quickly, so buy your tickets early if you can!
Drive-through Light Shows
Indy has two large scale drive through light shows in the area–one on the north side and one more central to Indianapolis. Pack the fam in the car and drive through the light shows each synced to music!
Magic of Lights at Ruoff Music Center: 12880 E 146th St. Noblesville, IN
Christmas Nights of Lights at the State Fairgrounds: 1202 E. 38th St. Indianapolis, IN
A Merry Prairie Holiday at Conner Prairie
A Hamilton County staple, A Merry Prairie Holiday at Conner Prairie is a holiday tradition with hands-on fun for the whole family. Visit Santa, take a ride down the tubing hill, or skate on the sock-only skating rink.
Jolly Days at the Children’s Museum
3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN
Your trips to the Children’s Museum will be a little more festive during the holiday seasons with the Jolly Days exhibit. Take a trip down the two story yule slide, make it snow in the supersize snow globe, explore the ice castle, and check out the rest of the museum during your visit! This is the last year for Jolly Days as it has been in years past, next year will welcome a new holiday exhibit. Be sure to check out and say so-long to Jolly Days this year!