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8 Great Things to do the 4th Weekend of November 2014

Nov 20, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

Holiday happenings are already beginning in Hamilton County this weekend! Meet Santa, cut down your own Christmas Tree, see live music and more. Read on for weekend getaway ideas and discover additional fun on our online event calendar.

1. It's the last weekend of the year to experience the moving Follow the North Star program at Conner Prairie. Country ChristmasParticipants take on the role of a fugitive slave traveling along the Underground Railroad in this nationally acclaimed program. Reservations are required. 

2. The legendary Tony Bennett is coming to the Palladium! Hear him croon the classics like "Anything Goes" and new material from his album Duets II. A bit of trivia for Tony lovers- the Duets II album debuted at No. 1 making him the only recording artist in history to achieve this at age 85! 

3. Get into the holiday spirit at the 2014 Holiday on the Square event in Carmel this Saturday. This annual tradition brings a lot of entertainment to the gazebo on the square, visits with Santa and his elves, plus the tree lighting.  

4. Speaking of Christmas, Stonycreek Farm's Country Christmas kicks off this Saturday. Nothing says tradition like picking out your own Christmas Tree and cutting it down right on the farm! Also check out the array of custom made wreaths and more inside the gift shop.  Mustache Dache

5. Santa will continue his visits to local malls with his arrival at Clay Terrace this Saturday. In addition to meeting Santa in his Santa House, there will be even more like carriage rides and reindeer. Santa will stick around until Christmas Eve for photo ops and he'll also make appearances at The Fashion Mall- what a busy guy! 

6. Get your fitness on for a great cause at The Mustache Dache! Complete a zany and fun 5k at Grand Park in support of Movember, the leading charity for men's health and prostate cancer. All participants are encouraged to don a mustache (whether real, stick on or painted on!) to support the cause. Day-of registration is available. 

7. The Winter Farmers Market in Carmel is celebrating its second week of the season in its new location. The heated Wilfong Pavilion in Founders Park houses over 30 vendors that offer everything from prepared goods to eggs and meat. See you at the market this Saturday from 9am- noon! Hedgehog Dancing 2

8. Head to northern Hamilton County this Saturday for a unique evening. Grab a delicious Italian dinner at DeLullo's in Atlanta (read blogger Emma's review here). Then enjoy an evening of music the Hedgehog in Arcadia. Award-winning English guitarist Adrian Legg will perform for the third time at this charming venue beginning at 7pm. 



Hamilton County Holiday Happenings

Nov 18, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

With the holidays quickly approaching, it's time to start stocking up on gifts for everyone on your list, marking your calendar for festive events, and securing a place to stay during your Hamilton County holiday getaway! Noblesville Holiday Shopping

From brand names to unique artisan goods, Hamilton County, Indiana is a one-stop shop for holiday shopping. The area boasts three Simon Malls including Carmel's Clay Terrace that has over 80 retail shops. Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville has everything from name-brand anchor stores to an IMAX theater for shopping breaks. Or head just a bit south to find high-end stores at The Fashion Mall.

Looking to buy local? No fear, Hamilton County has plenty of fabulous boutiques, antique malls, and local shops to support on Small Business Saturday. Art lovers can choose from a great selection one-of-a-kind local art pieces at Nickel Plate Arts' Gifted exhibit. Discover treasures at Carmel Old Town Antique Mall in the Arts & Design District or A Corner Cottage on the Noblesville Square. Don't skip Simply Sweet Shoppe, Mass on Main or Gallery 116 where you'll uncover quirky finds for the whole family.

Holiday Gifting Ideas


In addition to shopping, holiday cheer can be found all over Hamilton County, Indiana this season in the form of fun events. From holiday performances at the Palladium, to picking and cutting down your own Christmas tree during Country Christmas at Stonycreek Farm, there's something for everyone. 

Hop aboard the Polar Bear Express Train or Take Santa Home Train hosted by the Indiana Transpiration Museum. These two journeys include a visit from the jolly old elf himself, Santa!  

See holiday traditions celebrated the way they were 175 years ago during Conner Prairie by Candlelight or step inside at Conner Prairie to see the annual Gingerbread Village display.  Visit Hamilton Co Ice Sculpture- Noblesville Video

Experience holiday fun in Carmel during Holiday in the Arts District or Holiday on the Square. See towns aglow during Westfield in Lights or the Celebration of Lights in Fishers, or even witness Santa make his debut for the season at the Noblesville Holiday Parade. For even more festive fun events, visit our online calendar.

If you're wondering how to fit all of the shopping and holiday happenings into one day, you don't have to! Several Hamilton County hotels are offering special deals for overnight stays. These 8 great holiday hotel rates are also perfect for those extra family members you can't (or don't want to!) squeeze into your house this holiday season.

See all of the hotels offering special rates and plan your holiday getaway today at


8 Great Things to do the 3rd Weekend of November 2014

Nov 13, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

Local culinary delights, a classic movie on the big screen, and the first holiday happenings of the season are all coming your way this weekend in Hamilton County, Indiana! Visiting Hamilton County or have family visiting for Thanksgiving and the holidays? Continue checking here on our blog for fun things to do, search our online calendar by date to see what's coming up, plus select hotels are offering special holiday rates too!

1. Upland Tap Room CarmelCarmel Culinary Tours put on by Small Potatoes are taking off this week! The first tour is this evening and the next is on November 20, and space is very limited for this new adventure. Participants will sample specials at Jersey's Café, J. Razzo's, Upland Brewing and Chocolate for the Spirit. Delish!   

2. Celebrate one of the Indiana Design Center's most legendary artists and designers, Walter Knabe. This Thursday guests can view Walter at work in his studio while enjoying the artful surroundings and snacks. RSVP is required, learn more here.  

3. The Great American Songbook Film Series kicks off this Friday! Every second Friday through March, the Palladium will come alive with a classic movie. The first is Fiddler on the Roof at 7:30 p.m. and tickets for all shows are just 10 bucks! 

4. Conner Prairie is offering a host of programs this weekend. For history buffs there's Follow the North Star, an immersive Underground Railroad program that has a lasting impression. Or learn the basics of gingerbread construction at Gingerbread House 101 with expert baker Rascia from Rascia's Creative Cakes. And just for nature lovers there's Conner Prairie at Dawn this Saturday. The grounds will open at 7am for artists, photographers, birdwatchers and more to take advantage of the quiet prairie.   htc_img_9043-2_360

5. That winter chill is returning to the air, which means it's time to start thinking of the holidays. The Hamilton Town Center Holiday Festival will definitely help you get into a festive mood! This Saturday the mall will have entertainment, a tree lighting, food vendors and a grand finale with Santa and fireworks. (Not to mention super convenient shopping...)  

6. Catch a show at The Center for the Performing Arts. The Indiana Wind Symphony will present "Summon the Heroes", the Tania Perez-Salas Compania De Danza will twirl their way into The Tarkington, and Pete N Keely presented by The Actors Theatre of Indiana will continue its run at The Studio Theater.   

7. The Winter Farmers Market returns to Carmel this Saturday morning with a new location! Many of the same wonderful vendors will be returning to the market too. The new location is the Wilfong Pavilion in Founders Park on Hazel Dell Parkway. A new plus? The pavilion is heated!   Winter Market Shopping

8. Can't get enough of Hamilton County's local eats? Make your reservation now for the Harvest Beer Tasting Dinner at Prairie Guest House this Saturday. A 5-course fall-themed dinner will also include expertly paired beers. Coming from out of town (or have too many beer samples)? Discounted room rates are also available for an overnight stay in the charming bed & breakfast. 

Pirates and… BBQ?

Nov 11, 2014 by Emma Diebold

Big Hoffa's Davey JonesBig Hoffa's Barbecue in Westfield has recently been the talk of the town with features on WTHR Channel 13 and chatter on social media from BBQ lovers far and wide, including Here at Hamilton County Tourism, we've long appreciated and understood the wonders of Big Hoffa's slow smoked meats. A recent visit only reinforced this love for BBQ as some of our staffers tried new dishes that go far beyond the standard pulled pork sandwich.

Jordan (of Jordan's Eats) tried the cheese-tastic Davey Jones dish that's comprised of macaroni and cheese, pulled chicken, and ranch dressing. Yes, that's three loves of any Midwesterner, combined into one tasty dish. "I love chicken and I love mac 'n' cheese and Big Hoffa's did me the favor of putting both together. The Davey Jones is topped with a drizzling of ranch and is everything I wanted in a meal."

Kate, our newest staff member, had yet to try a Big Hoffa's specialty, but enjoyed her first bold bite. "The Marley is a sandwich for those who like to go big and go BOLD! Shredded chicken topped with Big Hoffa's specialty white barbeque sauce and garnished with a heaping scoop of habanero cole slaw infiltrates every bite with a spicy kick and sweet finish. Plus, Big Hoffa's harvests many of the spices in their sauces (including habanero peppers) form their own garden, making for a freshness you can taste."

Big Hoffa's Marley

I went for something new myself, the Saigon Special. This banh-mi inspired sandwich did not disappoint. Pulled pork, pickled veggies, cilantro, jalapenos, and a drizzle of spicy mayo filled a French roll and my taste buds with joy. It was a great combination of smoky meat, crunchy sourness and spice.

You may be thinking, wow all of that sounds delicious, but what's with the sandwich names? The seascape mural-covered walls offer another clue, yep, this place is downright pirate themed. Big Hoffa's owner Adam Hoffman explains, "Pirates used barbequing techniques to smoke meat to feed their crews. Barbeque restaurant interiors featuring old license plate decor and country music get old. The pirate theme never gets old. Finding the right atmosphere for a restaurant is half the battle."

Consider that battle won, matey.

Big Hoffa's Saigon Special


Big Hoffa's Barbecue by the numbers:
11 years in business
1 attached antique store (Main Street Shoppes)
20+ secret BBQ sauce ingredients
90 pounds of meat included in catering orders serving 200 people
5 approximate miles from Grand Park
12 hours to smoke ribs
30 hours to smoke beef brisket
25 hours to smoke pulled pork
Countless very happy customers!

8 Great Things to do the 2nd Weekend of November 2014

Nov 06, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

First Friday fun AND Second Saturday shenanigans all in the same weekend! Who could ask for more? Check out the fun in downtown Noblesville and in the Carmel Arts & Design District this weekend and read on for additional ideas. Don't see an event here that peaks your interest? Check out the online Hamilton County events calendar. Follow the North Star CP

1. Follow the North Star at Conner Prairie begins this week. Step back in time for this moving program that transports attendees to the Underground Railroad. Read our previous blog to learn more about the experience.

2. Take part in all of the First Friday fun happening in Noblesville. It'll be the perfect time to shop around at the downtown shops as many will be having open houses Friday evening. Find all sorts of goodies to add to your gifting list (or your own wish list!) and support local businesses at the same time.

3. While in Noblesville, don't miss the opportunity to check out some great local art. See the Studio Artist Exhibit at Nickel Plate Arts, the Annual Fall Show at the Noblesville Library, or stop by the Hamilton County Art Center to see what's new at the Community Creates exhibit. Love Lust Poetry couple Nickel Plate Arts

4. This weekend also brings the second Saturday of the month which means it's time for festive fun in the Carmel Arts & Design District! Check out the galleries and shops during the Second Saturday Gallery Walk. Extra activities include a stone carving demonstration plus a chance to paint your own masterpiece.

5. Didn't get your fill of spooks last weekend for Halloween? Unseen Press is offering a ghost walk tour of downtown Noblesville this Saturday. Be sure to reserve in advance!

6. Speaking of reservations, food and beer lovers will need them this Monday too. Divvy is hosting a beer dinner complete with 7 courses and lots and lots of craft beer. See the menu here.Dining at Divvy by Carrie

7. If you already have holiday shopping on the brain, stop into a special pop-up shop on Main Street in Carmel. The Mass on Main holiday shop is already open and stocked with gifts from some of Indy's favorite Mass Ave. retailers.

8. Veterans Day is coming up this Tuesday, and all of us here at Hamilton County Tourism would like to extend a thank you to all who have served our country. Carmel will hold a Veterans Day Ceremony this Monday at The Tarkington that is free and open to the public. If you yourself are a veteran, stop in to Tucanos for a special punch card that'll give you savings on tasty Brazilian fare.


Hubbard and Cravens, the Perfect Brew

Nov 04, 2014 by Caroline Mosey

Hubbard & Cravens OutsideWhen I first moved to town 10 years ago, I got a job working as a barista at a nearby coffee shop. Hubbard and Cravens was the perfect place to earn some extra money while finishing up my last year of college. It was also the perfect place to get a different education outside the brick-and-mortar school I attended.

That year, I got schooled in the eye-opening, caffeinated world of coffee.

Intense cupping sessions, strict brewing procedures and extensive studies of flavor profiles and food pairings followed, and boy, am I glad they did. Is it imperative to know the precise bean grind for a perfect French press, or know which regions of coffee go well with lemon pound cake? No, but it sure makes for a richer and more interesting experience. The owners travel the globe regularly to forge strong relationships with coffee growers worldwide, and then come home to roast the beans locally. They're the real deal here, and discerning coffee lovers know it. Hubbard & Cravens coffee

Fast forward a decade, and I'm still sitting at a table in Hubbard and Cravens, a few feet from where I once steamed and frothed cappuccinos for the masses. As a writer, I get to drift from coffee shop to coffee shop with my laptop, and H&C stays in high rotation. I was excited when they introduced their new concept in Carmel, because anywhere their brand lands, great quality is sure to follow.

In Carmel City Center, expect to find the same great coffee experience, plus a juice and smoothie bar. There's a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with tons of local ingredients appearing throughout, not to mention a full bar. Weekend brunch features favorites like Quiche Lorraine and Pecan Praline French Toast, with plenty of tables and roomy booths. Modern décor and reclaimed wood give the space a sophisticated but cozy feel. It's the perfect spot to meet with friends, read a book, take a lunch date, or enjoy a glass of wine before hitting the art galleries or shopping in the Carmel Arts and Design District.

Hubbard & Cravens insideIf you prefer to stay in, don't worry. Hubbard and Cravens sells their premium coffee beans by the pound and half-pound, and even hipped us to their home brewing secrets. According to H&C, a good cup of coffee starts with filtered (not distilled) water. Two of their favorite brewing methods are French Press and Pour Over, both of which produce a sensational flavor; however, French Press creates a thicker bodied coffee, while Pour Over tastes lighter on the tongue. It's all about personal preference. Finally, keep in mind which regions are in season (you can ask your barista) to ensure the freshest product.

The folks at Hubbard and Cravens know how to set the bar high, giving us one more reason to love Hamilton County!


8 Great Things to do the First Weekend of November 2014

Oct 30, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

Beards, brews... and skulls? It's going to be a frightfully fun first weekend of November in Hamilton County, Indiana. Take part in events like Day of the Dead at Nickel Plate Arts (that's where the skulls come in) or attend the brand new Beards & Brews event this Saturday. Read on for those ideas and more, or discover our full list of Hamilton County happenings on our online calendar. Day of the Dead NPA

1. It's the last week of the Apple Store at Conner Prairie! The shop will close for the season on Friday at 5 p.m. so get your fill of fall treats while you can.

2. Day of the Dead at Nickel Plate Arts is being celebrated in an artsy way. You can pick up a Calavera skull to decorate, or just come to the Nickel Plate Campus on Saturday to see a display of all of the decorated skulls. Plus there will be music, storytelling and snacks.

3. Thursday is the final day to take a haunted hike at Cool Creek Park. The Haunted Trails event not only has a spook-tacular trail, but also a much less intimidating options like the Trick-or-Treat Trail or Not-So-Scary Nature Trail.

Haunted Trails - Image4. No kiddos on board? Head to a Halloween celebration that has adults in mind. Check out the costume contest at Wolfie's in Carmel or enjoy the festivities at Blackhawk Winery. The winery will host A Night of Wine, Magic & Chocolate complete with chocolate and wine pairings.

5. Got a beard? Love local brews? Noblesville's newest event is for you! Ok, you don't HAVE to have a beard to enjoy this, but maybe at least appreciate them. This Saturday 6 participating breweries will have their brews for sale, plus supply best beard nominations for the Beards & Brews Championship. Categories include Best of Show, Longest Beard, Thickest Beard, and Most Creatively Groomed Beard.

6. Want to go on a Ghost walk? Better make reservations quick! Unseen press is hosting a Westfield Historic Underground Railroad walk on Halloween and Conner Prairie is giving creepy tours Thursday.The Academy & fitting area

7. Two new Hamilton County Artists Association exhibits open this weekend in Noblesville! Head to the Birdie Gallery to see the Community Creates exhibit that opens Thursday. Or check out the 64th Annual Fall Show at the Noblesville Library. Be one of the first to see the show by attending the open house from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

8. Despite the changing weather, you can continue to work on your golf game all winter at Prairie View Golf Club! Attend their Academy Open House to learn more about the golf fitness programs and practice facilities. Plus you can get your clubs fitted on the spot.

How about some treats? No tricks! We are giving away a fun Hamilton County prize pack just in time for Halloween. Enter to win by 10 a.m. on October 31, 2014. Winner will be notified via email.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All-IN with William Knox

Oct 29, 2014 by Kate Burkhardt

William Knox, Hamilton County Sports Authority director and golf aficionado, loves weekends Hamilton County for many reasons - one of which involves time at a beautiful place of worship and reflection. William enjoys spending his Sunday mornings worshipping alongside his wife and two sons at Eastern Star Church in Fishers.

"We have a large church family at Eastern Star," William said, "but the friendly atmosphere helps us to feel like we know everyone."Eastern Star Church test

Eastern Star Church originally opened in 1920 and now operates at three different locations in the greater Indianapolis area. Hundreds gather every Sunday to attend services under the leadership of Senior Pastor Jeffrey Johnson.

"I love our church. It not only has great programs for adults, but for kids as well," William said.

Family-friendly activities are important to William. When asked about his favorite aspects of living in Hamilton County, he quickly answered that the excellent parks, community atmosphere and abundance of free family events make Hamilton County an excellent place to live or visit.

William Knox Head ShotWhen William is not leading the sports sales team at Hamilton County Tourism or taking his family to church on Sundays, he can usually be found teeing off at Gray Eagle Golf Course or munching on a "Big Ugly" at Bub's Burgers.

William Knox
Job: Director, Hamilton County Sports Authority
Town: Fishers
Social: @teamknoxwrk
Birthplace: Gary, IN
Years in Indiana: 37

Last chance! Show that you're All-IN and WIN! Share a photo of you and your family completing All-IN challenges on Twitter with the hashtag #ALLin_HC or go to to enter! Winners will be drawn Nov. 2.

(NEW) Prize packs include:
Tickets to Midwest School of Voice
Chocolate for the Spirit gift card

Brewsline brewery tour certificates
Simply Sweet Shoppe gift card
Dooley O'Toole's gift card

Golf School of Indiana lessons
Ricker's Cash Card

Indiana Transportation Museum tickets
Tucanos gift card

Jordan’s Eats: Strange Eats in the Arts & Design District

Oct 27, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

Jordan, our Digital Marketing Coordinator, has a passion for good eats. And as a former football player, he sure knows how to chow down on lots of grub! So who better to tell you about some of Hamilton County's fan favorite dishes and eating challenges? Read on to find out "What will Jordan eat?"

I've recently tried some interesting culinary creations in the heart of the Carmel Arts & Design District- the P-B-B & J Burger from The Pint Room and Gator Jambalaya at Mudbugs Cajun Cafe.

PBB&J Burger- Pint Room

The Pint Room is one of my favorite places to, well, grab a pint. Their beer selection is out of this world! I decided to try a rather unusual pairing with my beer one evening in the form of a new burger. The P-B-B & J burger is described as being topped with sea salt peanut butter, candied bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, plus strawberry preserves and strawberry slices. I've seen burgers with peanut butter before, but jam too? This I had to try. Unfortunately, I don't think this combo was for me and there wasn't a substantial enough amount of the toppings to really make a difference in the flavor. I'll be sticking to one of The Pint Room's many other burger choices.

Gator- Mudbugs 

Obviously I am all for trying new foods, but the risk in trying strange new meats is something else entirely. That's why when I ordered the Gator Jambalaya at Mudbugs I was a little nervous. My food adventure turned out to be quite a delicious surprise. I have always thought highly of the local Carmel Cajun eatery, and the Gator Jambalaya lives up to their tasty standards. Having never had gator, I would describe the meat as being a mix between chicken and pork but healthier. It is on the denser side of meats but does not have a gamey or fishy flavor. I have a new favorite dish at Mudbugs! The only downside is that Mudbugs only serves Gator on certain Saturdays, but they will give you a heads up on their Facebook or Twitter pages.

Stay tuned for more of Jordan's Eats! What do YOU think he should try next?


8 Great Things to do the Last Weekend of October 2014

Oct 23, 2014 by Hamilton County CVB

Boarding Hayride headlessOctober is almost over, but the festive fall fun continues in Hamilton County, Indiana! Hop aboard the Pumpkin Harvest Train, see giant pumpkins fall from the sky, or do some early trick-or-treating (or local beer sampling for adults!). Read on for those ideas and several more, plus check our online calendar for additional happenings.

1. Have you always wanted to see a giant pumpkin hurled to the ground from great heights? Get to the Smiley Pumpkin Drop at Hamilton Town Center this Thursday morning from 6-10 a.m.! Pumpkins weighing several hundred pounds will be dropped from a crane for your enjoyment.  

2. Speaking of enjoyment, it's the LAST weekend to enjoy Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie! "Conner Scairie" will be open Thursday- Sunday for hayrides and many other activities. Also don't forget to visit the Apple Store before it closes on October 31. PumpkinTrain 149

3. Boo Bash is taking over the Nickel Plate District in Fishers this Friday. From 6:30- 8:30 p.m., kids (and kids at heart) can enjoy safe trick-or-treating, a costume contest, live music, and more. Be sure to look for our mobile tourism vehicle Pinny! Pinny will be dressed up just for the occasion. 

4. Pinny will also pay a visit to Boo ‘N Brew at Clay Terrace and you should too! In addition to treats for kiddos, there will also be a beer garden with local beer treats for adults. Plus, this event is free to attend.  

5. It's the last weekend to ride the Hamilton Harvest Train. Hop aboard to be transported via train to a local FFA pumpkin patch. Pick your favorite pumpkin and enjoy some fun and treats before hopping on the train back home.

6. There's a full weekend of fun coming up at the Palladium. Thursday catch the a cappella sensation Home Free. Saturday see acrobats fly high during The National Acrobats of the People's Republic of China: "Cirque Peking". Sunday night is a real treat. Ethan Bortnick, the youngest performer ever to headline his own concert tour, will stop by the Palladium to share his piano and singing skills.  Palladium Video

7. Rather see a play? See the impressive one woman show presented by Civic Theatre: "Golda's Balcony" that chronicles the life of world leader Golda Meir. 

8. Find treats and maybe a few tricks at Simply Sweet Shoppe in the Carmel Arts & Design District.  From Halloween shaped truffles to retro candy from your own childhood, this newly renovated shop has it all (including a gummy worm weighing several pounds).  



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