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Dec 05, 2013 by Hamilton County CVB
That wintery chill is returning to the air, but that doesn't mean there's no fun to be had. In fact, this weekend may be the busiest one since summer! From tree lightings to shopping to performances, there's a ton to do. Read on for events happening in Hamilton County, Indiana this weekend, plus check our online calendar for even MORE.
1. Get into the holiday spirit by visiting our 12 Days of Christmas page! It's packed with ideas for everything from gift-giving to getaways with hotel deals. Plus, there are several ways to enter to win prize packs that contain everything from dining gift cards to performance tickets! Check out our previous blog post for ways to enter and all of the rules.
2. Speaking of getting into the holiday spirit, it's the perfect time to pick up a Christmas tree! At Country Christmas at Stonycreek Farms, you can take a hayride out to a field to pick and cut your very own tree. They also have pre-cut and other decorative greens, plus hot chocolate and activities to enjoy. Rita's Backyard Garden Center & Tea Room also have a great selection of pre-cut trees, plus you can pop in the tea room for a tasty lunch.
3. Fishers has something new to unveil this Friday! The Celebration of Lights will mark the opening of the new Winter Wonderland light display. During the celebration you can enjoy festive carolers, refreshments, and even a visit from Santa. Then you can check out the new walk-through light display! Don't forget to leave a letter in Santa's Mailbox while you're there.
4. See local homes in Hamilton County dressed up for the holidays! Make a reservation now for the Carmel Holiday Home Tour hosted by the Carmel Clay Historical Society to tour lovely historic homes in the Carmel area. Or you can do a self-guided tour of Noblesville's 12 Houses of Christmas. Starting this Friday, maps will be available so you can locate the 12 historic homes participating.
5. Have a meal with Jolly Saint Nick himself this weekend! Reservations are required for most, so don't delay if you want to catch a glimpse of Santa.
Dinner with Santa at Conner Prairie
Santa at Hubbard & Cravens
Breakfast with Santa at the Mansion at Oak Hill
Check here for more Santa Sightings including the Polar Bear Express train!
6. Plan to spend time in Westfield this Saturday. See a play, grab a bite to eat, then enjoy a special event. The Westfield Playhouse is presenting a fun holiday show "Nuncrackers" this weekend and next. For a comforting meal, stop in at Big Hoffa's for some filling BBQ and tasty sides. Finally, see Westfield light up at Westfield in Lights! This annual tradition includes light displays, carriage rides, and more.
7. Carmel has some fun things going on to get you in the holiday spirit too! Go shopping in the decked-out Carmel Arts & Design District. Be sure to stop in the galleries to find works of art that are under $100 as a part of the 100 under $100 promotion. In addition to the current art on display, galleries are featuring works of art under $100! And starting on Monday, little ones can leave letters for Santa in his mailbox inside ArtSplash gallery.
8. There is SO MUCH to do in Noblesville this weekend. The fun starts with Noblesville Main Street's First Friday Christmas on the Square. There will be tons of holiday activities, plus ice sculptures creating one-of-a-kind ice masterpieces that will be on display through Saturday. While you're on the Square, visit Santa's House plus shop at Logan Village Mall's Midnight Madness sale and Old Picket Fence's Christmas sale too. Also don't miss the Gifted exhibit at Nickel Plate Arts just off of the Square. This unique exhibit features local art and crafts at all price points- perfect for gifting! There will be a special reception this Friday with food, drinks, live music and fun.
Dec 03, 2013 by Carrie Lambert
Everywhere I look these days Christmas is the focus ... decorations, music and shopping. Oh, the shopping. I am constantly running through the list of who I have to buy for, what they would like and where I can get it. I typically like to head out with my girlfriends and start hitting the stores. But my issue is that most malls and concentrated shopping areas are horribly packed and crazy this time of year. So, here is my secret weapon this year - Carmel City Center. And let me tell you why.
Shops - In just one location you can find 15 unique shops. And when girls get together they don't always like the same thing so this makes it easy. You can each veer off into your own shop to find the perfect gift (whether it be for someone else or just for you).
Experiences - It isn't just about the gift. If you are like me there are only so many things you need/want. And truthfully sometimes an experience with someone is so much more appreciated. Here are some fabulous experience themed ideas:
• Bath Junkie - I went here with a bunch of gals the other night and did one of their party packages. Dreamy! We each got to mix up our one-of-a-kind scent into body scrub and lotion. It was a blast smelling all the combinations and seeing what everyone else chose.
• Center for the Performing Arts - Boasting three venues there are always a plethora of shows available whether you like theatre, music or the arts. I personally know friends who give this gift to their relatives and they can choose their own show to attend throughout the year.
Dining - I'm not going to lie ... It's all about the food for me. Carmel City Center has six different options all with their own unique offerings. Here are just a few:
• Divvy - Specifically designed to share among your group, Divvy offers you the opportunity to try a lot of new and unusual items, such as grilled quail or fried wonton cream cheese sticks. Trust me, this is a must stop.
• Holy Cow Cupcakes - Dessert is always key and who doesn't like cupcakes?
• Hubbard & Cravens - Known locally for their commitment to excellent coffee, Hubbard & Cravens is now offering fine wines and craft beer.
And the beauty of all the above is it works as a gift for someone on your list OR (and better I think) it makes for a perfect day out for you! Who knew so much could be found all in one place - Carmel City Center.
Dec 02, 2013 by Hamilton County CVB
‘Tis the season for contests, giveaways and holiday fun for everyone! We're celebrating by bringing you a new way to discover wintery fun in Hamilton County, Indiana: The 12 Days of Christmas.
Visit our 12 Days of Christmas page to find a very special Christmas tree that will direct you to shopping, performances, events and more that are all happening this holiday season. Find ideas for jolly gift giving, where to find the perfect tree, plus send a personalized invitation post card to friends and family to invite them to join the fun!
And that's only our first gift to you. Our second is giving you many ways to win some holiday cheer packages filled with Hamilton County delights! One way to enter is by clicking the "Enter to Win" box on our Christmas tree. Fill out the form and you'll be entered to win a prize pack filled with gift cards and other goodies.
Or you can share some of your own holiday cheer back with us on Instagram! Share photos on Instagram of how you enjoy the holidays in Hamilton County and tag with #HC12days to be entered to win a prize pack. Whether you're cutting down your own tree at Stonycreek Farms Country Christmas, browsing for the perfect gift at a locally owned boutique, enjoying some tasty holiday treats, or attending a holiday event- we want to SEE how you enjoy this special time of year!
Lastly, you can comment on this blog post. Comment on this post and share your favorite things to do in Hamilton County during the holidays, or if you've never visited, share what you'd like to try. We'll pick one lucky commenter to win a prize pack with Great American Songbook Movie Series tickets and gift cards for trying out the new restaurants in the Fashion Mall Café. Comment by Friday, December 6 at 1 p.m. to be eligible to win. The blog comment contest is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Shawn!
To be eligible to win on Instagram, photos must be tagged with #HC12days and be posted between December 1- December 31. Winning entry will be InstaReposted by the Hamilton County CVB Instagram account and winners will be notified at that time how to claim their prize.
Nov 26, 2013 by Vivian Lawhead
As you stumble out of those warm, blissful covers one weekend day, you can look forward to waking up to a steaming cup of Joe at one of Hamilton County's local, independently owned coffee houses. Make a day of it and follow the "caffeine trail" for a day of rich, steamy brew, flaky pastries, and warm ambience.
A coffee house typically focuses on serving espresso and drip coffees and a limited menu of pastries and perhaps lighter lunch fare. A good coffee house offers guests a haven for relaxing, chatting, reading with comfortable seating and a variety of drink options. These days, coffee houses most always offer WiFi since many guests find the ambience perfect for studying, surfing the Internet, or holding productive meetings.
Heading north, stop in Noblesville at the town square and visit one of the earliest Hamilton County coffee houses, Noble Coffee. & Tea. The business opened on April 17th 1996 before Starbucks was a household name. The concept was simple-- provide affordable fresh roasted quality bean, coffee and espresso beverages made to exacting technical standards, and, according to the owner, "combine with a comfortable coffee house environment in which to enjoy one of the best pleasures in life." If you love a particular roast during your visit, bags of coffee are available for your home brewing. Grab a morning brew and enjoy wandering the many shops around Noblesville's square.
Leaving Noblesville, drive south towards Carmel. Accompanied by a tea lover? Make a stop in Carmel's Arts & Design District at Tea Buds. Variety after variety of loose teas will please any tea connoisseur, including the popular bubble tea in a wide range of flavors. If you insist on coffee as your caffeine source, Tea Buds has recently begun brewing coffee from local roaster, Julian Roasters, so coffee lovers won't feel left behind. Tea Buds is a perfect stop as you enjoy the galleries sprinkled along Main Street in the Arts & Design District.
Ready for your afternoon espresso? Just a couple miles from downtown Carmel is City Center where you'll find shops, restaurants, the Palladium, and one of the newest coffee house additions, Hubbard & Cravens. Sleek, modern, and shiny, this local roaster's newest location will provide your afternoon espresso , roasted and brewed by this local roaster. The Carmel location has expanded a bit over the other locations, adding a fresh juice bar, along with wine and beer choices, along with savory menu items. Take a look at the state-of-the-art espresso machine while waiting for your brew, and pick up a few bags of their freshly roasted beans to take home.
Rather than drive to your final destination, grab your walking shoes and head north on the Monon Trail. Just two blocks north, you'll find SoHo Café & Gallery, recently named Indy-A-List's Best Coffeehouse 2013. Named after NYC's SoHo district, you'll feel that traditional coffee house ambience as soon as you step inside. Enjoy one of Soho's monthly signature espresso drinks, fruit smoothies, or perhaps it's time to settle back in front of their fireplace for a cold beer or glass of wine. Fresh pastries, made-from- scratch soups, sandwiches, and salads are also available. Visiting on a Thursday? Stick around for Open Mic Night and enjoy the talent of local musicians from 7-9 p.m. or perhaps you'll be ready to perform after your day on the Caffeine Trail!
Nov 21, 2013 by Hamilton County CVB
Storytelling of tales new and old, Christmas lights and trees, shopping and much more are all happening this weekend in Hamilton County, Indiana! Read on for those ideas and be sure to regularly check our online calendar for event more things to do.
1. Kick your weekend off with some story-telling fun at Jabberwocky Fishers. This month's installment will feature local folks telling "Tales of Sharing & Caring" at the Hamilton East Public Library. The event is tonight starting at 7 p.m. and it's FREE!
2. Have some indoor adventures at Louie's and Pinheads to escape the frigid temperatures we're expecting. Round up the family for a bowling and arcade night, or gather friends for live music in the attached Louie's Restaurant & Bar. This week The Bishops are performing at Louie's on Saturday night- fun!
3. Kick off the holiday season this Saturday from 3:30-6:30 p.m. in Carmel. Holiday on the Square is an annual tradition, and this year there will be even more fun. See the holiday lights come to life at the lighting ceremony, visit Santa, plus enjoy the Holiday Farmers Market.
4. Another great holiday tradition is the annual Country Christmas at Stonycreek Farm in Noblesville. This Saturday it will begin and the farm will open to kids from 1 to 92. Experience the magic of picking and cutting down your own family Christmas Tree, browse the holiday shops, and more.
5. Stop by Carmel City Center this Saturday for even more holiday cheer. See the storefront windows be transformed by local art students into painted winter wonderland scenes. Later in the evening from 6-10 p.m., guests are invited to dine at the City Center restaurants and enjoy late night shopping. Some stores will be offering special deals and Hubbard & Cravens will be supplying free holiday tea tastings!
6. Enjoy the telling of a timeless story that the whole family will love! David Gonzalez is performing "Sleeping Beauty" both Friday and Saturday at the Tarkington. He will presents his fun, fanciful, rhymed verse interpretation of the classic fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" complete with live music and video projections.
7. If you live in Hamilton County or if you're passing through to visit, have your kiddos draft their Christmas wishes for Santa. You can drop your letters off in Santa's Mailbox in Fishers so they can be forwarded to the head elf himself. If you're on the nice list and supply a self-addressed stamped envelope, he'll even send you a reply!
8. Sign up for our e-newsletters if you haven't already. Not only will you receive monthly emails loaded with even more fun things to do in Hamilton County, but you'll also receive the first information about our upcoming holiday happenings! Plus there's a chance to win prizes almost every month too. Sign up here.
Nov 19, 2013 by Carrie Lambert
You are probably one of "those" people. You know ... the kind that studies each and every advertisement, obsesses over the best deals and plans every minute of their Black Friday. Well I typically am not. I am the one that sleeps in after eating all the turkey and then I lay around in my pajamas until mid afternoon. Then I hit a shop or two. If I'm lucky I get a few deals. But this year... this year just may be different.
With all that is happening over Black Friday weekend in Hamilton County, Indiana, I think I may become one of "those" people. Let me explain why.
Shopping. They've got it. The Fashion Mall will be opening bright and early at 7am and both Hamilton Town Center and Clay Terrace will be opening at midnight. If I hit those bright and early (or really late at midnight!) then that leaves time during the day to shop the unique stores in downtown Carmel and Noblesville. And I have a feeling that those just might have the perfect gift for a few of those hard to buy people.
Entertainment. I wasn't born a pure shopper. I get tired of it quickly. Hence the reason for there to be some entertainment to spice up my weekend. I figure I can hit up the Gingerbread Village at Conner Prairie to satisfy my four-year-old's interests. My husband and I can get our music fix at the Jim Brickman concert at the Palladium. And if my girlfriends need a break from shopping we can attend Nuncrackers.
Relaxation. My favorite part. Before I hit December like a mad woman I need to make sure and take care of myself and with 10 different spa locations in the county it will be easy to find the most convenient one with the perfect offerings.
And I can't forget food. I know ... more food right after Thanksgiving? But you have to eat, right? If we end up at Carmel City Center I just might make myself (note sarcasm) go to Divvy, or I may end up on the Tenderloin Trail. Either way, I'm sure my appetite will be satisfied.
Now that I have all the info I just have to sit down and decide on my plan. Plenty of shopping, wonderful entertainment, a little bit of pampering and just enough food. Hmmm ... all of this may also require a hotel room. This just may be my best Black Friday yet!
Nov 14, 2013 by Hamilton County CVB
Yes we have a new look, but no, we won't stop bringing you a list of great things to do in Hamilton County, Indiana before each weekend! Read on for ideas ranging from fancy date night to where to find fresh, local goodies even in cold temperatures. As always, you can find even more things to do on our online calendar.
1. In case you haven't noticed, we have a new look! We have a new logo and some new locations to connect with us online. Read about our changes in our last blog post and in the Indianapolis Business Journal. To find where to follow and get social with us, check out our re-vamped Social Suitcase.
2. Go catch a flick at a unique venue in Hamilton County! Not only can you see larger than life films at the Hamilton 16 IMAX at Hamilton Town Center (hello shopping break!), you can see classic movies too. This year's Great American Songbook Movie Series kicks off this week at the Palladium. "Hello Dolly!" is showing tonight and "West Side Story" is this Friday. See the full lineup of flicks here.
3. There are only a couple weeks left to experience the moving program Follow the North Star at Conner Prairie. This program put participants into the role of fugitive slave who encounters those who will help or hinder their journey on the Underground Railroad. This is not for everyone; participants must be ages 12 or older and be willing to take on the emotional experience. For reservations, call Conner Prairie Guest Services: 317-776-6006.
4. Sleighs are SO last Christmas. This year, Santa will arrive in style to Clay Terrace Mall... in an IndyCar! IndyCard driver Ed Carpenter will chauffer Santa to his new Santa House at Clay Terrace. There will also be reindeer that kids can meet, carriage rides, and of course photos with Santa too.
5. Treat yourself to some local goodies at the Winter Farmers Market. Get a made-to-order breakfast, prepared baked goods, fresh eggs, teas, and more. Take note: the Winter Market does have a new home. You can go check it out for yourself each Saturday morning in the Indiana Design Center from 9 a.m.- noon.
6. Looking for a special date night? Spice up your Monday night and reserve your spots for the wine dinner at Grille 39 inside the Renaissance Hotel. This multiple-course meal will have not only tasty food, but also a special paring of wine that compliments each course.
7. If you'd like to experience Conner Prairie sans kiddos, attend Conner Prairie at Dawn. The interactive history park will open its doors from 7- 10 a.m. to those age 18 and older this Saturday. You can bird watch, hike, take photos or draw, or just enjoy the surroundings! What a lovely and peaceful way to begin the weekend.
8. Thanksgiving is fast approaching! If you have family visiting Hamilton County, or you're visiting here yourself, check out this blog post. It'll help you plan ahead for some fun things to do besides eating leftovers. Also, it'd be a great idea to stop by Lisa's Pie Shop for some specialty pies. Along with classics like pumpkin and apple, they offer chocolate pies, nut pies and more- yum!
Nov 11, 2013 by Hamilton County CVB
We have a new look! After a lengthy design and vetting process, we have an updated brand designed to be fun and engaging and more accurately reflect the fact that so much travel planning happens online. Our new look is launching today on our social media pages and our website's transformation will be complete very soon.
The new logo is designed to reference a geo-tag or the look of an on-line map pin. It reflects the new reality that most travelers dream, research and make reservations on-line. The new logo pulls all of HCCVB's efforts together with a cohesive brand platform.
We didn't come to this conclusion overnight, we did our homework. Survey research on the new look shows that respondents think the new logo looks contemporary, fresh, clean and sporty. Some remarked that it looks like a balloon and made them think of adventure. Others immediately noted it makes them think of travel. The same logo will be used with varied color treatments for various applications including sports marketing through the Hamilton County Sports Authority.
Brenda Myers, our Executive Director, says the logo talks about our area's future as a destination. "This new mark points to the growth in Hamilton County's diversity of product offerings that draw people here. From youth sports to leisure travelers, arts fans and golfers, the new mark and brand more accurately reflect who we are."
We work to stay ahead of trends in travel including the explosion in online travel research. This reflected by our ever-growing website that greets travelers with web-based reservations and reviews, interactive calendars and a trip planner. Area writers and staff experience Hamilton County's adventures and share their stories right here on our blog. We also share travel inspiration on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more. You can find all of the places to follow and interact with us on our re-vamped Social Suitcase page.
We are very excited to share this shiny new brand look with you and continue to bring you travel tips and ideas for your next visit to Hamilton County, Indiana!
Nov 07, 2013 by Hamilton County CVB
What's that? It's nearing the holiday season already? Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, New Years Eve... they are all just around the corner! Slow things down and take time to enjoy a nice weekend in Hamilton County, Indiana before things get hectic. Read on for some great ideas, or check out our online calendar and build your own fun weekend.
1. Go see the latest at Nickel Plate Arts! A new exhibit featuring all of the artists who have studios there just opened on Wednesday. This is your chance to see selections of all of their works in one talent-packed room! The exhibit is only open for a few weeks, so don't miss out. Also this Saturday is a special program perfect for a mother-daughter day: an earring making workshop. Be sure to reserve your spot if you're interested.
2. It a special time of year again at Conner Prairie. The Follow the North Star program returns to give guests a chance to learn about the Underground Railroad. This program can be quite graphic, seeing as guests themselves are put into the role of being a fugitive slave. To learn more about the program, visit ConnerPrairie.org and read our previous blog about our staff's experience during the program.
3. Do you know a bourbon or beer snob? Treat them to something special- a bourbon and beer sampling event at Arcadia Wine & Spirits. New Holland Brewery will be on site Friday with samples of new products and old favorites too. Before or after the tasting, grab a bite at DeLullo's Trattoria in nearby Atlanta.
4. Kick off the holiday season with your whole family at the Hamilton Town Center Holiday Festival! This Saturday the outdoor mall will be transformed into a holiday wonderland filled with entertainers, vendor booths, food trucks, appearances by the Colts, Indy Ice and more. Plus Santa himself will arrive in style with a fireworks show. That is sure to have the kiddo's eyes all aglow.
5. Speaking of holidays- pop in to a local shop for a Christmas Open House. Rita's Backyard Garden Center & Tea Room will host theirs this weekend and have tasty treats and tea room specials too if you need a break from shopping. Logan Village Mall in Noblesville will also be hosting their open house this weekend. With over 45 unique vendors under one roof, you're sure to find something to make someone's holiday bright! Linden Tree Unique Gifts on the Noblesville Square is also hosting an open house on Friday evening. Let the shopping begin!
6. For an open house with an actual house- take the opportunity to see the fabulous Coxhall Mansion dolled up for the holidays. This home in Carmel will be decked out with holiday decorations by designers and florists, plus it's not open to the public very often, so it'll be a real treat! There are tours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday too.
7. Make Saturday night into a unique date night for you and your special someone. Grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant in Hamilton County. Go fancy at Divvy or break that diet and try the tenderloin at the Nickel Plate Bar & Grill. Then head over to the Second Saturday Gallery Walk in the Carmel Arts & Design District to discover cool art and meet local artists. You can also take part in a scavenger hunt, have a caricature made, and more.
8. Last but not least, reserve your Saturday morning for the Winter Market at the Indiana Design Center. You won't want to miss this line-up of vendors. They have everything from fresh food, eggs, baked goods, teas, and even prepared on-the-spot foods too. What a way to kick off the weekend!
Nov 05, 2013 by Clair Kassebaum
Have a friend who lives in Hamilton County, Indiana and want to visit, but aren't sure what to do while you're here? Or do you have a relative coming to visit and you want to be sure to show off the great places central Indiana has to offer? There are plenty of opportunities to visit with your guests while getting the most out of the community.
If you have an active friend, you will definitely want to check out the Monon Trail. I recently walked along the Carmel portion with my brother. It was the perfect atmosphere for conversation, with trees forming a canopy over the trail and many smiling faces going by as we walked. You could even rent bikes from the Carmel Cyclery and go on a lengthier trip around the trails in Carmel and Westfield.
The Carmel Arts and Design District intersects the Monon. A stroll through the district will lead you to many galleries featuring local artists' work your art-loving friend will enjoy. Gazing at some of the art is the perfect way to be exposed to more of the state because many artists draw, paint, or photograph local scenes. Stop in some of the boutiques for a variety of unique gifts and fashion. For more shopping, bring your fashionista friend to one of the nearby malls.
Conner Prairie is a huge draw for tourists, and locals love to visit again and again, so why not bring your visitors here? It is truly a unique experience not found in every city. Upon entering the park, guests are transported back in time to a settlement from the 1800s, and you are included in the happenings around the town. There's also an animal barn, an area dedicated to learning about the civil war, and tethered balloon rides. This destination could fill an entire day if you tack on the nature trail and indoor exploratory exhibits. Also many special events are happening for the upcoming holiday season, check the Conner Prairie website for details.
Let your foodie guests enjoy the tasty tenderloin, chicken tenders, and burgers that are famous around here. Take them to Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream to try the Big Ugly Burger (as seen on Man V. Food), Woody's Library Restaurant, which was converted from a library to a delicious neighborhood pub, or Nickel Plate Bar and Grill, known for chicken fingers, fried pickles, and giant tenderloins. My guests have raved about the delicious meals at Nickel Plate, and the quirky rooms in the restaurant make a great atmosphere. Each of these restaurants is locally owned and has friendly, down-to-earth service, while serving fresh, high-quality food!
If you want to enjoy a musical night at a world-class venue, take them to a performance at the Palladium. This elegant music hall hosts all kinds of entertainment from classical, bluegrass, dance, and country events.
Whether you're the visitor or have a guest, you don't have to scratch your head to come up with things to do. Check out this list and take a look at the events calendar for the week of your visit too!
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