Hamilton County, located just north of Indianapolis, is full of surprises.

The county includes eight towns, said Jo Ann Klooz, communications manager for the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"What's great about this county is all the towns have a different feel," she said.In Carmel, the Center for the Per-forming Arts includes the 1,600-seat Palladium concert hall and two adjacent theaters.

The center is home to Michael Fein-stein's Great American Songbook Initia-tive along with local theater and sym-phonic groups. The center draws acts such as Tony Bennett, Vince Gill and Yo-Yo Ma to its stage.

The Palladium opened two years ago, Klooz said."The Palladium is an incredible space," she said.

"It's gorgeous."John Hughey, director of external re-lations for the center, said it offers tours for groups.

In the Carmel Arts and Design Dis-trict, nine art galleries within walking distance offer original works including painting, sculpture, glass art and pho-tography by local and international art-ists. Styles range from impressionism to neo-realism. The district also has an extensive an-tique mall and fashion boutiques.

"The advantage of the district is that it's easily walkable," Klooz said. "Most of it is on Main Street."

The Indiana Design Center, located in the Carmel Arts and Design District, has showrooms, design professionals, artists and numerous resources for residential and commercial interiors.

Klooz said the focus is on interior de-sign. Retail showrooms offer inspiration and in-house design services for the pub-lic, while the to-the-trade showrooms on the second floor rival Chicago's Mer-chandise Mart and are reserved for de-signers and their clients.

The Museum of Miniature Houses in Carmel rotates its displays seasonally, so there are always new mini creations to see.Carmel's Cooking Greek offers classes to prepare Greek fare. Options range from classic baked lamb to new entrees like Greek burgers.

Noblesville, the seat of Hamilton County, makes a great shopping stop, Klooz said.A restored 1879 French Renaissance courthouse in the center of the town square is lined with more than 20 shops, art galleries and antique shops.

Golf groups can find nearly 300 holes of golf in Hamilton County. "There's an ease of getting from one course to another. The courses have dif-ferent scenery and levels of play," she said.