ILuis Ruvalcaba’ve had the distinct pleasure of knowing Luis Ruvalcaba and his amazing crew for only a few short months, but already I’m smitten. If you haven’t caught his written work with Hamilton County Tourism – or even for where we met – then you’re missing out. Luis’ personality shines in everything he publishes, and his Instagram account gleams with must-do-with-the-fam suggestions. It only made sense to tap him for this week’s piece: What makes Hamilton County great? And luckily, he was full of answers.  

How often are you and your family out exploring Hamilton County? 

We’re out at least once a week. Sometimes we go out for a quick trip after work to get some photos or longer excursions on my days off to spend some time away from the house before it becomes a wreck.

If you and your family had one free afternoon to do anything, do you have a usual go-to? 

Yes. I feel like Conner Prairie is definitely our default. There’s so much there that it's basically a no-brainer. Splash pad, history, big giant balloon, arts and crafts, play ground, live animals… what's not to love really? Although when it's super duper hot out, we do spend a fair amount of time at the Fishers YMCA swimming. It’s a great pool. If anyone ends up joining the Y from this I feel like we should get a referral bonus or something!

What do you think are some of the hidden gems more people should know about? 

There is a “museum” of sorts in the Carmel Arts and Design district: The Fire Buffs museum is an old fire station run by a retired firefighter who restores old engines. It's amazing to check out with kids. It's like a touch a truck event without the lines. I also think that Strawtown Koteewi doesn't get nearly enough love. This park is just gigantic and it has so many trails, indoor nature displays and a new zip line course opening this year that you really need to get out and see.

What makes them special? 

Oh. Sorry I think I already answered that! But just in case, those are both special because they are run by people who have a genuine love of what they do. If you talk to Jim, who runs the fire museum you’ll see it in his eyes that this is really his passion and he takes great pride in it. Same with all the volunteers and staff at Koteewi. They are just really committed to the place they are building.

You meet a family brand new to Hamilton County - where do you send them first? 

Oh man. Depends on the family I guess. Forest Park is a good place to start if they don't want to be overwhelmed and just want a nice quiet afternoon. Conner Prairie is good if they are adventurous and it's not too hot. But you know where I started? I got a fishing license and took my kids to fish in the little ponds and lakes all around the place. Sitting out there in the quiet and looking at the beauty of the area really made this place feel like home. My kids would just sit there and hold a fishing pole and the look on their face when they caught some little 4” fish would just priceless. You can’t buy that kind of moment you know? My older daughter’s first catch she even named: Fish and Chips. Those little moments that you can only have out here in our neat blend of city and country are the things that make Hamilton County outstanding.