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Archive for August, 2009

If your family is in need of an Indiana weekend getaway, look no further than Hamilton County’s 8 Great Towns.

Day 1 begins at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, where your family will be transported back in time.  You will be guided through history with the aide of Interpreters as your family visits a pioneer village, a working farm and a Lenape Indian camp.  See a Headless Horseman, exhibits, rare animal breeds and theatre performances.  Ride 350 feet into the air on the 1859 Balloon Voyage.  Don’t leave without eating a hand dipped caramel apple at the Apple Store – and don’t deprive yourself of the sweet, tasty cider slushy…

The 1859 Balloon Voyage ready for take off! Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/connerprairie/

The 1859 Balloon Voyage ready for take off! Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/connerprairie/

Once the day is done at Conner Prairie and you are ready for a good, affordable dinner, stop by Alexander’s on the Square in Noblesville.  Alexander’s is a local family friendly restaurant with great food, delicious ice cream and it won’t hurt your wallet.  Drive back to the hotel (need ideas on lodging in Hamilton County?  Click here: Where to stay) and get plenty of rest – because your weekend is not over!

Start the next day with breakfast at Bub’s Café (try the Cinnamon Croissant French Toast, wow).  As a family, take a walk or a bike ride under the trees of the Monon Trail (bikes can be rented down the road from Bub’s Café at Carmel Cyclery).

2BikingMonon

Biking the Monon

Once the group is ready for lunch, drive straight to Big Hoffa’s Barbeque in Westfield.  The food is amazing and prices range from $4.50 to about $10.00 (you can also split a larger combo meal between the whole family).  After the feast is complete, drive a few minutes east to Forest Park in Noblesville.  Settled into the park setting is the Indiana Transportation Museum – where you can tour trains or take a train ride.  This fall, you’ll want to hop aboard the Pumpkin Train.  The train takes you through the countryside of Hamilton County and let’s you off at a local farm so that you can search for the perfect pumpkin.

The Pumpkin Train

The Pumpkin Train

In the late afternoon, the train will bring you back to Forest Park to depart.  Grab dinner on the Historic Square before you head back to the hotel to call it a night!

For a detailed, printable map of these activities, visit: http://8greattowns.com/content/view/39/78/

Enjoy your fall Indiana family vacation!

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Each day in Hamilton County, Indiana restaurant servers, hotel staff, shop owners and others go out of their way to provide extraordinary help to a guest visiting the community.  Whether it’s as simple as giving directions or an above-and-beyond act of kindness, Hamilton County tour and travel professionals know the importance of providing great hospitality.

Each quarter, we recognize a business as well as an individual for all their hard work in making the 8 Great Towns of Hamilton County a great place to live AND visit.  Nominees are recognized for their dedication to superior hospitality in Hamilton County with one STAR named in each of the 3 categories (individual, non-profit and tourism business). If you have experienced STAR service, nominate your Tourism STAR today!  All nominations for the 3rd Quarter Star Award are due September 2.

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Yesterday marked the 3 year anniversary of my husband and I getting married.  In 3 years time we have done so much (bought a house, had a baby) that we decided to take it slow for the celebration.  We handed the little guy over to a trusted sitter and drove to Peterson’s Restaurant in Fishers…

Now, we are not used to the kind of comfortable luxury that is Peterson’s.  In the past 15 months since C was born, we have been more of the pick up a quick meal kind of people.  As soon as we walked in, we were treated like royalty.  The hostess took our name and said “Happy Anniversary!  Would you like a picture to mark the occasion?”  Johnny and I have a lot of strengths as a married couple, but picture taking is not one of them, so we passed on the photo.

The ambiance of Peterson's - photo from PetersonsRestaurant.com

The ambiance of Peterson's - photo from PetersonsRestaurant.com

The hostess then led us back to a dimly lit corner booth.  The first thing we noticed was that the restaurant was pretty full, but still quiet enough to where we could hear each other and actually have a conversation.  Our server, Bill, was quick to greet us and we never felt a lag between courses.  We started with jumbo lump crab cakes for me – yum – and a lettuce wedge with blue cheese crumbles, dressing, tomato and bacon for him.

We both ordered the filet, and they came out cooked to order.  I added scallops to my filet and he topped his with a creamy garlic butter.  The sides were large enough for 2 (or more) to share – so we also sampled a variety of perfectly cooked side items (more on those in a moment).  The entire time we ate, we talked about dessert.  To our surprise, they were kind enough to bring us a complimentary chocolate-y fudge type of dessert (that was covered in a raspberry sauce) to share in the joy of our anniversary.  Did I mention the 2 glasses of tasty Riesling (I can’t remember which Riesling I selected from the long wine list, but I am sure that Bill can remember) or the sweet truffles that are given to each guest as they depart?

Thank you truffle - photo from PetersonsRestaurant.com

Thank you truffle - photo from PetersonsRestaurant.com

After we left I asked Johnny what he would say if he were to blog about the experience.  Here is what he said:

I ordered the double filet and ate every bite of the perfectly cooked dish…  I regrettably had to share the side items with my wife because the creamed spinach, asparagus and au gratin potatoes were amazing.  At one point I left the table for no more than 2 minutes, and when I came back she had eaten almost every bite of the chocolate dessert.  I had to fight her off for the last few bites.

If you are here for a romantic Indiana getaway or are looking for an unforgettable (local) Indiana dining experience, visit Peterson’s Restaurant.  You will not leave hungry OR disappointed.

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If you are already planning a weekend getaway to Hamilton County’s 8 Great Towns or are looking to take a last minute Indiana vacation, here are 8 Great Things to do in Hamilton County, Indiana this weekend:

Explore fire trucks, police cars, dump trucks and more at "Things That Go Rodeo" Image from www.ci.carmel.in.us

Explore fire trucks, police cars, dump trucks and more at "Things That Go Rodeo" Image from http://www.ci.carmel.in.us

1. Learn about Chinese landscapes at Chen Hao’s Chinese Art Exhibit: Urban Landscape– Friday, August 28 – Saturday, August 29.

2. Check out cool cars from all eras at the Fishers Community Car Show (all profits will go to benefit Prevail, Inc). – Saturday, August 29.

3. Check out Carmel’s “Things That Go Rodeo” for a fun, free way to entertain the kids. – Saturday, August 29.

4. Wrap up summer in Arcadia with the “Summer Windup” celebration. – Saturday, August 29.

5. While in Arcadia on Saturday night, visit the Hedgehog Music Showcase and watch a variety show that features a wide variety of entertainers and musical genres.

6. Take your taste buds to another time at Conner Prairie’s “Taste the Past” event.  Come hungry because you will be feasting on authentic food from 1816, 1836 and 1886. – Saturday, August 29 – Sunday, August 30.

7. Choo! Choo!  Ride the caboose shuttle to and from Forest Park.  While there, take a walk in the park, spin around on their carousel or enjoy a picnic lunch. – Sunday, August 29.

8. Close out the weekend with a free concert in Noblesville’s Seminary Park.  – Sunday, August 30.

*Visit us online at 8GreatTowns.com for more details on the activities above and other weekend fun ideas!

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In June we posted about 8 Dishes WE Crave, which was inspired by an Indianapolis Monthly article.  Well, we all love food so much and we have so many unique Indiana dining options here that we couldn’t stop at 8 items – in fact, I think we’ll struggle to stop after this round.  Either way, below are 8 MORE Dishes that WE Crave.  Enjoy!

Pie in a Jar from Lisa's Pie Shop

Pie in a Jar from Lisa's Pie Shop

1.  Between the food, the tea and the experience, Ashley can’t select just 1 goodie from the Ruby Pear in Noblesville; “Something that I always enjoy is a trip to the Ruby Pear. From the delicious soups to the dainty sandwiches, their delicate lunches are always a treat. The real treat are the scones and fat rascal cookies, I personally LOVE the vanilla cookies. I usually save the chocolate covered strawberry for a later indulgence!” 1095 Conner Street, Noblesville, 317-770-8322

2.  Our intern, Emma, craves a fried delight from Sahm’s, “Although they are not technically a dish, Sahm’s carrot curls surpass any other crunchy, fried snack I have ever encountered.  They are light, crispy, and are dusted with just the right amount of salt.  Plus carrots are vegetables, so they are still good for you… Right?” 11590 Allisonville Road, Fishers, 317-842-1577

3. As a Christmas treat a few years ago, we gave away Pie in a Jar from Lisa’s Pie Shop. The Pie in a Jar was initially created as a way to salvage pies that weren’t perfect, and then they took off!  Both the sweet filling and crust are served in the jar and makes for an unforgettable surprise.  She has a variety of flavors; Apple, Apricot, Peach, Blueberry, Cherry, Strawberry Rhubarb and Black Raspberry – my favorite is the good old fashioned Apple.  YUM. 5995 S US Highway 31, Atlanta, 317-758-6944

Continue reading for delicious details on Serendipity, Fionn MacCool’s, Bub’s Cafe, Sullivan’s Steakhouse & Keltie’s….

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These past few weeks I have been driving around the county interviewing artisans for the new Nickel Plate Arts Trail. Along my way I have not only discovered some cool places, but I have also met really interesting people.  First I traveled to Fishers to learn all about the art of soap making at Herbal Art, then I went up to Tabby Tree Weaver in Arcadia and got a look at how wool becomes cloth. Finally I went north again to Cicero and discovered the cutest coffee shop, complete with a Native American Flutist.

Photo from TabbyTreeWeaver.com

Photo from TabbyTreeWeaver.com

In Fishers I stopped by the Wedding Event Design Offices (WE DO) for handmade soaps and lotions at Herbal Art. This complex houses all sorts of wedding-related businesses, from make-up to photography. Convenient, no?  The soaps smelled great and, as I found out while talking to the creator, Brian, they’re good for the environment and for you. He gave me a little sample and I can’t wait to go back and get more.

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Summer is coming to an end and before you know it fall will be over here, leaving us little time left to enjoy the great outdoors of Hamilton County – or at least while it is warm!  Before the season passes us by, we want to have a contest to encourage you to see another side of Hamilton County, Indiana.

Strawtown Koteewi Park - Photo from MyHamiltonCountyParks.com

Strawtown Koteewi Park - Photo from MyHamiltonCountyParks.com

The idea is simple – pack up your family and camp out under the stars in beautiful White River Campground.  Start early the next morning with a hike or leisurely stroll at Strawtown Koteewi Park (if it is late fall, sit back and watch the leaves change colors).  Take in one of the many interpretive programs the staff offers before heading back for lunch at your campsite.  Don’t miss Potter’s Bridge or check out one of the many free fall festivals in the area.  After the busy day, slow things down with an ice cream cone at Alexander’s on the Water.  The next day take everyone to Geist Lake Marina and rent kayak’s for a day of fun on the water.  If you are in need of a fun Indiana family getaway – look no further!

Here are the details:

PRIZE: A gift certificate for 2 FREE overnight stays at White River Campground in Cicero, a $20 gift certificate for Alexander’s on the Water in Cicero (can also be used at the Noblesville Square location) and 2 gift certificates for buy one kayak rental, get one free from Geist Lake Marina.  Entrance to and programs at Strawtown Koteewi Park are free!

How to win: Answer the following question in our comment section (I will keep comments turned off until the contest is over).  I will throw all the names of the people that correctly answer into a hat and randomly select the winner!

CONTEST ENDS ON MONDAY MORNING AT 9 AM – I WILL THEN DRAW THE NAME AND ANNOUNCE THE WINNER!

QUESTION:  Koteewi is a Miami Native American word meaning what?

Good luck to all!

hint: http://www.co.hamilton.in.us/parks_details.asp?id=2932

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