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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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After a fun Saturday working the 2009 US Senior Open, I took time away from the office yesterday.  I decided to make the most of my day away and took my little guy, Christopher, out to breakfast.  We went to Bub’s Cafe in Carmel and nibbled on cinnamon French toast topped with strawberries and bananas.  I also had one of the most delicious Chai Lattes ever – just sweet and warm enough to make for a great morning “pick-me-up.”  The day was nice and the weather was warm, so we sat on the porch.  Christopher really enjoyed sitting out there – he got to watch the walkers, runners and bikers go by on the Monon all while filling his tummy.

Eating a syrupy strawberry from the cinnamon French toast

Eating a syrupy strawberry from the cinnamon French toast

After we were full, we decided to work off the breakfast.  I loaded him into his wagon and started to stroll along.  Christopher greeted every person that passed us by with an eager “HI!” – a new word he has learned.  He would squeal with delight when people would smile and wave back to him.  Finally, he wanted to roam on his own, so I let him out of the wagon.  He walked… and walked…. and walked…  He was in heaven with the trees, animals, people.

It was such a fun way to spend the day – a great breakfast, a shaded walk and perfect weather – I highly recommend it.

Christopher finding his way along the Monon Trail in Carmel

Christopher finding his way along the Monon Trail in Carmel

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Our Deputy Director, Karen Radcliff, had a busy weekend!  She saw Coldplay perform live at Verizon Wireless in Noblesville, stopped by Westfield for the opening of a mile long extension of the Monon Trail, had a great time at a local restaurant – below she recaps her fun weekend…

 

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What Tuesday lacked in the weather department, this past weekend certainly made up for it with perfect sunny and seventy days and pleasant evenings–ordered up just in time for a jam-packed list of outside events.  I found myself at a few.

 

Friday night’s Cold Play concert was one of the best shows I had seen at the outdoor Live Nation amphitheatre.  

Coldplay performing on stage at Verizon Wireless

Coldplay performing on stage at Verizon Wireless

These guys have talent, plus they know how to play to an audience.  Their energetic show spilled out onto two additional stage platforms built near the upper seats and even further out into the lawn area.  Those Cold Play fans in the cheap seats were ecstatic! Throughout the show, the band dropped big

The action during "Yellow"

The action during "Yellow"

yellow beach balls onto the crowd when they sang “Yellow” and big spinning balls tethered from the catwalks providing a spherical canvas for laser lights and projected photos.  The crew even captured the night’s full moon at times and projected it onto the large screens.

 

 

 

On Saturday morning I celebrated with the City of Westfield as they officially opened the first mile of the Monon Trail, a rails to trail linear

park connecting Westfield to Carmel  and on to Indianapolis.  A new Greyhound Pass trailhead offers parking, signage and restful benches.  A

beautiful day of bicycling came next.

The Opening of the Monon Trail in Westfield

The Opening of the Monon Trail in Westfield

 

 

 

Sunday, I found myself cheering on Mine That Bird and jockey Calvin Borel in the Belmont Stakes at Mudsocks Grill in Noblesville.  An appropriate place or a horse race, I think, since Mudsocks is named for the muddy hooves horses get, often appearing like brown socks.   Calvin couldn’t stretch out a win that day, but my burger and cole slaw was definitely blue ribbon. Mudsocks has a great bar area with huge garage doors that open up to let the outdoors in.  We lingered as long as we could!

 

The weather even held out long enough for me to cut the grass Sunday night. I guess after playing so hard, some outside yard work was in order.   Next weekend:  The Indiana State Senior Games!  Hope the weather holds out for track & field.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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Today the weather was gorgeous, so several of us from the Hamilton County CVB decided to bike during our lunch hour – who wants to stay inside when you can be riding around on a bike?  We arrived at Carmel Cyclery, hopped on the rentable bikes and rode over to the Monon Trail. We quickly zipped around so we were happy that there was shade from the trees to keep us cool. 

Posing with the Carmel Statue

 

We rode by all kinds of people – families pushing babies in strollers, Carmel Arts & Design District shoppers, serious runners & bicyclists, lunch breakers waiting for a table outside of Bub’s Burgers, dog walkers and even a few of the famous, true-to-life Carmel statues. 


It did take us a minute to get used to the Monon Trail Etiquette (which side to stay on, how to pass by the people walking, when to cross through intersections), but everyone seemed to still enjoy us as we rode by on the left while shouting out “Passing on the right!” 

 

Outside of Bub's Burgers

All in all, the Trail is just over 15 miles, so there is plenty to explore while getting a good work out.  Follow this link for a printable version of all that the Trail has to offer: Monon Map. 

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