A thriving arts scene, excellent schools and a strong real estate market are just a few reasons people choose to live in Carmel Indiana. This north-side suburb of Indianapolis ranks among the most affluent cities in all of central Indiana, and claimed the #1 spot on CNN Money Magazine’s Best Places to Live in 2012.
Thanks to smart planning, Carmel is a very walkable and drivable community of roughly 80,000 residents. The city has transformed itself into an ideal place to live and work, with its immaculate urban areas, thriving business community, City Center, and vibrant Arts & Design District.
Carmel is located in Hamilton County, just north of the Indianapolis border, and approximately 16 miles north of downtown Indy. It is sandwiched between Zionsville (to its west) and Fishers (to its east), and enjoys close access to US 31, SR 431 and I–465.
Arts & Design District
No discussion of Carmel is complete without a review of its Arts & Design District. Located in the heart of Old Town Carmel, the Carmel Arts & Design District is a cornucopia of antique stores, art galleries, boutiques, independent restaurants and interior designers, as well as a dizzying array of neat little specialty retail shops.
It is also home to a number of fun events, like Carmel Artomobilia, the Carmel International Art Festival and the ever-popular CarmelFest.
Here’s just a small sampling of businesses that can be found in the Arts & Design District:
Carmel Arts Council Gallery
The Carmel Arts Council Gallery features art by kindergarten through 5th grade students in its Children’s Art Gallery, also known as “The World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery,” located at 40 West Main Street in Carmel. The art is on display from September through May, with each elementary school school scheduled for a month. Special events and other exhibits take place during the summer months.
Carmel Clay Veterans Memorial Freedom Circle
The Carmel Clay Veterans Memorial Freedom Circle is a marvelous 9-foot bronze sculpture located at 3rd Avenue SW and City Center Drive, that depicts two kneeling soldiers on a battlefield, set before a semi-circle of 8 flags, one for each of the uniformed military services. A beautiful reflection pond, including several jets of water, sits between the monument and City Hall, which is located off One Civic Square.
Surrounding the pedestal are 6 plaques, each bearing an inspirational quote from presidents Eisenhower, Jefferson, Lincoln and Reagan, in addition to aviator Amelia Earhart and philosopher Edmund Burke.
Carmel mayor Mayor Brainard took part in an unveiling ceremony on October 12, 2006. The memorial is one of the most recognizable parts of the city’s landscape, and functions not only as a work of art, but a quiet place to pause and remember those who served n the U.S. military.
Carmel Community Playhouse
The Carmel Community Playhouse, located at Clay Terrace, 14299 Clay Terrace Blvd in Carmel, is home to the not-for-profit Carmel Community Players. No matter where you’re seated, there’s simply not a bad seat in this intimate, 125-seat theater space. And because it is located in Clay Terrace, there is always the opportunity to combine the joy of shopping and dining with theater. For those who prefer to stay-put in the playhouse, there is a small concessions area that serves drinks and snacks.
Carmel Community Playhouse is a great place to catch a live theatrical production, or even live music and comedy. The venue is also available to members of the community, including individuals, businesses and other organizations for meetings, seminars and workshops. The room can function as as either a theater or banquet room, depending on need.
Broad sidewalks and vintage storefronts blend seamlessly with modern amenities and convenience in this upscale outdoor mall that features 80 upscale stores and great restaurants of all kinds, including Whole Foods, Gelato Da Vinci, Z Gallerie, Pier 1, DSW and Mitchell’s Seafood to name just a few. Clay Terrace is located at 14390 Clay Terrace Blvd in Carmel, conveniently off the Meridian/Keystone split, with easy access from 146th street.
You’ll find everything from locally owned boutiques to national chains shopping. Ample parking, park benches situated throughout the mall, and several umbrella stands to help you stay dry make this one shopper-friendly space.
The mall even offers a playground for the kids, including a slide, teeter-totter, and rock.
Located at 2000 W 116th Street in Carmel, Coxhall Gardens is a unique, 125-acre community park that features a beautiful, tulip-filled garden area, as well as the gorgeous, twin 90-foot Carillon Bell Towers.
Coxhall Gardens is great for walking, jogging, kite flying, frizbee, dog-walking or just relaxing. The Centerpiece offers tiered lawn seating, and is the perfect place for weddings, reunions and other social gatherings.
A make-believe village area is lots of fun for kids, with its village stores, echo walls, peek-a-boo hills, a sun dial, and Tiki huts. Future plans for the park include a conservatory, museum, reflecting pool and several specialty gardens.
Monon Community Center
Located at 1235 Central Park Dr E, in Carmel, Indiana, the Monon Community Center is the crown jewel of Carmel’s Central Park . This massive 146,000 square-foot sports and recreation facility offers state-of-the-art amenities, including a fitness center, café and indoor aquatics center; a water park with lazy river and slides, kiddie pool, playground and huge sandbox; a gymnasium and track; a banquet and meeting rooms; and a water park.
The facility is home to a wide array of educational programs and workshops for guests of all ages, including those related to aquatics, arts and crafts, biking, cooking, dance, health and fitness, self-defense, therapy and yoga. In addition, the facility hosts a number of community and social events, such as family camp-outs, Movies in the Park, Parent’s Night, Girls Night Out, Teen Night Out and Karaoke Night.
Monon Depot Museum
The Monon Depot Museum is located at 211 First Street S.W., Carmel. The museum originally served as the main freight and transportation hub of Carmel.
Built in 1883, the Monon Depot Museum features railroad artifacts and various rotating exhibits, in addition to several permanent displays, like Carmel’s first stop light, and local Hoosier history.
Without a doubt one of the most widely-used attractions in the city, Carmel’s portion of the Monon Trail starts on the north side of 96th Street, and runs north 5 miles, roughly parallel to U. S. 31 (Meridian Street), all the way to 146th Street in Carmel, before continuing into Westfield. The trail is part of the larger Monon Rail Trail that stretches from 96th St. to Fall Creek in Indianapolis, and is used by everyone from walkers, bicyclists, inline skaters and joggers to dog-walkers.
Trail-goers enjoy long stretches of shaded trail that are perfect on a hot August day! The trail passes through residential areas, but also runs past several attractions, such as the Old Monon Depot, Carmel City Center, and Arts & Design District, with its many galleries, restaurants and shops.
Museum of Miniature Houses
Museum of Miniature Houses is located at 1089 3rd Ave SW in Carmel. Located on the east of Carmel’s Arts and Design district, this unique museum features a remarkably detailed collection of over over 600 miniatures.
For anyone who loves marveling at teensy-weensy replicas of houses, furniture, people, animals and other small things, this is most definitely the place to be! Visitors will enjoy room after room filled with mini houses, many of which are supplemented with an audio tour which provides interesting facts about the houses.
Carmel City Center
Located at 720 S Rangeline Rd in Carmel, around a half mile south of the Arts & Design District, is Carmel City Center, a vibrant mixed-use village that includes 300 apartments and penthouses, restaurants, an upscale 102-room hotel and the Center for the Performing Arts.
Center for the Performing Arts
Center for the Performing Arts is located at 355 City Center Dr in Carmel. This impressive campus consists of 3 venues: The Palladium, The Tarkington and The Studio Theater, each of which offers a world-class experience for community engagement and enjoying the arts.
Located on the campus of the City Center, the Palladium is a state-of-the-art, concert hall that features both local and world-renowned musical concerts and performances. Based on the traditional “shoe box” shape, this 1,600-seat concert hall was inspired by Andrea Palladio’s Villa Capra, La Rotunda, with its massive sound-reflecting walls and high ceilings.
This beautiful limestone structure is home to the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. The venue also contains a gift shop and café.
Located across the Green from the behemoth Palladium in Carmel, The Tarkington Theater, also known as the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, might be easy to miss. But it is worth paying attention to, especially for anyone who enjoys a good theatrical performance.
This 500-seat proscenium theater is the longest continuously operating community theater in the U.S. It is used mainly for musicals, dance, lectures and other presentations, and is a favorite gathering place for the local community, with nearly 95 performances held at the theater each year. It is adjacent to the Monon Trail.
Golf Courses in Carmel
Carmel Indiana is home to several top-notch golf course. These include Bridgewater Club, Crooked Stick Golf Club, Mowhawk Hills, Prairie View Golf Club, Plum Creek Golf Club, Twin Lakes Golf Club and Woodland Country Club.
Bridgewater Club Golf Course is located at 3535 E 161st St in Carmel, Indiana. This private course is part of the distinctive Bridgewater Club golf home community, which is am upscale custom-home community that offers a variety of architectural styles, from traditional, golf villas and townhomes.
Amenities include a clubhouse, 17,000 square foot fitness center, including a 25 yard indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, various youth activities and, of course, the golf course.
The course itself is a par-72, 18-hole course, designed by Pete Dye, that features 7,060 yards of golf from the longest tees, all interwoven among the community’s upscale residences. The course also features a 23-acre practice range, and a huge clubhouse with all the trimmings.
Designed by the legendary Pete Dye, Crooked Stick Golf Club is a private golf club located at 1964 Burning Tree Ln in Carmel. This 18-hole, championship-caliber course has been a perennial favorite among such revered publications as Golfweek and Golf Magazine, and appeared on their respective lists of top 100 courses in the U.S.
Crooked Stick is a par-72 course with bentgrass, really fast greens, 7,516 yards from the back tees, a driving range and putting greens, a nice clubhouse and pro shop. It is known among Carmel golfers for its emphasis on skill over luck. The club has hosted some world-class events, including the 2012 BMW Championship here, which is a stop on the FedEx Cup. Crooked Stick golf course homes sell at a premium, due to their location on this highly-prize golf course.
Major Carmel Events
Camel Fest is a decades-old tradition in Carmel, which celebrates the heritage of the community and national heritage. This annual 2-day event takes place over the 4th of July holiday, and includes live entertainment, a parade with floats and marching bands from local schools, food, vendors, prizes and interactive Carmel sports, games for Carmel children, and one of the area’s largest fireworks displays, synchronized to music.
Carmel International Arts Festival
The Carmel International Arts Festival is held annually on the last Saturday and Sunday of September. This 2-day event, which takes place in Carmel’s Arts and Design District, features a juried selection of artists, exhibiting their creations and wares in a variety of genres, from watercolor and oil, jewelry, photography and sculpture to wood, pottery and more. The festival stared in 1997, and has been going strong ever since then.
There are lots of local food vendors from both Indianapolis and Carmel, as well as live entertainment, kids activities, and arts and crafts activities, all of which make this one family-friendly event. Dance performances by cloggers, Chinese, Russian and Latin dancers lends an international flare to the festival.
If there’s one thing that distinguishes Carmel from most other cities in the U.S., it is the extensive network of roundabouts, which the city has been steadily building since the late 1990’s, as part of an effort to replace stop lights and stop signs. In fact, the city now boasts over 60 roundabouts, which exceeds the total of any other city in the U.S.
The city embarked on the roundabout program due in large part due to their superior safety record, based on accident statistics reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But not only that, people seem to prefer roundabouts to stop signs and stop lights.
You have to admit, they are a bit more aesthetically pleasing, with their nicely-done landscaping and green space, compared to a conventional intersection. And since crosswalks are built-in, they represent a safety benefit to pedestrians and bicyclists.
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