Carmel, Indiana, located in Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, is a paradise for the young and old. In 2012 Carmel was selected as the Best Place to Live in America by CNN Money Magazine and I totally agree! Until 1874, the town where Carmel now sits was called Bethlehem. In 1924, one of the first automatic traffic lights in the United States was installed at the intersection of Main Street and Rangeline Road. The signal that was installed was the invention of Leslie Haines and is currently in the old train Station on the Monon. Today, Carmel has become the unofficial roundabout capital of the World, due to the installation of over eighty roundabouts and demolition of seventy-eight sets of traffic signals! That is huge compared to the small town that I live in, Davidson, North Carolina, where we have three! The roundabouts are user friendly (once you get the hang of them) and places for beautiful landscaping design as well.
Carmel Arts and Design District promotes small businesses and local artisans and walking down Main Street there are fifteen bronze life-size sculptures, part of the “Man-on-the Street Series, created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr., “The Norman Rockwell of American Sculpture,” starting in the 1980s. These sculptures look so real and are placed in front of store fronts that depict their actions.
Walking past the storefronts in “Old Town” you come to a crosswalk where the sculpture of the policeman is. Look both ways here because the Monon Trail crosses this section of Main Street and is always busy with bikers, walkers, joggers, skate boarders, men and women walking dogs, families with prams, you get the picture, it is WONDERFUL!
The Monon Trail, completed in 2003, measures 10.4 miles from 10th Street in Indianapolis where it connects at 96th Street, to the 5.2-mile Monon Greenway in Carmel. Used more than 1.2 million times in 2005, this makes the Monon Trail one of the busiest in the nation. The inviting part of the Monon Trail in Carmel is the restaurants, coffee shoppes, shopping and the Carmel Farmers Saturday Market, to be found along the trail. One can walk, bike, or jog and stop along the route for a cuppa, lunch, or shopping and then return to the trail! Also, along the trail you pass lovely kept turn of the century neighborhoods sprinkled with the pastel cottage and arts and crafts style home. For the newbies there are new townhouses built within a few yards of the Monon Trail too. Just walk outside your door and here is the trail, the restaurants, the shopping! Who wouldn’t want to live here, is my question!
Carmel City Center is a one million square foot mixed use development located in the heart of Carmel. The Monon Greenway runs directly through the project. Here is the location for the Center of Performing Arts which includes a 1600 seat concert hall named “The Palladian” and the 500-seat theater named “The Tarkington” and a 200- seat black box theater. The large park located next to the city center is the location for the Carmel Farmers Market, so it is easy to get there on the Monon Trail on Saturday mornings or park your car in the covered parking garage just 150 feet from the Market. The Market, founded in 1998, is a growers and producers-only market with over sixty vendors. There are fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, jams and salsas, COFFEE, eggs, honey, plants and prepared foods. (like the Walking Waffle, one of my favorites) In addition there are cooking demonstrations, children’s activities and live music all in one place. All workers are volunteers and there is even a bike parking lot that is manned by local youth organizations so you can park your bike and go!
In 2007, a 24.5 million dollar water park and mega-fitness center was opened in the 55 million Carmel Central Park. You guessed it, situated right on the Monon Trail! The Outdoor Water Park consists of two water slides, a drop slide, diving board, a lazy river, a kiddie pool, a large zero depth activity pool Flowrider and a lap pool. The state-of-the-art fitness center consists of an indoor lap pool, a recreation pool with it’s own water slides, snack bar, gymnasium, 1/8 mile indoor running track and the Kids Zone Childcare Center. The building is connected by an elevated walkway over the Monon Trail, where the Carmel Clay Parks Department offices are located which has a banquet center and activity rooms that can be rented out. Carmel is truly one of the special small towns in the US and I hope you make it a point to check it out! It makes a lovely Weekend Getaway, or a week for that matter! Enjoy!