Historic main streets sprinkled with local bakeries, scenic nature trails revealing hidden surprises and bright lights paired with the smell of burning rubber. Brimming with family-friendly experiences and teeming with small-town charm, these are just a few of the things that we love about Hendricks County, Indiana. Nestled deep in the heart of Indiana, right near Indianapolis, Hendricks County is the ideal destination for a quick getaway. A quick two-hour drive from Cincinnati will have you greeted with plenty of warm Midwestern hospitality and plenty of family adventures to discover.
We would like to thank Visit Hendricks County for sponsoring our visit so that we could bring you more unique travel ideas and experiences. All opinions are my own.
Things To Do In Hendricks County, Indiana
Dive In At Splash Island
Beat the summer heat by planning a trip to Splash Island during your visit to Hendricks County. This water park is ideal for those with younger children and those looking for a more leisurely experience. While the park does have three water slides, I found the multiple splash areas for kids to be the highlight. A toddler wading pool, an interactive kids area, and a lily pad crossing can keep children entertained for hours. Looking for something a little more relaxing? Float along the 900-ft lazy river or dive into their “deep” pool. With plenty of areas to catch a few rays, pack a lunch and stay for a while. Concession stands are always serving up cold drinks and classic poolside treats.
Experience the Thrills of Racing at the Lucas Oil Raceway
Known for hosting the Chevrolet Performace U.S. Nationals the Lucas Oil Raceway is the capital of drag racing. Starting in April the track comes to life with the sounds of engines and the sweet smell of gasoline and rubber. From Friday night street racing to exotic car shows, there is bound to be something to spark your interest.
Racing fans will rejoice as a few times a year the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience comes to the Lucas Oil Raceway. This is a unique opportunity to get behind the wheel of an actual racecar and take it for a spin. There is no instructor riding shotgun and passing is allowed! Racing fans travel from across the country to cross off this dream of their bucket list. Don’t think you can take the pressure and thrill of driving alone? Still, get that racecar experience by opting for a ride-along. This is where a professional race car driver takes you on the ride of a lifetime for a few laps at high speeds. I opted for the ride-along, which in itself was an exhilarating adventure. By the time the driver pulled back into the pit, my heart was pounding and the adrenaline was pumping through my veins! What a rush!
WHO North America
Calling all Doctor Who fans! WHO North America is the only retailer dedicated solely to the world’s longest running science fiction TV Program, Doctor Who! The museum inside consists of an impressive display of rare, unique and collectible memorabilia from the show. Guests can enjoy the museum at no cost and browse tons of fascinating antiques and collectibles from the show. Don’t forget to play a game or on the vintage pinball machine! Visit in October when all the Doctor Who fans join together to celebrate Doctoberfest!
Track Down A Fairy On the Enchanted Fairy Door Trail
We embarked on a magical journey to find one of the enchanted fairy doors known to Central Indiana. There are over 20 fairy doors that are scattered throughout Hendricks County, Indiana just waiting to be discovered. The fairy population is so high here that they even have an annual Fairy Festival that is held in May. The Enchanted Fairy Trail is a great way to get out to visit local parks, business and more. If you are lucky, you may just happen to see a real live fairy. Can you imagine the surprised look on our faces when we actually met Odonata the fairy queen while looking for fairy doors?!
It is hard to describe moments that make your heart overflow with joy and have tears creep into the corners of your eyes. This was one of those moments. Just when I thought my daughter shyness was going to make her run the other way, she did the opposite. She immediately made a new best friend in Odonata. It was truly magical. Before long they were walking hand in hand to find Odonata’s friend Puck. While Puck may not have been home, we found his house and a few other animal friends along the way. Our visit with Odonata ended with a special fairy blessing and a gift to place in our fairy garden. To this day my daughter has not forgotten the kind fairy that chalked with her and took her hand for a special walk in the woods. These are moments that last a lifetime.
A fairy stop not to be missed is Avon Gardens. Don’t be fooled, this is more than a gardening and retail store. Stroll through 5 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens with peacefully fountains, benches and a lake. Be sure to be on the lookout for a little glitter trail that might lead you to a fairy door. They have a wonderful fairy shop here to grab the perfect souvenir to remember your time along the Central Indiana Enchanted Fairy Trail.
There are times on every vacation where a kid just needs to be a kid. Give them an opportunity to let that excess energy off at Kids Planet. This indoor massive play structure will have them jumping, climbing, and exploring until their little hearts are content. It immediately took me back to the days of Discovery Zones. After a wave of nostalgia flushed over me, I had a pang of disappointment to learn that adults weren’t allowed on any level other than the ground level. My inner child sulked for a second because this place is quite the fun zone.
The ground level is ideal for toddlers. There are plenty of nooks and crannies for them to explore. Whether it is playing in the balls, building towers or climbing over obstacles there are plenty of spaces for them to discover. They also have a designated toddler area for those 3 and under. Here you will find a miniature structure with two slides, a ball pit, and a few other fun surprises that your little one will love.
You will need to purchase special Kids Planet socks, as shoes are not allowed inside the play structure. Save time by filling out the waiver and buying your tickets online.
Rib-Fest and Avon Balloon Glow in Hendricks County, Indiana
The sweet smells of BBQ drifting through the air while the summer breeze carries the sound of the live music across the lawn can only mean Rib-Fest has arrived. Hendricks County Annual Rib-Fest and Avon Balloon Glow draws thousands of visitors each year. BBQ masters from across the county bring their prized recipes and techniques to serve up tantalizing mouth-watering ribs, bbq and more.
Ribs are not the only thing taking center stage, as the live music and giant inflatables offer plenty of family-friendly entertainment. As dusk approaches, the hot air balloons lift off and begin to take guests on tethered rides. Tickets for the rides are purchased separately. Once the sun has set, the night sky illuminates with hot air balloons. Each one glowing to the beat of the music makes for a marvelous display. Keep in mind that all activities relating the hot air balloons are subject to the weather. During our visit there was a storm nearby, therefore only a few balloons were briefly inflated and then taken down. The evening concludes with a dazzling fireworks display.
This event is free to the public, so bring the whole family. Parking can be found in multiple places, but we recommend parking at the church for $5.00. The food vendors to do not accept cash. Rather they will only take food vouchers which can be purchased immediately upon entering Rib-Fest. After talking to a few local the best advice I received is to drop off a member of your party to get in line for food vouchers as you park. Bring blankets and chairs to secure prime seating for the balloon glow and fireworks. Once you have your home base set up, divide and conquer the food vendors. Bring your BBQ bounty back for a tasty finger-licking buffet!
Where To Eat In Hendricks County, Indiana
The Unofficial Pastry Trail
One thing Indiana is known for is its Foodways Alliance. From tenderloins to sodas there is a designated trail highlighting a different aspect of Indiana’s authentic food culture. Except for pastries! Hendricks County, Indiana is full of authentic bakeries each boasting their own specialty. Whether it is a flakey croissant, a tempting fruit pie or a handmade macaron there are plenty of sweet treats to discover. With a freshly baked pastry as our go-to travel treat, we opted to go on the hunt for some of the best pastries in Hendricks County by blazing our own pastry trail. With classics like Milk and Honey’s macaroons and Bread and Basket Bakery’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, it is going to be hard to pin down a favorite. Keep in mind that most bakeries tend to sell out of their popular items so a visit earlier in the day is recommended.
Step Back Into An Andy Griffith Show at the Mayberry Cafe
I have a sentimental tie to the Mayberry Cafe because my family has always been fond of The Andy Griffith Show through the years. This wholesome family restaurant transports you directly to Mayberry. So much so that you expect Barney Fife to sit down next to you. Andy Griffith Show memorabilia line the walls while reruns of the show play on cafe’s TVs. Dedicated fans of the show need to ensure they visit during Mayberry In The Midwest, which is a whole festival dedicated to The Andy Griffith Show! We heard rumors that their tenderloin sandwich was top notch, and we couldn’t agree more!
We loved how kid-friendly Mayberry Cafe was. The dry erase boards for pre-dinner entertainment was a hit! Sophie also got a token to redeem a prize for behaving and eating well during mealtime. Naturally, she cashed hers in for bubbles!
As we were leaving the cafe attempting to get our daughter to smile for a photo an older couple came up to us who we had met a few years ago during our travels to Madison, WI! Disbelief and bewilderment were all over my face. If that isn’t a Mayberry moment, I don’t know what is!
Rumors were circling about the magical unicorn that is crispy KETO Pizza crust which can only be found at Rockstar Pizza. We had to go see and sample this phenomenon for ourselves. Entering into the cafe you will notice tons of signed band memorabilia and decor, a giant pizza challenge and a whole KETO menu. That’s right a whole menu for the KETO community. That includes appetizers, sandwiches, desserts and naturally pizza!
We only ordered KETO during our visit and to say it was delicious would be an understatement. The crust was crisp, filling and downright scrumptious. After imagining a sad soggy cauliflower crust, I was delighted to discover that the crust was not cauliflower based, rather a secret recipe created by owner Ron. We sat down with the owner Ron in an attempt to pry out his secret ingredient. While I may not have left with the entire recipe I did leave with the amazing backstory on the KETO pizza and restaurant.
Ron’s wife worked directly promoting artists and musicians that would come through the area, this included Brittney Spears and NSync to name a few. Over the years she acquired quite an astonishing collection of memorabilia and Ron was looking to start a restaurant, hence Rockstar Pizza was born. The rise of the KETO pizza came after numerous customer requests. Ron went to work perfecting the crust which took him over four months and endless hours in the kitchen. Once he nailed it, he started moving on to KETO desserts, which now will often sell out mid-morning if not sooner. Whether you follow the KETO diet, look for a low carb option or willing to try a new type of pizza I highly recommend a visit to Rockstar Pizza to taste the famous KETO pizza.
Take a step back into the ’50s with a visit to this retro Diner that is full of nostalgia and serving up classic favorites with a side of history. This historical landmark is the only remaining Diner located on Indiana’s National Historic Road. The Diner was relocated only once in 2010 and was fully restored. I recommend grabbing a seat at the counter or a table on the patio to enhance your Diner experience. The food is traditional Diner fare with giant portion sizes. Splitting meals here are completely doable, however, after you have a bite or two of those homemade specials you might not want to share.
We were sadly missing our local Greek festival during our visit, so to get our fix we hunted down the best Greek restaurant in town. After many raving reviews, we set out to OPA! on a quest for flaming cheese and mounds of juicy gyro meat. We were not disappointed. The Flaming Saganaki is a must, the cheese is presented with a loud, “OPA!” then set on fire! My daughter was clapping and kept saying, “AGAIN, AGAIN!” Taste wise it was on point, the Brandy flavor may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it delicious. Gyros were juicy, flavorful and savory. The baklava, on the other hand, was a little too wet for my liking. Overall, we had a wonderful meal and would highly recommend making this a stop during your visit to Hendricks County.
Where to Stay in Hendricks County Indiana
Hendricks County is located only a few minutes from Indianapolis which makes it the perfect spot to snag great deals on hotels. I would even consider staying here if you wanting to visit Indy because it is more affordable than staying in the city. We stayed at the Staybridge Suites near the Indianapolis Airport, conveniently located right off I-70. The hospitality from all staff members made us feel like we were staying with family. With the availability of two-room suites, a complete kitchen and free breakfast every morning it is ideal for those traveling with a family. A pool, fitness center and guest laundry room are other perks while staying with Staybridge Suites.
Since we were staying by the airport you do occasionally hear an airplane, however air traffic dies down in the evening and we didn’t even notice the planes while we were sleeping. Needless to say, they were not louder than my child’s sound machine because it didn’t phase her. We actually enjoyed watching the planes fly overhead while we were in the pool.
Our family weekend getaway to Hendricks County was full of adventure, incredible experiences and phenomenal meals. We can’t thank the team at Visit Hendricks County enough for putting together an amazing weekend for us. Start planning your trip today by heading over to Visit Hendricks County.
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