Things To Do In Carmel This Holiday Season
Indiana Trips,  Midwest,  Travel

11 Magical Things To Do This Holiday Season Near Carmel, Indiana

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The holiday season makes the perfect time to plan a quick winter getaway. Experience these magical things to do in Carmel, Indiana, for an escape that is bound to put you in the holiday spirit.

Sip Gluhwein at Carmel’s Christkindlmart, hop aboard the Nickelplate Express for an enchanting train ride, then spend an afternoon shopping in historic Noblesvilles square. Stay for a day or weekend; either way, Carmel is the perfect destination for the whole family.

Things To Do In Carmel Indiana during the holidays

We would like that thank our fabulous friends at Visit Hamilton County, Indiana, for hosting our visit. As always, our opinions are our own. Thank you for using any of our affiliate links found throughout this post.

How To Get To Carmel, Indiana

Carmel is in Hamilton County, Indiana. It is directly north of Indianapolis, roughly a 30-minute drive from the city center.

The drive is roughly 2 hours and 10 minutes long from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Getting Around Carmel, Indiana

Carmel is the roundabout capital of the USA. They recently made national news for how their roundabouts have lower emissions and traffic crashes in a recent article in the New York Times.

Therefore, it is best to brush up on driving in roundabouts if you come from an area with not many around.

Where To Stay In Carmel, Indiana

Our top hotel choice for families visiting Carmel is the Fairfield Inn and Suites. In addition to having exceptional customer service, they have an indoor heated pool and a substantial complimentary breakfast in the morning. All things that are bonuses while traveling with kids.

Fairfield Inn and Suites in Carmel Indiana

The Fairfield Inn and Suites offers a variety of rooms that guests can choose from. Enjoy a standard two queen room or upgrade a king suite with a pull-out bed. Each room has a mini-fridge, microwave, along with a coffee maker.

I found the hotel very cozy, quiet and centrally located. It is only a quick five-minute drive into the heart of Carmel. It is walkable as well to many restaurants, bars, and attractions.

Indoor Pool at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Carmel

Budget Tip: The Marriott owns Fairfield Inn and Suites and is a reward category 3 for those looking to use points to book their room.

Packing Tip: Don’t forget to pack goggles and diving toys for the kids to enjoy at the pool!

Things To Do This Holiday Season Near Carmel, Indiana

Carmel’s Christkindlmarkt

One of the most magical things to do in Carmel during the holidays is visiting the Christkindlmarkt. The Carmel Christkindlmarkt is a charming authentic German Christmas market that takes over Carter Green, where the Farmers Market is typically held.

Carmel Christkindlmarkt

The Christkindlmarkt resembles those that line the streets throughout Germany with a custom Gluhwein Pyramid and a variety of vendors selling traditional German gifts. Smells of roasted nuts, bratwurst, and other delicious foods fill the air.

Watch ice skaters glide throughout the glistening rink to the sounds of carols before warming up with a decadent Belgium Hot Chocolate. Special appearances from Christkind, Sankt Nikolaus, Grimm’s fairy tale princesses, and Santa make visiting the market more magical.

Christkindlmarkt in Indiana

Children will love a visit to the Kinderecke, Kids Corner, which offers kids a place to make crafts and play. Kids can also pick up their Christkindlmarkt Passport. Have it stamped at five different huts around the market to get a prize!

Tips For Visiting Carmel’s Christkindlmarkt

  • Arrive when the market opens to avoid long lines and get nearby parking.
  • There is a reason the Raclette line is long. Raclette is a giant wheel of semi-hard cheese that is melted and scraped onto plates with bread and charcuterie.
  • There is a wide variety of Gluhwein flavors! Be sure to get your souvenir boot!
  • Be sure to take home a Lebkuchen. A Lebkuchen is a traditional German cookie that is usually baked for Christmas. It is almost like a soft gingerbread cookie, made with molasses and full of warm spices. 
  • Ice skating tickets have to be purchased in advance online.
  • It is always a good idea to get the giant pretzel from the Pretzel Haus.
  • Be sure to follow Carmel’s Chirstkindlmarkt on social media. Hour changes, special events, and closures are communicated throughout social and on their website.
Carmel's Christkindlmarkt

Address: 10 Carter Green, Carmel, IN 46032

The Christkindlmarkt is right off the famous Monon Trail.

Cake Bake Shop By Gwendolyn Rodgers

The Cake Bake Shop appears to have flown off the pages of the Nutcracker and into Carmel, Indiana. They make guests feel as if they have entered the magical land of sweets. With everything from a glittery cocktail menu to dazzling entrees, make sure you save room for their signature cake slices.

Cake Bake Shop

They offer a carry-out bakery for those not looking for the whole dine-in experience. Place your order ahead of time or browse the cases, then make your selections.

There are a few Cake Bake Shop locations. We visited the one in downtown Carmel near the Christkindlmarkt.

Cake Bake Shop: Top Things To Do In Carmel This Holiday Season

Tip: Make a reservation, especially if planning on visiting over a weekend. Cake Bake Shop is an upscale dining establishment that is truly a luxury experience complete with fairy glitter at the end. I recommend reviewing their menu before arriving.

Address: 799 Hanover Place, Upper Deck, Hanover Place Suite 260, Carmel, IN 46032

Merry Prairie Holiday at Conner Prairie

Conner Prairie is an outdoor living history museum full of interactive experiences. It transforms into The Merry Prairie Holiday during the holidays, offering guests an enchanting walk through sensational light displays.

Merry Prairie Holiday at Conner Prairie

Step into historic Prairietown for Historica Holidays and Christmas Eve traditions of the 1800s. Venture into the historic homes to glimpse at what the holidays looked like in the 1800s.

Fun Fact: The actors will stay in complete character regardless of what you ask them. They will always answer from the period they are representing.

Be sure to try out the sock skating rink, take a spin on the carousel, visit Santa or zoom down the 150-ft Polar Bear Plunge Snow Tubing Hill.

Sock Skating at Conner Prairie

Tip: I recommend purchasing tickets in advance. Dress warm as there is a good amount of walking. They do have fires and warming stations scattered throughout.

Snag The Carnegie Room At Woodys

Books still line the shelves at the old public library in Carmel; however, now it has transformed into a popular local eatery. Serving traditional American dishes, Woody’s Libary Restaurant is famous for its menu, including a wide array of fan favorites.

Woody's Library Restaurant: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Dive into a juicy salmon slider, sample the broiled goat cheese, or choose an Indiana classic, the pork tenderloin sandwich. For a more hearty meal, the meatloaf and sirloin are staples. Ye Old Library has shelves of liquors, bourbons, and whiskeys as they offer an extensive cocktail menu.

Woody's Library Restaurant in Carmel Indiana

However, for a special treat, reserve the Carnegie Room. Tucked away behind the bar is a small room ideal for intimate gathers. Grab your friends, family and enjoy a memorable holiday meal in your own private space. Request the Carnegie Room while making reservations if it is available.

Address: 40 E Main St, Carmel, IN 46032

Discover more great things to do in Carmel, Indiana.

Grab a warm holiday drink at Rose & Lois

Treat yourself to your favorite holiday coffee at Rose & Lois. Gingerbread lattes, peppermint teas alongside their collection of signature coffee drinks make Rose & Lois a go-to for your morning pick me up.

Rose & Lois

Rose & Lois offers a relaxing space ideal for working, a quick meet-up, or breakfast! Can’t decide what to get? Try one of their coffee flights.

Address: 7249 E 146th St #110, Carmel, IN 46033

Experience The Magic Of Lights

A popular holiday tradition is enjoying beautiful light displays from the comfort of your car. The Magic of Lights is happening at the Rouff Music Center. Tune the radio to the designated station that the lights are synced to.

Magic of Lights : Holidays in Carmel Indiana

Watch the nativity story unfold, drive through a tunnel of lights, and see what Christmas looks like around the world! I love the whimsy, enchantment, and wonder of the displays.

Budget Tip: Buy your tickets in advance and search their website for a promo code to save.

Reindeer Ride- Nickelplate Express

All aboard for a magical experience that your family will talk about for years to come: the Reindeer Ride Express takes guests aboard 1956 Santa Fe El Capitan train cars and pulls out of the station!

Nickelplate Express

The ride is an hour and fifteen minutes long and travels through Cicero and Arcadia. The train stops briefly at ‘Santa’s Workshop,’ decked out in holiday lights. 

Once the train leaves the station, the magic begins with holiday singing, cookies, and a visit from Santa.

Reindeer Ride on the Nickelplate Express in Noblesville Indiana

Witnessing the pure excitement in your child’s eyes as the train leaves the station is a small moment that leaves a significant memory. Consider bringing along grandparents as many will love the nostalgia of a train ride.

Guests can purchase specialty drinks such as Jingle Juice, hot chocolate, and holiday cocktails.

Best holiday train ride: Nickelplate Express

Tip: Many families come dressed in their holiday pajamas!

Throughout the year, the Nickelplate Express offers a variety of themed train rides from wine dinners to Hogwarts. Tickets sell out quickly, so make sure to get your tickets when they go on sale.

Shopping in Downtown Noblesville

Enjoy a little holiday shopping in downtown Noblesville square. The square offers a variety of cute locally owned boutiques, an antique store, a brewery, and plenty of restaurants. Plan an afternoon to grab lunch and check the rest of the people off your holiday list.

Things to do this holiday season near Carmel Indiana

One darling boutique to check out is Lil Bloomers, a children’s boutique offering clothing from newborn to teen. They have a wide assortment of dresses, adorable outfits, toys, and books.

While you are noodling around the square, be on the lookout for the Santa house near the courthouse. Santa makes frequent appearances here.

Grab lunch at the Grindstone Public House, which offers delicious sliders, tacos, and appetizers. Everything we ordered was outstanding. They offer traditional American fare with sophisticated pub favorites.

Enjoy A Glass of Cheer at 3Up

Sip on a glass of holiday cheer at the swanky 3Up rooftop bar in Carmel, Indiana. Offering holidays spirits such as a Ginger Bread Martini, Blanca Navidad, and the Peppermint Patty, it is a great place to celebrate the season.

Enjoy sharable bites such as charcuterie, flatbreads, or a tasty meal like gourmet street tacos. 3Up is located in the heart of Carmel, making it walkable to other great restaurants and bars.

Another great spot to grab a festive holiday cocktail is the Cake Bake Shop!

Holiday Cocktails in Carmel Indiana

Devour Holiday Donuts at Titus Bakery

Sink your teeth into one of many classic donuts at Titus Bakery, and you will instantly become a customer for life. These freshly baked donuts are only a few of the many baked goods Titus Bakery and Deli has to offer. During the holidays, they offer a variety of festive baked goods and holiday-inspired donuts.

Titus bakery and deli

Pick up a dozen to take to work, share with friends, or enjoy one Saturday morning with the family.

Catch A Sunset Dinner At Wolfie’s In Noblesville

Venture to Wolfie’s in Noblesville for a memorable holiday meal a little before sunset. Wolfie’s offers lovely lakeside dining as it overlooks the scenic Morse Reservoir. While the massive patio will reopen during warmer months, the cozy atmosphere inside Wolfies is very inviting and still offers incredible views of the lake.

Wolfies In Noblesville Indiana

After settling into your lake view table, browse the great selection of craft beers before deciding on one of their tempting appetizers. The menu offers a wide selection of boom boom cauliflower, a savory rack of ribs, and soy-glazed salmon.

Salmon at Wolfies in Noblesville, Indiana

Watching the gorgeous sunset as we enjoyed our meal was a lovely highlight of the weekend—one which I highly recommend.

Tip: Be sure to visit the Broken Barrel Bourbon Bar on the second floor.

Address: 20999 Hague Rd #9015, Noblesville, IN 46062

11 Magical Things To Do This Holiday Season Near Carmel, Indiana

Things to do in Carmel Indiana for the holidays
Things to this holiday season near Carmel, Indiana