Carmel Arts & Design District | Discover Downtown Carmel Restaurants, Shops, Things To Do

Carmel Arts & Design District | Discover Downtown Carmel Restaurants, Shops, Things To Do

The Carmel Arts & Design District, formerly known as Downtown Carmel, is a bustling area in the middle of the city at the intersection of Main Street and the Monon Trail. There are countless restaurants, shops, activities, and things to do and see here. It is walkable to several other parts of Carmel and is busy year-round with active hikers, bikers, and strollers. The top-rated restaurants in the area are worth the visit alone, but you could easily spend several hours exploring all that the Carmel Arts & Design District has to offer. Check the calendar to find one of the many upcoming events and festivals that take place here.

A view of the Carmel Arts & Design District with people walking on the sidewalks, shops, and al fresco dining tables

Carmel Arts & Design District

While it should be formerly known as “Downtown Carmel,” many long-time residents still prefer to call it that. However, it was renamed the Carmel Arts & Design District because it is the Midwest’s premier arts and design destination. It is home to interior design studios, art galleries, museums, antique stores, the Indiana Design Center, and a variety of diverse restaurants and specialty retail shops.

You can find gardens, public art, and life-sized sculptures throughout Main Street and along the Monon Trail. The whole area is very family-friendly with lots to do and see without even stepping into a store. Dining al fresco is a hit in the summertime on Main Street.

a view of seating areas at the Carmel Arts & Design District a long the monon trail. there are metal chairs and tables to the left and yellow plastic sunbeds on the right.

Carmel Arts & Design District Things To Do

Splash in the Spray Pad

There’s a ton to do outside at the Carmel Arts & Design District! You can walk up and down Main Street and the Monon Trail for hours. If it gets too hot out, stop by the spray pad to cool off. Located in front of Anthony’s Chophouse, the small spray pad shoots lines of water from the ground for kids to play with and run through.

Sample Olive Oil

The Olive Mill at the corner of Main Street and Rangeline Road offers free olive oil tastings in their tasting room. Sample small batch, cold-pressed, unfiltered artisan extra virgin olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegar from all over the world.

Share a Wine Flight

Peace Water Winery donates 50% of net profits and tips are donated to charity. We’ll cheers to that! Stop in for a full tasting or wine flight. There is comfortable seating, indoors, on the front sidewalk, and out on the back patio, in a beautiful and lively space.

a view of the facade of peace water winery from across main street at the Carmel Arts & Design District. there are tables outside to sit at on the sidewalk and a sign that says 'tasting room' above the door.

Visit Museums, Galleries & Studios

Discover the many ways art can come to life in the galleries and locally-owned shops of the Carmel Arts & Design District. See the works of art and visit with established and emerging artists at Art on Main Gallery & Gifts, The Art Studio of Carmel, Darren’s Ballroom Dance Studio, CCA Gallery & Gifts, Circle Contemporary Art Gallery, Indiana Artisan, Kuaba Gallery, Magdelena Gallery of Art, Mary Johnston Studio, Soori Gallery, and more.

Indiana Glass Trail

The Carmel Arts & Design District showcases the works of many talented glass artists. Learn about the glass art and glass blowing while visiting the studios displaying their work along the Indiana Glass Trail.

World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery

Small in size and stature but big with talent, the Carmel Arts Council Children’s Art Gallery is the World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery (certified by Guinness World Records). The gallery exhibits artwork of local school-aged children from private and public schools. Admission is free and so is the inspiration you and your children will gather from the pieces you see displayed.

a tiny one room house is the home to the world's smallest children's art gallery. there is a red awning over the door and a garden surrounding the house.

Museum of Miniature Houses

At the Museum of Miniature Houses, different artists come to display their work and discuss important aspects. It is a must-visit for any miniature, doll house, or history lover, or just a fun day for the family. The intricacies and attention to detail on such a tiny, but elaborate scale, found here are fascinating. Events are sure to inspire children to build and create with their own miniature projects.

Carmel Arts & Design District Events

The Carmel Arts & Design District is home to several wonderful events and festivals throughout the year, including the Carmel International Arts Festival, the Art of Wine, Second Saturday Gallery Walks, Carmel Artomobilia, and more. The streets of the Carmel Arts & Design District often close down to vehicles during major festivals, so Main Street is filled with people, tents, and event festivities.

a large sculpture of a head made out of bricks sits at the entrance to an art gallery at the Carmel Arts & Design District

Carmel Arts & Design District Public Art

One of the first things you’ll notice that sets the Carmel Arts & Design District apart from other areas is the life-sized bronze sculptures sprinkled throughout the district. The “Norman Rockwell of American Sculpture,” American realist J. Seward Johnson, Jr., sculpted more than 250 sculptures as a part of the “Man-on-the-Street” series. Pieces from the series can be found in museums and cities across the country and around the world.. and in Carmel, Indiana.

You can also find a beautiful mural designed and painted by local students from Carmel High School which takes up the entire side of the Carmel Old Town Antique Mall. There are art installations along the Monon Trail. Children’s art from nearby elementary schools is regularly displayed in the windows of local restaurants. In the winter, large ice sculptures are carved and displayed throughout the Carmel Arts & Design District as a part of the Carmel Ice Festival’s “Festival of Ice.”

Fayrouz Mediterranean Restaurant is one of many restaurants on Main Street in the Carmel Arts & Design District. There is outdoor seating under black umbrellas on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

Carmel Arts & Design District Restaurants

The restaurants in the Carmel Arts & Design District range from family-friendly casual to a swanky rooftop lounge for special occasions. There are too many to choose from. My favorites for a girls’ night are Savor and Monterey Coastal Cuisine, followed up by drinks at 3Up Rooftop Lounge. For date nights and special occasions, Anthony’s Chophouse is the fanciest restaurant around.

If you’re looking for casual, you can’t go wrong with Old Town Tavern, Vitality Bowls, Pad Thai, or Fayrouz Mediterranean. Kids love Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream, obviously for the ice cream but they also have outdoor seating and games. On the East side of Rangeline Road on Main Street, you can find Agave Bar and Grill, Greek’s Pizzeria, Juniper on Main, Woodys Library Restaurant, and Papa Fattoush.

a boy in a yellow shirt holds and ice cream cone while playing an outdoor ring toss game in front of Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream Shop.

Carmel Arts & Design District Treats & Specialty Stores

Don’t forget dessert after your dinner in the Carmel Arts & Design District! There are a ton of places to grab sweets and treats. The kids love Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard, SubZero Nitrogen Ice Cream, and Mary’s Mountain Cookies. Stop in at No Label at The Table and pick up gluten-free and dairy-free desserts and pies staffed by people on the autism spectrum. If you’re looking to buy a gift for someone special, check out Xchocol’Art for gourmet chocolate gifts made here in Carmel.

a view of SubZero Nitrogrn Ice Cream from below. There is also a sign for 1832 Brew coffee below their sign.

If you find yourself in the Carmel Arts & Design District before lunch, head over to Indie Coffee Roasters. The coffee shop is in a renovated home with plenty of seating inside. The rotating selection of coffee means there is always something new to enjoy.

Stop into Joe’s Butcher Shop Fish Market and Provisions for the finest selections of farm-fresh beef, veal, lamb, pork, homemade sausages, and chicken, as well as the area’s freshest and highest quality seafood. They are a one-stop shop offering a wide variety of fresh artisan baked bread, unique sauces, breading, marinades, and a hand-selected group of boutique wines to compliment meals. You can even order sandwiches, salads, sides, desserts, and drinks for lunch.

A view into the All Things Carmel store at the Carmel Arts & Design District. There are t-shirts, hats, decor, knick knacks, etc for sale.

Carmel Arts & Design District Shopping

Retail Shopping in the Carmel Arts & Design District is so much fun. Whether you’re looking for gifts and decor (All Things Carmel, Silver in the City, Bash Boutique, Rusted Window), fine jewelry (Aronstam Fine Jewelers, Metalmark Fine Jewelry), or custom pieces (Eyes on Main, Blue House Bridal, Your Tees), you will find it on Main Street.

Design Studios for home decor and home improvement include Adam Gibson Design, Califonia Closets, Coats-Wright Art & Design, Drapery Street, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Franklin Window and Door, Godby Hearth & Home Interactive Studio, Holder Mattress, Julie O’Brien Design Group, and Wilkinson Brothers Graphic Design.

Spend a day pampering yourself at the hair salon (541 Salon and Design, CK Designs, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, New Leaf Salon), a spa (Bask on Main, KURR Aesthetic & Medical Spa), or perhaps a tattoo parlor (Carmel Tattoo Ink).

Walkers on the Monon Trail pass a red sign which displays in real time the number of people that have passed on the Monon Trail today by foot and on bike.

Connect to the Monon Trail

While there is ample street parking along Main Street and the surrounding streets, a free underground parking garage can be found under Sophia Square (the entrance is across from the World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery on 1st Avenue). You can also easily reach the Carmel Arts & Design District from other points in Carmel via the Monon Trail. There are even bikes to rent at the corner of Main Street and the Monon Trail. Head North on the Monon Trail and within minutes you will find Meadowlark Park, a gem of a park with a fishing pond.

Bike South on the Monon Trail and your next stop is Midtown Plaza Carmel with tons of free outdoor games and activities, like bocce ball, shuffleboard, ping pong, and billiards. There is also a playground and a splash pad for the little ones. Explore further South on the Monon Trail and you’ll hit Carmel’s City Center. This is where you can find the Carmel Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings in the summer and the Carmel Christkindlmarkt in the winter. You can also find the Center for Performing Arts’ three theaters, the Hotel Carmichael, several boutique shops, and several restaurants, including the famous Cake Bake Shop!

a row of bike share bikes for rent line the sidewalk on Main Street in the Carmel Arts & Design District. Behind it are cars on the road and stores and restaurants on each side.

Explore More in Carmel

Be sure to explore all that Carmel has to offer. There are lots of wonderful things to do in Carmel with kids, including visiting family-friendly parks and playgrounds. The Monon Trail connects to tons of other hiking and biking trails so you can walk, bike, or stroll throughout town. In addition to the restaurants in the Arts & Design District, you will find many more great family-friendly restaurants in Carmel. If you’re looking for a more romantic option, Carmel has several restaurants that are perfect for date night.

Have you visited the Carmel Arts & Design District? What are your favorite places to visit and things to do there? Share your comments and pictures with us below or tag us on social media using #PLAYindy. Follow Indy with Kids on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest for all of the best ideas and things to do with kids in Indy!

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