The area near the Carmel water tower called “Midtown” is hardly recognizable compared to what it was just a couple of years ago. South of Carmel’s established Arts & Design District (aka downtown Carmel) and north of Carmel City Center, Midtown is the new gathering place in Carmel, jam packed with outdoor fun and activities the whole family will enjoy.
There’s a new playground, splash pad, sports courts, and a plaza with open seating for eating, gathering, and even watching a film on the big screen. There are several restaurants and shops, and new businesses are continuing to move in—like the new candle making shop Penn & Beech!
You could easily make a day out of your visit to Midtown. It’s quite convenient with kids as there is ample street parking as well as a free parking garage. There are public restrooms in addition to the ones inside the restaurants. The seating at Midtown Plaza is open to everyone so you could just pack a picnic and grab a table. Midtown is located right along the Monon trail so you can stroll over to the Arts & Design District or rent a bike to explore up and down the trail.
Things to do with Kids in Midtown
The mini splash pad is a wonderful spot where your little ones can cool off on a hot day. Bring some cups and water toys and your kids will have a blast with the interval streams and light up splashers. Just don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for the kids because they will get soaked!
There is a brand new playground just south of the Spray Plaza. It features a slide, a half-cave to climb onto or seek shade inside of, a wall of musical instruments and sensory activities, short rock climbing hills, and a tiered climbing tree with protective netting (like the one at The Children’s Museum).
Adjacent to the playground are large sports courts the older kids will love. There is an enclosed bocce ball court, a huge shuffleboard court, and a ping pong table. The whole family can enjoy a game of shuffleboard, or the older kids can play a game while the little ones are at the playground.
Midtown Plaza is an interactive play area for kids and adults, featuring billiards, two ping pong tables, bench swings, cornhole, and an open grass field for gathering. There are a variety of tables, lounge chairs, comfortable couches and fire pits – all free to use. You can pack a picnic or order out from the surrounding restaurants and enjoy your meal outside while the kids play.
Restaurants at Midtown
Fork + Ale House features hand-crafted beer and homemade pizza and more from their scratch kitchen. Their patio opens right up to Midtown Plaza.
Sun King Spirits is a two-story establishment right on Midtown Plaza with a main level patio as well as an open-air rooftop patio. Located within Sun King Spirits are a variety of walk-up food court style restaurants and bars. You order, pay, and take your food to go sit either inside or outside on the plaza.
Java House is a new coffee bar with an outdoor walk-up window. Enjoy your coffee inside, at their outdoor tables, or take them across the street and meet up with friends at on the plaza.
Luxury Cakes is down an alley just north of Midtown Plaza and has delicious desserts and treats your kids will love. They offer macaroons, cakes, cookies, pastries, coffee, frappes, and pineapple dole whips! There is a walk up window with a buzzer you have to press for service. Check their website as their hours and offerings vary.
GOAT is a new tavern northwest of Midtown Plaza with an open air bar and plenty of outdoor seating. They are 21+ so you’ll have to come back for a night out without the kids.
Music and Movies at Midtown
Enjoy live music with “Midday at Midtown” every Tuesday on the Main Stage at Midtown Plaza from 11:30 am-1 pm in the summer. “Movies at Midtown” features a hit movie on the big screen on Mondays with showings at noon, 2:30 pm, 5 pm, and 7:30 pm. Find a comfortable lounge chair in the plaza or bring a blanket to spread out on the lawn. For detailed information on events, visit their website.
Butterfly Garden at the Monon Depot
The Monon Depot is the former transportation hub of Carmel and now operates as a free museum with railroad artifacts and exhibits on Carmel’s local history. There is a neat butterfly garden with a recently installed butterfly life cycle sculpture in front of the museum.
Penn & Beech Candle Co.
The Indianapolis-based Penn & Beech Candle Co. specializes in custom hand-poured candles. For a unique experience to share with your older kids, you can pour your own candle, choosing from over 100 scents to add to soy based wax and cotton wicks. Penn & Beech has wine and beer to sip on while you create. If you just have time to stop in, they have a huge selection of candles and other products available for purchase.
Midtown is located right on the Monon Trail. From Midtown, you can easily walk or ride bikes to explore other great areas of Carmel. The beautiful trail includes several sculptures and art installations along the way.
Carmel City Center is a half mile south of Midtown. It is home to the Palladium, the Center for Performing Arts, Carmel’s farmer’s market, and several shops, restaurants, bars, including the famous Cake Bake Shop.
The Arts & Design District (downtown Carmel) is a quick 0.2 miles north of Midtown. Bub’s Burgers at Main Street and the Monon Trail has an ice cream shop inside which is a great motivator for the kids. Other notable establishments are Bazbeaux Pizza, 3UP rooftop lounge, Silver in the City, All Things Carmel gift shop, Peace Water Winery, and Tina’s Traditional Old English Tea Room.
Pedego Electric Bike Rentals
Pedal as little or as much as you want to without worrying about hills or tired out kids. Go farther and faster on the Monon Trail with an electric bike rental from Pedego Electric Bikes just north of Midtown Plaza. You can rent cruisers, premium bikes, and even a tandem bike by the hour or day! They also offer self guided tours of Carmel and beyond.
Plan Your Visit
Midtown can be found at the intersection of Elm Street and Monon Blvd. A free parking garage is next to the Java House on Elm Street, across from Midtown Plaza. Public restrooms are available inside the parking garage. There is also ample street parking throughout Midtown.
A word of caution: Midtown is a bustling area with lots of runners, bikers, and vehicles passing through. The playground is right along the bike path on one side and vehicles are passing on the other. Be careful if you have a wanderer! Also, you do need to pay attention to the marked paths as some are strictly biking lanes, some are one way, etc.