Editor’s note: This piece originally ran May 22, 2022 written by Lexa Muehlbauer and Caroline ZuHone.
Lucky for us all, you don’t have to go too far if you need to get away with your gals. Spring is beginning to take shape in Indiana, and that means that our small towns twist and intertwine with plenty of nature. Check out these three local girls’ trip locations that can occupy and entertain for a couple of hours to a couple of days.
HAMILTON COUNTY (DAY TRIP)
Looking for a classy place to catch up with your girlfriends and spill the tea? Look no further than Hamilton County — a short 30-minute drive from downtown Indy. One thing we love about HC is that you’ll always find niche experiences here and feel like you’ve escaped from the hustle and bustle of city life.
FOR THE FOODIES:
– 317 Charcuterie: This cute and totally Instagram-able shop in the heart of Carmel is less than a year old and the perfect place to catch up 1:1 or with a group. Split the grilled cheese and a “char-cutie cup,” or order a charcuterie board to share. Another reason to love this place is that it’s owned and operated by a total girl boss, Emily Houser.
– The Cake Bake Shop: Just down the street from 317 Charcuterie is the perfect place to grab some dessert. This famous cake shop decorated all in white is aesthetic goals. If it’s a nice day, enjoy the breeze on the porch and indulge in a massive piece of cake — our favorite is the red velvet — and a summer drink.
– Carmel Arts & Design District/Midtown Plaza: This newly built area is a great pitstop if your group is looking for a mix of artsy shops and fun food; it really has a bit of everything — coffee, breweries, and restaurants. Sun King Brewery has a beautiful outdoor deck, lots of space inside, and an outdoor area with a fire pit. You can either sit with the girls or try your hand at one of the dozens of yard games lining the plaza.
If you feel like moving towards dinner somewhere a little quieter, give Social Cantina a try. Order a few margs and some appetizers to share, like the chip & dip flight or stuffed avocado. If your group wants to wind down or have a more low-key evening, head to Penn and Beech Candle Co. to create your own signature scent to take home. End the evening with a bottle of wine at Peace Water Winery just down the street.
FOR THE ACTIVITY LOVERS:
– Indie Coffee Roasters: Start your day off with a coffee at this cute coffee shop on Main Street in Carmel. Take your coffee to go while checking out the boutique shops and walking along the Monon.
– Urban Vines Winery: This Westfield winery is the place to go if you’re looking for a drink with a view. You’ll feel like you’ve completely left the city and you’re on an estate. Grab a wine flight or a bottle to share. Enjoy the beautiful outdoor patio space and lawn where you can get together with all the girls.
The winery also offers an awesome summer event series that has a fun theme, deals, or live music almost every day of the week. Bring a blanket and lawn chair and enjoy a beautiful night away. For the summer night lover who misses winding down next to a bonfire, you can rent a fire pit for up to 12 people. For $100, your group gets two hours of time, and you can add on goodies like s’mores.
– Top Golf: Finish the day off with a little friendly competition at Top Golf in Fishers. You can reserve a bay for up to six people for an hourly rate. Test your golf skills and enjoy some of the amazing food! We highly recommend the sangria pitcher and the Margherita flatbread.
– Strawtown Koteewi Park: Outdoor adventurers will have a blast at Koteewi Park in Noblesville where your group can ride horses at sunset, go ziplining, or give archery a try.
Whether you need a morning mimosa, an evening out, or a day of shopping, Hamilton County offers a little taste of everything. This day trip is the perfect place to keep going back to all summer as you’re sure to discover new activities each time.
BROWN COUNTY/NASHVILLE, IN (DAY OR WEEKEND TRIP)
Nothing quite says detox from a hectic week than some time spent in a quiet, charming town surrounded by nature. An easy one-hour drive from downtown Indy will have you arriving in the heart of Brown County. Spend a day or a weekend with your girlfriends recharging, whether you need a little peace and quiet or a good drink. This charming area has the pleasantries of a small town with plenty of options for entertainment, or the ability to get lost and immerse yourself in the local nature.
FOR THE GALS WHO WANT A QUIET GETAWAY:
– Plum Naturals: Nothing says quiet and relaxing like a bath complete with all the best, homemade soaps, bath bombs, bubbles, and more! Plum Naturals is a quirky oasis in the heart of Brown County that will have you cleaned up and relaxing in no time. The staff knows the products and runs workshops you can join with your girls. Have eczema or psoriasis? Ask about their amazing Pine Tar soap.
– Daily Grind Coffee House: This local coffee shop is the perfect spot to hunker down for a hot coffee and conversation or to just stop by for a pastry and coffee to go. What better way to prep for a hike than with a beverage to give you that extra caffeine kick?
– Brown County State Park: Once you’ve got a coffee in hand, drive out to Brown County State Park for some beautiful views and peaceful hikes. It’s $7 per car to enter the park for the day, so save a little cash and gas and carpool to the park. We like to park by the fire tower and start the hike there. You’ll find a great lookout spot and a very peaceful trail.
– Naughty Dog Books: Once you’ve enjoyed some good ol’ Indiana nature, head back into town and make your way to this quaint bookstore. We stumbled upon this gem on our last trip to Brown County and absolutely loved browsing around the huge array of books! They also had a bin full of mystery books, which are wrapped in paper, and you have to decide based only on the genre and a brief description.
FOR THE LADIES WHO LOVE A GOOD DRINK:
– Big Woods Pizza Co.: Nothing sounds better after an active day of hiking than a little pizza and beer. It’s conveniently located on the main strip, so you can stop in for a bite between browsing through stores. We tried the beer flight and had fun tasting a variety of seasonal beers as we caught up over lunch.
Brown County Events Center: What goes with drinks better than live music? The Brown County Events Center is a beautiful, spacious venue that you’ll love to visit. It’s the kind of place where you can enjoy a relaxing, non-anxiety-inducing experience. They show everything from brand-new artists to old favorites, so there’s sure to be something for everyone this year!
– Downtown shopping in Nashville: After lunch, take a tour with your girls of all the fun, quirky stores. There are shops full of funny socks, antiques, art galleries, boutiques, old-fashioned candy and fudge stores. No matter your vibe, you’ll find a few places to pique your interest. Plus, there are tons of small wineries along the way that offer free tastings. Nothing is better than free booze and shopping!
– Hard Truth Distillery Co.: Hard Truth is a must-do if you’re visiting Brown County. The property is absolutely beautiful. No matter what your taste is, all of your girlies will have a blast trying out fun mixed drinks, beer flights, or even their spirit tasting. They often have live music on the weekends, too. Hard Truth also offers a ton of experiences like an ATV tour, mixology classes, and more! We’ll definitely be heading back this summer to try out a few of these adventures.
Brown County is an ideal getaway because of its proximity to Indy. Just have time for a day trip? You and your girlfriends can spend the day browsing shops, enjoying some good food and drink, and getting a taste of nature that you may miss in the city. For a relaxing weekend getaway, you’ll find tons of cabins on the county’s website, or you can peruse Airbnb. We’ll be finding a place with a hot tub this summer, grabbing a bottle of wine at one of the local wineries, and going off the grid for a night.
FRENCH LICK (WEEKEND TRIP)
Travel a little, but feel far away. French Lick Resort is a gorgeous destination that makes you feel like you and your girlfriends are miles from home. This historic destination has two luxury hotels — French Lick Springs Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel — that offer a spa, casino, several restaurants, golf and pools right on the property.
FOR THE GIRL GANG WHO LIVES ON THE EDGE:
– Wilstem Wildlife Park: For an up-close and personal experience with a sloth or elephant, you have to check out Wilstem. This wildlife park is one of Indiana’s best-kept secrets and just a 15-minute drive from French Lick Resort. They also have a drive-thru safari where you can feed everything from emus to zebras right from your car! The park typically doesn’t have large crowds, so you’ll have a lot of one-on-one time to learn about and interact with the animals. One of our favorite moments was feeding the giraffes carrot sticks.
– French Lick Casino: Get your adrenaline going and play for that big win with your girls by your side. From slots to roulette to blackjack, this casino has it all just steps away from your hotel.
FOR THE LADIES WHO NEED A LITTLE “ME” TIME:
– Spa experiences: Pamper yourself at either the Spa at French Lick or the Spa at West Baden to relax and rejuvenate. Get in that extra girl time with great spa options like facials, massages and body wraps.
– Wine and dine: See the sites by train while enjoying a catered meal, delicious chocolates and a wine tasting while aboard the French Lick Scenic Railway. Or drive to the nearby Patoka Lake Winery to try out their selection at the tasting room, which is open daily.
We’ve both visited French Lick quite a few times because of the great experiences we’ve had there. It’s truly a gem in Indiana that not many know about, so you and your girlfriends can really enjoy the resort’s amenities without huge crowds. If you and your besties want a relaxing getaway with a bit of luxury sprinkled in, this is the place to go!