Strolling through Old Town Carmel

Our first wedding anniversary was in early July and we got away for the weekend to celebrate. We didn’t go far, just to Carmel, a small city on Indianapolis’s northern border. We stayed in a B&B for the weekend and enjoyed Carmel’s downtown.

I brought my Pentax ME along, fresh from its overhaul. We took our dinner at Muldoon’s, an Irish pub on Main Street. The Guinness is always fresh! I photographed Margaret inside as we waited for our food.


Carmel has branded the core of its downtown as the Arts and Design District. Several art galleries dot the district, and on several summer Saturday evenings the galleries all open their doors and offer music and noshes. This was one of those Saturdays, and so we did the gallery hop. It was fun.

Carmel Arts & Design District

The best work we saw, in this little building behind the accordion player, was created by students. Some of it was quite good, and a couple pieces were astonishing.

Just a random accordion player

We walked quite a bit through Old Town. That’s what friends who have lived in Carmel have always called the area, anyway. The town began in 1837, was incorporated in 1874, and became classified as a city in 1975. But through the late 1980s the city remained small and largely sleepy. Since then Carmel has expanded dramatically, consuming giant tracts of farmland for miles around. Tall office buildings and sprawling cul-de-sac neighborhoods have been built at breakneck pace. The construction boom has not escaped Old Town.

Downtown Carmel

When you get a block or so off Main Street, you get a sense of what the town used to be. But only a sense, as Carmel has become a wealthy suburb. There are no fixer-uppers or bargain homes left in Old Town. And some older homes have been torn down in favor of new construction. Fortunately, the newer homes we encountered had style that harmonized with the older homes.

Here and there remnants of a Carmel gone by do lurk about. The Monon Railroad passed through Carmel back in the day, and its depot still stands.


The depot is a museum. We hoped for transportation exhibits, but instead it was all about Carmel high-school basketball. What an odd place to put a museum like that!


Carmel’s government has had bold, strong leadership for more than 20 years, and they relentlessly build their vision for a winning small city. Their definition of winning differed from mine. I liked finding what was left of Carmel as it was.


Yet we enjoyed our weekend in Carmel. As we set the challenges of our lives aside for a couple days and just soaked in being a married couple, Carmel was a wonderful place to get away. We could have driven home in 20 minutes, but we felt like we were a hundred miles away. This is the B&B we stayed in, and it clearly was a home built at least a hundred years ago. It was charming, by the way; we’d stay here again.


Margaret and I keep dreaming about where we’d like to live when we are finally empty nested, and Carmel’s Old Town had been on the list. As great as Carmel was for an anniversary getaway, it didn’t feel like home to us. So we will keep looking.


6 responses to “Strolling through Old Town Carmel”

  1. Heide Avatar

    Of all the wonderful photos in this post, the first is my very favorite. Look at that smile! Clearly Margaret is very fond of the photographer. :) As for Carmel: Isn’t it funny how sometimes our daydreams about the future evaporate when we take an hour or three to be fully present and experience a place? Best wishes to you both as you continue to search for the perfect place to not raise children.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Life has knocked us both around pretty hard in 2017, so we purposed to temporarily set it all aside and focus on each other this weekend. We were almost giddy with it!

  2. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    Wow, a year already?!? Congratulations, you two.

    I am not surprised that you are not drawn to Carmel. I am not either. Although there are so many sensible reasons to live there, there is just something about it that does not jibe with my sense of Indiana authenticity. Or maybe it’s my contrarian nature. It’s a nice place to visit but . . .

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It feels overengineered. And at the end of the day I’m just a city boy. Every minute I live in Zionsville — and despite Zionsville’s considerable charms — I believe I’ll be looking forward to returning to Indianapolis.

  3. DougD Avatar

    Wow, that went fast. Happy Anniversary!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Blazingly. Blindingly.

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