Taking the family for a day in nature and near the water is a great way for everyone to bond. Kayaking, canoeing, and swimming are great ways to get exercise while having fun. When kids cast a line to go fishing, it teaches them dexterity skills. They’ll also learn about the various species of fish found in the local Carmel, Indiana, waterways. Our team at Crème de la Crème has put together a list of some of the best places to enjoy the water near Carmel for you and your family to enjoy.

Harmonie State Park

Image via Flickr by Kevin Burkett Licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

When you want to take a long weekend away, head over to New Harmony for an outdoor adventure and camp for a few nights at Harmonie State Park. This state park has 200 campsites with electricity, running water, and modern restrooms nestled in the rolling hills above the Wabash River. For more convenient camping, make a reservation for one of the family cabins with a screened-in back porch and a large front porch.

Bring your walking shoes to hike the many trails throughout the park to look for local wildlife. You’ll want to bring your fishing poles to try your hand at catching catfish, bluegill, or bass. If you want to go kayaking, the NewHarmony Canoe/KayakRiver Access Point makes it easy to get into the Wabash River.

Location: 3451 Harmonie State Park Road in New Harmony

Contact: 812-682-4821

Flat Fork Creek Park

Kids will enjoy fishing, running through the woods, and climbing treehouses at Flat Fork Creek Park. Mountain bikers will feel the thrill of the progressive bike trails, and hikers will get some exercise on the nature paths. The city of Fishers keeps the pond stocked with bass and bluegill so everyone can try their hand at catching these fish. Fishing here is catch and release.

On a warm day, the youngsters will have a blast stomping their feet and splashing about in the creek while looking for crawdads and pollywogs. Pack a lunch with goodies from your Carmel CSA box to enjoy a picnic when visiting Flat Fork Creek Park.

Location: 16141 E 101 St. in Fishers


Sodalis Nature Park

Nature and wildlife lovers will enjoy an outing to Sodalis Nature Park. This 210-acre preserve is named after the Indiana bat, myotis sodalis, that lives in the preserve. At Sodalis Nature Park, you’ll find a floating dock and fishing pier on the 5.5-acre pond. You and the kids can fish for largemouth bass and bluegill that live in the pond.

When you’re ready to take a break from fishing, enjoy a picnic under one of the shade trees that dot the preserve. You can also have your meal at one of the shaded picnic pavilions. If you brought binoculars, head over to the wildlife viewing platform to look for birds, turtles, and mammals.

Location: 7700 S. CR 975 E. in Plainfield

Contact: 317-718-6188

White River Canoe Company

If you want to take the family on an organized water adventure, book a trip with White River Canoe Company. This company will take you on a kayak, canoe, or tubing journey that will create lifetime memories. Whichever trip you book, you’ll float down the West Fork of the White River. Half-day trips last about three hours and full-day trips run between 5.5 hours and 8 hours. For a relaxing drift down the White River, choose one of the tubing trips. You can book the 1-mile trip or the longer 3.5-mile trips that last about four hours.

White River Canoe Company also rents Cooler Tubes that can hold up to 55-quart coolers. These specific tubes raft to your personal tube and float with you down the river. The staff at White River Canoe Company suggests bringing sunscreen, a hat, insect repellant, a dry bag, and shoes to protect your feet. If you plan on fishing during your journey, be sure to bring your fishing license.

Location: 17180 River Road in Noblesville

Contact: info@whiterivercanoecompany.com

Potter’s Bridge Park

Potter’s Bridge Park has a striking covered bridge that goes over the White River. You’ll have sweeping views of the river as you stroll across the historic covered bridge. Bring your camera and pose in front of the bridge for a great family photo. There’s plenty to do at this 66-acre park, including strolling along the nature trails.

The park has a boat launch area to put in your kayak, canoe, or tube. This access spot is a great place for kids to get to the White River to stomp around and look for water bugs and fish. If the kids want to burn off more energy, they can play at the two playgrounds. Paved trails around the playground areas and on select nature paths are ideal for pushing strollers or wheelchairs so everyone in the family can enjoy a day at Potter’s Bridge Park.

Location: 19401 Allisonville Road in Noblesville

Contact: 317-770-4400

Saxony Lake & Beach

When you want a more urban waterway, spend the day at Saxony Lake & Beach. The kids can splash in the shallow water or build sandcastles along the 300-feet of sandy beach. The beach area has a lifeguard station to help monitor swimmers. Adventurous family members can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and paddleboats to cruise around the 20-acre lake. Young anglers can cast a line to catch stocked fish in the lake. You’re allowed to bring in food, coolers, and umbrellas. There’s no shade at the beach, so bring swim shirts, sunscreen, and hats.

Even though Saxony Lake & Beach has lifeguards, teaching your child to swim at an early age will give them the confidence to play safely in the water while giving you peace of mind.

Location: 13358 Pennington Road in Fishers

Contact: 317-595-3150

There you have our list of the best places to fish, kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard in the Carmel area. Which waterway is your favorite? Do the kids enjoy swimming and splashing around? Do you have a waterway that we missed? If so, let us know and our team at Crème de la Crème will add your recommendation to our list.