Indiana Dunes National Park + More
As you conquer the sandy trails at Indiana Dunes National Park, you’ll love the expansive Lake Michigan views. And there’s so much to do beyond the dunes, too — like a water park, winery and brewery trails, and casinos.
About This Road Trip
Exploring the Dunes
You only have to go as far as Lake Michigan’s South Shore to reach a national park. Yes, Indiana Dunes National Park invites you for days of fun and exploration. Take the 3 Dune Challenge, a 1.5-mile trek that takes you up the three highest dunes. Your reward? Spectacular views and a real feeling of accomplishment. Along the way you’ll see all kinds of birds, grasses and other unique nature—this area has more native orchid varieties than Hawaii! You’ll also enjoy lounging on the beach, flying a kite, visiting the nature center or renting a boat.
Outdoor Family Fun
Kids can come up with all kinds of adventures at Bellaboo’s Imagination Garden, a playground featuring a giant pirate ship and water features in a lush setting. You’ll agree Deep River Water Park is “simply SPLAShtastic” after soaking up all the water slides and rides. Gabis Arboretum boasts 300 acres of magnificent landscapes featuring a restored prairie, display gardens, wetlands and miles of hiking trails through woodlands. You can also explore the area on two wheels as there are more than 100 miles of biking trails.
Sweet Indoor Activities
Known for the World’s Best Gummies, Albanese Candy Factory is the place to go for these chewy treats, plus chocolates, nuts and more. Take a few minutes for the self-guided tour of the candy factory — safely behind glass — including a free sample. Visitors also love the tasting samples at Chicagoland Popcorn, featuring the flavors you would expect plus originals like blueberry muffin or chocolate covered banana. Get an old-fashioned ice cream treat at Valpo Velvet Shoppe, featuring 50 flavors to put in sundaes, cones or shakes. At the Mascot Hall of Fame, you can explore three floors of colorful, interactive fun as you check out some of the most famous professional and college sports mascots. See yourself on the big screen as a mascot, create your own and so much more.
Sipping along The South Shore
This is the destination for both wine and beer connoisseurs, because the South Shore has trails for both. The South Shore Winery Trail features 11 stops, where you’ll sample wines, meads and ciders ranging from sweet to dry. Many of the wineries also hold events where you can combine your love of wine with music, shopping and the arts. You’re bound to find new favorites along the South Shore Brewery Trail, whether that’s a stout, a hoppy IPA or a fruity and flavorful seasonal ale. Most of the 11 stops also offer food selections, from gourmet cheese plates to wood-fired pizza to pub classics.