Do you think of beaches when you think Northern Indiana? If not, that’s ok—that just means there’s even more to discover in Indiana’s Cool North than you thought possible. Indiana Dunes has 15 miles of sandy coastline along Lake Michigan and is home to over 70 miles of hiking trails and more than 350 species of resident or migrating birds.
Beyond the beaches, the surrounding areas of Indiana Dunes offer stunning scenery, top-tier cuisine, boutique retail experiences, and great accommodations. From engaging museums and cozy B&Bs to fun-filled shopping and outdoor adventures, Indiana Dunes Country sure packs a punch.
An Art-Centric Community
With so much natural beauty to draw inspiration from, it’s no wonder so many artists and craftspeople call Chesterton home. Check out the Chesterton Art Center, Holly Jackson’s Art Studio and Gallery, and Craig Berg’s Duneland Pizza and Dunes Photography, among others, to see painting and photography of this amazing area.
Chesterton’s renowned European Market is a must-visit, with fresh fruits and vegetables, jewelry, art, and gifts. This eclectic downtown scene also includes a local winery, an antiquarian bookseller, and local-owned restaurants.
Lakeside City with a Nautical Touch
Portage residents are pretty proud of their lakefront attractions—and for good reason. West Beach was voted one of the Top 10 Family Beaches in the country, and the public marina provides easy access to adventures on Lake Michigan.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Portage. Trails and parks dot the city, so anyone from mountain bikers to skateboarders will feel right at home. Indiana Dunes National Park is one of the country’s most diverse in the national park system, and offers endless activities from hiking, fishing, bird watching, and even cross country skiing in the winter.
Vibrant and Visionary
Valparaiso is the place to be in Indiana Dunes Country for arts, entertainment, dining, and shopping. Its historic downtown district is full of classic architecture, unique shops and boutiques, and incredible restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world.
World-renowned Valparaiso University brings an exciting and cosmopolitan energy to the city. Catch a game on campus, visit the second-largest collegiate chapel in the world at the Chapel of the Resurrection, or view an art collection of over 3,000 pieces at the university’s Brauer Museum of Art.
Gateway to the Dunes
For a family escape that’s as laid-back as it is action-packed, the town of Porter has got you covered. It’s got small town charm with plenty to see and do. Plant your toes in the sand at Porter Beach on the shore of Lake Michigan, play a game of beach volleyball or just soak in your stunning surroundings.
In Hawthorne Park you can play disc golf, go fishing, or watch for birds along the Little Calumet River. See some of the world’s finest instruments at Biggs Violin Shop, or see what life was like in early Porter at the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm sites.
Pure Pioneer Spirit
First settled by Judge Jesse Johnson, this once wide open prairie is now a charming small town—but its pioneering spirit is present everywhere you look. The Stagecoach Inn and Panhandle Depot pay tribute to the role of railroads and stagecoaches throughout the town’s history, and house unique artifacts and memorabilia from a bygone era.
If you’re searching for an escape from city life, you’ll find it here in Hebron. Stop in for a good homemade meal and, of course, grab a piece of pie at Country Kitchen downtown.
Classic Midwest Charm
Kouts is everything you’d expect in a Midwestern farming town—plus a little bit more. Sweeping fields of green and yellow give way to a Main Street where you’ll meet friendly locals that won’t stay strangers for long.
Get a taste of local life at fun summer festivals like the Aukiki River Festival or the Kouts Pork Fest. Cool off with a refreshing ice cream at Birky’s Market or head out to the Kankakee River to kayak and see Dunn’s Bridge, which local lore suggests was made from pieces of the world’s first Ferris wheel.
Looking for some exciting fall family fun? Here are some of the best must-see autumn events to make the most of the season in Indiana’s Cool North.Learn More