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Home > Places to Go > Safe & Nearby Outdoor Experiences rev 2

10 Safe & Nearby Outdoor Getaways

10 Cool Outdoor Getaways

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The 3 Dune Challenge

⇒ 1 minute to Bike Trails

1.   Up for a test of your outdoor strength? Take “The 3 Dune Challenge,” a tough trek running or hiking a 1.5-mile course on the State Park’s three tallest dunes. Most climbers find the steep, sandy slopes take them backwards as often as forward.   Some may scoff at the short distance, but as anyone who has ever run on dunes before can attest, it’s a challenge like no other. After all, sand-sprinting was difficult enough to be included in a Rocky training montage, so you know it’s gotta be tough.

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Indiana Dunes Biking

⇐ 1 minute to 3 Dunes Challenge ⇒ 16 minutes to Valparaiso Paddling

2.   There’s nothing like bicycling in the Indiana Dunes, with views of towering sand dunes and miles of sandy beaches. Bring your own bike or rent one  at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and ride the 2.5-mile Dunes-Kankakee Trail, a paved trail that goes from the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to Indiana Dunes State Park. It also connects with the South Shore Line train and the Calumet Bike Trail.

And yes, you can take the train! The South Shore Line’s cars designated for bicycles make it easy for you (and your bike) to get around the Indiana Dunes and Chicagoland areas.

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Paddling in the Valparaiso Chain of Lakes

⇐ 1 minutes to Indiana Dunes Bicycling ⇒ 32 minutes to Michigan City

3.  Dip your paddle into the serene water of the Valparaiso Chain of Lakes. Located on the north side of the city of Valparaiso, this extensive system of lakes, wetlands, smaller ponds, and streams is the perfect place to take a leisurely paddle between banks of wildflowers, rare migrating birds, and curious wildlife.

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Lighthouse at Michigan City

⇐ 32 minutes to Paddling in Valparaiso ⇒ 2 minutes to Charter Fishing

4.  In Michigan City, a supreme stretch of powder-soft sand lines the shore at Washington Park, drawing swimmers all summer long and strollers the rest of the year. Beachgoers claim a spot on the sand, unfurling beach towels for the day before heading to the water or just relaxing along the shore. To add to the lakeside panorama, Indiana’s only working lighthouse, the East Light, stands guard. You also can tour the Old Michigan City Light, now a museum, to learn about the community’s nautical past.

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Charter Fishing in Michigan City

⇐ 2 minutes to Michigan City Lighthouse ⇒ 27 minutes to Garwood Orchards UPick

5.   There’s a reason Michigan City is known as the “Coho Capital of the World.” Every angler on earth dreams of reeling in a prize catch, and the waters of Lake Michigan offer some of the best Coho and Chinook salmon fishing around. Not to mention steelhead, lake trout, brown trout, yellow perch and smallmouth bass.

Best of all, it’s easy to get out on the water for the fishing adventure of a lifetime with one of Michigan City’s professional charter boat captains. These experienced pros provide everything you need, from the boat, bait and licenses to lures and poles. The charters cater to parties of friends, families, plus corporate and other groups.

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Garwood Orchards UPick

⇐ 27 minutes to Charter Fishing ⇒ 48 minutes to Notre Dame & Rafting

6.  Garwood Orchards in LaPorte has been in the family for more than 180 years, and it’s still a favorite spot for apple picking. The 350-acre farm is about half fruit trees (apple, peach and cherry) and about half veggies, says Brian Garwood, who is on-site daily, along with brother Mike and cousin Tom. “We’re open from strawberry season until Halloween,” he says. The Garwood calendar isn’t measured so much by months, but by what’s growing: strawberries, then raspberries, cherries, peaches, apples and finally pumpkins.

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East Race Waterway

⇐ 48 minutes to Garwood Orchards UPick ⇒ 28 minutes to Amish Quilt Gardens

7.   Prepare for the ride of your life on a three-mile rafting adventure right in the middle of downtown South Bend! With a water scale rating of 2, this thrilling course is fun for the whole family. Maneuver the rapids and conquer the waves as you race through the historic downtown district.

 

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Amish Quilt Gardens

⇐ 28 minutes to Notre Dame & Rafting ⇒ 30 minutes to Amish Trout Outfitters

8.  Supersized gardens planted in quilt designs give visitors an exciting, unique, and free way to view the patterns that are so much a part of history in Indiana’s Cool North. More than a million vibrant blooms go into creating these living displays in 16 gigantic gardens that change each year along Elkhart County’s Heritage Trail, a winding loop that also passes through welcoming communities, and features area attractions and Amish life. The drive was voted a USA Today Readers Choice and named one of America’s Most Scenic Drives. The trail also includes 4 hand-painted supersized quilt murals. (The gardens will be on display from May 30-Sept. 15 in 2020.)

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Amish Trout Outfitters

⇐ 30 minutes to Quilt Gardens ⇒ 5 minutes to Pumpkinvine Bike Trail

9.    Enjoy access to private Amish waters of Indiana’s only catch and release protected streams.  Fly fishing connects ones soul with nature, and we thrive on creating that experience for you, every time we are on the water.   Check out some of the techniques and flies we use to fish the local Amish waters. We do a lot of Euro-style nymphing and shining of small and articulated streamers. These flies have been proven successful on our waters, and may work on yours too.

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Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

⇐ 5 minutes to Amish Trout Outfitters

10.  Take a lovely green countryside, add an up-close look at Amish life, top it off with a bit of railroad history and you have the makings of a unique adventure on this easy-going 17-mile route. It was a popular passenger and mail service train route in the early 1900s, nicknamed “pumpkin vine” because of its numerous curves and turns. Today, bicyclists delight in that characteristic of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail that begins in Goshen and travels through Middlebury on to Shipshewana, all in the area of  Indiana’s largest Amish community.

Along the way, you’ll see the signature white Amish farmsteads, where fields are tended with horse-drawn equipment, and hand-washed clothing and quilts flap on clotheslines. Signage reveals the railroad’s history as you traverse a primarily paved pathway suitable for all ages. The trail also connects with other trails that lead to Elkhart.

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Elkhart County Deals and Packages

View Elkhart County Deals and Packages

Elkhart, Goshen, MIddlebury, Nappanee, Shipshewana

Expires Dec. 30, 2020

Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes Deals

View the Dunes Deals for Lodging, Restaurants, and More

Chesterton, Portage, Porter, Valparaiso

Expires May. 31, 2021

Visit Michigan City LaPorte

MICHIGAN CITY LAPORTE DEALS & PACKAGES

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Michigan City, LaPorte

Expires Dec. 30, 2020

Best Western Elkhart

20% Off // To redeem this digital coupon please show it to the front desk attendant

Best Western Elkhart

Expires Apr. 30, 2021

Econo Lodge Elkhart

$49,99+ tax/1-2 people - Add $5 for 2 beds // To redeem this digital coupon please show it to the front desk attendant

Econo Lodge, Elkhart

Expires Apr. 30, 2021

Farmstead Inn & Conference Center

$10 off // To redeem this digital coupon please show it to the front desk attendant

Farmstead Inn & Conference Center, Shipshewana

Expires Apr. 30, 2021

Shipshewana Flea Market Parking

$1 off // To redeem this coupon, please print before arrival.

Shipshewana Flea Market

Expires Sep. 30, 2020

Hall of Heroes Museum

$1 off admission // To redeem this digital coupon, show it at the time of ticket purchase

Hall of Heroes Museum, Elkhart

Expires Apr. 30, 2021

LaQuinta Inn & Suites, South Bend

20% off // To redeem this digital coupon please show it to the front desk attendant

LaQuinta Inn & Suites, South Bend

Expires Apr. 30, 2021

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