Posted on March 24, 2019 by Dina Miller
There’s something special about Indiana Dunes, part of Indiana’s Cool North, that draws people from all over the world. From the scenic shores of Lake Michigan to the eclectic energy of downtown Valparaiso, there’s something here for everybody. With such a relaxed atmosphere, you’ll love making your way through Indiana Dunes Country to take everything in. But with so much to see and do, where should you begin?
In addition to being home to Indiana Dunes National Park (our newest national park), the area is also home to Indiana Dunes State Park, more than three miles of beaches located along Lake Michigan. It is also where you can complete the Three Dune Challenge. This unique experience challenges you and your fellow travelers to hike Mt. Holden, Mt. Jackson, and Mt. Tom—the three tallest dunes on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Open all year, this is a challenge you can complete in sneakers—or even barefoot—in the summer, and in snowshoes during the winter. Before you begin the challenge, be sure to stop in at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center to learn more about the area and the unique animals that call it home.
Indiana Dunes Country is a fantastic place to check out the culinary delights of Indiana’s Cool North. You’ll find a meal for every taste here, starting with tacos at the Woodfire Meat Market! Did you know their tacos are so good they were voted the Indiana Dunes winner during our Taco Wars event? If BBQ is more your thing, Rudy’s BBQ Shack serves up Texas-style BBQ with Carolina and St. Louis influences. All of their meat is smoked on-site daily and their recipes are beloved family secrets—passed down from generation to generation. Indiana Dunes is also home to several food trucks, including Da Portable Rican and The Rolling Stonebaker, where you’ll find everything from traditional Caribbean delights to gourmet hot dogs and wood-fired brick oven pizza.
Indiana Dunes is a perfect spot for taking in world-class entertainment. Stop by the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso to see a Broadway show, live comedy, touring bands, and more! Built in 1893, the Memorial Opera House is on the National Register of Historic Places and seamlessly blends old-school architecture and charm with modern entertainment you can’t miss.
Alternatively, if you’re a film buff, you’ll love stopping by the 49er Drive-In Theatre. Named one of the Top Ten Drive-Ins in USA Today, the 49er shows a wide-assortment of modern blockbusters and classics of the silver screen from April-October every year. Pack the car, hit the concession stand, and marvel at this drive-in that maintains its 1950s aesthetic. Enjoy the show!
Indiana Dunes is home to a vibrant craft brew and winery scene that you don’t want to miss. If you read our Brewery Tour of Northern Indiana, you know that Indiana Dunes (and all Indiana’s Cool North for that matter) is home to several brewpubs, including Four Fathers Brewing, Hunter’s Brewing, Figure Eight Brewing, and Ironwood Brewing Company. These breweries are great spots to gather and laugh with friends while enjoying the best local beers that Indiana Dunes has to offer. If wine is more your thing, you’ll want to try the Elements Wine Bar for a worldly selection, or Misbeehavin’ Meads—where you’ll have a chance to try a glass (or two) of honey wine.
For those who love learning, there are great museums and informative tours to discover in Indiana Dunes Country. If you’re interested in the history of the Indiana Dunes, you’ll want to take a trip to the Porter County Museum. Situated in the former sheriff’s residence and local jail, the museum is home to a large collection of local history and treasures. The exhibits are updated regularly, so there’s always something new to discover. For fans of art and architecture, the Beverly Shores Depot Museum & Art Gallery is a must-visit. This pink stucco museum showcases the interesting architectural history of Beverly Shores, and the art gallery houses a rotating collection of wonderful pieces created by local artists.
Indiana Dunes is also home to the Hoosier Bat Company, where they make big-league bats for all-stars and hall-of-fame inductees. When you visit Hoosier Bat, you can also take a free tour, where you’ll learn all about the bat-making process and discover what makes Hoosier Bats some of the most popular in the world. These tours are by appointment, so be sure to call ahead.
With so much to do in Indiana Dunes, this list only scratches the surface. You can learn more about the exciting things to do in Indiana Dunes and throughout Indiana’s Cool North here.