Top Things to Do in Indiana Dunes | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Indiana Dunes

Pack a variety of gear to enjoy Lake Michigan activities: a swimsuit for the beach at Indiana Dunes National Park, hiking shoes for the trails of Indiana Dunes State Park and an appetite for comfort food.


Camp Stop General Store Rent a bike from this Beverly Shores beachfront joint, then pedal along the dune’s many routes, including the 9-mile Calumet Bike Trail. Also, stock up on snacks, kitschy souvenirs and camping supplies.

Century of Progress Homes Annual Architecture Tour Five futuristic homes built for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair and shipped across the lake now stand like works of modern art along Lake Front Drive. Rangers lead the annual tour on October 13, 2018; ticket sales start September 10 and often sell out on the same day. 

Florida Tropical House

Florida Tropical House at Century of Progress Homes

European Market Artisans and farmers gather in downtown Chesterton on Saturday mornings to sell flowers, produce, handmade crafts, artisanal breads and farm-fresh cheeses.

Indiana Dunes National Park Just upgraded to national park status in 2019, these 15 miles of Lake Michigan shore encompass the Indiana Dunes State Park. Together, the preserves include beaches, prairie, wetlands, forests, rivers and bogs. The namesake dunes reach nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan, and more than 50 miles of hiking trails lead through some of the Midwest’s most diverse plant and wildlife communities.

Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes

Old Lighthouse Museum Climb up to the lantern room of the 1858 Michigan City beacon, the oldest remaining lighthouse in Indiana, to learn about local maritime history.

Taltree Arboretum and Gardens Walk the wetlands and prairie of these 330 acres in Valparaiso. Its Railway Garden’s G-scale model trains roll through model canyons, quarries and a mining town.


Industrial Revolution Eatery and Grille A life-size outdoor sculpture of ironworkers on lunch break greets visitors to the Valparaiso hangout, which satisfies big appetites with pot roast and heaps of garlic mashed potatoes.

Octave Grill This Chesterton restaurant serves creative burgers and sandwiches, plus a rotating selection of beer from local breweries.

Rolling Stonebaker If you’re lucky enough to track down one of these two retrofitted Studebakers (they show up often at Chesterton’s European Market), savor thin-crust pizzas made in a wood-fired oven. Or try the Valparaiso brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Rolling Stonebaker

Rolling Stonebaker

Shoreline Brewery Sample 12 craft brews, including the Singing Sands oatmeal stout, along with classic pub fare.


At Home in the Woods Bed and Breakfast Guests staying in the four rooms (decorated with park themes) take dips in the large swimming pool and watch songbirds from the deck. Nature trails on the 4-acre property wind through gardens and a wetland near Chesterton.

Dunes Walk Inn Rooms in the 1881 Chesterton home have hardwood floors and custom millwork. Some come with gas fireplaces and kitchenettes—plu you're in the dunes and only a mile from the lakeshore.

Songbird Prairie Inn, Spa and Boutique Each of the five suites at this Federal-style country escape in Valparaiso caters to couples. After walks on the 6 acres, relax with a whirlpool tub, rain shower and fireplace. Breakfasts might feature French toast souffle and glazed poached pears.

For more information: Indiana Dunes Tourism


Comments (1) wrote:
In researching things to do at and in national parks I have noticed websites for parks east of the rockies talk about things OUTSIDE the parks like museums, restaurants, boutiques, etc. And national parks west of the rockies actually tell you of things to do and see INSIDE the park? Look up Yosemite or Yellowstone and compare it to Indiana Dunes or Great Smoky Mountain NP. The former talks of features and trails and the later tells you about Chicago and farmers markets or Dollywood, waterslides and ferris wheels!?

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