Nature-lovers comb hiking trails, sandy beaches, swamps and bogs at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore—all right next to Indiana Dunes State Park. Stunning lake views await atop Mount Baldy. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center at US-20 and State-49 has info on tours, hiking, biking and birding.
If you want to take a break for lunch, nosh on crumble cake, sandwiches and soups at laid-back Red Cup Cafe and Deli in nearby Chesterton.
For dinner, choose between two excellent options: a local culinary couple own both the retro-cool roadside Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill and Tavern in Beverly Shores and the upscale Bistro 157 in downtown Valparaiso.
Spend the night at Songbird Prairie B&B, a Federal-style home with five luxe suites (each with whirlpool and fireplace) tucked in the woods 6 miles west of downtown Valpo.
After a gourmet breakfast at Songbird Prairie B&B, head to Valparaiso for some shopping and fun eats.
Some of our shopping favorites: Chicks with sticks love Sheep’s Clothing Knitting Supply. Seasons on the Square carries sophisticated fashions and accessories. You’ll find artsy, chunky jewelry at Bangles and creative gifts, tableware, and garden accents at Lifestyles.
For lunch, pick up picnic fare at Old World Market, which sells cheeses, meats, artisanal breads and wine. Save room for dessert or an afternoon snack, though, so you can plop into a chair at wonderfully girly Designer Desserts for cupcakes and pink hot chocolate.
Century of Progress 1933 World’s Fair Homes Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, these homes are in various stages of restoration and are currently open for free tours one day each October. Reservations required; check the website  for more information.
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For more information: Indiana Dunes Tourism (800) 283-8687; indianadunes.com