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.

By The editors of
June 08, 2012

Due to possible coronavirus-related travel restrictions, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.


Camp Stop General Store Rent a bike from this beachfront joint in Beverly Shores, then pedal along the dunes’ many routes, including the 9-mile Calumet Bike Trail. Also, stock up on snacks, souvenirs and camp 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 an annual tour in mid-October; tickets go on sale in September.

Florida Tropical House at Century of Progress Homes

European Market Artisans and farmers gather in Chesterton on Saturday mornings to sell flowers, produce, crafts, breads, cheeses, books and clothing.

Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest Walk the wetlands and prairie of these 330 acres in Valparaiso. Its Railway Garden’s G-scale model trains roll through model canyons and a mining town.

Indiana Dunes National Park These 15 miles of Lake Michigan shore—upgraded to national park status in 2019—surround Indiana Dunes State Park. Together, the preserves include beaches, prairie, wetlands, forests, rivers and bogs. Dunes reach nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan, and more than 50 miles of trails lead through diverse plant and wildlife communities. Also popular: camping, sailing and swimming.

Indiana Dunes

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


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, sandwiches and salads, plus a rotating selection of craft beer from local breweries.

The 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

Shoreline Brewery 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 wildlife from the deck. Nature trails on the 4-acre property wind through gardens and a wetland near Chesterton.

The Brewery Lodge The owners of Zorn Brew Works and Shady Creek Winery partnered to transform a 1930s inn in Michigan City into a 12-suite boutique hotel with bar—conveniently close to a smattering of microbreweries.

DunesWalk Inn at the Furness Mansion Rooms in the 1881 Chesterton home have hardwood floors and custom millwork. Some come with gas fireplaces and kitchenettes—plus 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 feature fare such as French toast soufflé and bacon-cheddar scones.

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