- USA Today’s Top 20 Best State Parks 2015
- Lake Michigan shoreline
- 60 miles of trails, 15 miles of beaches
- 200 foot high sand dunes
- Christ the Passion
- South Shore Brew Trail
Nature lovers can find miles of dune trails to hike, beaches to swim, bogs to explore, and wildlife to spot, while anglers have ample opportunity to catch salmon, trout, perch and other game fish.
According to the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, between Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park, there are 60 miles of trails, 350 different bird species, 15 miles of beach, and 1,100 flowering plants and ferns.
The Lakeshore was preserved nearly a half-century ago through the efforts of the National Park Service, but more so by community members who saw the beauty in the lake and dunes, and artists like writer Edwin Way Teale, poet Carl Sandburg, and painter Frank V. Dudley who were inspired by them.
Past the Shoreline
While the shoreline is the obvious, and most spectacular aspect of the area, inland opportunities add variety to a trip to northwest Indiana.
The South Shore Convention and Visitor’s Authority is a good source of information for activities, food, local flavor and fun. The SSCVA works with five counties–Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton and LaPorte–comprising the lakeshore and surrounding region to offer visitors plenty of options.
For example, if you’re a craft beer fan, check out the continuously developing South Shore Brew Trail.
“It started with a handful of breweries,” explained SSCVA director Speros Batistatos.
“There’s a lot of interest in the whole micro brew movement and people are looking for this activity, so every time one comes on line we just put them up.”
Looking for a unique restaurant that adds a twist to the usual fare? Try the Silver Spoon on the square in downtown Valparaiso. Its Reuben sandwich comes with house pickled cabbage instead of sauerkraut, and pastrami instead of corned beef .
Speaking of peace, another spot to visit in the lakeshore region is the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John. Set on busy U.S. 41, the shrine follows the path of Christ during the crucifixion and resurrection. Audio recordings and displays lead the way along a winding path set back from the noisy highway and provide for a moment of inner reflection.
From casinos along the lake, to sandhill cranes in rural Jasper County, to lake fun, food and brews, The Historic Century of Homes, there’s a lot to do along the Lake Michigan shore.
“We want to convey to people that there’s a lot of exciting things going on here,” Batistatos said.
For more information on the South Shore region of Lake Michigan go to www.southshorecva.com.
For more information about Indiana Dunes go to www.indianadunes.com.
For information about the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, www.nps.gov/indu.
Story by Kevin Howell