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Beyond the Beach

Take a step. Take a chance.

Have you ever tasted wine aged 13 months in oak, in a ridge formed thousands of years ago by glaciers? Appreciated 19th and 20th-century American art up close? Or seen an impressive marriage of nature and culture? Though northwestern Indiana has attracted quite a number of travelers with its beautiful beaches and Lake Michigan shoreline – it’s high time to take a step beyond the familiar and see what lies behind. Enter a landscape where impressive natural and cultural sites are scattered about.

Anderson's Vineyard & Winery

Anderson's Vineyard & Winery

Since 1927, the Anderson family has grown fruit in the Valparaiso area, and they established their estate winery in 1994. Anderson's winery specializes in light, fruity wines produced from fruit and grapes grown in the Midwest region. They offer a wide variety of wines, including Rhubarb Blush ... More

T: 219-464-4936  | E: wineryandersons@gmail.com | W: View Website

Aukiki Wetland Conservation Area

Aukiki Wetland Conservation Area

This 650-acre parcel, donated by NiSource, conserves a mix of wetlands, black oak barrens, and sand prairie, offering wildlife viewing, hiking, and hunting. Now jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Aukiki is part of the Indiana Grand Kankakee ... More

T: 219-285-2184 | W: View Website

Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm

Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm

These two historic sites sit nearly side-by-side within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein, the first known non-native resident of northwest Indiana, set up a fur trading post here in 1822. The main house has been restored to its 1917 appearance and is ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Beverly Shores Museum & Art Gallery

Beverly Shores Museum & Art Gallery

This tiny, pink stucco museum pays homage to the town’s history and groundbreaking architecture. It’s also the spot where you can catch the only inter-urban train line in Indiana Dunes Country. While you’re waiting for your train, check out the intimate gallery—an ever-rotating display ... More

T: 219-878-1517 

Bluhm County Park

Bluhm County Park

This park encompasses 96 acres of upland forest, wetlands, prairie, and a pond. Known for its lovely native wildflowers, the park comprises two parcels of land joined by a narrow greenway. The West Woods area offers great trails for mountain biking, horseback riding, skiing, and hiking. Near the ... More

T: 219-325-8215 | W: View Website

Brincka-Cross Gardens

Brincka-Cross Gardens

Beautiful Brincka-Cross Gardens opened to the public for the first time in 2010. William Brincka, professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, put his artistry to work when he designed the 3.9 acres of gardens on this 25-acre site. The gardens hold 40 varieties of magnolias and 40 varieties of ... More

T: 219-465-3586 

Broken Wagon Bison Farm

Broken Wagon Bison Farm

This family farm raises American bison--the iconic species of the American prairie. At the farm, visitors can see bison in the fields and buy a range of bison products, including roasts and steaks, sausage, jerky and hand made bison leather products. The farm offers the opportunity to buy food ... More

T: 219-759-3523  | E: bwbison@hotmail.com | W: View Website

Calumet Bike Trail

Calumet Bike Trail

Bike, hike, or ski this 9.1- mile gravel trail, which skirts the southern boundaries of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park from Cowles Bog to Mount Baldy. Prairie habitat lines the trail, and late-summer wildflowers—like cardinal flowers, blazing stars, asters, ... More

T: 219-465-3586 | W: View Website

Central Avenue Beach Access

Central Avenue Beach Access

During the spring and summer, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's shoreline near Central Avenue is a great place to watch bank swallows flying to and from their nest burrows in the dunes. Spring and fall offer great shorebird and waterfowl viewing. Just past the gate on the entrance road, you'll ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Century of Progress Homes

Century of Progress Homes

With the theme of a "Century of Progress," these houses were built for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair to demonstrate modern architectural design and new technologies such as central air conditioning and dishwashers. Real estate developer Robert Bartlett brought the houses to the dunes by barge in ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Chesterton Bandstand & Historic Business District

Chesterton Bandstand & Historic Business District

Don't miss the chance to explore the charming community Chesterton. After a major fire in 1902, townspeople rebuilt the downtown in brick, and this attractive business district is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Every Saturday from late May to late October, the downtown hosts a ... More

T: 219-926-1641 | W: View Website

Chustak Public Fishing Area

Chustak Public Fishing Area

This 76-acre public fishing area offers access to Salt Creek, where you’ll find excellent small-stream trout and salmon fishing as fish leave Lake Michigan and head upstream on seasonal spawning runs. For non-anglers, the site provides a narrow trail that follows Salt Creek’s meanderings ... More

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Coffee Creek Park

Coffee Creek Park

Located next to the historic Chesterton business district, Coffee Creek Park protects a small lovely oasis of natural habitat—a good place to view wildlife or take the kids to enjoy the playground. A boardwalk trail passes through songbird-rich riparian woodlands that border Coffee Creek and ... More

T: 219-926-3000 | W: View Website

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

This beautiful 167-acre preserve showcases an inspiring and aesthetically stunning marriage of nature and culture. The natural landscape includes a mix of restored prairie, creek, wetlands, and woodlands. Preserve planners have added human infrastructure to that natural setting and have done so ... More

T: 219-926-1842  | E: info@coffeecreekwc.org | W: View Website

Countryside Park and Alton Goin Museum

Countryside Park and Alton Goin Museum

Located in Countryside Park and operated by the Portage Community Historical Society, the Alton Goin Historical Museum houses many artifacts from the Portage region. In it, you'll find such exhibits as a miniature model replica of parts of the city, Indian artifacts and reproduced clothing, one ... More

T: 219-762-8349 | W: View Website

Cowles Bog

Cowles Bog

Don't miss the chance to see Cowles Bog, one of the great natural areas in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Remnant of a once-widespread wetland system, Cowles Bog encompasses a marsh surrounding a small fen, where a stand of tamaracks and white pines grows on a floating mat of peat moss. ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Deep River County Park

Deep River County Park

Deep River County Park offers a mix of history, natural beauty, and pure fun within its 1,200-acre site. In 1837-38, John Wood built a sawmill and gristmill here along the Deep River, creating Lake County’s first settlement industry. Park visitors can explore Wood’s Grist Mill and the ... More

T: 219-769-7275 | W: View Website

Deer Trail Park

Deer Trail Park

This small park, opened in 2007, offers many recreational activities, including hiking, cross-country skiing, and fishing on the Little Calumet River. The City of Portage Park Department did extensive restoration work at this site, removing non-native plants from the forest understory. Along the ... More

T: 219-762-1675 | W: View Website

Dunewood Campground

Dunewood Campground

The campground is just over a mile south of Lake Michigan and offers modern accessible restroom and showers and wooded sites. It is first-come, first-served.

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Dunn's Bridge County Park

Dunn's Bridge County Park

Legend has it that this beautiful and unusual bridge was built with steel salvaged from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Local lore has it that the metal arches came from the world&&s first Ferris Wheel, which debuted at that exposition. Whatever the source of its ... More

T: 219-465-3586 | W: View Website

Forest Park

Forest Park

Though Forest Park is just ten acres in size, it's a lovely spot for a stroll or a family picnic. Oak and hickory dominate the woodlands here. You can wander along trails through two acres of oak savanna restoration, carried out by the park department. Removing non-native plants from the ... More

T: 219-462-5144 | W: View Website

Foundation Meadows Park

Foundation Meadows Park

Foundation Meadows showcases the efforts of the Valparaiso Department of Parks and Recreation to restore prairie and wetland ecosystems that existed on these 20 acres before it was converted to farming. A mowed path leads through a prairie meadow, where you'll find beautiful wildflowers during ... More

T: 219-462-5144 | W: View Website

Gibson Woods Nature Preserve

Gibson Woods Nature Preserve

Thousands of years ago, as Glacial Lake Chicago slowly shrank in size (eventually occupying the present-day footprint of Lake Michigan), it left behind a series of dunes and swales lying parallel to today’s lakeshore. Though development has obliterated much of this dune-and-swale topography, 13... More

T: 219-769-7275 | W: View Website

Glenwood Dune Trail

Glenwood Dune Trail

Formerly called “Ly-co-ki-we” which is said to mean “sandy ground” in the Miami Indian language, you can guess what you’ll encounter on this 6.4-mile trail. Several cutoff trails offer shorter loop alternatives. The main trail crosses ancient beach dunes, which mark the shores of an ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Grand Kankakee Marsh County Park

Grand Kankakee Marsh County Park

This 2,069-acre park, located along the historic Kankakee River, floods seasonally, providing ideal wetland habitat for a variety of wildlife. Acquired by Lake County Parks in 1977 with assistance from The Nature Conservancy, Grand Kankakee Marsh County Park&&s densely wooded areas and remnants ... More

T: 219-769-7275 | W: View Website

Great Marsh Trail

The newest trail in the national lakeshore is a birder’s paradise. Just a short stroll to an accessible observation platform provides a great view of this recently restored wetland. Wading birds like herons and egrets and song birds such as warblers and red-winged black birds are again ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary

Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary

Though just 16 acres in size and surrounded by industry, the park provides a critical stopover for neotropical migrant birds, which funnel through the Hammond Lakefront Park and Bird Sanctuary in astonishing numbers. That’s why birders have long referred to this site as “The Migrant Trap.” ... More

T: 219-659-7841 | W: View Website

Hawthorne Park

Hawthorne Park

Hawthorne Park offers a peaceful, well-maintained place to stop, stretch, and enjoy a picnic. In the developed portion of the park, you'll find picnic shelters, sports fields, playground, and a community center. The park borders a riparian woodland, through which the Little Calumet River ... More

T: 219-921-1687 | W: View Website

Heron Rookery trail

Heron Rookery trail

For more than 60 years, herons nested here along Little Calumet River. Though the heron rookery is no longer active, the 1.6-mile trail is a good spot for viewing other bird species. The oak savanna habitat near the abandoned rookery is also home to Karner blue butterflies, federally listed as ... More

T: 219-926-7561 | W: View Website

Imagination Glen Park

Imagination Glen Park

The largest park in the Portage Park system, 256-acre Imagination Glen Park is home to softball and soccer complexes, a BMX race track, and the 10-mile Outback Mountain Bike Trail. Woodlands cover much of the property, with Salt Creek meandering through the center. The park contains several rare ... More

T: 219-762-1675 | W: View Website

Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes State Park

While thoughts of sunbathing and swimming in Lake Michigan might first lure you to this beautiful state park, there's so much more to do at Indiana Dunes State Park. The park encompasses 2,182 acres of beach, dunes, marshes, swamps, hardwood forests, and white pine groves. These varied habitats ... More

T: 219-926-1952 | W: View Website

Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area

Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area

This gem of a wildlife area conserves 8,062 acres of wetland, upland, and woodland habitat, providing an ideal stopover for migratory birds. Beginning in August, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, ducks, and occasionally even federally endangered whooping cranes gather here. By mid-November—peak ... More

T: 219-843-4841 | W: View Website

Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area

Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area

Designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, 4,199-acre Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area is part of the Grand Kankakee Marsh region (see sidebar, page 39). A single-lane gravel road follows the levee along the south side of the Yellow River and offers excellent wildlife ... More

T: 574-896-3522 | W: View Website

Kankakee River Paddler’s Overnight Camp

This campsite is located on the Kankakee River, 1.5 miles downstream of the Yellow River DNR Public Access Site on the north bank of the river (Lat. 041° 15’ 59.71”, Long. 086°51’ 8.54”). The new campsite is intended to be the first of several free overnight campsites planned along ... More

T: 219-871-9559  | E: dplath@nwipa.org | W: View Website

Kankakee Sands

Kankakee Sands

Kankakee Sands conserves more than 7,000 acres of prairie, savanna, and wetlands—habitat for some of the fastest declining bird species in North America, including northern bobwhite, grasshopper sparrow, and American bittern. Kankakee Sands is also home to several bird species that are ... More

T: 219-285-2184 | W: View Website

Lake View Picnic Area

Lake View Picnic Area

While Lake View can be filled with beach-goers in summer, it’s a good place to picnic and watch for birds in spring and fall. Ducks, loons, grebes, jaegers, and gulls regularly gather along the lakeshore during migratory seasons. The National Audubon Society has designated the area between the ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area

LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area

LaSalle Fish & Wildlife Area conserves 3,797 acres of hardwood forests, cropland and fallow fields, marshes, brush, and open water. Bisected by the Kankakee River, LaSalle is an ideal stopover for migratory birds. State Line Road and the drive to Parking Area 3 offers excellent roadside wildlife ... More

T: 219-992-3019 | W: View Website

Little Calumet River Trail

Little Calumet River Trail

The Little Calumet Trail, located in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is part of a 3.9-mile network of hiking trails that connect the Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm, and the Dunes Learning Center. Pick up a trail map at the trailhead or the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center to guide ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Long Lake Public Access

Long Lake Public Access

While Long Lake is surrounded by private property it is a nice spot for angling or birding. This public access area offers a small, concrete boat launch. Motor boats are permitted, with a maximum speed of 10mph.

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Marquette Park

Marquette Park

In 1921, the United States Steel Corporation donated lakefront lands along Gary's eastern boundary to the City to provide recreational access to Lake Michigan. The Gary Parks Department developed this area into the first lakefront park in Lake County. In 1932, Lakefront Park was renamed ... More

T: 219-866-7099 | W: View Website

Memorial Opera House

Memorial Opera House

On the National Register of Historic Places, the beautiful, 364-seat Memorial Opera House was built in 1893 by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) as a memorial to the county's Civil War veterans. The GAR wanted to create a memorial that would be useful to the entire local community, and this ... More

T: 219-548-9137 | W: View Website

Miller Woods

Miller Woods

Birders consider this 75-acre natural oasis amid the industry and urban environs of Gary among the best birding sites in the region. Black oaks dominate savanna woodlands that are home to 287 recorded species of plants and animals, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly. ... More

T: 219-926-7561 | W: View Website

Mount Baldy

Mount Baldy

THIS SITE IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED. At roughly 125 feet tall, Mount Baldy is the largest "living" dune in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As the dune moves, it buries everything in its path, including trees. Over the last several years, park officials at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore have ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Ogden Gardens Park

Ogden Gardens Park

Ogden Gardens boasts four acres of manicured flower gardens beautifully landscaped with annuals, perennials, roses, shrubs, and trees. A network of pathways traverse the garden, past streams, bridges, pond, and a tea house. For a small fee, visitors can rent a wooden gazebo in the gardens that's ... More

T: 219-462-5144 | W: View Website

Pinhook Bog

Pinhook Bog

A visit to Pinhook Bog should be on every nature-lover's itinerary. Though part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the bog is located several miles inland, separate from the rest of the park. Pinhook Bog is highly unique and sensitive so YOU CAN ONLY VISIT THE BOG THROUGH A SCHEDULED TOUR ... More

T: 219-926-7561 | W: View Website

Port of Indiana: Burns Harbor

Port of Indiana: Burns Harbor

Why include a major industrial site among the best cultural and natural sites in the Beyond the Beach region? Because this site offers a captivating look at both the nature and culture of this region. Twelve steel processors dominate the port landscape, and the site’s protected waters attract ... More

T: 219-787-8636 | W: View Website

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

Formerly an industrial site for National Steel, this 57-acre lakefront site opened in 2008. Managed jointly by the National Park Service and the City of Portage, this area of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore features an enclosed pavilion with an educational classroom, kitchens and restrooms, an ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Porter Beach Area

Porter Beach Area

Porter Beach area is a good place to watch raptor migration. In March and April, hawks, especially buteos, fly north over the Midwest, riding balmy southerly winds. These soaring raptors avoid flying over large bodies of water, so when they reach Lake Michigan, they follow the shoreline. Thus, ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Porter County Museum

Porter County Museum

Included in the National Register of Historic Places, the former Sheriff's Residence and Porter County Jail are historic in their own right and home to a variety of historical treasures. Exhibits are displayed throughout the former residence and in jail cells. The Museum is open to the public ... More

T: 219-465-3595  | E: info@portercountymuseum.org | W: View Website

Red Mill County Park

Red Mill County Park

Part of the La Porte County Parks system, this park encompasses 160 acres of forests, meadows, wetlands, and open water, including the headwaters of the Little Calumet River. Near the parking area, you’ll find fishing access, picnic areas, trails, restrooms, and a playground. The Patricia J. ... More

T: 219-325-8315 | W: View Website

Rogers Lakewood Park

Rogers Lakewood Park

Nestled on 122 acres of rolling woodlands on Valparaiso’s northwest side, this park offers picnic pavilions, sledding hill, a disc golf course, and skateboard park. The TeamWorks challenge course provides teambuilding exercises for corporations and other groups. Lakewood Link, a two-mile foot/... More

T: 219-462-5144 | W: View Website

Salt Creek Public Fishing Area

Salt Creek Public Fishing Area

This 75-acre public fishing area provides access to Salt Creek, where you'll find excellent small-stream trout and salmon fishing as fish leave Lake Michigan and head upstream on seasonal spawning runs. Salt Creek has notable runs of Skamania steelhead, and is popular among fly anglers. For ... More

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Stagecoach Inn & Panhandle Depot

Stagecoach Inn & Panhandle Depot

Open from June through September, the Stage Coach Inn and Panhandle Depot are museums for the Hebron Historical Society. The Stage Coach Inn is a saltbox style house, built in 1849, that has variously served as an inn, residence, post office, and museum over the years. Several rooms within the ... More

T: 219-996-3192 

Stoney Run County Park

Stoney Run County Park

Stoney Run County Park encompasses 316 acres of oak-hickory woodlands, ponds, ravines, and open meadows. Visitors can picnic by the water and hike or ski on eight miles of trails. A trail around the park’s perimeter is open to horseback riding. During your visit, you can also fish in park ... More

T: 219-769-7275 | W: View Website

Sunset Hill Farm County Park

Sunset Hill Farm County Park

Sunset Hill Farm County Park is a lovely 235-acre park where you'll find a primitive campground, several miles of trails, picnic and play areas, demonstration crops, and an amphitheater. The park's hiking trails traverse both prairie and woodland, where you can see birds and other wildlife. A ... More

T: 219-465-3586 | W: View Website

Taltree Arboretum & Gardens

Taltree Arboretum & Gardens

Situated atop the Valparaiso moraine, Taltree offers 360 acres of woody plant collections, formal gardens, wetlands, woodlands, and prairies. Damien and Rita Gabis, who founded Taltree in 1997, envisioned it as a place where people could come to be refreshed and restored, find inspiration and ... More

T: 219-462-0025  | E: info@taltree.org | W: View Website

Tolleston Dunes Trail

Tolleston Dunes Trail

In just 2.6 miles, this trail in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore traverses a number of different, beautiful, and wildlife-rich habitats, including black oak savanna, Tolleston Dunes, and remnants of the Great Marsh. Black oak savanna along the trail hosts plenty of wild lupine—the sole ... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Valparaiso University Brauer Museum of Art

Valparaiso University Brauer Museum of Art

Located in the state-of-art Center for the Arts on the Valparaiso University campus, the Brauer Museum of Art is home to a nationally recognized collection of 19th and 20th-century American art and international religious art. The Brauer Museum of Art maintains a permanent collection of 19th, 20... More

T: 219-464-5365 | W: View Website

West Beach

West Beach

Most of West Beach's Dune Succession Trail follows a boardwalk, so you can experience the dunes without struggling through sand (although you’ll encounter 250 stairs!). As its name suggests, this 0.9-mile long trail is a great place to see ecological succession—from bare beach to wooded dune... More

T: 219-395-1882 | W: View Website

Westchester Township History Museum

Westchester Township History Museum

Victorian era gardens welcome visitors to the elegant 1885 Brown Mansion, which houses the works of Northern Porter County artists and exhibits that detail the history of the area and saving the Indiana Dunes. Don't miss the exhibit that tells the story of the Prairie Club, one of the nation's ... More

T: 219-983-9715  | E: museum@wpl.lib.in.us | W: View Website

Woodland Park

Woodland Park

This 64-acre park offers good wildlife viewing in a suburban setting. Crabapple trees draw cedar waxwings. Mature oaks shelter small mammals and songbirds, and native wildflowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and songbirds. A paved trail leads through restored oak savanna forest, and ... More

T: 219-762-1675 | W: View Website

Zona Wildlife Sanctuary

Zona Wildlife Sanctuary

Stretch your legs at this 92-acre woodland preserve. A short figure-eight trail of less than one mile creates a scenic route through the forest. The sanctuary is a great spot to see spring wildflowers, summer nesting birds, fall colors, and wildlife tracks in winter snow.

T: 219-465-3586 | W: View Website