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Indiana Dunes Country Sample Itineraries

Eco-Tourism

Day 1

Morning: Begin the day at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, where you can pick up information about the area, chat with rangers of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and get introduced to the wonders of the national park by watching two informational videos. Then head out into the park and see how 19th century immigrants lived at the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm.

Eco Tourism supporting photo

Afternoon: Head to Cowles Bog, the site where Henry Chandler Cowles performed his groundbreaking scientific research. Technically a fen, it’s an excellent site for bird watching, and contains the only remaining wild stand of northern white cedar in Indiana.

Evening: Relax in the adults-only casual atmosphere of Wagner’s Ribs and enjoy some fall-off-the-bone tender ribs slathered with homemade barbeque sauce. Then head to the Portage Lakefront & Riverwalk to watch the sun set over Lake Michigan from the comfort of its green-construction visitor center.

Day 2

Morning: Take a tour of Taltree Arboretum—you can wander the more than 300 acres on your own, or you can call to see if you can get a free guided tour that takes you on a journey through woodland, wetland and prairie walking trails, native wildflowers, scenic waterfronts and formal gardens.

Afternoon: Get your heart pumping with a hike up the 123-foot high Mt. Baldy, the largest moving sand dune in the National Lakeshore.

Evening: Head to the acclaimed Bartlett’s Gourmet Bar and Grill, a funky-casual restaurant that specializes in pub food with a gourmet twist. Afterwards, enjoy a leisurely stroll through Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve—a 167-acre oasis filled with native plants and wildlife—and watch the sun set over Phillips Pond.

Day 3

Morning: Strap on your hiking boots, slather on some mosquito repellant and slosh off on a guided tour of Pinhook Bog. Not only are the wildlife and flora fantastic (you’ll see more orchid species than you would in Hawaii), it’s also pretty cool to say you’ve walked on the largest floating mat of sphagnum moss in the world. (Note: Bog tours are open on scheduled days throughout the summer - go to indianadunes.com/ecotourism for more information. )

Afternoon: Hike along the mile-and-a-half trail along the Little Calumet River in the Heron Rookery. This site has been a breeding ground for the Great Blue Heron since the 1950s, and is home to a variety of other birds, too.

Evening: Dine on a gourmet burger (made with Tallgrass Beef) at Octave Grill. Then, finish up your day with a walk along the shore of West Beach.

Create your own ecotourism itinerary—download the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail Guide at indianadunes.com/guides or pick one up on your next visit to the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center.

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Photograph Copyright: Christine Livingston