Music, and more music!

Valparaiso University's Chapel of the Resurrection was the site of a great concert.

Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection was the site of a great concert.

There are some awesome concerts planned for later this week and this summer that we are excited to tell you about.

But first, Valparaiso was fortunate to have the U.S. Air Force Concert Band and the Singing Sergeants in town on Monday. Indiana Dunes Tourism met a busload of musicians in downtown during the afternoon, providing them maps of the downtown and guiding them to great places to eat, shop and hang out before the evening concert. We caught up with several of them as they enjoyed the delicious food and some competitive games of Uno at Blackbird Cafe.

We then joined the crowds that packed Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection for the band’s rousing two-hour concert.

The great music continues through Saturday at Valparaiso University with the renowned Jazz Festival.

Indiana Dunes Tourism has compiled a summer concert roundup on page 23 of its Activities Guide, which is available free of charge at the Visitor Center, 1215 N. State Road 49, Porter, IN, or online. While at that site, check out our Calendar of Events publication, and check out our website events page for an up-to-date list of things to do.


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Indiana Dunes State Park plans fun events in April

This is a great time of year to explore the Indiana Dunes

State Park Spring is here!  It may not feel like it completely, but Indiana Dunes State Park invites people to step away from their busy schedules to enjoy great events in the Indiana Dunes.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the upcoming events:

- On Saturday, April 5, meet at the main park entrance parking lot for a Bog sucker Ballet at 7:30 p.m. Learn about the amazing woodcock and go on a search for them. Dress for the weather and some off-trail hiking.

- Hope is a Thing with Feathers is a special presentation by noted author Joel Greenberg. Joel will be on hand to showcase his new book commemorating 100 years since the Passenger Pigeon went extinct. Arrive at the Nature Center on Sunday, April 6 at 2 p.m. for this special program, sponsored by the Shirley Heinze Land Trust.

- The Friends of Indiana Dunes Native Plant Sale is Saturday, April 12, starting at 8 a.m.

- Come out on Sunday, April 20 at 2 p.m. for Easter Stories in the Sand. Explore some special sand track pads that will have been baited the night before. What critters roam the dune woods at night?

Here’s a complete list of programs for April that you can print and keep at home.

You can also keep up to date on upcoming activities and sightings in the park via Facebook or Twitter.

To contact the Interpretive Service of Indiana Dunes State Park, call (219) 926-1390 or

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Indiana Dunes Tourism, Town of Porter win award for trail

  • Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014
  • by Administrator in
  • News
Dunes State Park at sunset

State ParkThe DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs recently honored  Indiana Dunes Tourism and the Town of Porter for leadership in connecting Indiana Dunes State Park to the South Shore commuter train station with the Dunes-Kankakee Trail.

Indiana Dunes State Park Property Manager Brandt Baughman nominated the tourism agency and the town for the award.   He wrote, “This project simply would not have been possible without the Indiana Dunes Tourism and Town of Porter partnership.  For the guidance, efforts and generosity of both of these entities, we extend our gratitude.”

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Ideas for spring break – and the upcoming summer

Indiana Dunes State Park
This is a great time of year to explore the Indiana Dunes

This is a great time of year to explore the Indiana Dunes

By Ken Kosky

Looking for spring break fun or want to get a head start on ideas for summer fun? There’s plenty to do at the Indiana Dunes and the surrounding communities – like Chesterton, Portage and Valparaiso.

Kids can become Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Junior Rangers by stopping by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, located at 1215 N. State Road 49 in Porter, where they can obtain a booklet and then go to different sites to earn their badge. Indiana Dunes State Park is also open and has a Nature Center that has cool displays and wildlife viewing.

While in Chesterton, Port Drive-In opens soon for the summer and is the place for burgers, chili dogs and root beer floats. Seven Peaks Water Park offers family excitement in the summer.

In Valparaiso, Taltree Arboretum has kicked off its Free First Tuesday program, offering free admission on the first Tuesday of every month. The arboretum, in addition to having great hiking, prairies and formal gardens, has an area of kids, animals and a nationally-renowned model railway garden which generally starts running in April. It’s a great place any day of the month.

Check out Taltree's fantastic model railway garden.

Check out Taltree’s fantastic model railway garden.

Also in Valparaiso, Hoosier Bat Company offers tours of their baseball bat making facility if you call ahead, and Inman’s Recreation Center has bowling, an arcade, billiards and – during warmer weather – outdoor attractions.  Of course, Valparaiso is also home to Zao Island and its laser tag, arcade, outdoor attractions and pizzeria.

Valparaiso is home to the Porter County Museum of History and the Valpo Fire Museum, and Valpo Velvet ice cream opens for the summer in April.

In Portage, Bass Pro Shops is really cool because of all the taxidermy. You can take the kids and see how many different animals they spot, then check out the aquariums and have lunch at Islamorada Fish Company, which is located inside the store. Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk and West Beach are two popular National Lakeshore sites in Portage. The city is also home to Portage 16 IMAX.

For more information on everything to do, read the Indiana Dunes Activities Guide.

Valpo Velvet Ice Cream was named among the state's best

Valpo Velvet Ice Cream was named among the state’s best


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Sandhill Cranes fly above the marshes

By Ken Kosky

Sandhill crane.

Sandhill crane.

The Indiana Dunes region is one of the best spots in the Midwest for birdwatching, and spring is the time of year when birders are rewarded with the biggest variety and quantity of birds.

To kick off the peak spring birding season, Indiana Dunes Tourism has launched a special birding webpage which features a list of birding hotspots, a bird tracker and a downloadable birding guide. The webpage also features information about the new Backpacks for Birders  program, which allows birders to stop by five great birding spots and use – free of charge – a backpack containing binoculars and guides.

The perfect site

Just like in real estate, good birding is all about location, location and location.

The Indiana Dunes’ location at the southern tip of Lake Michigan creates a “funnel effect,” funneling birds along the shoreline as they migrate. Birdwatching is big throughout the Indiana Dunes and in the nature sites south of the dunes.

For an avid birder like Brad Bumgardner, the best thing about working at Indiana Dunes State Park is that his binoculars never have to collect dust — even if it’s not the busy spring and fall bird migration times.

“There’s something going on every month. Any time of year, you can see something,” said Bumgardner, an interpretive naturalist for Indiana Dunes State Park.

“The Indiana Dunes, for birdwatching, is the top spot in Indiana. We’re one of the best spots on Lake Michigan and one of the top three sites in the Midwest or Great Lakes for birding.”

369 and counting

Owl at Taltree Arboretum.

Owl at Taltree Arboretum.

Bumgardner said there are at least 369 species of birds identified in the dunes area. Not only does the dunes area boast a variety of birds, but it also shows higher numbers of them than in other Midwest locations.

“People come from several states to bird the dunes,” Bumgardner said.

“We have gotten folks from all over the world.”

Indiana Dunes State Park is a popular stop for birders because it has so many habitats, so it attracts many species. He said the opening of the bird observation platform on the west side of the park is just one more way to enhance the birdwatching experience.

The park offers regularly scheduled hikes that are good for birdwatching, bird-related events and a field trip to see the tens of thousands of sandhill cranes that come to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.

“Sandhill cranes are Indiana’s claim to fame, or one of them,” Bumgardner said.

There is also plenty for birders to see at the nearby Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore sites as well, Bumgardner said.

National Lakeshore Supervisory Park Ranger Bruce Rowe said the Great Marsh Trail is a great trail for waterfowl, and Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk has become a popular spot when birds are migrating. The Heron Rookery is another great birding spot, he said.

To enhance the birding experience, Bumgardner recommends people pick up a birding field guide and Kenneth J. Brock’s book Birds of the Indiana Dunes.


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Photograph Copyright: Craig Berg