Ideas for spring break – and the upcoming summer

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 Park 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 park 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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