The Ultimate Indiana Dunes Bucket List
At Expedia Viewfinder, we’re huge advocates of bucket lists, so we partnered up with our friends at Indiana Dunes Tourism to build our own agenda filled with the best things to do in the Indiana Dunes. From tackling The 3 Dune Challenge to visiting Chesterton’s European Market, we complied the top ways to experience the Indiana Dunes before you kick the bucket.
Hike Indiana Dunes State Park
Knocking out a hike or two at Indiana Dunes State Park is at the top of our bucket list. This park features trails of varying lengths and inclines to accommodate any fitness level. Trail #7 provides a moderate trek, suitable for the whole family. It’s just over a mile long, with a path that winds from the nature center to the beach through an oak forest. For a more challenging hike, try Trail #10, which is a 5.5-mile course through a tree graveyard.
Crush the 3 Dune Challenge
After taking on some of the milder hikes, it’s time to brave The 3 Dune Challenge. The mother of all trails in the Indiana Dunes State Park, this course includes a 1.5-mile trek up and down three of the steepest dunes in the park: Mount Tom, Mount Jackson, and Mount Holden. Together, these dunes are known as The Tremonts, and they provide a serious workout with 40-degree inclines and sandy slopes. While the ultra-athletic can tackle the course in 15 minutes, most visitors spend at least an hour hiking the course and soaking up the coastal views along the way.
Shop at Chesterton’s European Market
Just minutes from the Indiana Dunes, the town of Chesterton is a charming retreat and home to the weekly Chesterton’s European Market. Every Saturday between May and October, Chesterton comes alive with a vibrant market designed after the French outdoor markets. Some of the most popular vendors sell rare books, spicy homemade salsas, pottery, farm-fresh eggs, and even artisan desserts. Along with plenty of shopping, Chesterton’s European Market also boasts live music from the area’s best musicians.
Head to the Lake Michigan Beaches
Lake Michigan’s lapping waves and sandy shoreline make the Indiana Dunes a must-visit beach destination, perfect for swimming, surfing, kayaking, building sandcastles, or simply soaking up the sun. Accomplish this bucket list item with a jaunt to Cowles Bog or Dunbar Beach. Venture to West Beach for an inviting spot with a rustic wooden boardwalk, or cast a line at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk for an afternoon of fishing and birdwatching.
Give in to Valpo Velvet Ice Cream
A stop at Valpo Velvet Ice Cream is easily the simplest, and yummiest, bucket list item to achieve. Indulge in a scoop of Country Pumpkin ice cream or a hand-dipped frozen banana, while getting a taste of Indiana history. In 1947, the Brown family purchased Valparaiso Home Ice Company, and began serving up their treasured ice cream recipes. Considered “Swiss gourmet,” the family-run business serves up creamy sweets, inspired by the family’s past as dairy farmers in Switzerland.
On your next trip to the Indiana Dunes, get the full experience as you challenge yourself with this mini-bucket list. Check out the beaches, nosh on ice cream, and revel in the sense of accomplishment as you check off each item.
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Expedia Staff Writer