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Story Ideas & Media Kit

There are so many stories to tell in the Indiana Dunes area. Check out these story ideas or put together a story that interests you by talking with our Communications Director, Michelle Senderhauf.

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Destination Profile

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Where: The Indiana Dunes are along the southern shore of Lake Michigan and are primarily in Porter County, a Northwest Indiana county with a population of about 167,000. There are two cities in Porter County: Portage (pop. 37,000), and Valparaiso (the county seat, pop. 32,000). The largest town is Chesterton (pop. 13,000), and other towns include Beverly Shores, Burns Harbor, Dune Acres, Hebron, Kouts, Ogden Dunes, Porter and The Pines.

The Indiana Dunes: Indiana Dunes Lakeshore is now the nation’s 61st national park—the Indiana Dunes National Park. Within the boundaries of the 15,000-acre national park is the 2,182-acre State Park. Together, they are the Indiana Dunes, one of the most biodiverse regions in North America. The Indiana Dunes has beaches, prairies, wetlands, savannas, and forests, which are home to over 1,000 native plant species and 350 resident and migrating bird species. The dunes, which are massive hills of sand reaching nearly 200 feet in height, were formed when glaciers passed through the area over 10,000 years ago.

The Indiana Dunes is Indiana’s number one tourist destination, attracting more than three million visitors annually. As a premier family-friendly vacation getaway, it has one of the nation’s five best beaches for family fun according to Parents Magazine. Its 15 miles of beaches and over 70 miles of trails offer a wide array of opportunities for splashing and playing, as well as amazing views of Chicago’s skyline and hikes up ancient sand dunes.
The Indiana Dunes area offers many outdoor experiences, including swimming, birding, biking, camping, hiking, fishing, and other natural adventures, along with fine dining and local attractions. Its downtown communities are complete with affordable accommodations and Midwest hospitality, ensuring each getaway is a trip to remember.

  • The National Park was chosen as one of the “Top 10 Urban Escapes” by National Geographic, and Frommer’s named Indiana among the world’s top places to visit in 2020.

Distance: The Indiana Dunes are about an hour from Chicago, 2.5 hours from Indianapolis, and within driving distance of much of the Midwest. It is easily accessible by taking Interstate 65 (from the south) to either the Indiana Toll Road or Interstate 80-94 (which visitors use when coming from the east or the west), to State Road 49 North.

Weather: The average weather highs and lows, in Fahrenheit, are:
Spring: 58/35
Summer: 81/60
Autumn: 64/44
Winter: 29/10

Swimmer Safety: Indiana Dunes Tourism advises people not to swim when high waves are present. Even strong swimmers can be carried away by large waves. If a current is taking a person away from the shore, they are advised not to swim against it. Instead, swim parallel to shore until out of the current.


Learn more about the Indiana Dunes area and some of the region’s specific attractions through the materials and downloadable guides below.


Dunes 101 Video Series

This five video series follows “Ranger” Matt on an adventure through the area. The videos are posted on Indiana Dunes Tourism’s YouTube channel and blog. Each orients visitors and explores interesting facts about different aspects of the Indiana Dunes, such as the beach experience, camping, and hiking.

The 3 Dune Challenge

Challenge yourself, your friends, and your family to climb the three tallest sand dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park. The self-guided 1.5-mile challenge trail is the toughest in the area, with 552 vertical feet to climb. The reward: breathtaking views and the title of dunes conqueror. Start your adventure at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center.

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Outdoor Adventures


Whether your passion is mountain biking, BMX stunts, or leisure touring, the Indiana Dunes area has a biking experience for you. There are nearly 40 miles of trails in the National Park alone, offering a range of remarkable views of Lake Michigan or rough and ready mountain bike experiences. With the new South Shore Bikes on Trains program, it’s never been easier to ride your bike to and from the Indiana Dunes area, Chicago, and South Bend.

This year, Indiana Dunes Tourism will be rolling out a new bike tour through the Indiana Dunes area.

Creekside Park has a new intermediate-level mountain biking trail inside of a multi-use trail system with over five miles of soft surface corridors for biking, hiking, and walking.
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Enthusiasts who bird the world have been known to call the Indiana Dunes the “crème de la crème.” Due to Lake Michigan, more than 350 bird species live or migrate through the area, resulting in spectacular migrations that let you see thousands of Sandhill Cranes in a single fall day or hundreds of hawks soaring over the dunes in the spring.
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The Indiana Dunes area offers great angling all year long. The area is home to sports fishing, great stream and river fishing, and plenty of dock and small lakes fishing. There’s ice fishing in winter, and it’s one of the few places in the world where you can fish for steelhead year-round, catch salmon in spring and fall, and still land a perch, trout, or sunfish for dinner.
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Hiking in the Indiana Dunes area offers everything from a stroll in one of six botanic gardens/arboretums to a 15-mile trek along the dunes beach. More than 70 miles of hiking trails offer a variety of experiences from improved paths to natural sand trails. Hiking the Indiana Dunes area is an ideal way to experience a truly diverse natural habitat.
Trail 9: this State Park trail was named one of the best scenic hiking trails in Indiana by USA Today.
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Culinary Tour

Our adventures aren’t limited to the outdoors. Lead your taste buds on an epic-urian journey through our region’s leading restaurants as discovered by the editors of Midwest Living.
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International Campaign

Indiana Dunes Tourism launched an international campaign in both France and Germany. The organization also offers 12 translated foreign language guides for international guests. Over the past few years, the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center has had over 100,000 visitors from all 50 states and over 50 international countries annually.


The Indiana Dunes is a pet-friendly destination, and leashed pets are allowed on trails at the State Park and National Park except for Glenwood Trail and Pinhook Bog. Restaurants, accommodations, and retail stores are also opening their doors to these four-legged, leashed travelers.

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Fun Facts

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  1. Littleville: Chesterton was once home to “Littleville,” a “town” of more than 125 miniature buildings. During its heyday in the 1930s, it attracted 110,000 visitors a year from as far away as Japan. It closed when World War II broke out.
  2. A taste of Europe: Chesterton’s European Market, open Saturdays from spring to fall, is an open-air downtown market selling everything from local produce, honey and shrimp to jewelry and art.
  3. Can you guess the most popular flavor? Although Valpo Velvet Ice Cream Shoppe in Valparaiso makes 65 to 70 different flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet, vanilla remains the most popular by far.
  4. Going batty for bats: A small baseball bat manufacturer in Valparaiso — Hoosier Bat Company—is actually the third oldest bat company in the nation, making 35,000 bats annually for players in Little League up to the major leagues.
  5. Now that’s a model train: At Gabis Arboretum in Valparaiso, their model railway garden features wonderful waterfalls, elaborate bridges, an impressive 14-foot change in elevation, and more than 3,500 tiny trees and bushes.
  6. Boo! The Indiana Dunes area is rich in possibly-haunted places, Legend has it that the dunes are haunted by Alice Gray, the woman who reportedly skinny-dipped in Lake Michigan and on whom the Diana of the Dunes legend is based. Ghost tours are offered by Chaos Haunted & Historical Tours.
  7. All aboard: Chesterton is home to Riley’s Railhouse, a train-themed bed & breakfast. Guests can stay in a refurbished freight station and the train cars outside the building.
  8. Made in America: Industrial Revolution restaurant in Valparaiso features life-size statues of ironworkers on the roof, inspiring quotes on the walls, and a weekly salute to a great American.
  9. Dragons and gators: Visit Zao Island amusement center for mini-golf, laser tag, go-karts, batting cages, and, if you can believe it, a three-story tall dragon and live alligators.
  10. Shop until you drop: With more than 56,000 products to choose from, shoppers at Bass Pro Shops in Portage can shop for outdoor stuff until they drop, then can dine in view of giant aquariums.
  11. That’s incredible: Visitors can walk on water at Pinhook Bog in LaPorte, thanks to a floating boardwalk. They can also see insect-eating plants and a variety of orchids.
  12. Going with the flow: A cottonwood tree possesses unique adaptive skills. When buried by blowing sand, its branches can form roots. When uncovered, its roots can form branches.
  13. Birder’s paradise: More than 350 species of birds live or migrate through the Indiana Dunes area, but the area is best known for the autumn migration of sandhill cranes. More than 10,000 can be seen at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.
  14. Behind the scenes: Request a tour at great attractions like Broken Wagon Bison in Hobart, Brown Mansion in Chesterton, and these Valparaiso sites: Memorial Opera House, Valpo Velvet Ice Cream Shoppe, Hoosier Bat Company, and the Valparaiso Fire Museum.
  15. Busy, busy: On holiday weekends, the Indiana Dunes fill up, so get there before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to avoid lines. Or better yet, escape to the dunes during the week.
  16. More than one way to enjoy dunes sites: Indiana Dunes State Park has one entrance at the north end of State Road 49, but the Indiana Dunes National Park has several entrances or “access points.”
  17. See the giant cow: Stop by Kelsey’s Steak House in Valparaiso to feast on steak and seafood, and don’t forget to get your picture taken with the giant cow statue out front.
  18. Game room: Tony’s Place in Valparaiso has a game room, but it’s not what you think. The Italian restaurant is adorned with a variety of preserved animals.
  19. Pop on in: Valparaiso’s popcorn heritage is celebrated each September with the Popcorn Festival. And year round, people can get their photo taken with a life-size statue of popcorn legend Orville Redenbacher at downtown Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza.
  20. Tallest dune? Well, if you want to climb the tallest dune in the Indiana Dunes area, go to Indiana Dunes State Park and scale 192-foot Mt. Tom.
  21. Ahead of their time: The Century of Progress Homes on Lake Michigan in Beverly Shores were originally constructed for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair to demonstrate new design and materials, and new technology like air conditioning. People can walk past the homes year round, or sign up for the annual tour in October.
  22. Food challenge: If you’re really, really hungry, we dare you to take the six-pound steak challenge at Kelsey’s Steak House or the two-pound burger challenge at Industrial Revolution in Valparaiso.
  23. Best trail in Indiana: Indiana Dunes State Park’s Trail 9 was picked by USA Today as the best hiking trail in Indiana, and it features a woods experience and a Lake Michigan view from atop a dune.
  24. Rainy day fun: If it’s raining, catch a movie at GQT Portage 16 IMAX + GDX or some of the other great indoor things to do in the Indiana Dunes area.
  25. Made in the Indiana Dunes area: Stephanie Swanson Jewelry Design in Chesterton makes and sells beach glass jewelry, and Stephanie is just one of many local artists and artisans.
  26. One of the best: Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection was named one of the 30 most beautiful college cathedrals in the world.
  27. Who’s your decorator? At Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant in Portage, real cars, motorcycles, and more are hanging from the ceiling and are otherwise displayed for a unique experience.
  28. It may be true: It has been said that sand from the Indiana Dunes area is of such quality that some of it was transported to Hawaii for use on their beaches.
  29. World’s first Ferris Wheel here? Legend has it that steel salvaged from the world’s first Ferris Wheel, which was at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, was salvaged and used to build Dunn’s Bridge in Kouts. See the bridge from Dunn’s Bridge County Park.
  30. Get your thinking cap on: Stop in the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to watch an orientation film about the dunes, to get coupons and insider information about the area, and to pick up a souvenir.
  31. Courthouse will go right here: Two men were vying to have the Porter County seat near their land, when one of them decided to donate the land to sweeten the deal. His site was chosen, and the courthouse in Valparaiso supposedly rests on that donated land.
  32. Kouts by any other name would not sound as sweet: The story goes that railroad speculators who came to the area approached the Trinkle residence, but the woman of the home was too busy making apple butter to help them. They went down the road and were helped by the Kouts family—leading to the town eventually being named for them.
  33. Isn’t that a bit harsh? Porter County Museum of History staff said that in the old days, people caught speeding on Lincolnway in Valparaiso would be jailed, sometimes overnight or longer.
  34. Interesting cemetery find: In Union Street Cemetery in Valparaiso, William Talcott’s headstone contains writing using the phonetic alphabet he invented.
  35. Oddities at the museum: The Porter County Museum of History is home to Daisy, a stuffed pet dog that belonged to a Portage family until it died in 1930. The museum also owns some bones that appear to be a half man/half primate creature. They are working to determine what it is.
  36. Undoing a good deed: Back when the roads of the Indiana Dunes were dirt, a heavy rain would turn them to mud. Notable resident Gilbert Pierce reportedly once rescued a woman trapped in the middle of mud and puddles by picking her up and carrying her to safe ground. She was apparently offended by being picked up and complained so much that Pierce picked her up and put her back where he found her.
  37. The vacation spot of a president: One of Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite hunting and fishing spots when he was president was the Kankakee River area.
  38. Famous people were there: Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera house has hosted notables such as “March King” John Philip Sousa, The Marx Brothers, and actress Beulah Bondi.
  39. Famous ski jump once graced lakeshore: In 1927, the top of the dune now known as Ski Hill Road in Ogden Dunes was billed at that time as the site of the United State’s highest ski jump. International competitions were held at that site until 1932. Three years later, the jump was dismantled and removed.
  40. Ice age relics: Mastodon remains have been found in the Indiana Dunes area, and the evidence is that either the retreating glaciers caused a flood that killed them, or a meteorite is to blame.
  41. Dividing the estate, literally: The Powell mansion in Valparaiso was cut in thirds and became three separate houses, which still stand after its owner’s death.
  42. Underground railroad site: A farm in Porter County was a stop along the underground railroad. Slaves were delivered in grain sacks, which the farmer would accept as long as the sheriff wasn’t around.


Indiana Dunes: Beaches & Beyond

Indiana Dunes Beaches and Beyond

Our destination logo. This logo identities businesses and communities throughout the Indiana Dunes area.

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Indiana Dunes Tourism

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Our organization’s logo. This is the logo of the official marketing, planning, and development organization for the Indiana Dunes area/Porter County, IN.

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Photos & Videos

Get to know the Indiana Dunes area with our collection of available videos, images, and B-roll.

Travel Blog

Define your Dunes getaway for yourself with the help of our local stories.


Additional Story Ideas

50’s Fun

The Indiana Dunes area is home to one of the last remaining drive-in movie theaters (49er Drive-in), one of the last drive-in restaurants (The Port Drive-In), and a hopping classic car and motorcycle scene—both cruise-ins and scenic drives.

Air & Water

Do the Dunes from the Air for a different vantage point, or experience the dunes and Lake Michigan from the water on your own boat, a rented boat, or with the help of a fishing charter.

Craft Brews

Check out the great—and growing—craft brewing scene.

Diverse Ecology

The Indiana Dunes is the fifth most biodiverse area among all national park units in the U.S., and it is considered the birthplace of ecology.

Family Fun

With plenty of kid-friendly attractions and restaurants, this is the place for kids to be kids.

Historical Sites

The Indiana Dunes area is home to some great historical sites, including the Porter County Museum, Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm, and even the Task Force Tips Fire Museum.


Explore the seasons in the Indiana Dunes area, including cross-country skiing and shelf ice viewing in winter, summer beach experiences, and the colors of the fall.

Sweet Treats

The Indiana Dunes area is home to the famous Valpo Velvet ice cream, as well as Designer Desserts’ mouthwatering cupcakes and many other, well, sweet places to visit.


The Indiana Dunes area is home to one of the nation’s best model railway gardens, a train-themed bed and breakfast, and other train attractions.

Unique Artistry

The Indiana Dunes area is home to great artisans, and we’ll tell you about some of the unique products that are made here.