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:
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.