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Spotlight: NW Hoosier Country

From big-time dunes to small-town dining, this slice of Indiana has it all

When it is time for Illinois and Michigan to play, Northwest Hoosier Country is the place to be. Indeed, this swath of land on the shore of Lake Michigan is a hot spot for travelers seeking fun and Midwestern charm.

Start at the Indiana Dunes, which has more than 70 miles of trails, from hikes up 40-degree sloping dunes to rambles through bogs speckled with tamaracks and white pines. The outdoor playground continues beyond the breezes of Lake Michigan. Broken Wagon Bison in Hobart, with ample RV parking, runs wagon tours out to meet more than 70 of America’s largest land mammals. At Pinhook Bog, a floating boardwalk snakes through blueberry bushes and sphagnum mosses.

Wander Along the Water

On Lake Michigan, Dunn’s Bridge County Park offers boat and kayak access to the Kankakee River. Local legend maintains that the steel for the arches of Dunn’s Bridge was salvaged from the world’s first Ferris wheel, which debuted at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In Hammond, Wolf Lake, often visited by Abraham Lincoln, is one of America’s best windsurfing lakes. The canopy of the Pavilion at Wolf Lake Memorial Park is inspired by the creations of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Check out Burns Harbor for more fun on the water.

At Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in Valparaiso, formal gardens have been carved out of ancient prairie with 3 miles of delightful trails. The showstopper is the Railway Garden, where model trains steam across handmade wooden trestles.



Good Times in Small Towns

The small towns of Hoosier Country by the Great Lakes are content to let the hurried pace of notoriety shine elsewhere. The classic Midwestern downtown streetscape of Chesterton attracts artists whose work graces the Chesterton Art Center. Porter, located on the Little Calumet River, is known for its abundance of restaurants.

Northwest Hoosier Country also dishes out the big-city amenities. Hammond, the region’s major city, once fielded teams in both the National Football League and the National Basketball League. The town’s gangsters were big-league as well—you can learn about Hoosier native and the original FBI “Public Enemy No. 1,” John Dillinger at his own museum in the Indiana Welcome Center.

On Lake Michigan, board the Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago, a floating casino that keeps the action going with 56,000 square feet of gaming. Try your luck with 1,700 slot machines and close to 60 table games. Stay the night at the 288-room hotel on board. In Michigan City’s marina, the Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa boards 24 hours a day and reserves 10,000 square feet for a luxury spa.

And save a bit of that flavored oil for the perfect popcorn. Native Hoosier Orville Redenbacher bought his first corn seed plant near Valparaiso in the 1950s, and the city has been saluting the man who made horn-rimmed glasses and bow ties trendy since 1979. The Popcorn Festival has expanded into a weeklong procession of events each September. And while you are in town, stop by and visit the Hoosier Bat Company for a tour of the nation’s third-oldest baseball bat manufacturer.

For More Information

South Shore CVA
Indiana Office of Tourism Development