Vacations are always a good idea. But then there’s the travel expenses, booking hotels, getting up and leaving your house at 2am so you don’t miss your flight at 5am, is the destination kid-friendly, and who’s going to watch the dog?
Have you considered a “staycation”? It’s a wild concept that all the cool kids are into these days. What you do is you go on vacation – close to home.
“But there’s nothing to do where I live.”
Nope, you’re wrong. There is plenty to do here along the South Shore. The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has compiled a list for you so you don’t have to do any of the legwork. It fits many different tastes so if you’re looking to take a brew tour, have a girls’ night out, take in the art scene, or something completely different, something on this list will catch your eye. All you need to do is look at the list, and then go enjoy your “staycation”.
For the Nature Lover
If you like to be outside enjoying the elements and you have an interest in animals and agriculture then Northwest Indiana is better than any far away farm destination. You can head over to Broken Wagon Bison in Hobart and get up close and personal with some bison, have an adventure down on the farm at Fair Oaks Farms Adventure Center, or take a tour of a local shrimp farm at JT Shrimp in Wheatfield.
Hungry? They don't call the Midwest the "Bread Basket" for nothing. There are amazing restaurants and food-centered festivals right here in NWI that bring people in from all over the country. Does Whiting's Pierogi Fest sound familiar? Maybe the Valparaiso Popcorn Fest? If you don't want to wait for a festival to come around then you can come on over to Albanese Candy Factory in Hobart for a really cool confectionery experience. Across the road and down the way a bit on Highway 30 is Chicagoland Popcorn if you want a delicious snack. Of course, try one of the MANY amazing restaurants that are ready to serve you like Lucrezia Ristorante in Crown Point, Industrial Revolution Eatery and Grille in Valparaiso, or Spire Farm to Fork Cuisine in La Porte - all destination restaurants in my opinion.
Indiana is a hoppin' place (hooray puns!) when it comes to craft beer and microbreweries. The SSCVA has a really cool South Shore Brewery Trail app that you can download and plan a brewery tour for yourself and your gaggle of froth-loving friends.
Indiana has so many offerings that you won't find anywhere else. The John Dillinger Museum in Crown Point, the Civil War Memorial Trail, the Shrine of Christ's Passion in St. John, the Community Veterans Memorial in Munster, and the Indiana Welcome Center's annual exhibit "A Christmas Story" Comes Home are what come to mind first, but that's really only the tip of the iceberg.
Grab your kids, grab your wife, and take to the fun attractions offered in NWI for families. A RailCats baseball game is a huge favorite in the area, the Wolf Lake Aquatic Play Center in Hammond is fun on a summer day, be a space explorer at the Challenger Learning Center, or go back in time and get a living history lesson at Buckley Homestead.
Hello, ladies (read this in the voice of the Old Spice guy, Isaiah Mustafa). There are plenty of things to do that will suit your tastes and desires. Grab your girlfriends and take a wine tour. Shady Creek Winery in Michigan City is particularly delicious, and Running Vines Winery in Valparaiso has something for every palette. If you want to shop, there is no shortage of fun and interesting stores that will welcome your patronage. 119th St. Downtown Whiting is filled with shopping opportunities as is the Historic Downtown Shopping District in Lowell. The City of Crown Point is a prime spot for antique shopping.
The South Shore is cool because as the name states, it's along the shore. We have great beaches in the Region which connect to places like Indiana Dunes State Park and Washington Park in Michigan City. Going inland, you can take to the bike paths which stretch for miles and miles across all three counties or take a hike at Taltree Arboretum and Gardens, one of the most beautiful places to observe nature.
For the Art Lovers
Art is everywhere, depending on how you view your surroundings. If you head to the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City you will be surrounded by art of all kinds. If you want performance art there are many theatres in the Region like the historic Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso and the Theatre at the Center in Munster that will fit your needs with a multitude of musical and theatrical performances.
If you want to test out the night life along the South Shore then you have no shortage of choices. Try your luck at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City or the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, take in an amazing show at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, and make it dinner and a show with the many restaurants that the South Shore boasts.
Not ready to go home? We understand, and we welcome you to stay longer. If you stay at the many hotels that are along the South Shore, you might find the accommodations pleasing and much more reasonably priced than the hotels in Chicago. And don't forget that there is great camping here. So whether you stay in a tent or in a RV, chill out for a while at places like Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp Resort or Indiana Dunes State Park Campground.
If you want to find even more things to do visit the SSCVA's website!