It’s that time of year again when spring turns to summer and families and friends hit the road. If your destination is along the South Shore then look no further than the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (SSCVA). They’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do this time of year and whether you’re with a few friends or the entire family, there are always a ton of great things going on right here in Northwest Indiana.
Take a look at our top pics, with help from the SSCVA:
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park are a nature lover's paradise that attract more than 4 million guests each year! Starting in Gary, Indiana and stretching east along the southern shores of Lake Michigan for 25 miles, the parks are a popular destination. The Indiana Dunes offers a wide variety of summertime activities for friends and families to enjoy including more than 15,000 acres of dunes, oak savannas, swamps, bogs, marshes, prairies, rivers and forests.
Both the National Lakeshore and Dunes State Park contain a variety of different habitats and is home to more than 350 species of birds and 1,100 flowering plant species and ferns. It’s the perfect place to bird watch or explore nature's beauty. Explore Cowles Bog, Long Lake, Mount Tom, Inland Marsh or Miller Woods to discover these amazing habitats and the plant and animal life that they sustain.
Deep River Waterpark
Deep River Waterpark is the place to go to beat the heat this summer. Deep River is the Midwest’s favorite and the Chicagoland’s largest waterpark. Their variety of attractions is suited for all ages and intensity levels, from smooth flowing rides to faster, more intense slides that reach near free-fall.
Hiking and Biking Trails
You can find over 125 miles of walking and biking trails in Northwest Indiana and into Eastern Illinois. The diverse landscape that makes up the South Shore is on display throughout the trail systems of the region, some of which run along abandoned railroad tracks. You can request a map by calling 800-ALL-LAKE or stop by the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park also offer more than 60 miles of trails for hikers that range from rugged to easy. The trails vary from a half mile to up to 10 miles long and are the ideal way to experience the Dunes.
South Shore Brewery & Winery Trails
Your glass need never be empty along the South Shore. With the South Shore Brewery Trail App you can find out where to go for all the best craft beer Northwest Indiana has to offer, and hop on the South Shore Brew Bus with some friends to tour some of the region’s best brewers.
For those with a more refined palette, the South Shore Winery Trail is your ticket to finding the South Shore’s best reds and whites produced right here in Northwest Indiana. Chesterton’s Running Vines, Valparaiso’s Aftermath Cidery and Winery, and Michigan City’s Shady Creek Winery are just a few of the wineries that the region has to offer.
The South Shore has some of the most exciting casinos in the Midwest, all located on beautiful Lake Michigan. Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City is a fantastic place to try your luck, along with Horseshoe Casino Hammond, Ameristar Casino East Chicago, Majestic Star Casinos and Hotel in Gary. These entertaining locations are open 24 hours a day and, to go with the thousands of slots and table games featured, they have live entertainment, upscale dining and special events year-round.
Drive-In’s and Movies in the Park
Movie lovers have a variety of different ways to experience the ‘Big Screen” along the South Shore. The 49er Drive-In, located just off Hwy. 49 in Valparaiso, is a chance to step back in time for the whole family and see one of USA Today’s Top-10 Drive-In’s.
Over the last several years, during the summer months many of the region’s communities host free movies in the park nights where communities, including Valparaiso, Chesterton, DeMotte and Schererville, gather with their lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy new and old flicks alike.
You can find dozens of first-rate golf courses along the South Shore. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can test your skills on the course at one of the Region’s many challenging locations. You can make it a family trip or hit the links with a buddy at Briar Leaf Golf Club in La Porte, Lost Marsh Golf Course in Hammond, or Turkey Creek Golf Course in Merrillville.
The South Shore is home to some of the most unique and memorable fests around. Whether you love the food or the thrill of exciting rides, it's all here along the South Shore.
Live to eat rather than eat to live? Then Pierogi Fest® in Whiting is a must! With more food vendors than the Taste of Chicago, you will be sure to find something to satisfy every craving during the three-day fest.
Check out Hammond's five day Festival of the Lakes if you love live music. Different genres of music are showcased for free every night by well-known musical acts. Schererville’s Corn Roast and Valparaiso’s Popcorn Festival are also some of the Region’s most exciting and enjoyable festivals that draw thousands to Northwest Indiana each year.
If you’re looking for a fun, adventurous place to take the kids along the South Shore then Bellaboo's Play and Discovery Center at Three Rivers County Park is the ideal location. They offer an exciting and educational day of fun for kids from infant to age 9 featuring hands-on activities that will keep children entertained for hours on end.
Fair Oaks Farms offers exciting events for kids of all ages with their The Dairy Adventure, The Pig Adventure and Mooville, an outdoor adventure. Kids can also Climb Udder Heights which is a 25ft Milk Bottle, ride the train or navigate the “String Cheese” maze.
Arts & Culture
The South Shore is an area rich with art and culture and the South Shore Arts' galleries and the Lubeznik Center for the Arts host regular exhibits from local, national and international artisans. A stroll through one of the many downtowns will uncover smaller art galleries, public art exhibits and community art projects.
Take a walk through the Region’s past by visiting Buckley Homestead, Chellberg Farm, Bailly Homestead or Barker Mansion. These historic attractions give you the chance to see what life was like erstwhile along the South Shore.