Indiana Tourism Executive Director Mark Newman Talks Northern Indiana

What can people expect to find in Northern Indiana?

visit-indiana-1-rotMark Newman: Northern Indiana is home to the largest tourism attraction in our state: the dunes. It attracts roughly three million people a year. Everything sort of emanates from the dunes because the experiences the people are able to have once they've come to Northern Indiana and have that dunes experience they can have a truly fulfilling experience beyond it. Some of my favorite things, I love Talltree Arboretum, and I love the Songbird Bed and Breakfast.

As I was driving over here I went passed Strongbows. Last week we did a TV segment, and we featured Strongbow’s turkey potpie. I think that's a destination restaurant because people know about it outside of the region. It's one of the signature foods of Northern Indiana, but there are many iconic images that appear such as the lighthouse in Michigan City particularly with a setting sun.

There are far few more beautiful sites than seeing that, or seeing a setting sun over the dunes in general. Triumph Farms is another great destination. I brought my family up there a few years ago and we stayed at the inn, but I love what was taking place there as sort of a free-ranging environment. This was at a time when free range was just gaining its popularity. I was in Crown Point just a few weeks ago. That's one of those idyllic Courthouse Square communities in Indiana. I mean it's a movie set, and it was a movie set.

It's really just a cool place to go, and you have good feelings when you go in there and you experience it. As I'm driving around Valpo I'm thinking that there's a cornucopia things to do here, but I don't have enough time to get out and walk around and explore it. You don't find as idyllic a main street setting like you do here, or like you do in Lake County.

Marquette Park in Miller Beach in Lake County is one of those things that you would never expect to find such a gorgeous setting. What's so special in my mind about that is sure you could have a great beach front experience, but if you're a bird watcher, just the migration of all these multiple species of birds that are traveling in the spring and in the fall from south to north, or north to south.

If you're into bird watching, there's no better place to go. There's a ton of stuff up here, and as I travel further east to go into Steuben County in the lakes country if outdoor recreation is your thing. I was taken aback the first time I visited Lake James and I saw the variety of activities happening, and the beautiful homes along the water. You've got this incredible little enclave of homes and people who are water skiing, tubing, or windsurfing.

All this stuff is happening around this beautiful huge tree-lined lake. You can also come back up in the wintertime and you can actually go tobogganing in the frozen toboggan sled runs. There's a ton of stuff to do up here, and things I love to be able to talk about because when we talk about them, few people know that it's going on and they don't expect it. In much the same way they don't expect that you can have an incredible scuba diving experience in Indiana waters of Lake Michigan.

If you're a hearty enough personality and you like to surf, you surf the whitewater of Lake Michigan in the Indiana part in the wintertime. I've got pictures of a guy who's in a wetsuit and he's got icicles frozen on his beard because he just come out of the water after hitting some great waves. I mean there’s some cool stuff that you don’t really come to expect.

Where can people find more information about Indiana Tourism?

MN: We maintain a Facebook page. We've developed a pretty strong Facebook community. We’ve also have a really strong Twitter community. When I leave here I'll be Tweeting about my experience in Valpo. The travel guide is a great way to do it. We've also developed a tablet version as well. You can download our travel app called “Travel Indiana.”

The other thing is using our website where you can actually do trip planning if you have an interest in seeing other parts in Indiana. We will actually help you construct your ideal Indiana trip. We will be on billboards, television, print, and on radio.

Our objective is to pull this blanket of the state of Indiana and truly promote this asset and everything that we have to offer in the way that it should be.