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“The "Ocean" of the Midwest”

Indiana Dunes State Park
Ranked #1 of 19 things to do in Chesterton
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Indiana Dunes State Park consists of 2,182 acres of primitive, beautiful, historic and unique Hoosier landscape. It lies at the north end of State Road 49 in Porter County, and includes more than three miles of beautiful beach along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. In the early 1900s scientists, recreationists and nature enthusiasts, recognizing the value and potential of the Indiana dunes area, fought to have the region preserved. As a result, in 1925, the state park was established.Large sand dunes, located beyond the entire shoreline, have taken thousands of years to form, and tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan. A wide range of habitats and plant species are found in the park, with vegetation stabilizing some of the sand. These habitats provide homes for many types of plants and animals. The lake also provides habitat for many aquatic species, as well as a constantly changing fishery.Indiana Dunes State Park features a wide variety of habitats, including beach, sand dunes, black oak forest, wooded wetlands, and a button-bush marsh. Together, these areas contain some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the Midwest. Botanists from across the country enjoy studying the unusual collection of plant life. Other interesting features include “tree graveyards” (places where forests have been buried by sand and then, more recently, re-exposed by wind erosion). “Tree graveyards” can be seen in Big Blowout, near Trail 10. The Indiana Dunes area also is renowned throughout the Midwest for its birding. Visit the Nature Center to ask about good birding locations.Indiana Dunes State Park is surrounded by Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a federally administered park comprising approximately 15,000 acres.
Reviewed March 27, 2012

Several years ago some friends told us of the great time they had visiting the Indiana Dunes Area. Being from the Midwest i filed it in the back of my head, on the list of umm..maybe someday. This past week, looking for a quick get away I decided to give it a try, and am so glad we did..sorry that we never went sooner.

The Dunes are amazing! It was evident as soon as we got to the area, every person we encountered was friendly, helpful and just treated you like a friend. We went first to the visitor center, where we were told where to go for the absolute best view..Mt Baldy. Being our first time, we took the hard way and traversed the sand trail to the summit, very hard....but well worth it!. The view of Lake Michigan from the top is better than anything I ever encountered on either cost. Miles of pristine sand and crystal blue waters as far as the eye can see! The Beaches are natural and unspoiled, there are no giant Hotels and swarms of people dotting the shoreline, just nature and a smattering of other nature lovers! We went to The Indiana Dunes State Park Main Beach, The Beverly Shores Beach and Mt. Baldy, each one was just as beautiful as the last. I was glad to see that there is simple Beach access at all, since one time climbing the Dune itself was enough!

Besides the amazing beaches the area has restaurants galore. We had just a short trip so only tried one, Wagoners Ribs, which was amazing. We do have several others on our "next time", list.

There are plenty of quaint shops in the towns surrounding the Dunes area, antique shops are everywhere! For those wanting a more urban shopping experience there is a great outlet mall in Michigan City as well as all the "regulars", Target, Kohls, Walmart etc.. Personally we didn't go to any chain, restaurant, store etc, as we can do these anytime and wanted more the local flavor.

The area also has historical sites, art galleries, dinner shows etc. The only drawback that I found is there is no central "strip" type of location in any of the towns that we saw. Because of this driving is a necessity. We were there in the off season however so maybe there are more "touristy" friendly set ups come summer. I do know that the town of Chesterton has a European style Market, every Saturday, beginning in May..so we are anxious to go back and see that.

The hotel that we stayed at(covered under separate review) SpringHouse Inn, was wonderful! Beautiful older Hotel, clean comfortable room, free Breakfast, central location and wonderful staff! The price was a can't be beat 50.00, we will definitely be back!

Overall it was a great experience, reminiscent of the type of resort community seen in movies like "Dirty Dancing", I am sure we will visit for many years to come. As a Midwesterner, I am glad I can now visit the "ocean" in Indiana Dunes, the "Mountains" and "Vegas" in Branson Mo and the Ozarks, and I have just been informed that the "Dunns River falls, Jamaica" clone is right in Kentucky. Cahokia mounds in Illinois, is close to Mayan ruins ...All this with no passport, no TSA, no long travel line and less than a tank of gas away! We are truly America the Beautiful.

9  Thank aby61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"nature center"
in 74 reviews
"indiana dunes"
in 59 reviews
"dune challenge"
in 70 reviews
"visitor center"
in 41 reviews
"nice beach"
in 23 reviews
"great lakes"
in 8 reviews
"life guards"
in 15 reviews
"beach house"
in 8 reviews
"chicago skyline"
in 30 reviews
"bird watching"
in 11 reviews
"hiking trails"
in 24 reviews
"bath house"
in 14 reviews
"soft sand"
in 10 reviews
"entry fee"
in 9 reviews
"food vendors"
in 7 reviews
"main beach"
in 7 reviews
"west beach"
in 13 reviews

676 - 680 of 718 reviews

Reviewed March 20, 2012

It can get crowded but if you are a beach person you will enjoy. If your not a beach person there are still neat things to do. The scenery is excellent if look for it, walk up Mt. Baldy(the highest sand hill) and you will find some nice picture opportunities. On a clear day you can see the Chicago skyline across Lake Michigan. This isn't your normal flat Indiana and it's kind of unique. It's a place where people from other states might say, " wow, I didn't know there was anything like this in Indiana!"

Thank terrsall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 11, 2012

This is a hidden, well kept secret of the great lakes. If you enjoy being one with nature, you will find plenty of it here. If you like hiking, give this area a try. Generally busy in summer months, especially on the weekends but if you want less people come early to mid-week and enjoy!

2  Thank Nancy N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 7, 2012

I'm going to focus on the Indiana Dunes State Park, which is a three-mile park situated within the far larger Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. First, the National Lakeshore has many great hiking trails that would take days to fully explore, stretching from Miller Beach on the east side of Gary on the west to the huge Mount Baldy sand dune at the western edge of Michigan City.

The State Park offers some of the most dramatically beautiful hiking trails I've ever witnessed. While the traditional marked trails in the woods or along the beach are the most taken, it's the trails up on the ridge lines that provide killer views of Lake Michigan and also offer some of the most serene sights in America.

From the main entrance to the State Park, (there is an entrance fee), walk along the beach 20-30 minutes east and then climb atop the dunes, where you can follow along for quite some distance before you have to come down because the trail discontinues. The views are exquisite of the blue water below.

However, if you want the most sublime views, go to Kemil Road at the eastern boundary of the State Park and park in the National Lakeshore parking lot, (which is free), about a quarter mile from the water on Kemil. You'll walk Kemil along the fence closing off the State Park and enter when you get to the lake. Walk west about ten minutes along the lake and then climb up on the dunes. There is a path that follows the crest of the dunes around a number of blowouts, which is where the wind eventually pushed the dunes far away from the lake. The view from atop the further recesses of these big blowouts, over the rolling smaller dunes heading towards the lake and culminating with the crystal blue backdrop of Lake Michigan is the stuff of poetry on a clear, sunny day. You can walk for well over an hour from this direction. You can also do the same thing from the west, but you have to walk about 90 minutes from the State Park pavilion before you get to the eastern trail ridge atop the dunes.

The views from atop either of the ridge lines (but particularly from the east entrance off Kemil Road) are mind boggling. That we can have such beauty so near the industrial crescent to the west and the sprawl of Michigan City to the east is a true blessing.

7  Thank Michael B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 4, 2012

Beautiful nature site, miles of trails and great views of Lake Michigan

This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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