8 Reasons to Visit Indiana Dunes Country This Winter

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Located in the far northwest corner of Indiana, the Indiana Dunes Area is widely known for summertime fun with its sandy beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan. But don’t count this destination out for a winter visit. When the snow falls, the Dunes offer a new world of adventure.

“We’re a pet-friendly, family-friendly, outdoor destination,” says Dustin Ritchea, Indiana Dunes Tourism production director. “It’s worth coming back to the Dunes each season because the landscape changes so dramatically. It’s a totally different experience coming in the winter than in the summertime.”

Discover eight activities to add to your must-do list during a snowy stop at Indiana Dunes Country:

1. Indiana Dunes National Park

If skiing and snowshoeing are on your list, a stop at Indiana Dunes National Park is a must. After 53 years as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the area was designated a national park in February 2019, making it the first site in Indiana to receive this honor. Visitors can cross-country ski and snowshoe on many of the park’s trails. Stop off at the Glenwood Dunes Trail warming shelter for a quick break, then get back out on the slopes. Remember to bring your own skis!

See more: Toboggan Run at Pokagon State Park

2. Indiana Dunes State Park

Similar to the national park, Indiana Dunes State Park is another great stop for outdoor wintertime fun. Along with skiing and snowshoeing, Devil’s Slide is a sand dune that becomes a prime sledding spot in the winter. Visitors should also make a point to check out the majestic shelf ice that forms along the shores of Lake Michigan.

“It’s absolutely magical,” Ritchea says. “It looks like you’re at the Arctic. Just be sure to stay on the beach for safety.”

Ritchea also offers an insider tip for anyone looking to conquer Trail 8, which scales the three tallest sand dunes in the park: “It’s easier to do in the winter, because the sand crunches under your feet.”

3. More Outdoor Winter Fun

Photo credit: ©Journal Communications/Michael Hickey

If you’re not into skiing and snowshoeing, don’t worry. The outdoor fun at Indiana Dunes spreads far and wide. At Countryside Park in Portage, try your hand at ice fishing. Or, visit the most popular tubing and sledding hills in the region at Forest Park in Valparaiso.

4. Find Romance at a Quaint B&B

“With our close proximity to Chicago and Indianapolis, we’re a great romantic getaway destination,” Ritchea says. Specifically, Indiana Dunes Country features several affordable, inviting bed-and-breakfasts.

Riley’s Railhouse in Chesterton is a prime example. A bed-and-breakfast housed in a century-old freight depot, it offers guests a comfortable stay with a dose of history. (And it’s perfect for train-lovers!)

Songbird Prairie Bed & Breakfast in Valparaiso is another romantic stay, where each room is themed around a specific bird. Another solid option is Valparaiso Inn in downtown Valparaiso.

See more: Parke County: The Covered Bridge Capital of the World

5. Enjoy a Holiday Light Show

Each year, Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso presents a stunning holiday light show that visitors can drive through. This attraction is great for the whole family, as kids have the chance to meet Santa Claus, decorate cookies and sing holiday carols.

6. Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

To feel the holiday spirit even more, visitors can stop at one of several cut-your-own Christmas tree farms in the area. Santa’s Holiday Forest in Valparaiso invites guests to cut their own tree, and also offers wreaths and boughs. If guests need to complete some last-minute Christmas shopping, the farm has a small selection of toys and gifts available for purchase.

7. Ice Skating at William E. Urschel Pavilion

Located in the heart of downtown Valparaiso, the 12,000-square-foot open-air pavilion is converted into an ice rink in the winter with an arched roof and a state-of-the-art sound system. Guests can enjoy holiday music, colorful lights and more.

See more: It’s a Hat Trick for Indiana Hockey Teams

8. Meander Through Museums

After a day outside, spend some time indoors at one of several museums in Indiana Dunes Country. Located in Portage, the Alton Goin Museum houses cultural artifacts from the region and features the historic Trager farmhouse and outbuildings.

The award-winning Porter County Museum, or “PoCo Muse,” features artifacts that span centuries and tell the story of Porter County’s history. It’s open year round for self-guided tours.

For more information and things to do in Indiana Dunes Country, visit indianadunes.com.

Did you know?

Make the most of your visit at one of the region’s exciting events.

Mark your calendars for events happening in the Indiana Dunes region this winter:

Corkscrew & Brew in Downtown Chesterton, Nov. 7, 2020

Set in Chesterton’s Thomas Centennial Park, this festival features the best of local wineries and breweries.

Winter Lights Night Festival at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, Nov. 21, 2020

This family-friendly event includes a chance to meet Santa, a bonfire with s’mores, Christmas carols, plus the drive-thru light show at $5 per car.

Mistletoe Market in Chesterton, Dec. 5, 2020

A holiday market with several local vendors, mulled wine and fun for the whole family.

Christmas Eve Morning Stroll at Indiana Dunes State Park, Dec. 24, 2020

Enjoy the beauty of the season with a nature walk through the dune forests on Christmas Eve morning.

For the most up-to-date event information, check indianadunes.com/events. Be sure and check for last-minute changes before traveling.

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