In Travel & Visitors Guide

The Indiana Dunes are located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, just southeast of Chicago.

Indiana Dunes offer a new perspective on a familiar friend

You've been to Bradford Beach, you've walked the dunes at Kohler-Andrae, you've camped at Harrington Beach and you've done Door County to death, but you still want a Lake Michigan outdoor adventure. Why not head south and check out the beautiful Indiana Dunes?

Just past Chicago, along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes State Park is located in the larger Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

While there's no admission fee to the National Lakeshore, there is a daily user fee for the state park, but it's just $12 for out-of-state cars.

Here are five great reasons to check it out.

1. Lake Michigan

Not only can you get a new perspective on a familiar friend, you can rent boats and jet skis at Marina Shores in Portage, as well as kayaks and canoes at Miller's Marine in Portage. Stoke Riders in Porter rents paddleboards, skimboards and kiteboards, too. Wanna really dive into Lake Michigan? runs dives down to a 1922 shipwreck located near the state park.

2. Beach

The sandy shore at the state park is a great summer playground. USA Today called it one of the 10 best freshwater beaches in the country, Coastal Living Magazine named it as one of the 10 best beaches and Parents Magazine dubbed it one of the 10 best family beaches. And it's got a gorgeous 1929-30 pavilion (see below).

3. Trails

There are great hiking trails not only in the state park but throughout the entire national lakeshore area, too. If you're up for a challenge, 3 Dune Challenge. A 1.5-mile trail connects the tallest dunes – Mt. Tom (192 feet above the lake), Mt. Holden (184 feet) and Mt. Jackson (176). On the trails you'll traverse forests, beach and other lakeshore habitats.

4. Architecture

When you enter the state park, you'll pass through some lovely art deco gatehouses and then, at the beach, you'll find the stunning pavilion, which has been undergoing renovations recently.

During the season, the brick building is open, offering snacks and restrooms. When the renovation is complete, there will also be a restaurant with rooftop dining, a banquet space, programming and exhibits on history, too.

Don't forget to drive east out of the state park, too, to visit the Century of Progress homes – built as model homes for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair – along the lakefront in Beverly Shores. The homes are typically open for visits each October.

5. Camping

The state park has a campground that is a quick walk from the shore and also has access to many of the trails. It makes a great base for a dunes visit.

Information on all of this stuff and more can be found online at or in person at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, 1215 N. State Rd. 49, in Porter.


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