Indiana Dunes State Park (and Campground)

Originally we were looking for a place to just stop overnight on the way out. We found this spot and it looked like fun so we decided to stay two nights so we could actually enjoy it. We happened to arrive during a heat wave, so temperatures were near 100 degrees but the water of Lake Michigan was still refreshing!

The campground had water/electric hookups and was a bargain at around $30/night. The bathhouses were what you would expect from a state park, nothing fancy but plenty of hot water.

Our Site

From the campground, there was a path where you could walk down to the beach and Lake Michigan. It was about a 1/2 mile walk, shaded until the end.

Pathway to the Beach
Lake Michigan! This was on a Friday, it was way busier on Saturday

In the back of the beach area there were some dunes the kids could climb up and slide down. Fun for kids (and Dads!)

There was also a small visitor center a short walk away from the campground. They had different programs listed and a few exhibits and small animals. From the visitors center, you could do the 3 dune challenge. It was so hot when we went that we decided to do this in the evening. This is a 1.5 mile trail to the beach that involves climbing up 3 sand dunes and 552 feet worth of climbs. The way back is .5 miles making it a 2 mile adventure. I can say that climbing up sand dunes is a lot harder then I thought!

The first sand dune is Mt Jackson at 176 feet

Top of Mt. Jackson

Then you climb Mt. Holden at 184 feet

Top of Mt. Holden

Mt. Tom is last at 192 feet. In addition to climbing the sand dunes, there is a lot of stairs to navigate (both up and down) especially towards the end.

Top of Mt. Tom
Navigating the Stairs

We timed our trip so that when we reached the beach at Lake Michigan, the sun was setting!

A short drive from the campground, you will find the main visitor center for Indiana Dunes National Park. Part of Indiana Dunes State Park had recently converted to National Park status. This is a great place for souvenirs, exhibits about the park, and to get the stamp for the kids Junior Ranger book.

C putting the stamp in her book

On our second night we decided to venture out of the campground to a town called Valparaiso, IN, about 20 minutes drive. I would highly recommend a visit, its a cute town with a walkable main street and lots of restaurants, shops, and cafes.

For dinner we visited Aftermath Cidery and Winery. They had cider flights and delicious flatbread pizza. We got the gluten free crust which was some of the best gluten free pizza crust I have had. All their crusts and breads are handmade. I loved this place!

For dessert we stopped at South Bend Chocolate Company which was full of chocolate goodies and icecream. It was a short walk down main street from the Cidery.

Although Indiana isn’t usually high on everyone’s list of places to visit, this was a great start to our trip!

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