Exploring Porter County, Indiana – Scavenger Hunt Style

You’ll remember that last week I wrote about our first day in Porter County, Indiana which houses the Indiana Dunes. That was our first day, and our only beach day, but we found so much more when we got into our car and decided to find all of the photo stops in the visitors guide that we picked up from the Indiana Dunes Visitors Center. I told you the importance of that one stop, but this was an unexpected perk. Finding spots around the county to take photos of. The photos weren’t close together either. We spent quite a bit of time in our car, and on some state roads, but we had a BLAST and would LOVE to do it again. 

The six pictures we were supposed to get were of: 

  1. Howie the Cow
  2. Orville Redenbacher Statue
  3. Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper statues
  4. Zao Island’s Dragon
  5. Dunn’s Bridge
  6. Bass Pro Shops – yes, the sporting store is chock full of photography opportunities. You’d be surprised at how long you can stay in this store and take photos. Just trust me. 

The photo that I’m most proud of snagging is the one of the Dunn’s Bridge. I had to take the kids on an adventure of sorts to Kouts, Indiana on back roads. We saw cows, lots of corn, soybeans (I think) and houses sprinkled here and there. I admitted to them that I was a bit afraid of getting lost and driving without GPS, but Lil Miss assured me that going on an “adventure” would make us better! Glad that I listened to her. The bridge was over the Kankakee river, and in the perfect spot for a quiet time of reflection, or a dip. As we were leaving, another family drove up donning their swimwear, and chatted me up about the best times to visit. THIS is the type of thing that I live for when I travel. Talking with locals, and seeing things from their point of view. Listening to them talk about summers spent splashing in the river, and the lore of the bridge – it’s said to be built from the Ferris Wheel steel of World’s Fair fame – is fascinating. Those weren’t the only photo worthy places in the county. Valparaiso University has some WOW worthy buildings, and if you can fit a stop into your visit, I highly suggest it. You can also visit the art center and take a gander. 

Our last two days weren’t without amazing food. We stopped at three restaurants suggested in our visitors guide; Musashi Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Third Coast Spice Cafe and Valpo Velvet Ice Cream. At Musashi, we all enjoyed various types of sushi rolls, and the kids LOVED that the waitstaff did NOT ask them if they knew that sushi came with raw fish (listen up fellow sushi bars in Chicago!) I was surprised that this was something that they got tired of hearing because “MOM, we KNOW that sushi has raw fish! Why do they keep asking us?!” Third Coast Spice Cafe offered us great options for breakfast, and Lil Miss was also happy that they were more than happy to serve her egg sunny side up. It’s her favorite way to eat them, and I’m happy that she was all smiles that morning. Valpo Velvet was the restaurant that we had to wait a while to get into. That was mostly because of the torrential rain that came down on our second day there. It was marvelous to behold, and came right after playing in the ValPLAYso Park. We ordered sandwiches and fries to go with our ice cream shakes and floats, and the kids were taken aback by the rainbow bread that their sandwiches came nestled in between. Overall, the bread didn’t taste any different than normal, it was just fun. The shop is also covered in quotes and poetry in regard to being a better human – even the bathrooms. It made me quite happy to read. 

As stated above, we enjoyed a long afternoon at the ValPLAYso Park, with my friend Sheena. She and her children suggested that we spend some time there, and it was great! So many great things to do, even in the heat – and that didn’t bother the littles. I did have ice cold water available, and she had cold snacks for everyone. 

Things to do in Porter County, Indiana
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I’m pretty certain that they deepened those wonderfully mocha hues by two shades in this park. I’m also pretty sure they had some of the best fun there with the kids of one of my good friends. It also led to one of the most talked about days out and about that we’ve had in a long time. I loved learning about the reason behind the park – volunteers built the entire space, and so many donations allowed for it – and the kids just loved exploring every inch of it. 

On our last day in Porter County, we explored more of the dune areas that weren’t beaches. So many trails to hike, and homestead areas to see. We did end up stopping by the Chellberg Farm, which is a working farm, and we were all in homestead heaven! We saw a cow, a yard of chickens, and the farmhouse which is open on the weekends.  The kids enjoyed identifying all of the different breeds of chickens, and walking around a farm that they thought we should move to. There were trails that ran right behind Chellberg and would have taken us to the Baily Homestead, but we weren’t dressed for a hike in general. That was completely my fault. We also drove through the back roads of the dunes, and saw a raccoon family, proving that nature is always active if you’re in the right spot. 

Given that Porter County, Indiana is less than an hour from my house to theirs, I’m sure we’ll be taking quite a few day trips here to really see everything that we missed. I know that the locals state that you should stay away during big holidays – think Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day – but there is still plenty to do, and ROOM to do it during the day if you can take a bit of time off. If you can’t, the weekend offers a lot more things to do as far as tours go, because that’s when the influx of visitors come in. If you can build an extra bit of time to accommodate traffic and waiting times, the payoff will be great. Make sure to head to the visitors website to plan your trip, or drop your questions here, and I’ll do my best to answer! 

Thank you to Visit Indiana Dunes for hosting us in exchange for our honest opinions. 

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  • Reply
    Ladonna Maxwell Dennis
    June 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Thank you for a great informative post! The Valpo Velvet Ice Cream place sounds like it had to be so good. I love the picture of your daughter and also the great shot of the chickens. I enjoyed reading it all.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Looks like a fun place with something for everyone. My kids love to get photos with statues!

  • Reply
    Desiree Lopez
    June 27, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    I think that Chellberg Farm sounds like an interesting place to visit. I always dream of having a farm so it would be exciting to see a functioning homestead. Your kids definitely look happy in all your pictures. Glad everyone had a good time!

  • Reply
    Adelina Priddis
    June 28, 2017 at 6:18 am

    OK ,first I want to say what an adorable family you have! You’re kids are just shining with happiness in all of these photos. I’ve been up to the Dunes once since we lived in Indiana, but I’ve apparently missed quite a bit! I see we’ll have to take another trip up that way soon.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2017 at 6:23 am

    That is so fun! A travel scavenger hunt sounds like a great way to have fun as a family and get the kids really involved in the trip. I love it.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Wow, look like you guys had a great time! Love your pictures, so priceless!! I think my kids would love to do something like this, I’ve never heard of a travel scavenger hunt before. So cool, great family trip!

  • Reply
    Let's Talk About My Soul - Kia Soul Turbo #KiaMom #KiaFamily #TheNewKia #Ad | Houseful Of Nicholes
    August 9, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    […] did it though, and found this AMAZING bridge in Porter County, Indiana! You can read about it >here< and check out all of the other spots we saw in that area. After exploring the city, we took a […]

  • Reply
    Let's Talk About My Soul - Kia Soul Turbo | Houseful Of Nicholes
    August 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    […] did it though, and found this AMAZING bridge in Porter County, Indiana! You can read about it >here< and check out all of the other spots we saw in that area. After exploring the city, we took a […]

  • Reply
    Crystal Nicole
    January 5, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Looks like fun for the whole family! I’ll definitely have to check this out!

  • Reply
    Tanay Michele
    January 5, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    This looks like so much fun! I know the weather is probably crazy there right now but definitely will look into it for the spring/summer. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    That is a very smart way to travel with the littles. They had fun and learn some lessons as well.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    This looks like so much fun! And I don’t think its far from me too! I would love to meet you all or something in the summer! I have never spent time in Indiana but it looks like a fun time! I was just telling my husband I want to do more road trips so I think this one would be fun! I have a cousin that I want to visit in Indiana so this is definitely on my list!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    I love a good scavenger hunt and it looks like you guys has a great time.

  • Reply
    Tiffany Haywood
    January 7, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    What an absolutely fun way to explore a city! I love it and may need to take this idea to get my kiddies a bit more excited about exploring the world around us.

  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    January 7, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    A picture scavenger hunt sounds like a lot of fun. I need to try that the next time I’m exploring a new area. I love that your kid was so reassuring about y’alls journey. Sometimes they flip the script on us and do the parenting.

    • Reply
      Natasha Nicholes
      January 8, 2018 at 8:40 am

      My youngest daughter is DEFINITELY great at reassuring me of moving forward. Her twin brother is always available for hugs and a hearty “you can do it, mommy!” and it always makes me feel good.

  • Reply
    Joyce Brewer
    January 8, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Love this look at how a short ride away from everyday life can expose us to something new.
    And seeing children outdoors make my heart happy.

  • Reply
    Tiffany H.
    January 8, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    I loved this, I have never done a road trip and stopped at various sights. I’ve road tripped to Louisiana from California but we didn’t stop along the way. I would love to do a scavenger hunt of some sort, stopping along the way of most iconic places to see. The kids look like they had a blast. You a certainly brave because I cant go anywhere with out my GPS System.

  • Reply
    January 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    So this sounds like fun. I haven’t been on a scavenger hunt in years!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    This is a great post. Your photos are amazing. It sounds like you and your family had a fantastic time. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Reply
    Elle (CleverlyChanging)
    January 10, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    I can’t wait until the weather gets a little warmer so my girls and I can make some trips outside of our community. It looks like your kids had a ball on this adventure. I love the shot of your son feeding the chickens.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    I’ve never heard of Porter County, Indiana. My maiden name is Porter. It looks like you all had a good time exploring and eating. That sushi looks so good! My daughter would love that rainbow grilled cheese.

  • Reply
    Route 66: Oklahoma Winds Sweeping Through Plains #TrippinWithFamily
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