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:
- Howie the Cow
- Orville Redenbacher Statue
- Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper statues
- Zao Island’s Dragon
- Dunn’s Bridge
- 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.
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.