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The Indiana Dunes Destination spans the states of Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. The largest city in the destination is Chicago, which many people often visit while in the region. Other notable cities in the destination include Michigan City, Aurora, and Gary. There are a number of different types of activities that visitors to the area can do. Some of these activities are more active, such as hiking, biking, or swimming at various state and national parks in the area. Other attractions that are more observational and informative include visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo and Alder Planetarium in Chicago or the Michigan City East Light in Michigan City. Typically a high volume of people visits the area between May and July due to the warmer temperatures and lower amounts of wind. Indiana Dunes National Park is home to a number of sand dunes that visitors can explore as well as over 1,000 species of plants and 350 different species of birds. The park itself has a number of other natural formations in addition to the dunes, including rivers, forests, prairies, and 15 miles of beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline.[3]

What Chicago is known for

While the Indiana Dunes Destination is named after the Indiana Dunes National Park, the city for which the destination is most well known is Chicago, Illinois. In Chicago, visitors can find a variety of popular attractions. One of these attractions is Millenium Park in downtown Chicago, which contains a number of sculptures and monuments such as the Millennium Monument and the Cloud Gate (also known as the Bean). Another attraction is the Alder Planetarium, which was the first planetarium built in the Western Hemisphere. Here guests can see different exhibits about the cosmos and the accomplishments of various scientists in the field. People can also visit the top of Willis Tower to see views of the city.[6]

One of the most notable places in the Indiana Dunes Destination is Lincoln Park, which is located on the north side of Chicago and comprises 1,208 acres. The park contains several monuments to famous individuals like Ulysses S. Grant and William Shakespeare, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and different community and city gardens. Lincoln Park Zoo is particularly unique in that it is one of the only free admission zoos in the United States. In total, the zoo contains over 200 species spread across 16 exhibits that guests can observe.[6] The park also has many different sports courts and fields so people can play basketball, baseball, and soccer.

For those desiring more outdoor experiences, the Indiana Dunes National Park provides trails for hiking and biking, beach access to Lake Michigan, and the opportunity to observe and explore the namesake of the park: Indiana Dunes. Some of the towns close to the national park have additional events and activities for tourists. In the town of Chesterton, people can visit the Evexia Salt Cave, which is styled after the first salt mine health resort that opened in Poland in 1839. Should tourists desire to do some shopping, Chesterton’s European Market offers various products, including handmade artwork, farm-grown produce, and clothing, among other things.[5] In nearby Michigan City, visitors can get a close look at the Michigan City East Light, which is the only functioning lighthouse in the city. The Friendship Botanical Gardens also provide another place to observe the natural flora and fauna of the Indiana Dunes Destination.[7]


Most of the geography in the Indiana Dunes Destination is flat with access to Lake Michigan from cities such as Chicago, Gary, and Michigan City. Visitors to the region are able to participate in activities on Lake Michigan, such as boating, fishing, and swimming, as well as visiting some of the beaches in cities along the lake’s shore like North Avenue Beach in Chicago proper or beaches at the Indiana Dunes National Park. The destination is more urban the closer one travels toward Chicago and becomes more agricultural to the south of the area’s boundaries.

Based on the average temperature and humidity of the area, the ideal time for many people to visit the destination is between the end of April and the beginning of July. Typically, the average temperature during this time is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest time to visit the Indiana Dunes is between June and August, where, at its highest point, the average temperature is around 86 degrees Fahrenheit. With that being said, the weather for the region varies a relatively large amount throughout the year. The region is also known for having a noticeable amount of wind, with wind speeds usually blowing between six to ten knots, which is often described as a “gentle breeze.”[4]

In the Indiana Dunes National Park, there is a wide variety of different natural formations, including dunes, swamps, forests, rivers, bogs, and others. The park itself is comprised of 15,000 acres and contains 15 miles of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Many people visit the park to make use of the beaches along the shore. A unique feature of the park’s beaches and dunes is that they are constantly being changed and reshaped by the wind, the lake’s tides, and other weather phenomena. Another aspect of the park is the biological diversity within it, as there are over 1,100 different flowering plant species and ferns that visitors can observe during their explorations. There are also more than 350 species of bird that people have seen within the location.[3]


The early people who lived in the Indiana Dunes Destination were Native Americans; however, they weren’t permanent residents of the area. Instead, it was mostly a seasonal hunting ground for tribes living in the region surrounding it. The first person to settle in the area and start building a community was Joseph Bailly, who was followed by others who established settlements. There were plans for a city to be built called City West that was planned to be an alternative city to Chicago, however, the city failed to be made due to an economic panic in 1837. Other towns were built around the same time which met a similar fate. The area today mainly contains houses, businesses, and different parks for people to visit.[1]

History regarding the Indiana Dunes National Park begins near the turn of the 19th century. Following the publication of an article by botanist Henry Cowles in 1899, a struggle emerged between people who wanted to preserve the unique ecosystem in the dunes and companies desiring to use the sand for glass and other products. Through the early 1900s, a group was formed called the National Dunes Park Association, which sought to make the area a national park. Eventually, they succeeded in establishing the Indiana Dunes State Park in 1926. Several local groups continued to petition for the park’s expansion to become a national park, with the area being designated as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966. In the years following its creation, additional land has been added to the park, and the name of the park was changed to the Indiana Dunes National Park in 2019, making it the 61st national park in the United States.[3]

Chicago’s original inhabitants were the Potawatomi Native American tribe. The first known non-indigenous settler to the region was named Jean Baptiste Point de Sable, who is commonly referred to as the “Founder of Chicago” because he established a settlement in the 1780s. The town of Chicago was organized in 1833 and saw a large amount of growth over the next several decades. Due to its location on Lake Michigan and the site of the Chicago Portage, Chicago became an important transportation and shipping center for people and goods traveling between the eastern and western United States. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed a large portion of the city. Despite this event, much of Chicago’s infrastructure remained intact, and what was burned in the fire was upgraded from wooden construction to stone and steel.[2]

In the 1900s, Chicago continued to see a large amount of growth as many people traveled there seeking work. Especially during World War I, industry in the city experienced a large expansion. One group that experienced a significant increase was the African American population as part of the Great Migration of the time. The 1920s era in Chicago is known as the Gangster Era due in large part to the 18th amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Many infamous figures rose during this time, Al Capone arguably being the most well known. By the time World War II occurred, the city's industry had grown substantially again, with steel production outpacing that of the United Kingdom between 1939 and 1945. During the 1960s and 70s, many major construction projects were completed, such as Sears Tower (now known as Willis Tower), O’Hare National Airport, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, among others.[2]

4.9 (186 Reviews)

Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast is a nature-oriented inn that is located west of Valparaiso, Indiana. The location of the property is further away from the rest of the city, putting the property in a more rural area that is surrounded by trees and animals rather than buildings and people. The owners say that they will often see animals like deer, raccoons, and possums near the property, as well as many songbirds that live in the nearby forest.The building has a total of 8 rooms to choose from that can range in size and decoration. The typical demographic of guests that come to Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast tends to be couples, whether they are honeymooning or celebrating their anniversary. Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast also doubles as a location where guests can purchase massages and facials. The bed and breakfast is located a short distance from Indiana Dunes State Park and is about 55 minutes away from the University of Chicago. Lake Michigan can be found by going north of the property.

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Victorian Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast is located in Algonquin, Illinois. Three rooms with private baths are available for guests; one room with a king bed, one with a queen bed, and one room with a queen bed and a daybed. On occasion, a 4th room may be available. The innkeeper’s desire is that guests are able to rest, relax, and connect with each other. A 27-year history includes guests coming for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, business, “getaways”, and visiting family. Victorian Rose Garden is open year-round with the busy season being May through October. The bed and breakfast’s location is near 7 restaurants, a bike trail, and the Fox River. Downtown Chicago is 45 miles and O’Hare Airport is a one-hour drive.

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4.8 (175 Reviews)

Riley's Railhouse is located in Chesterton, Indiana, near Lake Michigan. The bed and breakfast is available throughout the entire year for guests to visit and spend a few nights there. The building is unique, as it used to be an old train station. Guests who stay at this establishment can find that there is a train station theme prevalent inside and outside of the building. A couple of the rooms are in old train carts, making for unique units, with an additional three units that are more traditional in design. One of these units has an upstairs balcony that guests in the past have enjoyed as it gives them a better view of the nearby trains that drive by on the train tracks across the street.

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4.2 (114 Reviews)

The Wheeler Mansion was originally constructed in 1867 by Calvin T. Wheeler, who was the President of the Chicago Board of Trade at the time. Different families and businesses bought the mansion over the next 100 years until it was planned to be demolished. Instead, in 1997, the current owner purchased the property and converted it into a bed and breakfast. Ten rooms are available for reservations, and all of the rooms are categorized into three types: Signature Spa Suite, Luxury Suite, and Luxury Rooms. The mansion is open year-round for reservations and events. The backyard has a maximum occupancy of 250 people and is often used for weddings and other activities. Amenities offered on the property include 24-7 European coffee, WiFi, and private bathrooms with towels, shampoos, and soaps.

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Lynfred Winery Bed and Breakfast

Roselle, Illinois

Lynfred Winery Bed and Breakfast

Lynfred Winery Bed and Breakfast is located in Roselle, Illinois, near Chicago and Lake Michigan. Before the bed and breakfast was established in 2002, the building was used primarily as a winery, which is where most of its culture is derived. People are able to reserve rooms year-round, though the business is closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. There are four rooms available to the public for reservations, each one based on a different wine country. Visitors are able to add packages such as an in-suite massage, a guided tour, flowers, chocolates, and more to make their stay more unique. Often, people who stay at the inn are celebrating an anniversary. The business has a rule that no one under the age of 21 is allowed to stay in their rooms or visit the winery. The company's motto is, "Luxury, leisure, and the love of Lynfred wine."

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