Chicago Escape: One Weekend in the Indiana Dunes

Photo By: Christine Livingston / Indiana Dunes Tourism

Photo By: Christine Livingston / Indiana Dunes Tourism

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Photo By: Christine Livingston / Indiana Dunes Tourism

Photo By: Kenneth Keifer

Photo By: Maksymowicz

Photo By: Danita Delimont

Photo By: Christine Livingston / Indiana Dunes Tourism

Pristine Beaches Just an Hour Away

Just an hour drive from Chicago, the Indiana Dunes is the perfect spot to escape the busy city and unwind, surrounded by stunning beaches and forest. And don't worry about a crowded beach town with tons of traffic. The dunes are protected inside the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and state park.

Natural Wonders

The dunes were formed by glaciers long ago and the massive mounds of sand can reach up to 200 feet tall.

Surreal Hiking

The 2,000-acre state park has more than just beaches. The park features 70 miles of tranquil trails through forests and praires. Some trails feature boardwalks that meander through the forest and eventually emerge at the shore.

Stay on the Dunes

Most beaches have tons of signs warning you to stay off the dunes. Here, runners and hikers can climb the dunes in the state park's "3 Dunes Challenge." The 1.5 mile trail features the three tallest dunes with 552 vertical feet to climb. If you make it, the view is incredible. And you get to call yourself a "dune conqueror."

Beautiful Beach Stones

Shell hunters may not have the best luck on the national lakeshore, but those who take back a rock from every trip will love combing through the multi-colored beach pebbles.

Where to Eat and Drink

After a day in the sun, head to Chesterton, Indiana, the nearest town to the dunes. Try more than 15 local brews on tap at the Craft House and get a burger at Octave Grill.

Can't-Miss Instagram

Camp out and wait for the sunset at the East Pierhead Lighthouse in Michigan City, Indiana. You won't regret it.

Where to Stay

Short of camping in the park, the closest hotel to the dunes is DunesWalk Inn, a historic mansion turned B&B.

The summer season, Memorial Day to Labor Day, is the most popular but, if you don't care to sun bathe, late spring is great for hiking, too, and you can find lower rates at hotels.

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